Monday, 31 December 2007

What is juban?

Juban is a piece of clothing worn under the kimono, to protect it from body sweat, make up, etc. and is a vital piece in kitsuke. Juban come in an array of colours - red, white and pink, as seen above; there are also purple, blue and orange ones. The most popular colours, however, are shown above. Juban may also be patterned, whether it is woven into the cloth (like the white one above - it has clouds and streams and kiku woven into it) or dyed (the pink juban has a pattern of butterflies dyed all over it). Juban are never embroidered.

The juban is not noticeable when one wears kimono, except for the (usually) white bit just under the kimono collar, and behind openings in the sleeves. Therefore, it is not absolutely vital that the juban matches the kimono, although it is recommended. I, for one, have no qualms wearing a red juban underneath a white-and-green kimono, as shown by one of my previous posts. In fact, for me, I think that wearing such a contrasting colour may open up new areas of colour combinations, just like the set I was wearing in the post.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week

Okay, I decided to skip the word of the week, cos I think that it's actually a little difficult to do that, particularly since all the nouns are taken up by "kimono item of the week" o_O So now, we're skipping straight to my kimono item of the week!

As promised, one of the obi that MAY match last week's kimono (though looking at it again, that may not be the case) - a nice black obi, with multi-coloured floral patterns!! Really beautiful piece. It cost me around US$20.50, and I had to fight abit for it, but I think it's really pretty and will match many of my things! Why, I even managed to pair it up with my green wool komon (one with a hemp leaves pattern on it), and that one is HARD to match! I do have another two obi that I'm bidding on, though - and I certainly hope I'll win the striped one! ^_^
Another kimono it can probably match is the white-based one with red tie-dye kiku and shibori on it. It may match my newest maroon kimono too, though I'm not too hopeful on that. I think it'll also go with the salmon pink wool kimono I bought from RyuJapan. Terrible thing, that site. The sales made me spend so much!! And it was such a good deal I couldn't help myself! :P
*coughs* Now that I'm done with my ranting, onto the details! It's made of silk, and the patterns are embroidered on... A very nice length at 350cm, which is longer than usual, but given my fat body, the length will work nicely. Bought from kimono-wholesale on eBay. The colours are black (obviously) with olive green, purple, orange, red, two shades of blue.. I can't really state what specific colours there are, as I'm not sure myself!
*sigh* I really wish I hadn't forgotten to bring that book back with me.. It's called Kimono and the Colours of Japan and it's really good! It gives a list of colours and their names, and explains what people used to do in the past (and still do actually) to get that particular shade, for example dying the cloth yellow first then again with a raspberry red to get a rich shade of red. This is really good cos it helps me get the idea of what sort of colours will bring out the richness of any and every shade! A bonus would be all the little bits of info and history hidden amongst the text, and the kimono pictures used to demonstrate the colours. And for those who cannot read Japanese - fear not, for the texts are in both English and Japanese!
I cannot remember the name of the author, but this is one book every kimono enthusiast, or even textile enthusiast must have.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

What is obijime?

Obijime is the cord that holds the entire obi, and by proxy the whole outfit together. It is usually a woven rope that can be in one solid colour, various different colours, or even patterned. There are also different levels of formality for obijime, depending on certain variants (thickness, type of weave, gold/silver, patterns, etc). The thicker an obijime is, the more formal. Also, if there are gold and silver threads in an obijime, it is instantaneously formal.

The position of an obijime in an outfit is shown as follows, circled in green:

My collection of obijime:

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week

This purple kimono was one of my first - most certainly amongst my first batch from Yamatoku on eBay!! I got it for only US$1 o_O I really don't know why no one fought me for it, but I'm guessing it's cos there was quite a bit of grime on it when I first received it.. That and the fact that it's stiff and short at 150cm. It's even pushing it for me; I might have to wear it without ohashori or really really short. It's good that the length is alright - now all the grime's come off it!! I think the dry cleaner did something to it, even though she didn't clean the whole kimono. Now it's wearable!

The colour is a lovely deep purple with just a hint of redness to it. The patterns are floral medallions that are in a very light silvery gray colour. I believe that, due to the reddish tint in the purple, red accessories would look good with the kimono, bringing out its rich colour. For a subdued outfit, a black obi would be nice, perhaps with red obiage and obijime? Of course, the shades of red would depend on how subdued the ensemble is to be. For a brighter outfit, a number of friends recommend a white obi.

I have two obi that may match this piece. Next week, I will post one of them, along with commentary on the colours! ^_^ Ttfn!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Word of the Week

白い しろ・い shiro.i
Meaning: white
Type: i-adjective
Word use: 白い帯 shiroi obi
Meaning: white obi
Symbolism: purity, cleanliness
Tidbits of knowledge: White is considered to be the second highest level of formality after black for kimono. Also, for tabi and han-eri, plain white is always more formal than patterned and coloured ones.

