Style MVP: Rui Hachimura’s kimono is a flex… and a history lesson

Mar 25, 2021

THIS PROBABLY isn’t the best time to remind you that it’s cherry blossom season in Japan. Obviously, none of us are flying out anytime soon, so it stings to be reminded that Rui Hachimura’s home country is especially beautiful this time of year.

Still, the Japanese-born Wizards forward himself made his own reminder, by stepping out in this legendary fit right before the squad faced the Nets early this week.

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It doesn’t just look cool, but also represents Japan and its sakura quite nicely. .

Hachimura is, by virtue of his heritage, probably the only player in the league who can pull off a kimono this well. You could make an exception for Yuta Watanabe, a Raptors forward and the league’s only other Japanese player right now; and you can certainly count on weeb Laker Kyle Kuzma to try.

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    But this particular kimono? It’s all Rui.

    That’s also because it actually is Rui — it’s from his own brand. Made in New York with fabric from Japan and released in time for sakura season, the “Cherry Blossom Kimono” is the first kimono under the Rui Hachimura label. It’s long, drapey, and robe-like, with a modern cut and a distinctly Japanese look.... a truly authentic drip.

    But the graphic print is where things really get interesting. The sakura depicted on the kimono aren’t actually a nod to the flora in Japan, as you might expect. Instead, they’re a reference to the cherry blossom trees of Washington — the city Hachimura plays for in the NBA.

    Like Hachimura himself, those trees are symbols of Japan, standing tall in the American capital.

    The story goes that the trees were gifted to D.C. in 1912 by the mayor of Tokyo, as a sign of good will. Since then, cherry blossom trees have been a fixture in the city, which even hosts its own cherry blossom festival.

    In fact, some of the trees standing there today are said to bear the genetic lineage of the original ones planted in 1912.

    And so the kimono really is a perfect fit for Hachimura. It looks great and bears his team’s colors: red, white, and blue, plus hits of sakura pink. But more importantly, it tells a unique story of cross-cultural friendship between Japan and the U.S. — the kind of story Hachimura himself hopes to keep telling as his star continues to rise.

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