Sunday, 27 January 2008

Different types of obi

There are many different types of obi that can be worn with kimono. However, the type of obi used would correspond with the formality of the situation and the type of kimono to be worn.

Hanhaba obi
Hanhaba obi is the most casual type of obi (after heko obi) and is usually worn with yukata, particularly if it is one of the 'cheap' ones made of polyester. If a hanhaba obi is nice enough (such as the one shown below, made of silk), it may be worn with a very casual komon. In my opinion, hanhaba obi is the easiest to tie as it does not require any obi makura or obi age, and only rarely needs an obijime, and even some of the more complicated bows are simpler than tying a normal otaiko.

The name 'hanhaba' means 'half width' which indicates its narrowness (anything between 15 and 17cm). It is called so because it is half the width of any other obi.

Nagoya obi
Nagoya obi is an obi which has two widths - one wide part, where it measures 30cm, and is used for the otaiko (drum) bow that is so commonly seen on kimono, and one narrow strip, measuring 15cm, which is used to wrap around the torso. The narrow length is achieved by folding the obi and stitching it into place, with just enough of the wide strip to form an otaiko bow. Each nagoya obi usually measures between 300cm and 400cm.

Nagoya obi is the one you see most on women. This is because it is the easiest to use to tie otaiko, and is perfect for everyday wear in that sense. Also, most nagoya obi are decorated with patterns suitable for such use (no auspicious motifs, etc).

Fukuro obi
Fukuro obi is the second most formal obi. It is very commonly used when wearing furisode (long-sleeved kimono). While it cannot be seen in this photo, the fukuro obi is not the most formal as only 60% of one side is decorated. The underside and a part of the obi which will be hidden as it is wrapped around the torso are left plain. This makes the obi less heavy and the lack of intricate work all over allows for lower prices, making fukuro obi a very popular option for formalwear.

Fukuro obi are usually around 30cm in width, and over 400cm long. The extra length is needed in order to tie the intricate bows one sees on furisode.

Maru obi

Maru obi is the most formal type of obi. Its dimensions and formality level are the same as the fukuro obi, yet unlike its alternative, it is embroidered and decorated everywhere on its surface, thus making it heavy and expensive. This type of obi is usually used in weddings, although it can be worn in any other instance a fukuro obi is needed. The only real difference when it is worn would be its weight.

Tsuke obi
Tsuke obi is also known as 'easy' obi. This is because the obi comes in two parts. One is the narrow strip which is used to tie around the waist, and another is the bow which comes already pre-tied for you! All one needs to do is hook in the bow to the narrow strip and tie the strings around one's torso (and hide them) and voila! Instant obi.

In the case of otaiko obi, the tesaki is sewn to the side and has to be folded in and tied into place with an obijime, as well as having to add an obi makura and obiage.

I am certain there are other types of obi as well, but for now, that's all! Byebye!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week

Okay, so I've been going on an obi-buying spree as of late, and as such, I have an overabundance of them to show!! So yeah, for the next few weeks, all we'll be seeing are various obi I've bought.

This particular one was just paid for earlier this week. It cost US$11.50 even though it's synthetic, merely because it's PURPLE - the one colour we all love on kimono yet is so difficult to find! I bought this because it'll match one of my plum kimono perfectly! *yay* What I really like about this obi, despite its utter shortness at 320cm, is the motif - ORANGES!!!! Ahhh cuteness! *heart*!

To be honest, I don't know what I'm going to do with it. The only kimono that'll match it right off the bat would be that ume (plum) kimono I mentioned. Nothing else I have will really go with it! I can't see it with blue, nor with green (ugh).. My black kimono is more an orange-red type than purple... The pink might be too bright to... x_x oh well.. I'll probably try to find something else that'll match it! Hehehehe.. Turrah!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

What is zori?

All shoes worn with kimono are always thonged sandals, or a type of sandal, and with the exception of one particular type worn in the summer, they are always worn with tabi. The ones shown in the pictures above (which, incidentally, is my whole collection - not a very wide range, is it?) are called 'zori' and are most commonly worn with kimono.

The formality of the zori worn depends on the material it is made of, the colour, and the height of the heel. For example, a zori made of lacquered wood is casual as opposed to a zori made of leather. As with all things involved with kimono, the more metallic colours and gold and silver, the more formal. With regard to the height of a zori's heel, it is very similar to Western shoes in that the higher it is, the more formal. For example, a casual zori will only measure 1.5cm in height while a formal zori may measure up to 3cm in height.

It is considered fashionable for one's foot to be hanging over the end of the zori. Yes, it is as uncomfortable as it sounds, at least until you grow used to the sensation. If your foot is short, but fat, it is advisable for you to loosen the hanao (the strap) so that it does not press down on your foot too much. I made the mistake of not doing so, and had bruises on my foot for two weeks after.

Kimono exhibit in Llangollen

Yesterday, I went to a kimono exhibit in Llangollen. It was hosted by a member of the Immortal Geisha forums, and I wanted to go and show support (as well as see a small part of her very large collection hehehe).

I wanted to go with Mel, but she had a class in the morning, so she couldn't go. Instead I went alone. And yep, I didn't tell my dad either, till I was on the train, on my way to Birmingham! Hahaha... Telling him about it made me really nervous, though, cos I was going alone!

