The Life of Itchiku Kubota and the Kubota Collection
Itchiku Kubota is born on 7 October in Mikawa-cho, Kanda District, Tokyo. His father is an antiques dealer.
Kubota becomes an apprentice to Kobayashi Kiyoshi, a kimono artist of the Ozaki School, who specializes in hand-painted yūzen. Kubota also learns goshodoki, a painting style featuring Imperial landscapes with traditional motifs such as gardens, flowers, pagodas, bridges, and carts.
Itchiku becomes interested in batik (roketsuzome) and Okinawan style dyeing (bingata) and begins to study these techniques.
Kubota studies Japanese landscape painting (nihonga) with Shunko Kitagawa.
Kubota enters Waseda University School of Arts, begins to study of portraiture under Gekko Ohashi (a master of actor prints), and opens his own studio.
Itchiku visits the Tokyo National Museum where he is fascinated by a fragment of tsujigahana. He vows to devote his life to rediscovering this lost technique. At the same time, he starts studying kaga-yūzen colouring techniques.
Kubota is drafted during the Second Sino-Japanese War and serves two years in an infantry regiment in Tokyo.
Itchiku becomes assistant to a master stage designer for kabuki and shinpa (new school) theatre. He produces custom designed costumes for both male and female actors and begins to study traditional Japanese dance (nihon buyou).
World War II. During this time, Itchiku embarks on a study of natural dyes, marries Fujiko Yamada, and is drafted into the army again. At the end of the war, he is sent to the prisoner-of-war camp in Russia, where he spends the next three years. For a brief period, he produces plays for fellow prisoners and designs costumes. He also finds inspiration in the Siberian sunsets, which later have a strong influence on his work.
Itchiku returns to Japan and resumes his career as a yūzen dyer. He also experiments with tie-dyeing (shibori) techniques related to tsujigahana.
Kubota opens his own studio, Itchiku Kobo (Itchiku Atelier) in Tokyo, and invents a new process for using synthetic dyes. He calls his new technique ‘Itchiku Tsujigahana’, and continues to perfect it over the next fifteen years.
At the age of 60, Itchiku Kubota holds his first solo exhibition, Itchiku Tsujigahana, at Mikimoto Hall in Tokyo. He is encouraged by Professor Yamanobe Tomoyuki, a well-known textile historian.
Itchiku holds second solo exhibition in Mikimoto Hall and receives an award from the Society for the Dissemination of Folk Costumes and Customs.
As the collection of works travels around Japan, Itchiku Tsujigahana: Kubota Itchiku’s Collected Works is published by Fuji Art Publishing, Japan.
First exhibition outside Japan, Itchiku Kubota: Kimono in the Tsujigahana Tradition, takes place at the Art Gallery, Visual Arts Center, University of California at Fullerton, USA.
Symphony of Light exhibition is shown for the first time. It travels to twenty-six galleries and museums in twenty-one cities in Japan.
Itchiku Tsujigahana Grand Show is held in Tokyo.
Exhibition of the works takes place at Musée Cernuschi in Paris. Kubota is honoured with the Fourth Annual Award of the Society for the Furthering of Studies on Costume, and is presented with the Fifth Annual Award for Outstanding Contributions by Senken, a trade newspaper for the Japanese textile industry. Further exhibitions take place around Japan and in New York and Dallas, USA. Kubota also provides costumes for an original dance performance, Dance of the Dream Robe, at the Shinbashi Theater, Tokyo.
Itchiku creates costumes for a theatrical performance at the Exhibition of Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Japan. Exhibitions of his works open in Belgium and Japan.
Kubota designs a costume for an original Noh performance, ‘The Baptism of Jesus’, staged at the Vatican before Pope John Paul II on Christmas 1989.
The works travel to seven European venues in the Netherlands, Belgium, England, France, Spain, and Australia. Kubota receives the Award of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture.
Exhibitions continue around Japan.
Kubota opens Itchiku Kubota Art Museum near Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan.
1995 - 1997
Works of Itchiku Kubota are exhibited in USA, Canada, and Japan.
Symphony of Light exhibition opens in Germany and Austria.
Kubota creates costumes for a Noh theatre performance at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum.
Itchiku Kubota passes away at the age of 86.
Itchiku Kobo (Itchiku Atelier) completes additional two works for Symphony of Light based on Kubota’s designs, bring the number of works in the series to 36.
2008 - 2009
Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota exhibition opens in San Diego, USA and Canton, Ohio, USA
Dr Patokh Chodiev acquires the Itchiku Kubota Collection and saves the Kubota Museum from bankruptcy. International Chodiev Foundation manages the promotion and preservation of the Collection going forward.
Sakuo Miyahara is appointed the Curator of the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum.
The World Through the Eyes of Kimono Master Itchiku Kubota exhibition opens in Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Kimono Transformed: The Textile Artistry of Itchiku Kubota exhibition takes place in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, and Yakage, Japan.
Silk Splendour: Kimonos from the Kubota Collection exhibition opens in Leiden, The Netherlands.
Du Nô à Matahari, 2000 ans de théâtre en Asie exhibition opens in Paris and Nice, France.
Traditions and Dreams: Kimono from the Kubota Collection exhibition takes place in Antwerp, Belgium.
Artistry on Silk: The Kimono of Itchiku Kubota exhibition opens in Toronto, Canada and Utica, USA.
What do the Mountain Spirits Ponder? exhibition takes place in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.