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Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 118: Wind Whisper West

A world-class kimono collection hidden in plain sight

Wind Whisper West gallery in Wabasha has the largest collection of vintage Japanese wedding kimonos in the United States—and possibly the world. ⁣

Jan and Richard Fuller founded the textile gallery in 2003. Richard developed an affinity for traditional Japanese attire after being stationed in Japan and Korea. When he learned that the wedding kimono market was rapidly declining (more than 90 percent of Japanese brides now marry in Western-style gowns), he began buying up as many ceremonial garments as he could get his hands on.⁣

Today the couple has more than 1,000 wedding kimono to their name; each one is unique, fashioned from hand-dyed silks and decorated with complex embroidery and intricate hand-painting. Everything you see in the gallery is for sale, with plenty more in storage, and they’re more affordable than you might think, starting at $400 for a basic wedding kimono and topping out at $4,000 for an exquisite designer gown.⁣

Not looking to buy? No problem. Just drop in and ask to view the gallery. Even though kimono collecting was her husband’s passion, and Richard is now in a nursing home, Jan is deeply knowledgeable about the inventory. She can walk you through the different types (uchikake, kakeshita, furisode, tomesode, etc.), patterns, obi, and accessories.

She’s also happy to explain the symbolism: A crane represents fidelity; chrysanthemum denotes longevity and superior character; and bamboo, which bends without breaking, signifies strength and endurance.⁣

Jan keeps limited hours these days since she’s running the gallery alone — typically Thursday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment. Call ahead before making a special trip. 👘💛

Wind Whisper West
128 Main St. W., Wabasha, MN; 651-565-2002.