The Imagine One World Kimono Project began with an idea in 2014 to make an individual and unique set of garments, the traditional Japanese kimono that is the national dress of Japan with all of its parts for every country participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Tokyo in 2021. Project artists have worked on 213 kimonos to date, including one in honor of Jamaica. The Jamaican kimono features two of the island’s most impressive landmarks – the Blue Mountains and the 109-year-old Cathedral of the Holy Trinity – in addition to the flora and fauna of Jamaica, including hummingbirds and butterflies. Local Jamaican artisans worked with the Kimono Project to design the kimono.
The entire collection of kimonos is available to enjoy both as a virtual exhibition and in an online film. While initial plans had included making all 207 kimonos part of the Tokyo Opening Ceremony, the plans were changed to accommodate concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to being available for view online, they will also be exhibited in 2025 at the Osaka and Kansai Expo.
Imagine One World is a global outreach organization based in Japan. Work on the kimonos for the 2021 staging of the Olympics in Tokyo began in 2017 as the organization involved many Japanese artisans, including dyers, weavers, and kimono makers in the project. Over 300 Japanese designers worked on the kimonos for about six years. Each complete set of the garment, which includes the kimono, the obi or sash, and accessories was made with traditional hand-weaving and dyeing methods.
The lead designer on the project, Nobumichi Tejima, said each designer had to gain an in-depth understanding of each country’s culture, landmarks, local culture, history, natural features, architecture, and motifs to create accurate and respectful garments. They also participated in discussions with each nation’s ambassador and even made several onsite visits to particular countries in some cases.
According to Orie Shimizu, spokesperson for Imagine One World, each completed kimono set cost about US$18,200. The project was funded by volunteers through crowdfunding and corporate donations.
Photo Source: The Kimono Project