Oiran was a kind of courtesan of highest rank in Edo period (1600-1868). Some people may express it a prostitute, however Oiran became celebrities of their times outside the pleasure districts. Their art and fashions were often set trends among the wealthy, and because of this, cultural aspects of Oiran traditions continue to be preserved until these days.
For men, in order to see Oiran, they had to frequent the red-light place until they were allowed to see by Oiran.
In that sense, they had to pay the fee several times without getting any services. When finally allowed to see, Oiran came to the meeting room accompanied by several young female attendants.
Once Oiran sit down in front of the man and started smoking. During this time, she made an intuitive decision whether she would like only to talk with him or give him “full” services.
If she did not like the men, he would never be allowed to see her again !
When Oiran went outside officially, they made a long gorgeous line like parade, called “Oiran-Dochu”(花魁道中).
This meant “Fashion Show” to the people in the town, as well.
Takao-Dayu was one of the most famous Oiran in Yoshiwara (吉原) which was in Taito-ku (台東区) in Tokyo. Takao-Dayu was not only one woman, but it was the prestigious name taken by several women who were beautiful and had special skills. It is not clear how many women succeeded the name, there are 4 views that say 4, 6, 9, or 11. The most interesting skill that one of the several Takao-Dayu had was capability to fix the clock !
Another interesting fact is that those who frequented to see Oiran were not only men, but young women also did.
It was not because they were gay, but they wanted to learn their fashion sense, like Kimono pattern, hair accessary, and coordination.
Ms. Uchiyama, who makes Kimono gown was coordinator of this event and played “Watering Girl” role !
There was a male Shitate-ya (仕立て屋), who is very rare nowadays.
His live sewing can be seen at YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/KimoKame
Male Kimono maker
The house was decorated with several Kimonos and fabrics.
Although, the events finished and there were no live exhibition of sewing now, the place is very nice to visit.
It is only 400 Yen to enter the Museum.
If you have a chance to visit the suburb of Tokyo, why don’ t you try ?
May 15 is Aoi Festival (Holly Hock festival), one of the most solemn and graceful festivals in Kyoto. The festival has been called Aoi festival for the hollyhock leaves used as decoration throughout the celebration. These leaves were once believed to protect against natural disasters.
There are two parts to Aoi Festival : the procession and the shrine rites. Featured is a gorgeous parade in the style of the ancient Heian Court. Everything in the parade is adored with the hollyhock leaf crest, also called “aoi”. The parade leaves the Kyoto Imperial Palace at 10:30 in the morning. The 700 meter long parade passes Shimogamo Shrine and heads for Kamigamo Shrine.
The procession is led by the Imperial Messenger. Following the imperial messenger are: two oxcarts, four cows, thirty-six horses, and six hundred people.All of which are dressed in traditional Heian period apparel decorated with aoi leaves. The procession starts at 10:30 on May 15 and leaves the Kyoto Imperial Palace and slowly works its way towards the Shimogamo shrine and finally the Kamigamo shrine.When they finally arrive at both shrines, the Saiō-Dai and Imperial Messenger perform their rituals. The Saiō-Dai simply pays her respects to the deities and the Imperial Messenger intones the imperial rescript praising the deities and requesting their continued favor.
In the ninth century, Emperor Kanmu established the seat of the imperial throne in Kyoto. This represented the beginning of the Heian Period in Japanese history. Emperor Kanmu recognized the deities of the Kamo shrines as protectors of the Heian capital, and established the Aoi Matsuri as an annual imperial event.
You may think you are a time traveler when you see this festival.
If you get a chance to visit Japan, where do you want to go?
As far as we know, many foreign tourists would answer “Tsukiji,” ”Shibuya,” ”Asakusa,” and so on. All of these spots in Tokyo are popular among tourists. They would also answer, “Kyoto” or “Nara,” where many historical shrines and temples are located. Most Japan guidebooks for foreigners focus on Tokyo and Kyoto, so these answers are only natural.
Do you know how many prefectures there are in Japan? Japan is a small country, but it has, surprisingly, 47 prefectures. If you are interested in those prefectures, you can get useful information just by going to shops in Tokyo. These shops are called “Antenna Shop, run by a number of Japan’s prefectures, cities and regions as a means to introduce and market themselves, as well as to acquire a sense of consumer trends and tastes outside their own borders.