My newest white and gray obi:

White juban can be both formal and informal:

A large number of my kimono are white-based:

Lovely white-based kimono with pink sakura blossoms, from

Sunday, 16 December 2007

What is obiage?

Obiage is the sash that covers the obimakura (a pillow that puffs up the obi and makes the bow look fuller) and keeps it in place on the obi. It is still visible from the front view of a person wearing kimono as the strip of cloth above the obi, as shown below, circled in green.

Picture taken from

My collection of obiage (yes I sooooo need dark colours!):

Since I mentioned it, I thought I might as well show an obimakura:

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week

This is the final part of my birthday kimono set!! My red sakura obiage and red-silver-gold obijime!

The obiage is made of chirimen (crepe silk) and has a slightly rough texture, but it's good cos that makes it easier to handle compared to slippery satin silks! The sakura are embroidered onto the obiage, so I think it's quite formal (chirimen is quite high up on the formality scale too, for weave type).

The colour is good, since it is a rich crimson colour. It is one of the few pieces of obiage that I have which is not pale/pastel/light!! I sense that I will be using it alot to brighten my ensembles... While technically it is a spring obiage, since the sakura doesn't really show up very clearly when you wear it, I'm going to stick with wearing it all year round! Of course, me being me, I somehow always manage to get the sakura part to show up on where the knot of my obiage will face outwards out of my obi... o_O

The obijime is more formal than is actually appropriate for casual wear, due to the gold and silver threads on the other side of the red part. However, I suppose I can get away with it if I tie it so the gold/silver hardly shows!

Now, as I promised last week, I'm going to put up pictures of me wearing my birthday kimono ensemble. These pictures were actually taken by myself against a mirror, then edited via Picture Manager to flip over the photos so that the folds look correct. Mind, my kitsuke that day was really really messy as I was in a rush to put it on, so there are quite a number of mistakes there. The main thing is that the otaiko part of my obi was reaaaaally crooked and flat at the top, and the obi was actually abit too short for my chubby body!! Oh well... Onto the pics!!
Front view. I don't think there are any *visible* mistakes.
Showing the sleeves. My arm is bent, if you hadn't realised it yet.
Otaiko from the side/back. This was where it was really messy cos I couldn't get it to sit straight and puffy.
That's all for now!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Word of the Week

菊 きく kiku
Meaning: chrysanthemum
Type: noun
Season: autumn, winter

Kiku is a very popular motif for kimono items. You see it everywhere, on kimono, obi, juban, obiage, obidome, haneri.... In fact, I'm surprised at how few items I have with kiku on them, since I seem to see them everywhere! I do want to buy this lovely little piece from Yamatoku... Here's a peek (click on pic to go to page):

Not sure if I'll actually buy it.. I can probably win a furisode on eBay for $45! But still, it's a nice kimono. Not really a good length for me, but I can still make an ohashori with a 152cm kimono! I just recieved a perfect juban for it too... *grumbles* Anyway, here are other pictures featuring kiku in my kimono, though it's hard to see without detailed pictures! Will have to take some soon...

My new black obi with kiku and other plantlife:

My white kiku kimono; it fits well over my red juban:

Details of my white kiku kimono. The kiku is made via shibori (tie dye method). If you look closely, the weave pattern of the cloth is also kiku with twisting petals.

My newest furisode for late autumn/early winter:

I actually have a really nice photo of an obidome of a coral carved into kiku in one of my books but that's in London... We'll just have to wait till I get back to see it then! That's all for now, turrah!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Men's obi

There are two types of obi men wear. They are called 'kaku obi' and 'heko obi'.

Kaku obi are stiff obi that are generally very narrow (5-6cm in width) compared to women's obi and come in dark colours such as navy, brown and black. While it is not the only pale colour used by men, white is still the most commonly seen colour for light-coloured obi. There is usually very little decoration, except for a little decorative stitching in a contrasting colour (eg. navy obi with white stitches, white obi with black stitches, etc.). Men's obi are usually worn off-center in the back and quite low on the waist, below the stomach.^^ Kaku obi is very versatile, and can be used formally or informally. However, like kimono and women's obi, this is limited to the type of material the obi is made of. Silk is, as always, most formal, with hemp being the least formal (although I'm not entirely sure if there are any obi made from hemp).

Different samples of kaku obi*:

Men's obi tied kai-no-kuchi style, front and back view**:

Another method of tying kaku obi, katabasami style***:

Heko obi are obi made from soft fabric that is used for both genders and is usually tied in a simple bow, though there are more feminine variations for women's heko obi. As with kaku obi, men's heko obi are narrower than women's. Heko obi is very casual; I've only ever seen it worn with yukata.

