Kimonos in literature and film are often ignored by scholars as nothing more than aesthetic objects/clothing that enhance historical realism. But in fact, kimonos speak of many things, including the character of the wearer, social commentary, and important symbolic meanings for the plot.
In this talk, Professor Suzuki uses kimonos to examine Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s Sasameyuki (The Makioka Sisters, 1943-48), a novel depicting a wealthy merchant family in Osaka. Based loosely on the lives of the author’s wife and her siblings, the work was considered frivolous and censored during the war; it was only completed and published in full in the postwar period. By examining kimonos discussed in the text, I illuminate their complex meanings in light of changing laws, sartorial culture and social contexts. Dr. Suzuki also discusses visual presentations of kimonos in two film versions of The Makioka Sisters, one produced in 1950 during the U.S. Occupation and the other in 1983 at the height of Japan’s economic prosperity.