There are about sixty of these shops in Tokyo—the most advantageous location from which to promote regional specialties—and each presents a friendly introduction to a prefecture or region in Japan. Antenna shops encourage travel and tourism, and promote unique food specialties as well as new ideas and products using traditional ingredients.
In a recent survey of Tokyoites the main reason why they go to antenna shops is to pick up regional food products. The next popular answer was that it was interesting to explore antenna shops followed by picking up brochures for future trips to that prefecture. The other big answer was that people were longing for foods and products from their hometown so came to antenna shops to pick these up.
Some antenna shops also house restaurants: for example, one of the Yamagata Prefecture shops features a popular restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine made with local produce, overseen by a well-known Yamagata chef.
After getting the real taste of a place, customers may be tempted to buy special souvenirs of that locale to round out their “out-of-Tokyo experience.” Traditional local crafts are always popular, such as the handmade lacquerware sold at the Ishikawa Prefecture store, or the lovely kyo-sensu (fans) sold at the Kyoto store which is in front of Tokyo Station. Sometimes, maikos are coming to Tokyo from Kyoto and show their dance performance at Kyoto antenna shop. They also have a facebook page.
Even though Japan is a small country, every area has its original culture. By seeing those shops, we are sure that you will find a prefecture you want to visit in Japan. Or you may even feel like you’ve actually visited many prefectures!
Today, I would like to introduce Hiromi Asai, New York-based kimono stylist and designer. She produced kimono fashion shows not only in the United States but also in Europe such as at Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and The Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, Sweden in April, 2011.
She founded MODE & CLASSIC LLC in 2010. MODE & CLASSIC is now recognized as a unique kimono styling / design company in the United States and presented bi-annual seasonal fashion collection, starting as “FUSION” for Spring/Summer 2012 at BK Fashion Weekend.
She is also giving kimono dressing lessons as well as kimono rental service in New York, starting at $40 for a beginning session. Licensed by a Japanese academy, she is also trained to certify students in the art of dressing others. Unfortunately, even many Japanese people don’t know how to properly put on a kimono. Putting on a kimono without help is almost impossible. The kimono with all its accessories can include a dozen components, and the type of fabric used and the manner in which the kimono is folded vary, depending on the occasion and the wearer’s social status. Indeed, the kimono has a long history — more than 1,000 years — but most of the rules that the Japanese rely on today were established just 150 years ago, or less. The kimono has been worn much more freely for most of its history.
We hope that many people enjoy wearing Kimono & watching Kimono.
Why women wear kimono or yukata these days ? Women who wear a kimono or a yukata, men who adore it and find it extremely sexy, or women who think about cosplaying in Japan oriented outfits.
Besides women’s dressing and makeup, their Kimono hairstyles also play important role in the enhancement of their persona and confidence. You can make a number of hairstyles to go with your Yukata, or Kimono. Although the hairstyle which was worn by the old traditional Japanese women is difficult to be made and no more in vogue these days but something similar to it is commonly made by Japanese women in today’s time.
Traditional Japanese Hairstyle
Hairstyle which suit with kimono and yukata outfits. Updo-hair which show the lines of the face shapely are most popular hairstyle. It may be good idea for adding some Japanese flavor to wear kanzashi hair accessories with. This type of hairstyles are very easy to make.
Modern Kimono/Yukata hairstyle
Modern Kimono/Yukata Hiarstyle
Do you want to try those hairstyle ? There are many websites which shows step by step instruction with images. Also, there are more than 50 videos which shows how to arrange various hairstyles for Yukata where you may find your favorite one. Click here to view the videos and try some !
Exhibition of “Bingata”(紅型) Kimonos in 18-19th centuries has been held in Suntory Museum
in Tokyo Midtown, in commemoration of 40 years since Okinawa was returned to Japanese administration.
Okinawa used to be an independent kingdom, called “Ryukyu” (琉球), between early 15th centuries and late 19th centuries.
Located in the middle of three countries, China, Korea, and Japan, Ryukyu flourished as a base of intermediate trade. It extended the trading far even to South-East Asia countries, and finally had a strong relationship with Malacca.
In 1609, “Satsuma-han”(薩摩藩), a Japanese local reign at that time in “Kyusyu”(九州) area, invaded Ryukyu and put it under their control.
With influences of various countries by the intermediate trading, Ryukyu had established their unique culture, which seems to be deeply influenced by mainland China, and Japan especially.
