Love Fashion and History? 4 Fashion Museums to Visit in Japan

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  • With its forward-thinking technology combined with tradition and edgy aesthetics of Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, it is not surprising that Japan has become one of the leaders in global fashion. Although a visit to Japan may not be complete without stopping by famous landmarks such as Tokyo Tower or Asakusa, a trip to a number of museums dedicated to fashion and displaying Japan’s rich history of clothing and textiles should also be included in anyone’s itinerary, especially for those interested in history and fashion. Here are some of them:

    1. Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, Shibuya, Tokyo

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    This museum is located within the Bunka Fashion University complex in downtown Shibuya. Established in 1979 as part of Japan’s leading fashion schools, the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum is used for academic purposes with displays from the museum’s huge collection of clothing. The exhibit display varies from time to time with focus on clothing and textiles from different cultures.

    Access
    7 min. walk from JR, Keio Line, Odakyu Line “Shinjuku” Station South Exit / 4 min. walk from Toei Shinjuku Line, Oedo Line “Shinjuku” Station Shintoshin Exit No. 6
    Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum website

    2. Sugino Gakuen Costume Museum, Shinagawa, Tokyo

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    Another museum within a school district, Sugino Gakuen Costume Museum is located inside a four-floor building and opened in 1957 to celebrate the school’s 30th founding anniversary. It is considered to be the first costume museum in Japan with the pieces coming from the collection of the school’s founder Mr. Shigekazu Sugino and his wife Yoshiko and most were sourced during their many trips abroad.

    Access
    5 minutes by foot from Meguro Station on the JR Yamanote Line/Tokyu Meguro Line/Tokyo Metro Namboku Line/Toei Mita Line
    Sugino Gakuen Costume Museum info

    3. Kobe Fashion Museum

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    Located within a building which brings to mind a spaceship out of a sci- fi film, the Kobe Fashion Museum is Japan’s first public museum dedicated to the world of fashion with a permanent display on the origins of clothing. Apart from the clothes on display, the museum also houses a library which is located on the 3rd floor where visitors can access more than 28,000 fashion related books sourced inside and outside Japan as well as fashion magazines from early 20th century which is available in various languages.

    Access
    By Train: From JR Sumiyoshi or Hanshin Uozaki, take the Rokko Liner to IslandCenter station. The Museum is only a few minutes on foot to the south-east.
    Kobe Fashion Museum website

    4. Kyoto Costume Institute

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    The Kyoto Costume Institute was established on April 1978 with the purpose of collecting authentic samples of western clothing from various time period in history. At present, the museum’s collection ranges from 17th century court dresses to present day items from designers like Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier and are part of the institute’s 12,000 items of clothing and 16,000 documents. Most of the items in the collection were donations from top designers and fashion houses like Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton as well as Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake. Aside from the museum, the Kyoto Costume Institute has a library which became a great source for researchers and designers from all over the world.

    Access
    Approx. 15 minutes by taxi from JR Kyoto Station or take a local train on the JR Kyoto Line (Osaka, Kobe and Himeji bound) from JR Kyoto Station. Get off at Nishioji Station and walk 3 minutes. Parking lot is not available.
    Kyoto Costume website

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