... The ... suprise was the book itself. I have to be honest I bought it because Liza Dalby wrote the introduction and because Arthur Golden was quoted saying it was a good book. Having read the books by Liza Dalby and Arthur Golden I wanted to see some pictures of kimono and geisha that were more than just snapshots. And that's exactly what this book does, it gives you 120 beautiful pictures and a lot of information. A wonderful suprise.
The book is neatly divided into sections: - The use of kimono in festivals, - Kimono you see in the street, - Tradition in its manufacture (weaving,spinning, dyeing), - The commercial side of kimono (fitting, kimono shops), - Maiko and Geisha (including some wonderful pictures made at the Nyokoba Geisha Training school on Kyoto), - Men wearing kimono (storytellers, sumo referees, tea ushers, monks) - Kabuki (this is my favorite. You see a kabuki player getting dressed for a female role) - Work (the kimono as a uniform) - Footwear (an interesting detail) Apart from the beautiful pictures this book has an informative introduction by Liza Dalby and with each picture you get a caption that gives you some little piece of insight that changes the way you look at the picture. Having been to Japan this book to me is a souvenir of some of the things I've seen, the people wearing kimono in the street, the festivals. But it also showed me some things I could never see (the behind the stage kabuki pictures and the manufacturing of the kimono). If you have been to Japan you too will recognize some of these pictures. If you have not been to Japan this book gives you a great impression of what to expect (kimono wise that is). Last but not least the book has a beautiful design, it's a great coffee table book.