As many of you may know, Okinawa was under American control during 1945-1972, because Japan lost in World War II. This experience must have influenced on modern Okinawa culture.
Coming back to Bingata exhibition, there were about 245 exhibits in the museum !
Most of them were for noble women in 18-19 centuries, and some were for children.
They were splendid and worth to watch.
Probably, the representative of Bingata Kimono that many people would imagine is the one like below picture.
Ryukyu-taste colorful picture on the vivid yellow like this used be that only for most noble, highest class royal women.
Although the shape of the Kimono of the above picture is modern Furisode actually, Ryukyu shape of Kimono was not like this. Can you tell the difference of the shape between those kimonos on below and above pictures ?
The shape in the below picture seems to have the influence of ancient Chinese close.
What found interesting are,
- Most of kimonos are not vivid yellow like above picture, but more rustic colors, which may have been influenced by Satsuma-han.
- The shape of the Ryukyu Kimonos for adult women was different from that of current Japanese Kimono. (This seems to be natural.) Namely, It was Ryukyu style shape that looked like between Japanese and Chinese. However, amazingly, the shape of the Kimonos for the children exhibited was completely as same as that of current Japanese Kimono for the children ! Why ???
- The happy motifs used for the patterns were “Sho-Chiku-Bai”(松竹梅, pine, bamboo, and plum) and “Tsuru-Kame”(鶴亀, crane and turtle), that have been completely the same in Japan.
Both “Ho-Chiku-Bai” and “Tsuru-Kame” derive from mainland China. However, it is not clear which, China or Japan directly influenced Ryukyu to take these happy motifs.
“Sho-Chiku-Bai” originated in China of 10th centuries called “宋”, and ”Tsuru-Kame” originated in China of 7-9th centuries, called “唐.”
Although there were no answers for the questions above in the exhibition, it was very interesting.
As they provide the guidance support in English, foreigners who are interested in “Ryukyu Bingata” should enjoy it.
Lastly, this is nice information for those who would like to enjoy “Bingata” but cannot buy it because of the expensiveness.
They sell cheeper “Bingata” products. Here are “Clear-file” and “Coaster” !
Summer has come. Japan has four seasons and we enjoy the changing seasons. In summer, it is very hot and humid. Therefore Japanese has been devised ways of avoiding discomfort. Japanese summer goods appeal to our sence of eye, smell, hearing, touch and make us cool. Make you cool with Japanese traditional summer clothes, interior, wind bell sounds, or any other items we present here and discover the Japanese traditional wisdom.
1. Yukata - The Yukata is a casual light cotton kimono for wearing in summer. Yukatas normally have very brightly coloured designs on them. Japan is one of the few modern countries where the traditional dressing is still “trendy”. Today we wear Yukata and go to the traditional Bon-Odori, summer festivals and fireworks shows. The relative simply design of Yukata means Japanese women can, with some practice, put this kimono on unassisted.
During the Heian period (8 to 11th century), the nobles wore yukatabira (yu - bath and katabira - under clothing) after taking a bath. In time, the term shortened to yukata.
Later, the wariors also started to wear yukata, and during the Edo period, when the public baths become very popular, the yukata became widely worn by the public.
In the old times, before the air conditioning, the Japanese people developed traditional ways to help cooling off during hot summer days… One very interesting technique, still largely practiced, is the use of the traditional furin. It is usually made of glass, ceramic or metal. It has a clapper with a string and a rectangular card.
In Japan, the furin is a very popular item during summer and is usually hung from the eaves of a house or in front of the windows. The distinctive sound of the wind chime signifies a breeze, providing some psychological relief from the intensely hot and humid summer. These wind-bells give poetic charm to the Japanese summers. There is also a fancy strip of paper called tanzaku that hangs from the bell’s clapper. When a breeze comes, the tanzaku swings and causes the clapper to hit the bell. This results in the bell’s ringing.
3. Sensu (holding fan) & Uchiwa – The history of the fan is not at all clear-cut. When you think of how simple the basic idea is, a tool that is a bit more efficient than a hand waved in front of the face, it is obvious that the fan is likely one of those inventions that sprang up at around the same time in most civilizations on the earth – at least the ones in warmer climates. The fan that symbolized position, and expressed personality, however, the fan that was art, seems to have developed in the East.
