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With more than 1,200 years history as the imperial capital of Japan (794-1867), Kyoto has been the birthplace of much of Japanese culture. The lavish, elegant life of the nobles of the Heian period (794-1185) is perhaps Japan's finest period. The costumes worn in this period, for example Sokutai or Juni Hitoe, were exclusively worn by the imperial family and the elite of the nobility. I highly respect this culture and I opened our studio near the Old Imperial Palace to inform the world about the beauty of Japanese culture.
It is now nine years since we opened the studio. It has been a great pleasure to welcome people from all over Japan and the rest of the world. Many Japanese families based outside of Japan have visited our studio to create family albums.
In addition to the costume experience, the work of our professional photographer has also been very popular. Every time we get a compliment from a client, we feel very honoured. For a truly special life occasion, try our costume experience and see what imperial life was all about . . .
I married my husband 30 years ago and that was when my interest in Heian-period costumes started. My husband’s family founded a business to produce Shinto shrine costumes and accessories over 80 years ago. The mission of this business was to create Shinto costumes and tools without changing forms and traditions.
My husband’s father was very strict with his work because what he was making was for Shinto deities. However, he also had a very gentle heart. Just after WWII, he tried his best to reproduce gorgeous Heian-period costumes for Kyoto's Aoi Festival (one of three biggest and most important festivals in Japan; held in May).
My husband’s mother was also a great person. She taught me everything about Juni Hitoe. She patiently taught me for many years. She passed away about 15 years ago. I believe she was the greatest authority on Heian-period costumes when she died. She worked on the costume used by the present emperor for his coronation ceremony.
I have received a lot of assistance from many people, including masters of Japanese culture and my husband. My life has been devoted to the study of Heian-period costumes. I feel I have learned a lot and I am proud of myself and of the expertise I have reached.
Sokutai, Juni-hitoe or other costumes are often misunderstood. These costumes were ritualistic and official and very different from all other forms of clothing. They have not changed since they first developed in the Heian period. The sewing methods used in the costume creation process are quite different from other traditional Japanese clothing production techniques (including the kimono). To complete a single Juni-hitoe requires a tremendous amount of time, work and knowledge.
All the costumes we offer at our studio have been carefully re-created one by one by hand. It is a great honor and pleasure if people who visit us discover the beauty of Japanese culture. Come visit our studio and experience the elegant and gorgeous world of the Heian period.