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 ?
Jusaburo Tsujimura is one of most authentic doll artists in Japan. Most of his dolls are traditional Japanese in Kimono, but he also makes some western style dolles. They are so sultry as if they are really alive.
There is “Jusaburo” museum shop in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.
You can learn doll making there as well. If you have any chances to visit Tokyo, it is one of the places worth to take a look at.
By the way, Jusaburo is 80 years old men still very active and energetic ! He was born in 1933. Today one of Japan’s finest doll-makers, he actively expands the scope of his art into areas such as costume design, direction, and script writing for stage and film. His performances have received high acclaim including those in America, Europe and Hong Kong.
Kanzashi, which is a hair ornaments in traditional Japanese hir styles, came into widely use during the Edo period (1700s), when artisans in Edo (present-day Tokyo) acquired the techniques of making Hana Kanzashi in Kyoto. These kanzashi are created from squares of thin silk fabric by a technique called “tsumami-zaiku.” Each square is multiply folded and combined with another to create patterns of flowers and birds.
There is a video showing how tsumami zaiku kanzashi is made.
kanzashi came to be used as hairpins to put hair together with the growing aesthetic sense of women. What is more, kanzashi came to have a different aspect with the change. Other than the tool to put hair together, kanzashi became complete accessories to decorate the hair. It is said that the change of kanzashi made more variations of women’s hairdos.
At the present time, Edo tsumami kanzashi are popular hair ornaments worn at some formal occasions like New Year’s Day, coming-of-age ceremonies, and so on.The coming of age is Jan. 14 this year and many Japanese women wear Kimono to attend the ceremony. We see beautiful kanzashi that decorate the hair on such occasions.
These skilfully hand crafted flowers are made of Japanese Chirimen, silk and fine quality cotton. Our kimokame artisan, Rumi Tsuchihashi made them by Tsumami Zaiku technique. This eye-catching accessories are good for your western fashion.
Just like everybody enjoys coordinating daily cloths, it is fun and exiting to consider which Obi to choose for Kimono and how the Obi is tied.
There are a lot of ways of tying Obi depending on the situation you wear Kimono, how old you are, and what kind of Obi and Kimono are selected.
Most formal and standard Obi tying is called “Niju-Daiko”(二重太鼓).
“Niju-Daiko” is possible only when “Fukuro-Obi” and “Maru-Obi” are used because other kind of Obi are too short and too narrow for the tying.
“Niju-Daiko” is suitable for many kinds of Kimono, such as “Tomesode”, “Homongi”, and “Komon”.
When you wear “Furisode”, “Fukuro-Obi” or “Maru-Obi” is chosen as well, but the way of the tying Obi should be gorgeous like below.
This tying is called “Fukura-Suzume”(ふくら雀). “Fukura-Suzume” means Sparrow with its feathers puffed out in winter to warm itself. This leads to wish Wealth and Prosperity, a traditional lucky motif in Japan.
On the other hand, if you wear “Yukata” or “Komon”, a casual Kimono, “Hanhaba-Obi” is good for them.
One of the popular tying of “Hanhaba-Obi” for young girls is “Bunko-Musubi” (文庫結び).
It looks like ribbon or butterfly, but “Bunko” means “Book Box”.
Nowadays, there are few opportunities to wear Komono, even in Japan.
Then, think about how to utilized Obi in a different way.
How about for a table runner ?
If you have only 2 humble Tsumugi Kimonos as your hand and need to wear either one of them at New Year Party, which do you prefer ?
The entire image of Kimono changes depending on the coordination with Obi.
In addition, accessories for Kimono, such as “Obijime” and “Obiage”, as well as “Haneri” play roles of “spice” that pluses a nuance.
“Obijime” is the strap that holds Obi.
“Obiage” is the scarf-like fabric that covers inner strings and decorates the edge of Obi in front.
“Haneri”, that is not shown in the pictures this time, though, is the fabric that covers and decorates the collar of “Juban”, Kimono underwear.
Now, there are 3 patterns of coordination for each !
A. This kimono fabric is called “Some-Oshima” (染め大島), a kind of “Oshima-Tsumugi” (大島紬) that is very famous fabric produced in Kagoshima prefecture.
Usually, the pattern of “Oshima-Tsumugi” is inwoven, however, the pattern of “Some-Oshima” is dyed after the fabric is woven.
A-1 Oshima with Tsumugi Obi
A-1 is coordination with “Tsumugi” “Nagoya-Obi”, “Tsumugi” “Obijime”, and yellow “Shibori” “Obiage”.
A-2 Oshima with Maple Obi
A-2 is coordination with Maple motif “Nagoya-Obi”, thin & round “Obijime” with color ball charm, and light-green “Chirimen” “Obiage”.
A-3 Oshima with Chrysanthemum Obi
A-3 coordination is with Chrysanthemum motif “Nagoya-Obi”, thin & round triple color “Obijime”, and yellow “Rinzu” “Obijime”.
B. This Kimono fabric is called “Yuki-Tsumugi” (結城紬), that is very famous “Tsumugi” produced in Ibaraki prefecture. Its inwoven pattern is “Sakura” petals.