One early form appeared in Kyoto, in the ninth century, when the cost of paper was prohibitive. Ordinary records and such were kept on thin slats of wood (the kind you might see today being burned as votive offerings in some Japanese temples). It seems that someone got the idea of binding a number of slats together at one end and running a string through them at the other, thus creating a crude, but effective sensu.
The uchiwa has become a symbol of the Japanese summer and can often be seen with its wooden or bamboo handle stuck into the sash at the back of a light cotton kimono or even a pair of jeans. They are often painted or printed with designs that suggest cooling breezes or streams, or the flowers of summer. Uchiwa are also a popular advertising handout in Japan. They are made, in that incarnation from paper or plastic, with more garish illustrations, and often a hole in the covering material in lieu of a handle.
4. Uchimizu （打ち水）- a typical Japanese traditional custom which consists in splashing water over the pavement in front of the stores, houses, shrines, temples or inside the Japanese gardens. Traditionally, uchimizu is done by using a bucket and a wooden ladle, by people dressed in the traditional yukata. An interesting detail is that the water used for uchimizu is not tap water, but recycled or rain water.
Now ? We use a little bit more technologies to survive the heat of summer. These are just a few examples of modern summer items.
1. Cool Mattress Pads- Japan sells these cooling pads to go on top of your mattress. It keeps you cool while you sleep. An alternative to this is to fill Hot Water Bottles with Ice Water, wrap them in cloth and put them in your bed. Nothing like a cool-refreshing sleep to leave you recharged and ready to go.
2. Aisunon (An ice scarf) – Japan sells these re-freezable ice packs (AISUNON or アイスノン) that fit inside of this cloth sleeve that goes around your neck. It does help quite bit.
3. Higasa (Anti UV parasol) - Anti-UV parasols from Japan are exquisitely beautiful yet practical products that provide protection from damaging ultraviolet radiation, relief from the hot sun, and protection from light rain showers. These parasols have been crafted using a stunning range of fabrics, styles, embroideries, lace and other intricate embellishments.
Can you imagine ever using a parasol as a form of sunblock? Parasol usage is far from exclusive to Japan; it’s prevalent all over Japan, a country where having milky skin has been hailed as the ultimate sign of beauty since who knows when.
Between July and September, there are firework displays in cities, towns and villages all over Japan. Fireworks (花火, Hanabi) have a long history in Japan and are an integral part of Japanese summers. Hundreds of firework shows are held every year across the country, with some of them drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The Japanese considered fireworks (hanabi) as “flowers of fire” – brilliant bursts in various forms and colors of poignant beauty. Like the splendid cherry blossoms’ brief existence, fireworks flash in all their pomp and glory for a fleeting moment only to vanish into thin air. Since fireworks displays have become such popular events, it’s common to see many people strolling in yukatas (cotton kimonos), drinking cold beer and carrying uchiwas (round-shaped fans) – everyone from the neighborhood turned up for the festivity on muggy summer nights.
Going to fireworks
Girls wearing Yukata
With the public’s obsession with fireworks, it’s not surprising that Japanese fireworks have evolved into an art of its own. The Japanese created the fabulous design of a three-dimensional global dispersion that resembles a chrysanthemum, one of the most elegant presentations in pyrotechnics. The firework shell is globular packed with several layers of different colors of powder to alter the hue of illumination while burning in the air. When the casing explodes, each star uniformly positioned around the core is strewn into space in equal distance from the center of the blast.
Fireworks with the state-of-the-art techniques are grabbing much attention nationwide. The special effects of starmine, a succession of launches for speed and rhythm, or the water-born fireworks, a fountain spraying out a shower of sparks, have added a new dimension to the art of pyrotechnics. Even more astounding, the daylight fireworks streak through the cloudless blue sky like lightning bolts in Technicolor. The popularity of creative firework designs has inspired replications of computer graphic designs of swirls and lines, as well as fueled patterns of familiar figures in an assortment of colors, such as, a butterfly, snail, hat, fish, and even a smiley face.
There is a contest of fireworks that we can see how amazing each firework is.
Our artisans held a market on May 27th, in tribute to “GOFUKU NO HI”.
It was only one day event on 27th borrowing the bar space, but unfortunately not on the exact date of “GOFUKU NO HI” (5/29) because all of the members have their regular jobs to live on and the weekend was the only chance for them.
Tsuzuku Kimono Market on 5/27
“Tsuzuku Kimono” is the name of the group, which our artisans formed and belong to.
