Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology

Current Exhibitions

Unfolded: Seasons and Symbols of the Kimono

Visit the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology and enter the world of kimonos.

Unfolded: Seasons and Symbols of the Kimono

Bound in Japanese tradition, the kimono, which means “the thing to wear,” is not just clothing. It represents who you are. Each kimono, crafted from a single bolt of fabric, provides clues about its wearer, communicating status, gender, virtue, and a connection to the natural world. The symmetrical robe is wrapped tightly around the body confining mobility while displaying refinement and elegance through intricately designed motifs and patterns.

In the student-curated exhibition, Unfolded: Seasons and Symbols of the Kimono, selected kimonos from the Masami Toku collection, inherited from her mother Taeko Toku (1932 – 2020), are presented in thematic scenes weaving together history, art, symbolism, and identity. Cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, maple leaves, and bamboo are symbolic of the seasonal changes of life. Haikus coupled with these motifs and patterns immerse visitors in the simplicity and elegance of the natural world seen through the kimono. The continuity and change of the kimono over time provides a new perspective to understand how these garments communicate identity, belonging, and tradition.

Masami Toku, a professor of Art Education at Chico State, has continued the tradition of wearing kimono as a first -class certified master of the kimono. Visitors will follow the progression of Masami’s life through an odyssey of personal experiences embodied in her own kimonos, from childhood to adulthood. Each section of the exhibition suggests a different layer through which we may approach and understand the kimono. Walk though the show and see the world of kimono unfold.

 Close-up of a bird on a vibrant yellow and blue background kimono
Red and white Japanese kimono with floral and bird motifs
Flowers and grass pattern kimono
Floral pattern kimono

Komoto exhibit within the museum