February 7, 2011

Inspired by Okinawa - update

It's almost Cannibal Cabaret time, so here is my "hanagasa", the hat the dancers wear. It's took me several hours of looking for the materials and then making it. It wasn't hard to make, once I had my plan in place. It looks pretty good and is fun to wear! It does get heavy after about 20 minutes though.
Here is a picture of me in my costume. I don't have the make-up worked out yet, nor do I have my kachikachi in my hands, I still need to add the tassels. I managed to create this from one of my own kimono and a vintage, pre-WW2 haori, without a sewing machine and a small budget. I will probably hike up the red and white kimono a bit more because I like the yellow skirt.
Keep in mind, this is not intended to actually look like the Okinawa Yotsutake dancers, just give the overall impression of the dancers costume. If I had more time and this was a big production project for a large audience, I would be wearing an authentic yellow bingata kimono. So please, please do not assume this is intended to be authentic! I would never wear this to a Japanese Matsuri or anyplace where there might be people of Japanese descent. In theater, sometimes you have to take liberties with various cultural costumes for various reasons. For this reason, this ensemble is intended to be bright, high-contrast, and "larger than life". Plus the performance will be outside at night, so high-contrast colors work really well, not unlike the authentic Yotsutake costumes. This is one reason kimono for stage are often a garish with large, simple patterns as compared to regular kimono. They need to be able to stand up to bright theatrical lighting and look interesting from the audience's point of view. A dance or stage kimono is not a dress you wear during the day, it's a costume for a performance.
More photos soon...with make-up!


  1. Love the hat!!! I really love the Okinawa dancers' kimono ensemble, it's always struck me as beautiful.

  2. Funny about the hat, it has lead to a similar hat all in white for a performance artist! I've been working on her project for the last 3 weeks, I will post new hat and costume photos soon.

  3. what is a kachikachi? What is the significance of it?

  4. Hi Kaisachi
    Sorry I didn't answer this post while pack....I just saw it today! "Kachikachi" or "kachi kachi" are basically Japanese castanets and are used for folk dance, especially at Obon. The traditional ones are rectangular and made from bamboo. Cheap versions are usually round and red on one side and blue on the other and are also popular at Obon. They are easy to find if you happen to be in Japan-town.