Kondaya Genbey
  Biography of Yamaguchi Genbey
1948

Born in the Muromachi area of Kyoto’s Nakagyō district

1957

Becomes a passionate reader while hospitalized with TB

1971

Serves apprenticeships in Semba, Osaka and Tōkaichi, Niigata

1975

An encounter with funzōe (rag robes) at an exhibition of the Shōsōin Treasures inspires him to start making obi. Travels the length of Japan, from the Tōhoku region in the north to Okinawa in the south, in search of genshifu (primitive textiles)

1979

Becomes the tenth-generation head of Kondaya Genbey following the death of his father. Travels all over Japan, waking up at 4am every morning in order to generate business to pay off his father’s debts

1985

Holds exhibition of obi made from primitive textiles sourced from different parts of Japan. Starts weaving obi using wild silk from India and Southeast Asia

2002

Creates kimono using silk from koishimaru, an ancient species of silkworm indigenous to Japan only recently made available to the wider world after having been cultivated exclusively in the Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery. The resulting works are shown in an exhibition entitled Kaguya Kono Mayu Koishimaru at the Sōgetsu Kaikan in Tokyo, for which he receives the Nikkei MJ Award

2003

Receives Japan Culture Design Award. Launches obi woven from natural golden Maharaja silk. Starts designing costumes for the avant-garde dancer Tanaka Min

2004

Opens tea room ‘Somushi’ at Kondaya’s premises on Sanjō-dōri

2006

Exhibition entitled Kasane - Abstraction in Ink and Colour in collaboration with fashion designer Koshino Hiroko and architect Kuma Kengo. First participation in the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival

2008

Collaborates with United Arrows to create men’s kimono in the spirit of the Momoyama period (1573-1615) for presentation at the Tokyo Collection as Kabuku Monotachi no Keifu (A Lineage of Dandies)

2009

Designs costumes for Tanaka Min for the film Hokaibito including ‘funzōe for the Heisei period’

2012

Appears on television in the NHK BS programme Takeshi Art Beat: A Man who Instils his Soul into Obi-Making. Chosen as an image character for the Toyota Motor Corporation

2013

First participation in the Niihama Drumming Festival

2014

Creates obi inspired by the works of the painter Matsui Fuyuko. Exhibited at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo (March) and Kondaya Genbey’s headquarters in Kyoto (April)