Monday, February 7, 2011

Kimonos Are Not Just For Girls

My obi was lovely. 

His and her kimono.

The Meaning of Kimono in Japanese:  
kiru - to wear + mono - thing

tomesode:  kimono with a pattern on the bottom half worn by married women
furisode:  kimono with long, flowing sleeves worn by an unmarried woman

obi:  the belt that holds the kimono in place

To set the record straight, we never knew until last weekend that the kimono is worn by both genders.  We just always assumed that a kimono was worn only by females. We felt very naive, but that's why we're learn and experience Japanese customs.  Kimonos can still be worn as a daily attire, but are usually just worn for special occasions such as: tea ceremony, weddings, New Years, and other formal festivities throughout the year.  Sumo wrestlers are also often seen wearing the kimono in public.

This past weekend we participated in a local Japanese cultural event.  Along with mochi pounding (a rice cake paste), games, food, tea ceremony, and art was the opportunity to dress up in a kimono.  There were many families (including young children) dressing up.  Our younger kids didn't want to dress up, so it was just us adults and it was an experience. 

We were taken back into a dressing area with very tiny, elderly, Japanese women helping us dress.  There were beautiful patterns of kimono and obi to choose from.  I found that the female kimono is usually very vibrant in color, while the male kimono is not.  Its actually quite monotone...typically in shades of black, or dark colors. 

My kimono was nice and comfortable UNTIL the obi was put on.  It felt like I was putting on a corset.....very tight.  I envisioned the little Japanese lady hanging onto the end of the obi since she just kept tugging on it to get it just right.  It probably didn't help that we'd just eaten.  When we were finished being dressed, the his/her kimonos looked great.  To complete the look were wore Japanese sandals with socks.  We didn't wear traditional tabi socks, but got our own socks to work just fine.  Walking around in the kimono is truly a wonderful feeling.  Your posture feels straighter, and to wear such an elegant piece of fabric was truly a unique experience.  Not to mention, I'm pretty sure I lost a couple inches off my ribcage by the time I took it off. 

I would love to purchase a kimono before we leave Japan.  They can be quite costly ranging in the thousands of dollars.  There are used kimono shops and flea markets that offer a less expensive way to purchase such a lovely piece of Japanese tradition. 
Japanese sandals.


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