Cries of racism prompt Boston art museum to cancel ‘Kimono Wednesdays’


The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is cancelling “Kimono Wednesdays” after protesters decried the event as racist.

In a Tuesday statement, the museum apologized for offending some visitors with the event, where museum-goers were encouraged to don the traditional Japanese garments and pose in front of Claude Monet’s “La Japonaise.”

The museum said it had hoped to create an “interactive experience,” helping museum-goers appreciate the rich details, embroidery and fine materials of the garments. It said similar events took place when the painting, depicting a woman in a kimono, traveled throughout Japan for an exhibition.

But protesters have held signs at the Boston museum’s events, calling them “racist” and “imperialist.”

The museum says kimonos will now be on display Wednesday evenings for visitors to touch, not try on.

  • Rozza

    I guarantee that not one of those offended was Japanese, rather some US citizen crippled by racial PC hoo-har. It only takes one to draw the offence card to black ball. Soon enough all history will be cordoned off as racist, then I guess we’ll have a brave new world.

    • jcbinok

      On a side note: It’s kinda funny that many cartoons that I’m sure have been eliminated from the rotation in the US (1940’s Disney stuff with military themes, etc.) are totally accepted in Japan.

  • Yosemite_Steve

    Yeah, the PC is a bit crazy. Still it’s a very good laugh that you say ‘history will be cordoned off’, when histories of colonial mass murder, from South American and North America throughout Africa, and parts of Asia, some going on today (mostly by proxy like US support of South and Central American military and paramilitary death squads) are totally white-washed by the whites (of which I am one). Of course it is *very* ironic to put Japan into that at all since Japan was one of the few non-European places NOT conquered by the Europeans and rather the Japanese themselves were as ruthless imperialists as the Western colonial powers.

  • GBR48

    Political correctness nazis. Vile people. They want everything they don’t agree with banned or destroyed.

    It is the same mentality that is seeing the General Lee from ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ being defaced, the Islamic State destroying statues in Palmyra and that lay behind the original Nazis burning books.

    Art and culture thrive on free expression. That includes being able to provoke and annoy people if need be. By cancelling this event, the museum has failed every artist whose work it holds.

    America is going down the toilet at a rate of knots.

  • jcbinok

    For racism to be present, doesn’t there have to be some hardship incurred? Why is a Westerner in a kimono any worse than an Easterner in a three-piece suit or NY Yankees cap? It’s beginning to feel like claiming victimhood is…like…the coolest thing one can do.

  • Brian4000

    I am really starting to think colleges are doing young people a huge disservice by training them to think purely in terms of their racial/ethnic identity and see everything through the lens of that and historical power dynamics. I mean it is very clear where these ideas are coming from. Orientalism is straight from Said, but its important to note lots of people (including many scholars from the countries in question) reject the way he applied the concept. Obviously racism is real, and people are hurt by it. But this really isn’t racism. People only see it as such because they’ve been trained to do so. I’d really be curious how people from Japan view this sort of thing.

  • Paul Martin

    Lol gimme a break Japan is fanatically racist and goes out of it’sway to harass gaijins like profiled police ID checks,etc Employing ONLY Japanese in the better jobs everywhere and electing politicians who want to change the constitution and return Japan back to the shinto dark ages !
    Japanese only, no gaijin signs are everywhere ! So whose the REAL racists ?

    • Sakurako

      who’s the REAL racists?? of course, YOU!!!

      • Paul Martin

        Nah I like everyone…I’m in showbiz and I just get along !

      • Paul Martin

        I am a member of the foreign media…NOT racist but HONEST about what I see and hear and I speak only VERITAS !

      • Sakurako

        OK. You are not a ”racist”. You just spread how Japanese are racist around the world. I feel foreign media in Japan are very Anti-Japanese these day.

      • Paul Martin

        That’s why we are the FOREIGN media because the Japanese media is spineless, afraid to criticize and owned by rich, far righters !

      • Sakurako

        Foreign media also spineless, they just report the same way as Asahi shimbun or Mainichi shimbun. Foreign journalists in Japan can’t see nothing. I don’t know for what they live in here.

      • Paul Martin

        Why don’t you show your face like I do ? that shows cowardice right there! Well now you’ve met one foreign reporter who is NOT spineless, I am a former navy commander and understand what’s happening in today’s Japan after living there since 2008. I am also a writer-director and NOT afraid to tell it like it is !
        Japanese are two faced, they lie a lot even to their family, friends and themselves.
        I am NO fan of China but reality reveals that soon they will soar again economically while Japan sinks because their rich and powerful never share. 35000 suicides annually….wow what a happy society !

      • Sakurako

        Maybe you are a public figure, I am not. That’s all.

      • Sakurako

        If you are a member of the foreign media. I can get the point why you such a big complainer.

      • Paul Martin

        Yes I am a member since 55…I am VERY open minded also ! I am as well a radio SHOCKJOCK and kn own for tellin it like it is !
        My credentials are unquestionable and I broadcast regularly Worldwide. Of course I can’t please everyone all the time but I do try to enlighten what’s going on !

        My bio: paul martin entrepreneur google on browser.