Its nature is something like small, modern “Guild” for Kimono artisans.
Artisan - Tsuchihashi Rumi
Artisan - Haha-Game
Artisan - Uchiyama Izumi
They plan and create their original products of Japanese-taste such as Kimono, bags, Post cards, stamps, and so on. There are another members in addition to our artisans, including only one male member.
Look at a part of their products sold on the market below. Thy are all made by hand !
Bags remade from Kimono fabric
Pretty stamps made of Plastic Erasers
Post Cards with Stamped Picture
Fans with Stamped Pictures
Coin Purse made from Kimono Fabric
Some of visitors were also wearing pretty Kimono, which contributed to radiate the feel of “Retro Japanese” on the market.
It is always fun to watch original coordination of Kimono and Obi of each person ^^/
Some of them may give you a hint for your new Kimono coordination with Obi.
Visitors in Kimono
They are all casual Kimono coordination that have different tastes and atmosphere from gorgeous coordination for Furisode or Homongi like linked below.
As this market was held only one day, “Tsuzuku Kimono” is planning to have another markets as many as possible soon.
Kimokame is cheering them on and supporting their activities !
On Sunday Aug. 25, Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel will be host to the spirit of traditional capital Kyoto and the previous life of Tokyo, when it was known as Edo. This show will feature classical dance performances by geiko and maiko from Kyoto, and geisha from Tokyo, a highly unusual combination of extraordinarily accomplished artists representing some of the nation’s most refined schools from its two most respected centers of Japanese dance.
Did you know that Maiko, Geiko and Geisha are different ?
The word Geisha literally translates to “arts person” or “one trained in arts” (gei = art, sha = person). It is also sometimes described as “women of arts, which is exactly what a Geisha is – a woman trained in the traditional arts of Japan such as dance, music, singing to name a few.
The word Maiko literally translates to “dancing child” (mai = dance,ko = child), but is also referred to as “dancing girl”. A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha who must must undergo a period of training that generally takes 5 years, where she learns the various “gei” (arts) such as dancing, singing, music etc before she becomes a Geisha.
The word Geiko is another way of saying Geisha. It is predominately used by Geisha of the Kyoto districts.
Now, you know the difference. Kyoto’s geiko and maiko at the Imperial are from Gionkobu, the largest entertainment district in the old capital, established at the end of the Edo Period. Tokyo’s geisha are from the Shimbashi district, an entertainment section of the city of Edo established in the Ansei Era between 1854 and 1860 and by the Meiji Era one of the new country’s most active cultural centers. The joint performances of Kyoto’s geiko and maiko and Tokyo’s geisha is a highly unusual opportunity to enjoy these two distinctive dance troupes at the same venue at the same time.
Even most of Japanese never have a chance to see Maiko dance nor Geisha dance. How much does the ticket cost ? Well, including dinner and dance performance, 32,000yen (400 USD)per person. That makes sense that I never had a chance to see that.
“Gofuku no Hi” (呉服の日) is coming soon !
It is May 29th.
“Gofuku no Hi” means Kimono day, made from the word play “GO(5)-FU(2)-KU(9)”.
Many Kimono shops provide discount sales on the day with pricing 5,290 Yen or 52,900 Yen on most of their Kimono products.
By the way, “Gofuku” is another naming of Kimono, meaning cloths of “Go”(呉), the ancient name of the country, a part of current China in the 3rd century.
So, allegedly the origin of Kimono, whose way to wear is to lay left side on the right , came from “Go”
We are also planning to “Gofuku no Hi” sales with new products on our website, such as “Yukata” (浴衣) and ”Noren”(暖簾).
As many people may know, “Yukata” is casual summer Kimono. Japanese people enjoy wearing “Yukata” especially on summer festivals, called “Matsuri”(祭り) in Japanese, or fireworks display.
Here, you can see many non-Japanese people are enjoying “Yukata”, as well !
“Noren” is traditional Japanese fabric dividers, hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows. They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric, allowing for easier passage or viewing.
"Unagi" reataurant 2
They are mainly used by shops and restaurants playing many roles such as a means of protection from sun, wind and dust, advertising, and signs for showing the shops and restaurants are open for business. If they are taken down from the entrance, it means that the shops and restaurants are closed.
Both “Yukata” and “Unagi” are kinds of summer feature that you may hear about in various opportunities in near future.
