People

Shin Watanabe×Chisako Takashima

GINZA CONNECTIVE VOL.12

Shin Watanabe×Chisako Takashima

2012.09.03

A talk series with the violinist Chisako Takashima and the Ginza people. Ginza holds many personal and professional memories for Takashima. In this talk series, she thoroughly explores various aspects of the Ginza culture with her guests. Today’s guest is Shin Watanabe, the president of Ichibankan Tailor, a venerable tailor loved by many artists.

It all began with an encounter with a frock coat.

Takashima
Could you tell us the shop’s history?
Watanabe
It was founded in 1930, so it’s been open for about 80 years or so. Its predecessor was a kimono shop opened by my grandfather in Nagano. He moved to Tokyo, decided the future was in Western-style clothing, and started a clothing business. At the time, the latest pieces from around the world were being unloaded at the port town, Yokohama. My grandfather was shaken to his core when he saw a frock coat that is a type of old-fashioned suit. His heart jumped and he thought, “That’s it!”
Takashima
This was in 1930?
Watanabe
A little before 1930. At the time, our relatives were running a tailor’s shop in Akasaka, so he trained there and opened the shop in Ginza.
Takashima
Was it always in its current location?
Watanabe
Yes. It used to be a two-story wooden building. The second story was a residence where our family and the shop’s tailors lived. It was rebuilt for the Tokyo Olympics.

It makes me happy to help others and bring them joy.

Takashima
Who have you made suits for in the past?
Watanabe
Lots of politicians and businessmen. Also, a distinctive feature of our shop is probably that many of our customers are artists. In the past we had Rosanjin Kitaoji and Tsuguharu Fujita. More recently, we had Takashi Murakami and the photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.
Takashima
Very prominent people.
Watanabe
Artists say very creative things. That is also very stimulating and enjoyable.
Takashima
The shop has a long history and has an historical and classical image, but it seems that many customers make new and interesting requests.
Watanabe
It seems we’re being used as a test site.
Takashima
Have you ever had any really unbelievable requests?
Watanabe
When we made a suit for Takashi Murakami, we started with the lining. There was a flower pattern motif (that he had designed). We made a suit with a print lining and a hand-embroidered lining made of about 60 colors, both based on that motif. Many of our customers are also architects, and I asked them why they like having clothing tailored so much. They told me it is because there is no process like fitting in architecture. A large building is made straight from a small model, so the fitting process when tailoring clothing is extremely interesting. Also for (Kenzo) Tange and (Kisho) Kurokawa.
Takashima
When do you feel a sense of satisfaction from your work?
Watanabe
It makes me happy to help others and bring them joy. When Kenzo Tange passed away, we received a phone call from his son asking us to help with his clothing. To hear a desire for someone to wear an Ichibankan suit when they pass into the other world is a great honor for a tailor. It makes me feel glad to be doing this job. I hope to continue doing work that lets me encounter such situations.

Interior of Ichibankan

All List

銀座千疋屋/三笠会館本店/Hatsuko
西銀座駐車場/みずほ銀行 銀座通支店/ギンザのサヱグサ/
(株)天賞堂/マロニエゲート銀座銀座 らん月/
三井住友銀行 銀座支店/GINZA

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