Today's post has a bit of a "Throw Back Thursday" vibe to it.  You see, it's all about kimonos.  Kimonos were, hands down, my favorite part about Japanese culture.  For my first four years in Japan, while I was on the JET Program, I lived in rural Kyoto prefecture in a region called Tango.  Tango was known all over Japan for lots of things, one of them being Tango chirimen, a type of silk traditionally woven in the area.  That silk is typically used to make kimonos.  

One of the coolest things about living in the countryside was that there were many women who still wore kimono on a regular basis, not only on special occasions, but even for their everyday errands like grocery shopping!  When I was invited to attend a community kimono kyoshitsu (basically a kimono class) I jumped at the opportunity.  I spoke absolutely no Japanese, but quickly learned some vocab such as left, right, under, higher, etc.

^^My first year of kimono kyoshitsu in 2007^^

I loved that class and attended it for three of the four years.  I met some of my dearest Japanese friends through that class.  I also looked for any opportunity to wear a kimono or yukata (light weight, summer kimono) while I was there.  Most of the time that was for a festival or other special occasion, but believe it or not they came around quite often!

^^Springtime Chirimen Festival in my hometown, Amino^^

^^Amanohashidate Kimono Matsuri, 2008^^

^^In home economics class, some girls in the school I taught in made their own yukatas, and invited me to the lesson where they learned how to wear them.^^

^^2010 Amanohashidate Kimono Matsuri, with my friend Ai.  She's like a kimono professional now!^^

^^I wore yukata to the local summer festival^^ 

^^Around Christmas (2008 maybe?) my friend Shinobu invited me to a special concert and dinner - everyone wore kimonos!^^

^^October 2013, even living in Osaka I couldn't resist going "home" to Tango for the Amanohashidate Kimono Matsuri.  My kimono teacher, Oe-sensei dressed me.^^

I acquired quite the collection of kimonos, yukatas and all the paraphernalia while I was in Japan.  Some I bought (used - new kimonos are thousands of dollars), some were given to me and I even have some custom made kimono "undergarments"!  Here's a little peek at my collection...

^^I don't wear my kimonos near as often as I would like (it would look weird, other than to a costume party here...) but I do keep them on rotation as "art" now so that I can look at them any time I'd like.^^

 ^^All the bits and pieces required to wear a's not a simple task!^^

 ^^The kimonos not on display stay neatly stored in special (rather pretty) kimono bags^^

 ^^Obis, or the "belt" worn with a kimono^^

^^My yukata collection^^

^^Zori...the only shoes more uncomfortable than stilettos.^^

Given my love of all things kimono, I got really excited when I discovered that they are totally in style now.  Not really my beloved traditional kimono, but jackets and tops that are made in the same style (like this, this, this, and this).  They are the perfect thing to cover my shoulders here in the middle east, where it's not ok to go out in a tank top, but it's way too hot not to wear one!  I decided they looked simple enough, and I would have a go at making one for myself.  There is no shortage of light, floaty fabrics to choose from here in Al Ain, and so many cute trims.  I think the fabric I chose, a sheer black is actually meant for making the shayla, or traditional women's head scarf worn here.  It was a bitch to sew with - very slippery, but worked out well in the end.  

Being my first one, it's far from perfect, but hopefully no one will notice! I can't wait to go choose some more fabrics and make some more!

Looking through all my Japan photos was definitely a blast from the past!  I had so much fun while I was there, and even though I've only been away for a few months, I miss it already!

No comments