    • g rea

      No,it isn’t. There are a lot of foreigners in Japan. Most are a Chinese and Koreans. Apparently they cannot tell the difference with a Japanese.

      • Paul Martin

        The immigration department is the ONLY one in the developed World that sets how many times in a year you can visit Japan. They told us before we left from Haneda yesterday 180 days a year but there is NO Japanese law that states that, just immigration making up their own anti-gaijin rules !
        I am not saying ALL Japanese are racist or anti-gaijin…but many of the older generation, government officials, cops and absolutely immigration and MOJ is ! The US State dep’t, Amnesty, Human rights watch ar all condemning Japan’s treatment of foreigners and unecessary incarcerations and mental and physical abuse about this !

      • g rea

        この動画を見てください。Please look at this video


      • Sakurako

        Anti-gaijin rules??? Stop your delusion. You just don’t want to follow a rule . What do you think health insurance for foreigner in Japan? You just want to make something of Japan.

      • Paul Martin

        You sound like your working for those I criticize…lol…I am mild compared to other gaijins who have lived a long time in Nippon and fully know and have experienced the BLATANT discriminations that are part of Japanese culture !
        Japan’s MOJ, cops, prosecutors,judges are one sided imbeciles, we all know that and remember I am a senior member of the World’s media so you WON’T silence me !
        Japan need gaijins more than we will EVER need them and even though my sons have been long married to Japanese and my grand children are part Japanese and I find MOST Japanese nice, friendly and pleasant people, the country beautiful, I again assert without hesitation your damn government are the delusional ones and are trying to revert Japan back to the shinto dark ages were everyone OBEYS like robots and are used to official repression !
        I have lived all over the World including 25 years in America and without any intended malice or personal offence, Japan is VERY lucky America didn’t drop a BIG one on Tokyo too ! Too many innocents, pows and neighbors were invaded, slaughtered, raped,etc by drunken Japanese soldiers where was the HONOR there ?
        So DON’t try preaching Japan to this writer, The US state department, Amnesty, HUman rights watch are ALL BLASTING Japan’s absence of human rights and lack of adhering to international laws,etc and the horrible ill treatment of foreigners by your authorities !
        It will ALL backfire someday, people will realize the truth and stop buying Japanese cars and other products, stop visiting Japan and regard it as an UNFRIENDLY pariah place to avoid !
        Many older Japanese, the right wing, yakusa,etc HATE gaijin, they are regretful that Japan surrendered unconditionally and openly BROADCAST it on the streets with loud speakers in vehicles !
        So it is NOT the gaijin who are at fault it’s those who control Japan with an IRON fist !
        Without American protection and friendship Japan would be NOTHING and that is the VERITAS …BELIEVE IT !

      • Sakurako

        Well, US didn’t A-bomb on Tokyo so Japan must appreciate that and give Americans preferential treatment than Japanese?

      • Paul Martin

        Your right…but someday someone else well might !

      • Sakurako

        What a height of hubris opinion you have. Maybe now we should wake up and need own Army and protect our land by ourselves.

      • Paul Martin

        That would be nice ! But this ME generation will NEVER be like the old Japanese imperial army types. They are educated and spoiled unlike the brainwashed soldiers of WW2 who righteously believed the emperor was a living god descended from the sun goddess. They didn’t fight bravely either, in Okinawa were they lied to the population saying the Americans would do terrible things to them, they hid like cockroaches in the mountainous terrain rather than face the US marines like real soldiers.

        No young Japanese today will NOT fight anyone and who can blame them? Why should they when they are confronted by a North Korea lunatic and China with thousands of nuclear icbm’s and other WMD,
        unlike the weak and vulnerable of yesterday that Japan found so easy to invade and butcher with a BRUTAL military !

        I hope America does soon let Asia defend itself so those brave US soldiers can enjoy their peace and fantastic life in America instead of being harassed by protests and ingrates who want protection but disrespect the protectors except when they eagerly seek theirn US $ !

      • Tatsujiro Kurogane

        Aside from being a douchebag, you’re also FOS. Try staying more than the prescribed limit in the states as a Cdn and see how welcoming they are. By all means tell the truth, but try using the truth when you try to tell it.

      • Paul Martin

        I agree about Canada, I immigrated there temporarily in the 60’s but soon discovered America was where the opportunities and friendliness was.
        Today the CBSA at Canada’s ports are horrible people and would harass their own motherss !
        They are Harper’s goon squads !
        But they are Western and part of t5he British Commonwealth of countries so there is a difference.
        Much as we like Japan, it’s history is war and hegemony history is disastrous and if it’s schools were told the facts and truths I doubt today’s generation would be proud of it or respect their older generation !
        I refuse, as a writer, to let anyone dictate what or how I should express my thoughts which is what people like you try to censor.
        I still cannot comprehenmd WHY America is so kind to her former enemies, like Japan, Germany and Vietnam. All these countries were fascist and killed a lot of Americans !
        I further don’t understand WHY America opened up China whose economy surges at the expense of American and WEstern jobs !
        I would feel quite conten if America became isolationist restricting trade and relations to her long time english speaking allies and friends and I am sure many if not most english heritage gaijins would have NO problem with that !
        It would be interesting to se how Asia would survive then !

