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Interview with Tomoko Fujii, Kyo-yuzen kimono creator

2022/06/21

Please tell us a little about your background. What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

Since I am an only child, I have taken over the job from my father.

What was the biggest challenge that you encountered on your professional journey?

When I started working in earnest, the kimono industry was getting tougher and tougher, and I began to have more and more doubts and a sense of crisis about the fact that the kimono world remained out of touch with the market and society’s way of thinking. I began to talk with people in other industries at business school and to think and work in my own way, continuing to do for our company what I could on my own for a while.

What do you love about what you do?

A high-quality handmade kimono can be worn by many generations. Japanese traditional crafts are inextricably linked to the Japanese aesthetics, and we feel very fortunate to be able to continue making them, connecting the generations.

What are the sources of inspiration for your creative work?

Everything I see and experience can become the starting point of my ideas, but recently I have come to think that it is important to do the opposite, to stay away from being tied to the creative process.

How have the events of the past couple of years affected your work and your industry?

The industry is in a very difficult situation. I was appointed our company’s president in the midst of the Corona disaster, so I feel as if we were sailing in the middle of a storm, without really knowing what normal conditions are.

During the time of the pandemics, I began to rethink how traditional, handcrafted manufacturing and craftsmanship can be connected.

I also began to think that from now on, it is necessary to convey to our customers our company’s values and philosophy of spending time making truly good products with sincerity, rather than just making and selling them.

What are your plans and goals for the next couple of years? What do you wish to achieve?

In light of the above, we have taken on the challenge of delivering our products together with the context of their crafting directly to our customers under the new RITOFU brand, which was launched in May 2022. We would like to continue this new initiative in order to preserve traditional Japanese handmade craftsmanship.

Please tell us why you would recommend your work/products to craft and design lovers. What positive impact they can make on people’s lives?

We believe that traditional crafts connect our sense of beauty and values to the past and future, transcending time. We produce authentic, modern and sophisticated brands that make your daily life sparkle and help you to become the person you want to be. Our kimonos and accessories make you feel beautiful and happy on various occasions in your life.

If you plan to come to Kyoto and try your hand at Kyo-yuzen dyeing technique, book your experience here: Sairin

Interview, translation & images by Anastasiya Bulkavets (ArigatoCreative.co)