Genuine vintage kimonos from Japan in the finest silk. It is Gunnarsbybon Shinko Nakano’s life and living. “I like it very much.”
Fifteen years ago, Shinko Nakano left Japan and moved with her husband Petri Storlöpare and their daughter Anni to the small village of Pålkem in Norrbotten.
– It was cold and isolated and I wondered if I would survive, but it went well. It is very beautiful nature. There are a lot of people in Japan and I like distance, so for me Norrbotten is perfect, says Shinko.
Petri often worked away and Shinko was with Anni herself. But how could she work far out in the countryside without knowing fluent Swedish and with a small child to take care of? The solution was to start the company Kanoko, an online shop she runs from home. She started importing used high quality Japanese kimonos to sell online.
– Quality and pattern are very handcrafted. I’ve been interested in kimonos since I was little. I grew up sustainable and environmentally conscious and thought it was just to do something of this high quality instead of just throwing away, says Shinko.
She found a balance between work and family life and can control her working hours. When the school closed in Nattavara, the family moved south.
– We were looking for houses in Harads and Gunnarsbyn. I knew nothing about the area and knew no one but there was a house so we moved. Here we live right next to the school and it feels like we live in the middle of the city, we thrive very well here.
Kimonon is a traditional Japanese garment in a T-shape that is available in several different variants for different purposes and events in life. Short and long, with different length sleeves, all with their names and special rules. Dressing and tying your kimono in the traditional way is an art in itself and a knowledge that used to be passed on from mother to daughter, but which is now taught in schools.
– It is a bit difficult to put on and not so practical so now they are not used everyday in Japan but mostly as festive costumes. In Sweden and the western world, it is worn in a simpler way that fits better today, such as a jacket.
Shinko comes from a small island in southern Japan. Her mother and sisters now live elsewhere in Japan and her daughter Anni has also moved there. Shinko is usually there a few months a year to take care of her mother and then she takes the opportunity to buy kimonos from antique shops, but she also imports a lot.
The majority of Shinko’s kimonos are 30-50 years old, but one is 100 years old.
– The western clothes had not come to Japan a hundred years ago. Then everyone wore kimonos as everyday clothes, says Shinko.
Most are hand-sewn in fine silk. Some summer kimonos are made of cotton and others of synthetic material, which is easier to take care of. Shinko recommends that kimonos of silk be carefully cared for to last a long time.
– You should not wash them so often, rather air after use. In the past, people used to take out the thread and wash the fabric, it is hand-sewn so it is easier than it sounds, says Shinko.
Over time, the company has grown and today Shinko has about 500 kimonos at home in the house in Gunnarsbyn. One room is used as a warehouse, another as a study. Here she takes care of her kimonos, receives orders and packs packages that are sent all over Sweden and the world. Now she is fluent in the language and part of the village community.
– When people who bought a kimono send pictures when they are wearing it and are happy, it’s the most fun. I hope people use them as much as possible. #