  • Starviking

    I guess those of us with multi-cultural families shall have to do with half-kimonos for the girls…

  • Clayton Forrester

    This story doesn’t seem to say WHO was doing the protesting.

    I have a bad feeling it may have been non-Japanese Asians who didn’t want a Japanese thing going on.

    But let me STRESS — that is only a GUESS on my part.

    • Jonathan Fields

      The official Facebook page of the protest group seems to have a lot of activity from Chinese Americans. They are arguing that it’s a “fetishization of the other” and “colonialist.” Whatever that means. I wonder what they would say if they knew Japan was a colonial power?

      • You’re absolutely right; not a single one of the five main ring-leader protesters was Japanese or Japanese-American. In fact, there was a counter-protester at the museum, a Japanese-American, facing off with the three present non-Japanese-Americans, demanding that BMFA Kimono Wednesdays be reinstated.

        The Asian-American P.C. protesters gist of their compliant is that it encourages “Orientalism”, in that because (in their minds, which I think is racist) many Americans cannot tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean culture, Asian-Americans have the right to protest any CJK object being worn/used by the dominant culture (white people in America) without enough “gravitas” given to the “historical and artistic context” of the kimono — even if it’s not their culture.

        Now, this is despite the fact that Japanese is Japan often wear kimono without giving (or knowing) anything about the gravitas of the garment — you will see Japanese wearing kimono and parodying geisha for example in comedy sketches. You will also see Japanese encouraging non-Japanese tourists to have their picture taken in it, often with silly poses and/or pretending to be geisha etc. I’ve even seen Japanese dress as geisha in Japan for Halloween!

        How does a P.C. American SJW respond to this? They will say, “that’s different. Japanese in Japan are not the minority culture, therefore it’s okay for them to make fun/light of their own culture or allow foreigners-in-Japan (who are the minority) to wear/use/parody/etc their culture. However, Asian-Americans are minorities in America, therefore white people are not allowed to ‘culturally appropriate’ our culture in America.”

        But that explanation is all B.S., really. Example: if a non-Japanese person travels/lives in Japan, then has their photo taken in Japan wearing a kimono/yukata and acting silly (peace sign, laughing, etc, often with the encouragement of their Japanese host(s) who are taking and directing the photo)… and THEN posts the picture on Facebook, I guarantee the Social Justice Warriors will complain about the photo being cultural appropriation. Because they (and other Americans) SAW the photo, they will “trigger.” It is effectively an “appropriation of their [sic] culture”, regardless of the fact that the event occurred in Japan and the Japanese don’t have a problem with it. You invaded their “safe space” of their virtual social media world with your image.

        In other words, it’s not really about “when in Rome, do as Romans do”. It’s about “we don’t to see white people enjoy non-white culture, EVER, even if the original owners of the culture don’t have a problem with it and it’s done in their land. Especially if they’re not doing it seriously enough and/or with enough guilt.”

        P.S. The replica kimono the tourists were wearing that the Asian-Americans protesters described as “cheap” and “fake”? It was designed and commissioned in Japan as part of Cool Japan, and the exhibit did time touring in Japan (Setagaya Art Museum) before it went over to Boston.

      • Jonathan Fields

        I typically don’t agree with you, Eido, but this post is spot on.

      • Tatsujiro Kurogane

        Inoue Sensei, I am not as damning of the PC or anti-Orientalist arguments as you seem to be, and I do strongly argue that Just Being Asian is enough for them to protest appropriation in a New World immigrant society context for exactly the reasons you outlined but certainly in this case they shot blanks at the wrong target. Aside from sounding like stupid, whiney C- students I fear they have trivialised the broader issue, which is that Asians should enjoy being treated as American (or Cdn) as any white person, and the sad truth is they often aren’t. BTW, I have got grief in Japan from Japanese a couple of times for wearing Jinbei or Kimono at festive times, though as my GF joked: “it’s probably because it looked so silly on you”. Anyhoo, great discussion

    • Tatsujiro Kurogane

      Adding to what Jonathon Fields wrote, from what I read it is more of a thing where North Americans of Asian descent oppose all forms of objectification as Asians rather than as plain old Americans or Canadians, and see The Kimono as a classic Stuff White People Like symbol of that objectification and cultural appropriation. IOW, they argue it is Yellow Face. So no, probably not an anti-Japanese thing per se.

      Which doesn’t mean what they are doing is not really stupid, of course. Firstly, most Japanese love that sort of thing, and secondly, well, it’s not racist anyways. At all. In any way. On a side note, that woman pictured in the Orange top better not go swimming near any of the Japanese whaling villages. That could end badly.

  • セクシー

    Is Kimono racism?
    I think it’s one of the cultures existing in the world.

    I hope people respect different cultures instead of try to destroy them.

  • XPS

    you must not be deceived.
    japanese say “enjoy fittng kimonos” rather than “ban the kimono event”
    this is trap of korea and china.

  • Kizar_Sozay

    I suppose kilts are sexist, too.