For a few weeks, I’ve been taking a kimono “class” with a few wonderful ladies, and thought it would be fun to post pictures. For the first few classes I felt a bit like a doll, but I’m starting to learn how to put on kimono correctly, which is exciting! I also went shopping last weekend for kimono stuff and ended up buying a bunch of things, so I thought I’d post that too.
First off, just for completeness’s sake, here is my yukata I bought last summer:
Trying it on in the store, and me and Kenji in yukata. We had to go to Kyoko-sensei’s for me to get help putting it on!
yukata are cotton summer kimono, most often worn during summer festivals. They’re pretty light and easy to put on …relatively anyway. They’re also worn at onsen. obi is the tie that hold the whole outfit together (with a bit of help of himo, small pieces of fabric tied under the obi to keep it all together!). My obi is a “floppy” obi (don’t know the actual name), and is a recent popular style; usually they’re much stiffer, which can be harder to work with but can create different styles than mine. geta are the sandals you wear, without socks, with yukata. They’re really informal, but surprisingly comfortable!
Let’s start with pictures from my previous classes! My first class, Shimizu-sensei and Kanda-sensei picked me up from Kenji’s doctor’s office, where he teachers his two girls English on Fridays. Since they all live in Takasaki, it is too far to bike by myself there, and out of their way to pick me up. So we worked out that I’d come with Kenji to the doctor’s office when he had class, and they’d pick me up there. I was a little nervous, because even though I’d met them both once before, I couldn’t really remember them well. And Kenji wouldn’t be there to help me talk to them… so there were the usual funny moments of miscommunication! (nioi in Japanese means smell or stench, niao means “looks good on/to suit someone”. Rest assured I wont be mixing those two up again! *laughs*)
It turned out just fine though… both ladies are wonderful and lovely, and they bustled me to Shimizu-sensei’s gorgeous house and wasted no time getting me all dressed up in Shimizu-sensei’s gorgeous old kimono! And then of course, we had to drive back to the doctor’s office to show Kenji and model a bit before a wonderful dinner.
Posing at the doctor’s office
My second class went much the same way, with the addition of Kubokawa-sensei, the main kimono teacher. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you may remember me posting about a fantastic biwa player at a Christmas party last year. That player was Kubokawa-sensei, and besides being amazing on the biwa, she is also very knowledgeable about kimono. I got lucky to know these three wonderful ladies! Anyway, they had another kimono to dress me up in, and after switching obi (because I had seen it and asked about it), we visited a nearby shop to show off the kimono to the actual owners! After dinner, they dressed me up again in a different one, while explaining some of the differences between them. I also brought my yukata to one of the classes (how many have I had at this point? I can’t remember!) so Kubokawa-sensei helped me by showing me how to dress and tie the obi, and giving me various pointers. And then we had tea!
The first kimono, and the necessary posing
The second kimono was really beautiful… it looks dark from a distance, but up close you can see the details and design, and the subtle colors. It was also amazingly soft! Looking at it, I didn’t prefer it, but once I put it on it was a lovely feeling! I think kimono, like a lot of clothes, must really be worn to get the full feeling of it.
Finally, shopping! Last Friday afternoon, I had arranged with Shimizu-sensei and Kanda-sensei to bring me to a recycle kimono shop in Maebashi, where I found The One. Unfortunately, The One is too short for me, and my teachers wanted to talk to Kubokawa-sensei before letting me buy it and then regretting it later when I couldn’t wear it! So we called her and decided to go Saturday morning, and Kenji would come along as well. So Friday, the only thing I bought were tabi. tabi are the socks with the split toe:
They’re more comfortable than they look! They are supposed to fit your foot exactly though. These are a little tight now, but will be a perfect fit once they stretch a bit! I’ve been wearing them around the house a little to stretch them.
Saturday morning, we meet at Kanda-sensei’s house, and then drive to pick up Kubokawa-sensei. She asks me to come in because she wants to show me a kimono, and there on the floor is a gorgeous palm tree motif furisode. WHICH SHE THEN PROCEEDS TO GIVE ME, plus obi and all the accessories. I was literally in tears, because it is such a beautiful piece of art, and for her to just give it to me was shocking and humbling. Even now I feel teary typing this! I can’t believe I have been lucky enough to meet such wonderful people, but this gift is just through the roof. Ahhhh!
The furisode and details of the gold thread
So then we pile into the car, and drive to Maebashi, where we proceed to show Kubokawa-sensei the kimono I found. It too is a furisode. Furisode literally means “swinging sleeves” and is an ornate, long-sleeved kimono for young, unmarried women. Supposedly the swinging sleeves attract mates by the fluttering and bright colors, much like a butterflies wings! Anyway, I don’t think she was too keen on it at first, but I kept going back to it, and I think she finally understood. She told me, “even though it doesn’t fit perfectly, it will look good because you love it, and when you wear something you love, it shows.” So I got the furisode I wanted! The length of the sleeves, coupled with the difficulty in dressing because it is a bit too short meant I needed to get a practice kimono, and I found a cute komon that I really liked and seemed to fit the bill. Komon are mostly informal kimono with a continuous pattern. After that, it was just a matter of all the accessories. It was an expensive day, but WELL worth it! After we got home, I told Kenji I felt like a week had passed since that morning.
Since I was little I’d dreamed of owning and wearing kimono, but even after I came to Japan I didn’t really think it would happen. I don’t know enough to buy one by myself, new ones are amazingly expensive, and I never thought I’d find people willing to teach me how to wear one even if I did manage to get one. So to go from having no kimono, to having not one, not two, but THREE new ones was just… a bit breathtaking. And now that I have a few, I can see many more in my future. They make me so happy!
So, onto the pictures!
THE ONE. Front, back, and detail. Orange is not a color I’d ever see myself buying, but this one is too beautiful! I really want to display it in my apartment!
I found this obi hoping it would match my yukata… I don’t think it does very well, but it is really pretty so I hope to use it with something else! Also the zori I got to match all the kimono I now have, and the store gave me this bag as a gift!
Finally, the pile on the ground. I’m considering buying a special kimono chest for all my things, because a) I don’t want to lose them, and b) I want to keep them nice by storing them properly. We shall see.
So that is my kimono stuff so far. Sorry for how many images there are, but I’m pretty excited about this! They can’t do class this week, so I will go again next Friday, the 13th. Meanwhile, I’ll be practicing!