Fuji and meisen!

May 16th, 2004 by Anna

When I last wore my fuji hitoe, I noticed that the sleeves had been hemmed up. Intrigued by this discovery, I restored them to their original length, and tried it on again today. Now that 15 May has passed, it’s time to wear unlined kimono and nagajuban.

Before and after! I wore a hanhaba obi that’s 18cm/7″ wide, so once again it’s interesting to see how the proportions change the overall look. With the longer sleeves and wider obi, I almost look short! There’s also a side view with the hanhaba obi. I like how the wisteria go all the way to the sleeve corners now that they’re longer.

Two days ago I received a purple meisen haori that I won on ebay – lucky me, despite its age, the wrist-to-wrist measurement is wide enough to look good. Being that its sleeves are the same length as on the wisteria kimono, I tried it on today to see how it looks:

Obi widths: another experiment

May 5th, 2004 by Anna

Today I tried tying my obi even wider: 20cm (8″).

(Larger photo.) So far I like this width the best, it seems to give the best overall proportions. The obi I’m wearing is the same as in the previous post, just the opposite side!

I chose a wisteria kimono for this month of May, which is when wisteria come into full bloom. It’s unlined, so technically it’s a bit early to be worn yet (unlined kimono are worn starting from 15 May).

Obi widths

May 3rd, 2004 by Anna

The subject of obi widths relative to a person’s height recently came up on a forum I frequent. This is the result of my attempt at two different widths (15 and 18cm respectively, or 6″ and 7″) with a chuya obi:
obi widths comparison

The idea is to find which proportions look best on a person. Normally 6″ is the proper width, however on taller women a wider obi can look better. I’m 180cm (just under 5’11”). And apologies for the bad lighting, my apartment is difficult that way.

A couple weeks ago I tried on a new hikifurisode that I got for a steal on ebay, with the fukuro obi tied very wide, just for experimentational fun: photo here. Only 3cm (1″) is folded under at the bottom. It came out looking a bit wrinkly due to the fact that the obi ita (stiff support) is only half that width, but makes for an interesting study in proportions. The obijime would need to be wider for it to look best, I think.

Mokume adoration

April 2nd, 2004 by Anna

I received my mokume shibori kimono in the mail last week. Pardon the cliché: it took my breath away. The photos posted earlier hardly do it justice: the shibori is astonishing.

My gallery has been updated to include it and a beautiful komon with dark dyed stripes, acquired at the same time as my mokume shibori kimono. I took new photos of both.

o Mokume shibori hitoe

o Dyed stripes komon

20th-century Japanese postcards online

March 26th, 2004 by Anna

An article in yesterday’s news on an exhibit titled “Art of the Japanese Postcard” lead me to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts website, where nearly three thousand unique postcards are available to browse online!

o Art of the Japanese Postcard: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at the MFA, Boston

o Direct link to the 2,820-postcard collection

They’re very nice quality images, and if you have a Java-enabled browser, you can zoom in on them.

New links!

March 23rd, 2004 by Anna

I had time to browse Japanese sites today and found all sorts of neat kimono diaries (blogs). They can be found in the “links” menu at right. All the new additions are in Japanese; if you can’t read the language, I recommend @nifty’s translation service. Copy a URL, paste it into the URL field and select the bottom menu item to translate from Japanese to English. (The larger field below is for translations of text.) Enjoy!

As an explanation of my links organization: the “links” menu on this page is for personal sites, while the online references and recommended pages (under “divers”) contain links to informative sites on symbolism, kitsuke, galleries, sellers and more.

Kawakatsu: Kimono (1936 and 1956)

March 15th, 2004 by Anna

A few weeks ago I came across a vintage book published by the Japan Tourist Bureau in its English-language series on Japan, titled “Kimono” by Kenichi Kawakatsu (whose first name is also transliterated Ken-ichi). There are two editions, one published in 1936 and another in 1956. While there are other publishing dates, the first is series #13 and 101 pages long, while the second (first published in 1956, apparently) is series #3 with 135 pages. No ISBN for either. You can find copies of both on Amazon’s zShops by doing a search for Kawakatsu (due to the different transliterations of his first name, to get all results just search for his family name). I’ve seen the 1956 edition sold on eBay from time to time as well.

Both editions have only a few textual differences. The book is written from the author’s point of view, as if he were talking with a French friend called Monsieur B., supposedly a famous artist from Paris in love with kimono. It covers all the basics, albeit in a quaint tone different from other books on the subject. The best part is the photos and their captions, which differ between the two. I’ve photographed those in the 1936 edition, since I didn’t want to risk putting the fragile book through the scanner:
“Kimono” (1936)
Please save any photos you like to your computer (right click on a photo and choose “save image as”) because my website does have a monthly bandwidth cap. The photos vary in quality in the books themselves, so if you see speckles, bad contrast and such, they’re in the original too, although I’ve cleaned them up a bit. These are about twice the actual size.

The most interesting photos – in my opinion at least – are the kitsuke directions! In the 1936 edition these illustrate how to tie an otaiko musubi (numbers 24-30, there are no written directions). The 1956 book, on pages 42-46, both describes and shows how to put on a houmongi and tie an otaiko musubi. The main difference in the otaiko musubi is that in 1956 its shape was more standardized, tied with less of a tilt.

Also in the 1936 edition, photos 16 and 36 have the same lady wearing a wonderful shibori haori. Photo 18 shows “best zouri for young ladies”, intriguing because I’d never seen ones like that before! The “fashions change” plate is interesting as well (it’s slightly transparent, which is why you can see the page behind it).

In short, if you come across these books and can afford them (I paid about US$20 for each on Amazon’s zShops), I recommend them for their vintage appeal.

Odd woven stripes kimono

March 12th, 2004 by Anna

My curiosity being piqued by this recent arrival, I tried it on yesterday to see how it would look with an obi. The obi I’m wearing is one I made myself two years ago for a costume, out of some tapestry-weight fabric. It’s 12″ (30cm) wide and about 10′ (3m) long. Unlined, but folding it in half makes it sturdy enough to stand up without wrinkling – I wore it without an obi ita.

I think it looks better when worn? Had to cheat a bit on the length again, as it’s not quite long enough to be worn longer with an ohashori (fold at the waist). I used a koshihimo instead of a kohlin belt, my third try this way – it really does seem to work better, it’s easier to adjust the collars properly and no wrinkles are formed if you’re careful.

This kimono’s weave is strange, rough and a bit stiff. None of my other woven kimono are as rough, in fact they’re all very soft – the two tsumugi are nice and crisp, very easy to fold. This one isn’t crisp, though its stiffness makes it easier to dress in than kimono made of satiny silk. In any case, it will make a nice around-the-house kimono if I ever get myself in gear and start wearing kimono that way regularly.

(Kimono are comfortable if you do a lot of housework, since the obi supports your back and you can tie the sleeves out of the way with a tasuki – a sash/cord that’s tied in a figure eight around the shoulders, taking in the sleeves, and crossing over in back. It’s also comfortable to sit in kimono on a big, square cushion [called zabuton in Japanese] on the floor, as once again the obi serves as back support.)