Silk / Tsukimi Sonobe
Tsukimi Sonobe, Kimono Artist
園部月美 着物作家 兵庫県宝塚市
While it is now possible to find exquisite and gorgeous kimonos on the Internet, Ms. Tsukimi Sonobe produces a one-of-a-kind kimono made exclusively for you that also enhances your looks.
She learned her kimono dyeing techniques and skills in a well-established dyeing studio in Tokyo. During this time, she designed rather practical and simple kimonos in chic colors for working women, and delivered them to wholesale dealers.
However, 15 years later there was a turning point in her life when she participated in a private exhibition in Kobe. She fell in love with the city and decided to move there from Tokyo.
"Night Sky" Semi formal kimono / 訪問着 「蒼穹」/ 100% Silk
"Early Spring" Semi formal kimono / 訪問着「早春」/ 100% Silk
"Nouveau" & "Floral" kimono & obi sash / 小紋と帯2種 / 100% Silk
"Blackberry" Semi formal kimono & obi sash / 訪問着と袋帯「ブラックベリー」 / 100% Silk
In Kobe she felt that nature’s colors were somehow different from Tokyo. Inspired by the natural surroundings of Kobe, she added warm and bright colors to her work along with more flowery and dazzling patterns.
Her production method also changed. She started taking orders directly from her customers in the Kansai (Western Japan) area. Then by closely communicating with her customers she was able to create a visual image of the kimono. The kimonos she then created made the person wearing them much more attractive.
Once she has heard her customer’s request, Ms. Sonobe first chooses the fabric, designs the pattern, draws on the pure white silk, then dyes it using a technique called hikizome (pull dye). This “start-to-finish” process is quite rare in the kimono industry, as usually each process is done by a different person. However, finishing the kimono is not the end of the process for her. It is only when the kimono is excitedly put on by her customer that Ms. Sonobe can experience satisfaction and sheer joy as she then sees the kimono as her completed “work”.
Photography by Kenzo Konishi