The Brides Kimono (Rei Shimura, Book 5)
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But her big break could ultimately break her. Within hours one of the kimonos is stolen, and then Rei's passport is discovered in a shopping mall dumpster—on the dead body of one of the Japanese tourists. Trouble is only beginning, though, for now Rei's parents have arrived and so has her ex-boyfriend. To track down the kimono and unmask a killer, Rei's got to do some clever juggling, fast talking, and quick sleuthing, or this trip home could be her last. The author had every chance here to write a great novel.
The subject matter offered insights not only into Japanese culture and particularly textiles, but also into the interior world of modern Rei Shimura is back solving antiques-based mysteries. Not that Takeo and I had reached the point of living together, or getting married. Takeo came from a prominent family, and I suspected that it would look better to his father if I were on firmer financial footing before we got really serious.
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Feeling invigorated by thoughts of how powerful an alliance with a Japanese museum might be for my career, I parted with my best friend and walked to my appointment. Its furniture was modern rosewood: a matching group of four chairs, each with a tiny table in front of it. Three of the chairs faced one. I could tell right away where I was supposed to sit. Most American museums had them, but in Japan, the job was still fairly rare; the Morioka obviously took its collections quite seriously to have established the office of registrar.
I thought it was interesting, too, that Mr. He was in his mid-forties and looked fit. His hair was cut short in a fashionable style. I was actually quite modestly dressed. Thus I had layered an early-twentieth-century haori coat patterned with pink and orange ikat arrows over a simple black dress that went right to the knee.
Massey, Sujata 1964-
It seemed a better option than a skirted suit, not to mention that my suits were all out of style—the earlys Talbots vintage. I bowed deeply when Mr. Shima introduced me to his boss, Mr. It was hard to assign an age to the man, but I guessed that he was in his sixties. Nishio, the textile curator who was supposed to have traveled to the U. He made brief apologies to both Mr. Shima and Mr. He seemed to be studying my clothing with an incredulous expression. Now I wished I had dressed more conservatively.
I handed Mr. Well, Mr. I sat on the lone chair on the west side of the table, pulling at the edge of my haori coat to cover the slight bit of thigh that was exposed. An office lady my age wafted in with a trayful of small cups of green tea. She served me first, as was customary since I was a guest, but I was careful not to sip before the men did.
Shima, the registrar, said. The way he phrased it let me know he was already offended at the prospect of my going to Washington. Actually, we were both to have traveled together, Mr.
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Shima said. As registrar, I am accountable for the safety of our possessions. Nishio-san is the textile curator, with a subspecialty in traditional religious garments. We traveled together four years earlier to bring some altar cloths for an exhibition at the Museum of Asian Arts. Ah, what a beautiful exhibition that must have been.
I will do my best to follow you. Now I quickly said, I do! As an undergraduate, I visited the Museum of Asian Arts to do research. Too unprofessional. In a more subdued voice, I said, I have spoken several times with Powell-san, and I think we have a good working relationship. Powell-san mentioned that you plan to remove some treasures from our collection to exhibit in Washington. Shima spoke up. I have been requested by the Asian Arts Museum to bring some items, yes.
I fumbled for a rejoinder and came up with, I understand that you had already approved a specific group of textiles that could travel. This is a very last-minute request for a courier. That makes it…difficult, Mr. Shima said, looking sideways at his boss, Mr. Now I sensed what was going on. Ito, the museum director, was the good cop, Mr. Shima was the bad one, and Mr.
Nishio was the mute. The important thing was, they were all against me. I fixed my attention on all three men and said: As someone who grew up in the United States, I would like to explain something about the nature of American museum culture. American museums promote their programs many months in advance. The highlights of the exhibits are described in magazines and newspapers. Powell-san has planned an opening reception for six hundred guests—including high Japanese government dignitaries from the Japanese embassy.
She believes up to ten thousand visitors will come to admire the kimono during their three-month exhibition. The visitors hope to see the treasures of the Morioka. If you withdraw, the American museum may be so injured by loss of status that it will not recover. The centerpiece! I sensed I was gaining ground until Mr. Nishio finally spoke. Smiling apologetically, I said, I know that I am young and not as experienced as you.
I imagine they chose me in part for my bilingual ability. Instead, I widened my eyes and said, I understand Mr. Nishio was the first choice, but apparently he told them that he could not go?
He is needed here to do work on our next exhibition, and to oversee some of my work during my vacation. Completely understandable, Mr.
Rei Shimura Mysteries
Ito said in a brisk voice. Shima-san has not taken a day off in five years. The Japanese government has asked managers to encourage all employees to take their vacation times so they will not die of heart attacks from overworking. Shima coughed. I feel guilty about the loss of service to my museum, as well as the American museum being inconvenienced. Enough of all the fake apologies.
This was a bluff, because I knew Allison wanted kimono only from the Morioka—and it would be impossible to organize a kimono loan elsewhere. Regarding the Asian Arts Museum travel plan, we will try to give an answer as soon as possible, Mr. Ito said. But please understand that Japanese museums make plans carefully. American ones do, too, I said. This exhibit was two years in the making. We all said a few more things, none of them constructive.
I left the museum with nothing but Mr.
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Yeah, sure. We had been eating our supper of an octopus-and-corn pizza on a short-legged kotatsu table that had a tiny heater underneath it, to warm our feet.
He was lounging on the tatami -mat floor looking like a handsome cat burglar in his black cashmere turtleneck and jeans. The only thing marring his elegant appearance was a pair of thick ragg wool socks on his feet, necessary protection against the cold. Now, if I were a Japanese man, the Morioka Museum would without question let me take the kimono to America. The shoji screens were rattling fiercely from the strong winds that went with the onset of typhoon season.
Takeo smiled lazily at me, and pulled me against his body. Would you come with me? It would be about a week to ten days. What was that, six years ago? Takeo snorted. I rolled away from him, and waited for him to come after me. You know, Takeo, what you say about the world being dangerous bothers me. I miss going out. Now you want to trot me out everywhere like a showpiece. The daughter of a little-known interior decorator and a professor of psychiatry? For the last two years the papers have been full of tiny but perfectly placed mentions of Rei Shimura.
There are still a couple of trains back to the city tonight. Thanks for the pizza and your extreme kindness.
The Bride's Kimono (The Rei Shimura Series #5) (Mass Market) | Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore
I used the super-polite Japanese phrase with deep sarcasm. On Friday morning, my telephone finally rang. I hung up the phone and screamed. I returned to the Morioka the following Monday to look at the kimono.
Shima met me with a weak smile. I am, too. Thank you for your generous consideration, I said, wondering if Mr. Shima was really glad or employing tatamae —the surface courtesy that made Japanese social encounters as smooth as raked sand in a Zen garden. Some foreigners railed against tatamae : they called it phony and insincere.
I thought tatamae prevented fights and ugly situations, and it also enabled people who had disagreed to find their way to compromise and take care of business as needed. Silently, he slipped on a pair of spotless cotton gloves and opened a long acid-free cardboard box. He withdrew a flat rectangle wrapped in tissue paper: the identical manner in which my aunt and I stored our own kimono.
Nishio unfolded the kimono and laid it out on a long table covered by a clean muslin cloth. Its style was exuberant and exquisite all at once. This kimono has not seen light for more than thirty years, Mr. Shima commented. We have a climate-controlled storage, of course, but one always worries. What an outstanding example of Edo-period design.
I stretched out my hand toward a sleeve, then pulled it back. What was I doing, trying to touch a museum object that was so fragile? Actually, she will need to touch when she hands the items over, Mr. Shima said in an almost apologetic voice to his colleague.