Can you tell the difference between “Tai” (鯛 Sea bream) and “Koi” (鯉 Carp) ?
You may say, ” Of course, it’s clear !”
Then, how do you think about below pictures ?
Which do you think they are, Koi, or Tai ?
The point that tells the difference is whether or not they have “Barbs”.
Please gaze at the above pictures, again. There are no barbs on sea breams.
By the way, May 5th is “Children’s day” and it is national holiday in Japan. It is also called “Tango no Sekku” (端午の節句).
Japanese families used to place “Koinobori” (鯉のぼりmeaning “carp streamer”) in their yard (or terrace if collective housing) on May 5th, in hornor of their sons wishing that they will grow up healthy and strong like Koinobori.
But, landscape with Koinobori fluttering in the wind can not be seen very often in the cities these says, maybe due to fewer children continuing to develop.
"Koinobori" over Sagami river
"Koinobori" over Sagami river
Back to the matter of barbs, can you see them on Koinobori above ?
Hmm,,, maybe hard to tell…
Western-style is a Christian-style wedding ceremony and is currently very popular in Japan. The ceremony is modeled on a traditional or stereotypical chapel wedding. With the two types of ceremonies, traditional and Western, available it was bound for the two to be combined into what is called a contemporary Japanese wedding.
Traditional wedding ceremonies are Shinto-style and are held at shrines. When traditional one is chosen, the wedding fashion will also be Kimono dress fashion. Brides wear traditional white kimono called shiromuku, and grooms wear montsuki (black formal kimono), haori (kimono jacket), and hakama (kimono pants).
Contemporary Japanese weddings are celebrated in many ways. On the beginning of the wedding day, the participants are to get ready at the parlor’s beauty shop. The responsibility of the beauty shop is to dress the bride, the groom, and the other participants in the formal Japanese attire. Dressing the bride is an important task because the bride is to change into several outfits throughout her wedding day. Due to the complexity of the design, dressing a bride can be difficult and time consuming and for this reason the bride must be the first person to arrive two hours prior to the wedding ceremony. The bride’s attire consists of an extravagant kimono, heavy make-up, a wig, and a head covering.
Average number of guests in Japan is 70 to 80 people and definitely this is the day for the bride no matter how much time required for dressing and makeup.
How much do they spend for the wedding ceremony ? Average budget for the wedding ceremony is $30,000 to $40,000 USD. Is it expensive or cheap? If they are happily ever after, then it is not cheap at all.
If you are interested in Kimono for wedding, this is the one and you can find it in our products.
Kimono is tradition but there is a movement among kimono designers seeking to bring the traditional Kimono into the modern world.
Tokyo Fashion Week ran from March 18 through March 24. There were green fashions from the designer who dressed Lady Gaga as well as a modern updates on the traditional kimono. About 15,000 people gathered for the Tokyo Runway Show to watch street styles, a show put together by Japanese creators seeking to switch to ready-to-wear brands and “real clothes consumers”. The third generation Kimono designer Jotaro Saito presented his “Futurism” collection, featured beautiful kimono in a variety of bold patterns and vivid colors with models wearing traditional sandals and being trussed up in “obi” sashes with fabric featuring horizontal-lining, checks and polka-dot.
Tokyo Fashion Week, 2012, Jotaro Saito
Tokyo Fashion Week 2012, Jotaro Saito
Kimono for daily wear is Jotaro’s philosophy. His stunning creations are a respectful nod to traditional kimono design bringing bold colors and modern patterns using the standard kimono form, which has taken the art form to new heights.
He has also carried his art form beyond Kimono to various works of art for restaurants, hotels, museums and shopping districts and his design work has been incorporated into household items and furniture.
And,,, we finally had a chance to participate in “O-Hanami” on April 5th at Canal Cafe that had beautiful scenery of rows of cherry trees along the canal in Iidabashi, Tokyo.
We enjoyed Italian food with wine and beer, watching beautiful cherry blossoms at night.
We call cherry blossoms in night viewing ”Yozakura”(夜桜), a special name for “Sakura” that shows different aspect of beauty at night.
Unfortunately, there was no chance to wear “Sakura” “Tsumugi” Kimono that was introduced in the previous blog……
Meanwhile, when the center of the blossoms turns to be deeper pink, their petals begin to fall as if it were snowing….that is another beauty of “Sakura”.
