But the pavilion's current exhibition, "Kimono for a Modern Age," is providing plenty of reason to head over to the museum's more subdued east side. Organized by senior curator Sharon Takeda, the show features more than 30 kimono from the first half of the 20th century, when foreign design motifs and production techniques were making their way into Japan's garment industry.
"We think we know kimono," Takeda says. "But these blow people away because of their strong graphics."
All of the kimono on view are from the 1920s to the 1950s and mark a time of great change in Japan: the rise of mass production and the adoption of fashions from abroad (in part, because of the U.S.' post-War occupation of the country).
For the kimono, this led to a revolution in decoration (if not in form). German synthetic dyes were introduced, in addition to mechanical looms and faster, more cost-effective ways of producing pattern on fabric.
Naturally, many women still wore traditional hand-crafted kimono spun from fine silk during the early 20th century. But with their bold colors and bright designs, these modern styles marked a historic break.