Picture a young man during the early-to-mid 1900s, visiting the Tokyo National Museum and being entirely taken by a simple yet beautiful piece of cloth. This particular cloth was dyed in the style of Tsujigahana, which had been popular up to the Edo period before suddenly disappearing. He was so captivated by this material that he stared at it for hours, in a museum that rarely had visitors. This chance encounter would shape his life and would eventually give Itchiku Kubota the chance to change and improve Japanese relations with the rest of the world in his personal way. However, he would have to face some hardships before eventually finding the passion for seeing his life’s work through.
He was drafted to the war, and risked his life in the front lines, before ending up in Siberia after a crushing defeat. He was finally released and demobilised when he was thirty-one years old, and it would take him a few more years before the chance encounter with that material which would push him to dedicate his life to reviving Tsujigahana. It was a constant process of trial and error as he did his very best to emulate Tsujigahana for his kimonos, taking him dozens of years before he finally came up with his system for dying kimonos.
In the present day
Fast forward to the present day, and the renowned Kubota Collection is being toured around the world – with each and every piece radiating that same sense of mystery that the material in the Tokyo museum did so many years ago. Patokh Chodiev’s Kubota Collection is known as such due to the efforts of Dr Patokh Chodiev to improve Japanese relations with Russia. He founded the Chodiev Foundation, dedicated to helping Japan, as well as Russia, improve diplomatic and cultural ties by sharing some of their best work with each other. Itchiku Kubota’s radiant collection is part of this program, and it is perhaps the best program that the foundation has.
Being toured around the world, it didn’t matter if the people who saw the cloth didn’t know what a kimono even was – the design is odd and almost has a mystical quality about it. It is thanks to the renewed Itchiku Tsujigahana, the magnum opus of Itchiku Kubota and the complete revitalisation of an ancient and beautiful dying process.
The universal language
No matter the cultural differences, people were very quick to appreciate Kubota’s collection the moment they laid eyes on it. After all, the quality of these masterworks is plain to see, even for someone who does not necessarily know how it works.
Thanks to the foundation sponsoring these tours, the collection continues to enrapture the world, and as millions of people continue to appreciate what the late Itchiku Kubota had to offer, Japanese relations around the world have improved bit by bit. It just goes to show how one individual’s passion and desire to excel can lead to cultural appreciation, and improved diplomatic relations.