Saturday, January 29, 2011


The photo is from 1921.  In the back of the photo, my grandmother wrote that a friend of her husband took the photo.  She sent it to her birthplace and addressed probably to one of her relatives in Takasaki.   The relative must be her big aunt who was running their silk dye business, and the friend was Ishii-san who was my grandfather’s best friend.  My mother’s family just settled in Osaka, but they didn't stay there long.

My grandmother on left made all the clothes for her daughters.  My mother said she was embarrassed when she went to Takasaki, Gumma prefecture.  No children there wore western clothes then, she said.  My aunt said opposite.  She said she was proud because her clothes were unique, and she was the only one wearing such clothes.  They had different points of view.  So, they headed to different directions.

Nevertheless, my mother appreciated her mother’s talent. She said that once on the way home from school, a woman stopped her and asked from which department store she bought the clothes. She replied her mother made them. The woman didn’t believe her. She went home and told her mother about it. Her mother said the woman could have searched for a label. When my mother told me this story, I felt her respect and appreciation to her mother.

My aunt went to Meguro Doreme, the best or the only one dress-making school in Tokyo.  All her clothes were her creations including heavy coats.  My mother went to the house of a traditional kimono-making teacher and trained herself in making fine silk kimonos.  It takes much experience to cut a fine silk roll.  It isn’t only expensive but each unique design must match exactly at seams.  It will be disastrous if she makes a slight mistake.  Most of her kimono-making students made yukata (cotton kimono) only.


This kimono must be one of her graduating projects in kimono-making.


ThirdeYe said...

That was a fun and interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

keiko amano said...


Thank you for your comment!

I edited a little.

ashok said...

Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing

ashok said...

The back of the photo writing is like an antique kana shodo

keiko amano said...


Grandmother wrote that postcard in kana with many kanji, and I can read it after 80 years. Her young motherhood and happiness show from her simple but thoughtful sentences. When I read it, I feel her there.

And with a little help from kana dictionary, I can read ancient poems of 1000 years ago as though I'm communicating with them.

Thank you for your comment.

keiko amano said...

Oh, 90 years ago. Gee, it is almost 100 years ago. I never met my grandmother, but I miss her.

ZACL said...

These historical pictures are priceless gems Keiko.

While the parents are wearing traditional dress, were the two children in a clothes style of their time? It does look as if that might be the case. The matching children's clothes are wonderful.

keiko amano said...


That photo with my mother and aunt wearing western coats was probably taken in 1924. I think most people wore kimono daily then even in Tokyo. No, I don't think those clothes were common then. It must be very fashionable for children. As my mother said, she was embarrased by it. My aunt was proud.

ZACL said...

My mother was a wonderful craftswoman, her natural skills were harnessed and given very fine training. We had clothes she designed and made. The neighbours once told me they would wait for every Spring or Summer to see what my mother would create for her children.

Sadly, I do not have any pictures.

keiko amano said...


Even though you don't have those photos, you have memories and you can write about them. Actally I didn't see some of those old pictures when I was young. I think they came to our home because they made multiple copies and gave to their relatives, and the relatives died and their descendants handed back to us. So I thought perhaps your relatives or even your old neighbors might have your photos. In that case, it is possible you can get a copy. What do you think?

ZACL said...

Nice ideas Keiko, unfortunately, not practical in my case. All the neighbours of where I used to live - a really long way away from my present life and home - have long gone and there are no links left.

Any family photos, and there were not many, have been shared between siblings. Taking photos was not something regularly done, we did not own a camera when I was young.

Thank you for your thoughts, they are lovely.

MKL said...

I still have a photo of my grand grand ma. She was born in 1889. Whenever I see that old picture, I feel connected with her.

keiko amano said...


Your photo of grand grand ma is priceless. I hope to see her someday. And I think any photo from 1889 is valuable.

I probably have some photos of grand grand mother, too, but unfortunately, I can't identify her for sure.