It’s rare to find an individual who finds their purpose in life while they’re still young. In Itchiku Kubota’s case, it was when he was visiting a museum in Tokyo during his younger years. It was during the early twentieth-century, and the visitors to this museum were few. It was where Kubota found himself staring at this material, this cloth that seemed to have a strange presence about it. He couldn’t help but admire it, and as the hours passed he continued to stare. It would be the start of his journey toward the life of an artisan.

The reason why the material was so beautiful was its use of the ancient art of dying known as Tsujigahana. Unfortunately, no-one knew how to replicate this art of dying, and Kubota had to put this mystery to one side, as he was drafted into the war. It would be several years before he could finally pick up the mantle of Tsujigahana, and when he did he found that it was extremely difficult – so challenging in fact that it took him many years of trial and error before he finally succeeded.

The old mixed with the new

However, even as he succeeded he found that the style he was using was still different from the Tsujigahana he desperately tried to emulate. The process of dying was different, but somehow was perfect at paying homage to the ancient art. The fact that it had a more modern touch to it thanks to his years of experience led to Kubota naming it the Itchiku Tsujigahana. The biggest surprise was that this method was somehow even more stunning than the material he had been so enamoured with all those years ago.

The present day

Itchiku Kubota unfortunately passed away in 2003 at the ripe old age of 86, leaving behind over forty masterworks of kimono out of a projected eighty that he had planned to make. However, these kimonos are more than enough to stun the world, and so the Kubota exhibition grew in popularity all over the world. It is thanks in large part to organisations who do what they can to help spread Japanese culture to the rest of the world.

The International Chodiev Foundation is the current sponsor of the Kubota Collection, and they also serve to forge relations between Japan and Russia. It’s a relationship that has proven to be very fruitful for Japan as its culture continues to be explored and appreciated thanks to inspiring individuals like Itchiku Kubota who strived to make their dreams into a reality.

To conclude, while it took Kubota the better part of his life to craft his magnum opus, it doesn’t change the fact that he found his calling at a young age – an artisan from the very beginning. His is an inspiring story that serves as a milestone for any budding artist willing to work hard for their craft.  Thanks to the Kubota Collection and many more exhibits, Japanese culture is flourishing.