Coming to think about it,,, our “Shisho”(師匠), Meister in 70 years old, who teaches Kimono sewing, explained before about how people used to regard “Sakura” motif on Kimono when she was young.
That is, wearing Kimono with “Sakura” was ill-loved for ordinary unmarried young women because the society at that time did not allow them to be “Colored”= become attractive, or sexy, like the way cherry blossoms change its petals.
On the other hand, when it was war time, dying “with good grace” as if cherry blossoms falls in a short period was regarded aesthetic for men.
Interesting, isn’t it ?
None of above ways of thinking seems to be supported by many people these days, though…
As a matter of fact, “Sakura” motif Kimono and Obi is very popular among young women now !
Anyway, you know how deep cherry blossoms have impacted on the lives of Japanese people..
Season of enjoying cherry blossoms, “Sakura” in Japanese, is coming !
Sakura usually blooms in late March and becomes in full early April, but it is delaying this year because of the long lasting colder winter.
During Sakura season, we, Japanese enjoy various events that have something to do with Sakura. The most popular one is “O-Hanami” (お花見）!
O-Hanami, or Hanami as simpler, means enjoying Sakura watching with eating and drinking with friends. Japanese people love O-Hanami very much. Well,,, the purpose of some people may be to loon with delicious foods and drinks but not actually watching Sakura, though,,, it has been gracious Japanese spring seasonal tradition.
Today, I found a cherry tree in my neighborhood had its blossoms start opening.
This reminded me that I had a nice Tsumugi Kimono with Sakura pattern !
The blossoms are depicted by weaving.
Imagine, how nice to go to O-Hanami in Sakura pattern Kimono !
It is also called “Chinese New Year”, and there still exist customs that celebrate this “old” new year in some areas such as China, Korea, and Viet Nam.
The fist date (1/1) varies depending on the year, and it is usually between 1/22 and 2/19 of solar calendar.
Here, in Japan, people used to use lunar calendar until Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1872 (Meiji era), though most of people do not even know about it anymore these days.
On 2/11, we attended New year party, or “Shinnenkai”(新年会) in Japanese. It was an assembly for those who are learning Kimono sewing from Ms. Tanabe, a “Kimono Meister”. (I have learned Kimono sewing for more than 12 years !)
When you hear about a new year party in February, you may ask “Why new year party in February ?”
It has wonderful, beautiful, well-mended Japanese garden with small water falls, bridges, and water mills.
Look ! Water mill with its water frozen while wheeling !
The dish was not bad, but it did not make the attendees full, which was never cheap,,, but,,,taking the nice views and romms in independent traditional houses, which should require huge cost and manpower to maintain, into consideration, it’s OK (o_<)/
Ms. Tanabe, Kimono Meister, or , “Shisho”(師匠) in Japanese, has sewed Kimonos for 50 years. She has made more than 15000 Kimonos in her artisan life !
As this year marks 50 years anniversary for her, her students including myself, or “Deshi”(弟子) in Japanese, also celebrated her with her family.
In every “Shinnenkai”, “Deshi” have to wear their own-made Kimono !
Because of winter season, everybody wears coat outside.
Unfortunately, we missed to take pictures of their beautiful Kimono and Obi….
By the way, 2/11 is National Foundation Day for Japan.
Does this date have something todo with lunar new year…???
In your country, how do you cerebrate for you to welcome into adulthood ?
In Japan, a person’s at age 20 is considered their welcome into adulthood. Since 1948, Coming-of-age ceremonies, known as seijin-siki are held on the second Monday of January. At the ceremony, all of the men and women participating are brought to a government building and listen to many speakers, similar to a graduation ceremony.
Turning age 20 has some legal effects. You can have the right to smoke, drink, and vote. As a matter fact, drinking and smoking age is technically at age 20, actual age I should not disclose it here. Big difference between age above 20 and below is when (and if) you commit crime (I hope this will never happen to you and myself), Juvenile law is not applicable from the birthday of age 20. Well I have never committed crime and I am not a lawyer, so I cannot tell about it in details.
But I can tell you about the fashion on the day of coming of age. Women often wear furisode, a traditional Japanese formal kimono with long sleeves. At the end of ceremony, many of them go to shrine to pray for their transition from childhood to adulthood successfully.
In the day of Coming age, when I go out, I saw a lots of young girls who were wearing Furisode. When they are wearing those. they all look so pretty !!
