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Colors of Kimonos

On this page we present applications of color research in the research of kimonos. The kimonos in question belong to the collection of the National Museum of Japanese History Rekihaku. They date back to the Edo period (1603 - 1867).

To study the principal colors of kimonos, we used a database of 231 digital images of kimonos. The principal colors were analysed by using a clustering method, based on self-organizing maps. Self-organizing maps is a method of neural computing and it can be used to extract salient features from a large data set. In the Figures 1 and 2, there are the principal colors that the self-organizing map extracted from the database. A large amount of the kimonos in the database was white or nearly white, but also other colors were included: yellow, green, different shades of red, violet, light and dark blue, and dark, nearly black shades.



Figure 1.



Figure 2.

The clustering of each kimono (Figure 3) resulted in a grey-level image, in which different grey-level values express the cluster each pixel belongs to, that is, which color of the map is closest to it. The final cluster for the entire image is the one closest to most of the pixels. The pixel values of the kimonos in the RGB color space (Figure 4) can be compared to the values of the whole cluster (Figure 5). The kimonos in Figure 6 belong to the cluster of kimonos with light reddish color.



Figure 3. Courtesy of the National Museum of Japanese History.
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Figure 4.



Figure 5.


Figure 6. Courtesy of the National Museum of Japanese History.
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Furthermore, the colors of the clusters can be studied by comparing different clusters. Dark blue kimonos (Figures 7 and 8) settle in the color space in an entirely different manner than yellow and green ones (Figures 9 and 10).


Figure 7. Courtesy of the National Museum of Japanese History.
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Figure 8.


Figure 9. Courtesy of the National Museum of Japanese History.
© Non-authorized reproduction is prohibited. All rights are reserved.



Figure 10.