Women's heko obi, various styles^:

Men's heko obi, back view***:

* - from Kyoto Kimono
** - from JP NET Kimono Hypertext
*** - from this Japanese website
^ - from BOKUNAN-DO
^^ - from Wikipedia

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week~~

This was the third part of my birthday kimono set. This item here is a nagajuban, which is the layer that goes under the kimono. It is made of silk and the patterns on it (the description said 'treasures' o_O) is woven. It fits very nicely with my momiji kimono, as the measurements (except for the entire length) is just 1cm shorter than the kimono, so the fabric does not scrunch up. The length is perfect for me at 130cm so that it does not need extra tying at the waist, and yet is not too short so as not to feel uncomfortable.

I really love how just a hint of the juban's redness shows from the openings in the sleeves, complementing the orangey red parts of the green obi in the ensemble. Together with the red zori, obiage and obijime I chose, some brightness is added to an otherwise subdued outfit, making it look refreshing and younger.

I have worn this outfit once, and I do have pictures, although not very good ones, since my kitsuke that day was very messy. I will post pictures of those next week after I have posted the obiage and obijime and maybe the zori too.

Till then~

Friday, 7 December 2007

Word of the Week

紅葉 もみじ momiji

Meaning: (Japanese) maple
Type: noun
Explanation: Generally, non-Japanese use this word to describe maple leaves, as illustrated below.
Season: Autumn
Most commonly found in: kimono, obi

My red momiji kimono, and an upclose detailed picture:

The detailing on my red momiji and butterfly obi:

A red furisode with momiji patterns*:

* - again, this is an old picture and I do not have the source written down somewhere. In all likelihood, this is probably a kimono from a Japanese kimono rental website.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

What is obi?

Okay, so I haven't really been updating >.> *bad bad bad girl!* I don't feel like apologising though :P I'm hooooome, and it's been fun!!! I've been going out to eat alot, and if you'll go to 'Knits and Nibbles' (my sister's flog) you'll get to see what we've been having :3 yum~

Alright alright on with the post.. I'm gonna post my make-ups of the past few weeks in their own posts all in one shot, okay? And I'm changing the date too to make it look like I'd actually posted on time!! XP Here goes..

What is obi?
Obi, (帯, おび), pronounced 'oh-bee', is the name for the various sashes worn with kimono that keep the robe in place on the body, and as decoration. Silk is the most traditional and most formal material for obi, and is thus more commonly found when one searches for vintage items. However, synthetic materials are becoming more and more popular for obi in this modern age, as it is cheaper and, in some cases, easier to handle and store than silk. The oldest synthetic obi I have comes from the 1970s period.*

Formal obi for women**:

Cute winter themed nagoya obi***:

Side-back view of otaiko obi**:

Back view of bunko-musubi on furisode****:
Back view of tateya-musubi on furisode****:

I will post the two different types of men's obi next week! The various types of women's obi may be posted separately and spread out over a few weeks.. I will also do posts of the different types of kimono! Maybe I'll also start a post on various ways of tying obi and post instructions? Lord knows I have countless books to scan from!! All I need now is just a scanner.. Or maybe even taking a picture of the page will do!! Hmmm, there's an idea...

I have noticed that I have only posted pictures of women in kimono and women's kimono. I can't really help the women's kimono bit since I don't have any men's kimono (save a couple of men's yukata I bought for my brother..), but I will try to include more of the men's aspect of kimono from now on!

Till next time~ Toodles!

* - from Wikipedia
** - I got these pictures off the Internet a long time ago, but I can't remember where they are from. If anyone knows, please tell me so I can link them and give them credit!
*** - from an old auction on
Yahoo!Japan Auctions. I wanted to bid for it so badly!
**** - old pictures from


I thought I'd mention that RyuJapan is having a winter sale on wool kimono! They're going at US$1 a piece! Some are US$3 or US$5, but that's really cheap! ^_^ Have a look quickly before they're all sold out! (though most already are...)

EDIT: I went, I saw, I couldn't resist, I bought. Five pieces, to be exact, along with a han-eri. I had it shipped to my Malaysian home since I won't be here to collect it, but I don't know what my parents will say when they see them o__O Here's a peek preview, I'll post more detailed pictures when I see them!!

This first one is my favourite:

I needed some colours other than white, so I got these:

And then I decided I didn't want to have too many dark colours, so I got these:

Aren't they absolutely gorgeous??? I can't wait to wear them!!

Closet Feature: This week's kimono item!

As promised, here is my weekly kimono item! (yesterday's post doesn't count!)

This obi was also a part of this year's birthday gift, and I chose it to match with my green and gold momiji (maple leaves) kimono. It too is made of silk, and the design colours are in white, gold, orange, purple, dark blue and black. It measures 30cm on the wide part (which you see on the hanger) and 15cm on the narrow bit (trailing on the floor) and its length is 325cm overall. A little shorter than my other obi, but it's still wearable for someone my size!

Aside from being gorgeous, I'm absolutely thrilled that this obi can actually match 2 of my other kimono! It's always rewarding when I find that I can match one kimono with many obi or one obi with many kimono! Not to mention how much money that saves!

That's it for now~