They look like ‘Yamato-Nadeshiko (大和撫子）- an idealized Japanese woman’, but they live in the modern world same as like you ! When I tuned into 20, I was a collage student in the United States, so unfortunately, I did not have an experience of wearing Furisode and going to the ceremony. I really, really missed that !
In your country, are there any incidents occurred when a particular day comes ?
In Japan, we have ‘Koromo-gae’ means a seasonal change of clothing. June 1st is the first day to wear summer clothes and October 1st is the first day of winter clothes. School uniforms, government officer’s uniform (like policeman), people change clothing from those days.
Is there any special clothing for New Year’s or Christmas in your country ?
Maybe, your father wore a Santa Claus costume when you were kid. In Japan, wearing Kimono in New Year’s day is less and less popular in the last 20 years , but I realized that many people are stilling wearing Kimono in the TV program and TV commercials when New Year’s coming. Check these.
I thanks for those. Because they remind us that New Year’s is a very special and we should be formal. (But I am lazy in New Year’s and I like being casual because it is more comfortable.)
By the way, you may be wondering how we are cerebrating Christmas day. Most of us are not christian, so the popular thing to do on Christmas day is not going to the church though many kids believe Santa Claus like yours. We are going to have fun with our partner or friends. Some people go to a nice restaurant, a party, or Disneyland. Then, on New Year’s day, we go home and spend time with family quietly.
Anyway, the most important information for you is when the season’s sale starts. In Japan, most of the retail stores start from July 1st for summer sale and from January 2nd for winter sales. So if you are planning to visit japan, you better come on those dates.
It is easy to say that the guy is Lionel Messi of Balcelona. How about her ? You think she is one of the assistant for the presenter ? NO! She is a soccer player who led her team to the world champion of the Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.
If you can tell she is Homare Sawa, you are a huge soccer fun ! Though you do not know her name, you can tell which country she is from. Yes, you are right, she is Japanese ! How did you know that ? Oh, I see, you can tell from what she is wearing. Indeed. Sawa herself commented that she wore Kimono at Gala so that everyone knows she is Japanese.
In Japan , it is saying ‘Magonimo Ishou’(馬子にも衣装）means anyone can look good with the right clothes. She plays a beautiful soccer, but when she wears Kimono, she is just a beautiful woman and ‘Magonimo Ishou’.
Like most of the Japanese, I did not know even her name before the world cup 2011. Just one year ago, she was no one even in Japan but now she is cerebrating with the super star Lionel Messi, the third time winner of Ballon d’Or. I am so proud of her.
There used to be a lot of traditional, complicated customs to celebrate new years in Japan.
Being less interested in traditions, or maybe lazy, the customs are getting more simplified..
Here, you may get some picture of how modern Japanese new year celebration is…
When the year end is coming, usually aroud 12/25, a pair of KADOMATSU is placed in front of the entrance.
12/29 is avoided for the day because 9 sounds similar to the word that means “Pain” in Japanese.
Kadomatsu in front of Department Store
Basically, there are two types of KADOMATSU as below. Can you tell the difference ?
I decorated my home entrance with midget KADOMATSU and KAGAMIMOCHI. Cute ??
On 12/31, most of Japanese people eat “Toshikoshi Soba” noodle, wishing for long and healthy lives and preparing for a new year.
Then,,,when 1/1 comes, it’s time to visit either Shrine of Temple for “HATSUMOUDE” to make a wish !
I went to Anahachiman shirine wearing Kimono on 1/1 and Yakuoin temple on Mr. Takao on 1/2.
It was my first time to watch mountain priests in line chanting a Buddhist sutra.
I felt the atmosphere of awe.
Mt. Takao Priests
Mt. Takao Priests2
Mt. Takao priests3
When you go to a shrine, you should try “OMIKUJI”, a paper that tells your fortune.
My OMIKUJI was “DAIKICHI”, which means very good luck. It was nice new year start expecting something wonderful to happen this year, wasn’t it ??
Coming back from HATSUMODE, I enjoyed “OZONI”, a kind of soup with rice cakes.
This is one of traditional dish for new year, but this makes you fat if you each too many rice cakes !
Unfortunately, my new year holidays ended on the night of 1/2, as I had to start working from the night…..
KimoKame is a labor of love from a team of Japanese who want
to promote high-quality Japanese handmade products to the world.