LOS ANGELES — JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, a Japanese cultural destination in the heart of Hollywood, announces its upcoming exhibition KUMIHIMO: The Art of Japanese Silk Braiding by DOMYO on display December 11, 2021 to March 6, 2022. The first-ever exhibition in the U.S. exploring the history and art of Japanese silk braiding, or kumihimo (“braided cords”), the JAPAN HOUSE touring exhibition is produced by Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo (DOMYO), a Tokyo-based company that has been making braided silk cords by hand since 1652.
Though a relatively unknown Japanese artistic tradition outside Japan, elegantly patterned braided silk cords have evolved for many centuries in Japan. The kumihimo tradition began in Japan in the sixth century in the Imperial Court and Buddhist temples, reaching its golden age by the ninth century. Braided silk cords of many styles and patterns were used for aristocratic costumes, interior furnishings and decorations, musical instruments, and religious equipment for temples and shrines. From around the tenth century, kumihimo also was used by the military for swords and armor, later becoming important decorative elements on kimonos and kimono accessories for the well-to-do.
“Kumihimo silk cords have been made in Japan for over 1,500 years, and there is evidence of simple braiding in ancient burial sites dating back five- to six-thousand years ago,” said Yuko Kaifu, president, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles. “We’re honored to bring this rich cultural history to the forefront with materials provided by DOMYO, to introduce some of the most important braiding techniques and show the innovative ways kumihimo is used today.”
The exhibition introduces the tradition of braiding and how it is distinct from weaving and knitting and provides a historical overview of braiding in Japan, with replicas of silk braids dating as far back as the seventh century, and examples of diversely patterned cords featured both in ceremonial sword furniture and in clothing. The exhibition also highlights the structure of kumihimo braiding, with large-scale models of the wooden braiding, stands over which the strands of thread are laid during braiding. Additionally, the exhibition showcases the future of kumihimo and the ways in which braided silk cords are incorporated into contemporary fashion and design, with new kumihimo designs by DOMYO, antique Western clothing reworked with kumihimo by innovative garment modelist Akira Hasegawa, and an installation by the UTokyo Tachi Lab at Tokyo University.
The exhibition also will include related programs, including a webinar on December 15 regarding The History and Significance of Kumihimo in Japanese Culture. Additional related hands-on workshops and webinars will be announced soon. Admission to the exhibition is complimentary. Walk-ins are invited and the gallery is open daily from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.