"Taisho Dream: Secret Meisen Story" Exhibition 「大正の夢 秘密の銘仙ものがたり」展


On Friday I was invited to the pre-opening of the newest kimono exhibition by the Yayoi Museum in Tokyo.
As a Meisen and antique kimono lover - the Yayoi & Takehisa Yumeji museums are my go to for exhibitions in a casual setting.

Finally a motivation to wear a Meisen kimono again as I have been avoiding antiques since having kids (You know, don't want to stain them with tears, food and the likes...)
My almost 3 year old does love to wear kimono too, so I was happy to go out together (and the 7 month old baby on my back). Getting us three ready in the morning was very hectic though and I tied the kimono higher on purpose to be able to move.

金曜日、東京の弥生美術館で行われた最新の着物展の事前オープニングに招待されました。 銘仙とアンティーク着物が大好きで、弥生美術館と竹久夢二美術館は、カジュアルな展示会に行く際の私の定番スポットです。

子供が生まれてからは、アンティーク着物を着るのを避けてきました(涙や食べ物などでシミをつけたくないからです)が、銘仙着物を再び着るきっかけができました。ほぼ3歳の子供も着物が大好きで、一緒に外出できて嬉しかったです(7か月の赤ちゃんもおんぶして)。しかし、朝の私たち3人を準備するのは非常に忙しかった・・・ カッコ悪いけど、動きやすいように、着丈を短めにしました。赤ちゃんを授乳やおんぶするのに、和装ブラや衿芯など使えないので、着付けはぐちゃぐちゃで気になるけど、今は仕方ないですね。

"Taisho Dream: Secret Meisen Story"

Their newest exhibition, which can be viewed until the 24th of December 2023 introduces about 60 masterpieces selected from the collection of approximately 600 pieces by Meisen collector and researcher Masako Kiryu. Coordinated by kimono stylist Rafu Ohno.

「大正の夢 秘密の銘仙ものがたり」展


銘仙でみるgirl’s History。

It is a lovely and well curated showcase of absolutely breathtaking kimonos, completely styled outfits, accessories and also memorabilia of the time.


Meisen is known for its bright colors and innovative design. Based on the pattern trends, they are introduced in four categories: "Neo Classic, Girlish, Geometric, and kitsch." 

I don't want to spoil the exhibition so I will keep it very short here. Just leaving some visual impressions here though.

 銘仙は鮮やかな色合い、斬新なデザインが魅力です。その柄の傾向から「Neo Classic」「Girlish」 「Geometric」「kitsch」の4つのカテゴリーに分けてご紹介します。中間展示替えを行い、多数の作品 を展示。



Queen Elizabeth Crown Ceremony pattern kimono.

What is Meisen?

Meisen is a type of silk kimono (certain way of weaving) that was very popular from the Taisho era (1912 - 1926) to the early Shōwa era (1926 - 1989). It is an everyday kimono characterized by bright colors and bold patterns. Because it was a cheap silk product, it was very popular as school clothes for schoolgirls and fashionable clothes for young women. During that era, department stores increased sales by selling new Meisen products, and this served as a catalyst for department stores to expand their reach from the wealthy to the middle class. A 1925 Kogengaku survey reported that about half of the women walking in Ginza wore Meisen. However, production almost ceased in the 1950s as Western clothing became widely accepted.

Meisen attracted attention again during the antique kimono boom around the 2000s. As part of the modern Japanese design that flourished in the 1920s and 1930s, it has been highly acclaimed overseas, and is now in the collections of national museums in the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and other countries. In Chichibu, one of the former production areas, new Chichibu Meisen are being produced while incorporating the original techniques.

If you want to learn more about the weave, have a look at my previous articles on Chichibu Meisen:

Chichibu Meisen Museum & Nassen dyeing
Chichibu Meisen Hogushi Weaving



銘仙(めいせん)は、大正時代(1912年 - 1926年)から昭和初期(1926年 - 1989年)にかけて非常に人気のあったシルク着物(織り方の特定の方法)の一種です。鮮やかな色彩と大胆な模様が特徴の日常着の着物です。それは安価なシルク製品であり、学生服や若い女性のファッションとして非常に人気がありました。その時代には、デパートは新しい銘仙製品を販売することで売り上げを増やし、これがデパートが裕福な人々から中流階級に広がるきっかけとなりました。1925年の甲言学調査によれば、銀座を歩く女性の約半数が銘仙を着用していたと報告されています。しかし、西洋の服が広く受け入れられるようになった1950年代には、ほとんどの生産が停止しました。

Chichibu Meisen Museum & Nassen dyeing

「秩父銘仙:新啓織物 ほぐし織り」


In front of the museum you can find a little Café offering lovely retro treats as well. Unfortunately my toddler was already melting down (aka. tired) so I had to skip and head home. Please enjoy it for me though!



この二つのハッシュタグをつけてSNS(X・Instagram)に投稿してください。 スタッフがプリントし、館内に掲示させていただきます。

"Let's go out in Meisen kimono!"

Please post a photo of yourself wearing Meisen kimono.
Please use these two hashtags when posting on social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc.). The museum staff will print and display them inside the exhibition hall.

Access & Opening times

Duration: 30th September - 24th December 2023
Opening times:10:00 to 17:00(last entry 16:30)
Closed:Sundays & Mondays 
However open on 9th October, closed on 10th Oct instead.
14th of November closed to change the contents of exhibition.
Admission:1000JPY / Students 900 JPY / Children 500 JPY 
*Ticket allows to view all exhibitions in the Yumeji Museum as well.

Address:2-chōme-4-3 Yayoi, Bunkyo City, Tokyo, 113-0032


会期: 2023年9月30日(土)~12月24日(日)
休館:日月曜日 ただし、10/9(月・祝) 開館、翌10日(火) 休館、
11/14日(火) 中間展示替えのため臨時休館
料金:一般 1000円 大・高生 900円 中・小生 500円 

住所:113-0032 東京都文京区弥生2-4-3