May 27, 2012

The Kimono Challenge: Part 1

Inspired by many other kimono geeks that I follow, I finally decided to try The Challenge. 

These are the ten items in the Challenge.
1. How did you discover and get into kimono?
2. Your dearest kimono item(s).
3. Your most used kimono item(s) (not counting jubans, datejimes etc.).
4. Your least used kimono item(s).
5. Your favorite coordination(s) so far.
6. What do you like and don't like about kimono.
7. Kimono confessions. Did you know that...
8. Your dream kitsuke items (or at least items you really, really want but can't get for whatever reason).
9. Your biggest kimono fears.
10. Your biggest kimono inspiration. 

Part 1: 1. How did you discover and get into kimono? 

My first experience if wearing kimono was Spring 2005 at a Hinamatsuri put on by Watsonville Taiko. I was one of many volunteers to help set up for the event. I was working with my friend Chrissy, who had donated armloads of flowers and greenery and needed help with the flower arranging. We arrived early in the morning at the JACL and had a great time working with the flowers. As the start time of the event came closer, the JACL ladies started helping to dress some of the volunteers in kimono and yukata. Much to my surprise, my friend had brought something for me as well: a yukata to wear at the festival! Luckily, there were people there to dress me, since I have absolutely no idea what to do.

Since the obi was a nagoya obi and Chrissy had no obi makura, obi ita, etc., the nice ladies tied the obi in a bunko style. I do not have a photo of myself from the Hinamatsuri, but I have a later photo of myself in the yukata, taken in the mirror.
As you can see it's a classic design, with camellia flowers. The obi has a navy and white katazome-style print and is polyester. I closely observed the ladies tying the obi so I could do it myself if I ever had a chance to wear a yukata again in the future.
Chrissy said I looked so cute in it, that she gave it to me (really a long term loan) as a going-away gift after Hinamatsuri! You see, I was moving to Arizona in a month. 

Over the next few years, I wore that yukata many times, sometimes "kimono style" as you can see above, and sometimes with a red/yellow hanhaba obi I bought a year later. I even loaned it to a friend (See photo on the left) to wear at the San Jose Obon in 2010. That was the last time I "owned' it. I gave it back to my California friend shortly after the obon; by then I had purchased a few more yukata and obi. 

Yukata have been referred to as the "gateway drug" of the kimono world and I totally agree. Sometime in 2006, I was given a real kimono from Japan- from a friend's Japanese grandmother. I have worn it twice... and didn't really know what I was doing at the time of course- I had no idea about sizing! It's a lovely vermillion komon with creamy white kiku, pre-WW2. It's too small, barely long enough, and has a small stain on it but I wore it anyway since I was so smitten by the whole style and mystique of kimono. I do have one (awful!) photo of myself wearing at an obon festival but I haven't been able to locate it yet, but if I do, I'll post it. 

So that's how it all started. I only wish I had become interested about 20 years earlier!

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