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Osaka professor gives away over 50 kimonos throughout Asia for help with research

Professor emeritus Katsuhisa Yamada of Osaka Kyoiku University, right, is seen smiling at a ceremony in Brunei as he gives away his 51st kimono to a museum there. (Photo courtesy of Katsuhisa Yamada)

OSAKA -- An emeritus professor at Osaka Kyoiku University here has given away over 50 kimonos he received from his students to recipients throughout Asia over the course of his travels researching the Silk Road.

    Katsuhisa Yamada, 73, who lives in Nagoya and is also the tourism ambassador for the city of Kashihara in Nara Prefecture, has visited over 20 Asian countries surveying archaeological sites. He donates kimonos to local museums or others who help him with his research. He was inspired by a Chinese student he had taught who was moved by the beauty of kimonos. The used garments he donates include those used at coming-of-age ceremonies, as well as furisode (long-sleeved kimonos), provided by his students.

    "The beauty of a kimono with wildflowers or other motifs transcends culture and religion," Yamada says. "As a testament of goodwill, I would like to keep giving them away until I reach 100 kimonos."

    Yamada gave away his 50th kimono, a printed silk furisode from Kyoto, on March 1 to an archaeological museum at Borobudur, a Buddhist temple in Indonesia. On his way back to Japan, he donated his 51st kimono to a national museum in Brunei on March 4.

    "I visited the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in 2012 at the height of strained relations between the Japanese and Chinese governments over the Senkaku Islands, and I was moved by how the expressions of the local people relaxed when they saw the beauty of a kimono," Yamada says. "It's also my way of repaying the people of the Silk Road for the variety of cultures they brought to Japan."

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