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Rai Mensah Headshot

Beauty From Ashes

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Struggle and hardship often allow you to appreciate the most beautiful things. A few weeks ago I attended the Iwate Gratitude Prefecture event at the Japan Society here in New York. The governor of Iwate, Japan, Gov. Tasso, traveled to the U.S. to personally thank the U.S. government and citizens for their support and assistance during the tragic earthquake and tsunami effecting that region.

As we listened to speakers and looked through images of the disaster, I was so very impressed by the grace and beauty with which the people of Iwate functioned even in times of devastation. There was a delicacy with the foundation of a strong people that came through the images and the presentations. Artists adorned in beautiful Japanese kimonos graced the stage singing and performing songs of gratitude and strength.

iwate prefecture

Naturally, I gravitated towards the prints and structures of each kimono. As one of the performers, Ms. Junko Yagami, mentioned, there is meaning behind each kimono worn. The length of each garment designates an age/marriage status. The intricacy and detail each garment possessed was beyond anything I've seen in a while. Appreciating the time and work that goes into creating such a beautiful garment made me think about our present day clothing industry. So often we mass produce clothes with little to no meaning. We wear the pieces each day but are they really a reflection of us, our roots, even our personal style? Taking time to think about what we put on each day, how it reflects us or even our heritage is a thought that rarely happens these days. What would the world look like if we all truly took pride in our dress and wore pieces with meaning?

iwate prefecture

Photos Courtesy of Iwate Prefecture