Friday, April 03, 2009

It may take a village to raise a child, but..... takes just 2 Japanese women to put a

foreign woman in a kimono.

If someone were to ask you what "traditional American clothing" was, how would you answer that? For me, when people ask (and it happens more often than you can imagine), I always think of the clothing style from Gone With The Wind....the petticoats and hoop skirts, parasols, lacy gloves, Scarlett O'Hara run amok. Or, I imagine the American Indian style of clothing....leather, beads, feathers...a Dances With Wolves R Us sort of thing.

One of my great-grandmother's family was from Czechoslovakia, but I don't have anything that represents that culture in anything I own, clothing-wise. My other grandparents were from such a mish-mash of cultures (we're not really sure where they came from) and I definitely don't have anything in my wardrobe that would be representative of any distinct culture...unless you count the Mexican dress I bought and wear as a cover-up in the summer.

A quick search on the net for "traditional American clothing" brought up, as I imagined, mainly the Native American costumes. There were a couple of "Uncle Sam" costumes and quite a few sites for flannel and American flag patterned shirts. I expected to see a couple of jeans-and-tee shirts thrown in, but, least not on the first 4 or 5 pages.

In my search, I also typed in "traditional Japanese clothing" and it's amazing how many sites and pictures came up....kimonos, yukattas, getta, tabi, hakama...all traditional and all you can find being worn pretty much anytime, anywhere, here in Japan. Young (babies and small children) and old alike wear the traditional style of clothing. Most women (and some men!) have at least one kimono to wear, especially to official functions such as weddings and funerals. There are simple, everyday kimonos and then there are some very elaborately designed and expensive ones. You can buy a ready-made one or you can go the more expensive route and have one made, with your family crest printed onto the material (on the back, up by the collar).

In the 18 years I have lived here, I have, on occasion, worn a yukatta (a light-weight, summer kimono), but I had never put on a regular kimono...until today. I'm not sure why I got it in my head that this is something that I wanted to do, but I did, and since I had an afternoon free, I spent about 3 hours learning about the kimono and all that is involved in putting one of these babies on.

Whether you are wearing a yukatta, simple kimono or more elaborate kimono, you will probably need help getting it on. I know of some women who, after taking classes in how to wear a kimono, are able to do this on their own, but for the majority, they need help.

My friends Kyoko and Hiroko volunteered to help me. Kyoko has many kimonos that belonged to her mother (who wore one everyday, as did most women 50 years ago). She knows a lot about these very interesting articles of clothing and I appreciate her taking the time to help. Hiroko was there today as support, adviser, and photographer! It was a really nice afternoon with two people I do so enjoy spending time with!

Kyoko was very nice, explained many of the ins and outs of the kimono and answered the questions I had. It really was a great learning experience and one that I'm sorry I waited so long to do!

It's amazing how much time goes into putting on a kimono. I also had to laugh at the irony because after working so hard to get a more "girlish" figure, the kimono pretty much makes all that hard work disappear!! With all the belts and ties and padding, there really is no definition....a boyish figure is what you are trying to achieve!

I had expected the whole experience to be more "torture by kimono" than anything else. After hearing stories about how tight the belts are and how you can't sit down and how the whole thing is really more uncomfortable than anything else, I was expecting the worst. But....maybe that was good, because wasn't that bad!! Kyoko and Hiroko kept asking me if I was okay and really....I was! (I'm thinking that after spending most of my high school and university years in jeans so tight I sometimes had to lie down to zip them, the kimono was easy-peasy!! No problem at all!!) are some of the pictures...from start to finish...that Hiroko took for me. (Click on the collage, if you'd like, and it should come up bigger in another screen!)

And by the way....if anyone comes to visit and wants to experience this....Kyoko is the woman we need to talk to...maybe Hiroko will take pictures and offer tips and advice, too!!


Flamingos in our garden...

no...they aren't your basic garden variety flamingos...they...are a bit more elegant...yes, a little faded, but still lovely!!


phd in yogurtry said...

You look snug as a bug and quite elegant ... How did it feel? I kind of like the idea of hiding all that girlish figure. At least for a change. Especially if it involves a disappearing tummy! You have on the thin white socks? And did you wear those stacked thongs?

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

This is so awesome.

I would like to hide my clutter butt in a kimono.

You are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this sort of thing with us. I learn and enjoy so much from you.

Anonymous said...

Makes you appreciate the simplicity of jeans and a tee that we take for granted daily. You looked great.

smalltownmom said...

The kimono's beautiful, and so are you!

hulagirlatheart said...

It's very elegant and lovely. I love the tradition. I would sweat like a muthah wearing that around here in the summer, though.

Karen MEG said...

Debbie, what a fascinating look at the world of the kimono, and you do rock that look, by the way, you look fabulous!!!!

I tagged you for a mom-meme, if/when you get a chance, girfriend..

Nancy said...

You look so great! I remember it being so much fun to do that with Kyoko. Your pics make me miss NIWA and Kyoko!

Nancy said...

Awe, that is so cool! You look beautiful!

I'm thinking even Houdini may have a hard time with all that.

Traditional American clothes?

Levis and T's lol

Helena said...

You look amazing!!!

Janet said...

You're making it more and more hard for me NOT to want to visit!

3rdEyeMuse said...

what an amazing experience ... I am honestly surprised you took so long to try it out ... thanks for the photo collage, too.

you look MAHVELOUS, dahling!! Simply Mahvelous!