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Student celebrates her heritage

Mina Matsumoto, of Castaic, is the 2012 Miss Kimono

Posted: August 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Mina Matsumoto, 18, of Castaic, is the third Miss Kimono Los Angeles selected by the Los Angeles Kimono Club. She was selected as the 2012 Miss Kimono L.A. on New Year's Day.

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Wearing her aunt’s kimono, 2011 West Ranch High School graduate and Castaic resident Mina Matsumoto, 18, had the honor of riding in the annual Nisei Week Grand Parade held Aug. 12.

As the reigning Miss Kimono Los Angeles 2012 Matsumoto participated in the 72nd annual Nisei Week that included the two-hour-plus parade that traveled down the streets of Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles.

Nisei Week is among the largest ethnic events held in Los Angeles.

Matsumoto was selected from a dozen competitors as the third Miss Kimono L.A. on Jan. 1. Miss Kimono Los Angeles is an annual contest held by the L.A. Kimono Club. The first Miss Kimono L.A. contest was held in 2010 in Little Tokyo to encourage the kimono culture among the younger generation.

Matsumoto rented her kimono from Tokyo Bridal to enter the competition.

The competition included the correct wearing of the kimono — which includes at least a dozen different pieces — an appropriate hairstyle and a question-and-answer segment.

“I’ve always thought kimonos were really pretty and I’ve always wanted to wear one,” Matsumoto said.

Students of the kimono can spend six months learning the proper way to put on a kimono and the symbolism of each piece.

“A kimono with long sleeves means you’re unmarried,” said Matsumoto. “It’s a very formal style. How a tie is tucked means something if it is happy or sad occasion.”

Matsumoto said it can take her more than a half hour to get dressed in her kimono.

As part of her prize for becoming Miss Kimono L.A., Matsumoto won lessons from Fumi Akutagawa, a kimino consultant for 40 years who worked on the film “Memoirs of a Geisha.”

After she won the competition, relatives in Japan sent Matsumoto several kimonos worn by family members.

“I’ve seen pictures of my aunt wearing this kimono, so that made it very special to me,” she said.

During her reign as Miss Kimono L.A., Matsumoto will attend fashion shows and other events.

She said the fashion shows teach people about kimonos, which are worn not just by women, but also men and children.

Matsumoto is the daughter of Saburo and Sonah Matsumoto. Her father is a math instructor at College of the Canyons. She has a an older brother, Steven and younger sister, Erika.

Matsumoto’s father moved to the United States from Japan at age 15, her mother from Korea at age 12.

The family has lived in Japan, Australia and throughout the United States including Michigan and Mississippi before settling down in the Santa Clarita Valley. Matsumoto attended kindergarten in Japan.

She will attend Pepperdine University this fall and study international business. She is also interested in fashion.

mbuttelman@the-signal.com

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