Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.603


Do you like California Roll? 



To be honest, I do not care for California roll. I do not like avocado, but that is not the main reason. There are bunch of other delicious sushi and why I should eat new and strange type of sushi like California roll--that is what I feel.

When I was young, I heard, sushi called California roll became popular in Japanese restaurants in US. I remember people around me saying, California roll was not sushi. I cannot remember any positive comment about California roll. I never heard people saying they wanted to try.

California roll was actually invented for people in US to eat sushi- sushi was not a popular food at all at that time. Eating fresh fish or sea vegetable was not a tradition and the sushi restaurants in US were having very hard time in 1960's and 70's. It was such a hard work to offer traditional sushi to people in US. However, California roll was accepted and became a very popular cuisine in US. Moreover, people became to interested in sushi through California roll. Sushi is as you know,  very popular now and you can find sushi restaurants even in local cities in US(that is what I heard).


By the way, Japanese Ministry of Economy decided to settle  `Kimono Day'. As a kimono merchant, I think it is a happy news. One of the executive member of Japanese Ministry of Economy says his goal is to make kimono as everyday clothes in Japan again. Of course we hear `not your business!' from many people towards this comment.

Basically, the future of Japan depends on how many foreign visitors we can have here, and I think it is absolutely important to keep and show our original culture for those who are interested in our country. Then, going back to the time when people were wearing kimono  may be connected to bright future of Japan. If tourists can see all people here wearing kimono in daily life, it might be quite charming and exotic scenery for tourists from other countries. For  that purpose, if we can make the environment which younger people feel they like to wear kimono, I think it is the most important thing. If only they wish to wear kimono without being forced to do so....

For younger people, what is kimono for them?

Kimono are something very special which is worn only at very special day such as Coming of Age day or attending friend's wedding. Yukata are popular, but they only wear yukata on special summer event such as fireworks. For them, kimono is not  familiar thing anymore. They must have certain image about kimono-expensive, so many rules, hard to move and so on.

I noticed it might be very similar situation--just as sushi restaurants some decades ago in US and kimono for Japanese younger people. Trying to recommend `traditional' Japanese sushi to people in US at that time must have been not successful. They were not attractive for them. The very new (and not traditional type)thing such as California roll opened the gate of authentic sushi. By trying California roll, sushi became familiar thing and people started to eat sushi - authentic sushi was gradually accepted.

People were trying to keep the tradition of wearing kimono and and to make them more handy and familiar thing- the effort has been made from decades ago. The try did not seem to go well, and there must be a lot of reason but maybe `California roll'  idea has the clue.

IF there is charming thing as California roll in kimono industry... that would be great. It does not have to be traditional, but it should attract people wherever they live. People may say, `it is not real kimono!' , just as California roll had negative comment at the beginning, but we hope new and attractive kimono are loved over the border and open the way of Japanese future sharing the new culture with people all over the world.


photo by Samson Loo