B-1 Yuki Tsumugi with Fukuro Obi
B-1 coordination is with “Fukuro-Obi” of openwork, green flat “Obijime”, and light-green “Chirimen” “Obiage” (same one in A-2). ”Sakura” motif “Obidome”, a brooch like accessary for “Obijime”, is put as an additional accent.
“Fukuro-Obi” is usually for formal or semi formal Kimono, however this is called “Share-Bukuro” (洒落袋) that is for Komon Kimono.
B-2 Yuki Tsumugi with Hitta Nagoya Obi
B-2 coordination is with “Chirimen” “Nagoya-Obi” with dotted pattern called “Hitta” (疋田), thick & round “Obijime”, and “Obiage” with same fabric as “Obijime”
B-3 Yuki Tsumugi with Stripe Nagoya Obi
Finally, B-3 coordination is with “Nagoya-Obi” with Stripe “Tsumugi” fabric, black flat “Obijime with “Obidome” (same one as in B-1), and red “Shibori” “Obijime”. This “Nagoya-Obi” was remade from the fabric that was originally Kimono.
Leaf peeping in autumn is one of popular seasonal events for Japanese people along with “O-Hanami”, Cherry blossom viewing, in spring.
Especially, maple leaves with their color changed in red are very beautiful, so that, they are one of the most popular leaves in autumn.
Japanese people have loved nature and incorporated it into their lives since ancient times.
As you know, Kimono is one of the representatives.
Traditionally in Japan, you will be regarded as “Iki” (粋), meaning snappy, if you take the seasonal fashion in advance just before the beginning. But, if you wear Kimono with Sakura motif in autumn, you will be regarded as “Busui”(無粋), meaning clunky.
Maple leaf is very popular motif for Kimono and Obi as much as Sakura.
Maple leaf motif Nagoya-Obi
In general, motif of colored maple leaf is loved very much as a symbol of autumn, however, do you know there is a green or non-colored maple leaf motif for Kimono ?
You can wear Kimono with motif of green or non-colored maple leaves in “non-autumn” seasons.
Of course, winter is not the season because all the leaves fall down from the trees.
In that sense, from spring to early summer will be the good timing.
Maple leaf motif Komon Fabric
As mentioned earlier, Japanese have valued the seasonal sense, and not liked to take one non-seasonal item in the different season for long time.
Recently, however, emerging modern Yukata fabric tends to be free from the old traditional sense of value.
Usually, colored maple leaves are not used for the pattern of Yukata, that is worn in summer, because it is the symbol of autumn, but as you can see in the below picture, it is actually used now !
Maple leaf motif Yukata Fabric
Although, this may be unacceptable for senior Japanese people who adhere to traditional seasonal sense, changes like this could be one of the keys for younger generation to carry on the torch of Japanese cultures with which enjoying and developing.
What is “Obiage” (帯揚げ）? Have you heard of the name ?
It is one of decorating item for women wearing Kimono, and it is common way these days.
(Men do not use Obiage for their wearing Kimono.)
However, the history of putting Obiage is not very long.
It is said that a Geisha in Fukagawa, Tokyo, invented Obiage as a combination with new Obi decoration, called “Taiko-Musubi” in around 1877.
The purpose of Obiage is to hide the string that bands Obi on Kimono.
Obiage used for Taiko Musubi
Obiage is shown on the edge of Obi, and between Obi and Kimono
Then it became popular around 1907.
So, when you look at the pictures drawn before 1870′s, there were no women putting Obiage.
Now, there are many Obiage with a variety of colors and textures sold.
Because they are so pretty and beautiful fabric, we thought that it would be very nice if they were used for scarfs wearing with modern cloths.
Although many of you may have heard the word, it is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17 and 20th centuries.
“Ukiyo”(浮世) literally means “Floating world” where current life exists, but not exactly real life or another life.
So that, the motifs of Ukiyoe had been not only beautiful landscapes but also, sexy lives, dramas, and fashionable cultures at that time.
At beginning (about 1657-1763), most of Ukiyoe motifs were beautiful women and Kabuki actors.
Motif of beautiful woman was limited to high ranked prostitute, or hetaera, at first, then expanded to Geisha, waitresses in the restaurants, and even to ordinary pretty young women.
Allegedly, Hishikawa Moronobu (菱川師宣) is the pioneer of Ukiyoe, and one of very famous Ukiyoe artists we know. His representative work is “Mikaeri Bijin” (見返り美人), meaning “back looking Beautiful woman”.
Mikaeri Bijin by Hishikawa Moronobu
Kansei San-Bijin by Kitagawa Utamaro
As Ukiyoe played a role of poster or bormide for Kabuki actors, it spreaded to deal with Sumo restlers, as well.
In the mid-term (about 1764-1803), Ukiyoe artist started picturing daily lives of Samurai and went into illustrating books, which became one of thier important works.
Illustration in the book “Tokaidochu Hizakurige” by Jippensha Ikku
Latterly (about 1804-1868), in alignment with sublimated town culture of the society, themes of Ukiyoe diverged into details, where areas of “Landscapes” and “Birds and Flowers” developed and came into fashion.
They depicted daily lives, travel lives, and admiration for nature of the people, humbly but outstandingly.
Katsushika Hokusai is one of the reporesentative of this time, and he is one of the most famous Ukiyoe artists we know, as well.
Fugaku Sanjurokkei Sunsyu Ejiri by Hokusai
Flower by Hokusai
It is said that he influenced Vincent van Gogh , a famous impressionist painter from Netherland in 19th centuries.
Hokusai was so mysterious that it has been said that Toshusai Sharaku (東洲斎写楽) and Hokusai is a same person although Sharaku has been treated as one independent Ukiyoe artist, who suddenly disappeared after his short term activities.
Otani Oniji, a Kabuki actor, by Sharaku
There were hundreds of Ukiyoe artists, and it is impossible to describe about all of them !
Ukiyoe had another aspect that played a important role of “media”.
For example, when famous people died, their portraits were printed and published with their past record and condolences.
It can be said that Ukiyoe had some influece on the newspaper that develpled in later period.
Now, we found fabrics for Kimono and Juban that have motifs of Ukiyoe, and made them on sale on our shop page. They are very interesting and rare items.
Indigo dyeing was born in ancient times and has been existing over the centuries in various regions in the world, such as India, China, and Japan. It was known and traded as well in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Britain, Peruvian, Persian, and African civilizations.
India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World, that is approximately 6500 years ago.
Supposedly, existing oldest indigo-dyed fabric is the cloth used to wrap Mummy in Egypt about 4000 years ago.
In Japan, we call our indigo dyeing “Ai-zome”(藍染め).
It is said that the origin of Ai-zome came from China about 1800 years ago, which is relatively short history in the world of indigo dyeing.
Below is woven fabric for Kimono, called “Kurume-Gasuri”. This is also Ai-zome.
Do you know that Ai-zome is not only for Japanese traditional products, but used for modern clothing ? Representative example is Denim Jeans. However, most of them made in bulk and sold cheaply are not real Ai-zome, but dyed chemically.
As you know, Jeans were born in USA in 19th century.
Now, a Japanese company of Ai-zome has developed the quality of Jeans with their artifice of Ai-zome, called “Japan Blue“.
It is “Rampuya”(藍布屋) that produces “Momotaro” (桃太郎) Jeans.
Rampuya is also providing classes to experience Ai-zome dyeing for yourself.
If you have a chance to visit Kurashiki in Okayama, why don’t you find your experience of Ai-zome ?
There are a lot of historical traditional crafts all over Japan, including clothing, food, interior, stationary, and so on.
If you would like to see and learn about them, why don’t you visit “Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square” ?
It has database of detail information about the crafts in each area.
When you look at the category about woven fabric, there are 34 kinds of fabric in 17 prefectures, and for dyed fabrics, there are 11 kinds of fabric in 7 prefectures.
Of woven fabric kinds, most famous among Japanese people are, Yuki-Tsumugi, Kihachijo, Oshima-Tsumugi, and Kurume-Gasuri for Kimono, and, Nishijin-Ori and Hakata-Ori for Obi fabric.
Tsumugi weaving is not gorgeous, but has humble beauty of the texture that represents typical Japanese wording “Wabi Sabi”.
Tsumugi was loved mostly by ordinary people, and has been worn on casual occasions in these days.
Nishijin-Ori is, on the other hand, is characteristic of its luxuriousness weaving with gold and silver strings, that used to be worn mostly by noble people in days of old, and has been utilized in formal situation these days.
Of dyed fabrics, Kyo-Yuzen, Kaga-Yuzen, and Bingata is vary famous among many Japanese people, even those who are not interested in Kimono.
Kyo-Yuzen is provably typical Kimono fabric that most of foreigners will imagine.
Kaga-Yuzen is dyed by the almost same way as Kyo-Yuzen, however, its is less gorgeous and characteristic of its vermiculate leaves in the pictured pattern.
Kaga-Yuzen (vermiculate leaves)
Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square also has a showroom in Aoyama, Tokyo, where, hundreds of hi-quality folk crafts all over Japan are regularly shown and you can actually buy them.
They also provides biweekly exhibitions and most recent planned exhibition in the Square is about the crafts in Fukui prefecture (from 8/31 to 9/11). It seems to include ceramics, lacquer crafts, edged tools, and paper crafts.
Traditional Craft Square_1
Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square 2
Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square 3
If you plan to have a trip to Japan and would like to find something Japanese traditional, why don’ t you check the site before you fly ?
You may be able to find the aspects of Japanese tradition that you do not know yet !
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” !
As those who are interested in Kimono culture or Japanese history may know, “Juni-Hitoe” is a diminutive for Kimono with several layers. This plant was named after “Juni-Hitoe” Kimono by some Japanese who regarded how these flowers lay resembling that of “Juni-Hitoe”.
Juni-Hitoe was worn by noble women in “Heian” era around 10th centuries.
Although “Juni” means twelve in Japanese, it does not necessarily have 12 layers, but usually ranges from 5 to 7 layers. And,,, total weight of “Juni-Hitoe” becomes around 20 kilograms !
Ladies in this era must have endured to be fashionable…
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…???
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.