My schedule was supposed to follow the 8.40am train - unfortunately, when I got to Birmingham New Street, my next train was cancelled! So I had to wait for the follow-up train after the 9.40am train anyway. Geez, and to think I could've slept for a while longer!

When I got to Ruabon, I was really really nervous, cos the place was one of those unmanned stations in the middle of nowhere - just a small village, that's all! I got really anxious cos I didn't know which bus stop to wait at either - luckily my instincts were right! Unfortunately, it started raining as I got on the bus :(

I finally arrived in Llangollen after nearly 6 hours of travelling (this includes taking the bus from my flat to the tube station lol). Bad thing was - I got off a stop too early and had to walk nearly 2 miles to get to the place! My zori were abit too small too, so my feet were hurting really badly. Plus, the weather was horrid - cold and rainy and VERY windy! I'll never complain about Concord winds again!

When I got to the Royal International Pavilion at last, I felt very much like a drowned cat. But I was happy cos I was finally able to meet Takenoko - who would actually be the first person I ever met physically who also wears and has an avid interest in kimono! And so I waltzed in, and there she was!

She was quite surprised to learn I was shira (that's my username on IG). She didn't really know if I'd really travel all the way. And she was surprised to see me in a kimono too! Yes yes, I travelled in a kimono.

I wore my salmon pink wool kimono (thank God it was this and not a silk one - imagine if one of those got caught in the rain!!) with a white obi (shown in this post - the very first picture). The design on the kimono (very faint woven hexagons with flowers in them) is black, so I thought the gray in the white obi would match. I completed this outfit with a black obiage and a black and pink obijime I found that just happened to match the outfit perfectly!

The juban I wore was also really perfect for it - the sleeves fit, the shoulder area was a good size, the soft feeling of the synthetic juban protected my skin from the rough wool - and the pattern on the juban were little pink flowers and green leaves, which complemented the kimono perfectly! The zori I wore wasn't a perfect match, but it looked alright anyway - it was brownish orange and black.

Anyway, back to the story! Takenoko introduced me to her friend Maureen, who was also there and learning how to sew (they had different sewing projects every week or day I think) a haori (or rather, extending a haori). Takenoko kept up with the chatter, and she was very friendly! She made me feel very warm and welcome ^__^

Her collection display was gorgeous! I especially loved this one furisode, which started off as red at the top and faded to white at the bottom - the colour was rich and bright and very striking! I'll steal a few pictures from her slideshow later to post hehehe... I did want to take some pictures, but unfortunately, my camera has no battery >____< *sighs*.. Well, I did take a couple of pictures with her camera, and she said she'll post pictures, so I'll get them from her later! When I was there, there was a couple of elderly ladies who came in - they were quite interested in kimono, and especially the one I was wearing! Takenoko showed them around and explained alot of things to them. I hoped they enjoyed it! Hehehe.. Later on in the day, this woman came in with her two grandchildren - a boy and a girl. She took them around and showed them many things - and used me as a model for when she wanted to explain things! They were a cute family ^^ After it was over, Takenoko was very kind and drove me to Ruabon station - what a relief, I tell you! Not having to walk all the way again, amongst the puddles and all. Eventually, I got to Shrewsbury (it's only half an hour from Ruabon) and got to my B&B. I stayed at my usual place - Sandford House Hotel, which was quite close to the town center and a very nice place to stay at! The breakfast they serve there is good too - and the marmalade is absolutely gorgeous! Stayed there for the night, and the next morning, I woke up, and got ready. I wore kimono again, because it was the easiest to transport (if I wanted normal clothing, I also would have had to bring along a winter coat and another pair of shoes - troublesome!). And so, I'm wearing my green wool kimono with the same white obi, obiage and juban as yesterday, but with a matching green obijime.

After breakfast, I packed, checked out, and went to Concord where I saw Patrick (my brother) and a few friends, namely Sam, Joan and Eva! I spent most of my time with Eva though, and now I feel bad cos I didn't spend enough time with my brother :( Oh well, I'll make it up to him next time by bringing him loads of food! Hehehe..

In Concord and in my travels, I did get alot of stares (ehehehe in Concord, I even heard one boy hissing to his friend to 'not stare!!!' - it was cute XD) and compliments. And the best thing is the kimono were so cheap (the pink one's US$5 and the green is US$3) that everyone who asked was amazed! Haha. In Concord, there was even a girl who asked if there was a shop in UK that sold these sort of things!

A number of older women stopped me to tell me how lovely I looked :) It was really nice hehe, although I felt really shy about them =^_^=

Anyway, it's starting to get a little late, and this post is getting a little long and too wordy, so I'll leave it here. I'll post pictures later when I get them! ^_^ Bye!

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week

As promised last week, here is the other obi I bought together with the flower medallion obi! Details are as follows:

This little baby cost US$9.99 - no one fought me for it!! I don't understand why, it's such a beautiful little thing, made of silk and with no horrid disfigurements at all. The colour combination is great! A maroon background, with a gold pattern and bits of black in it. Very gorgeous. I don't actually know what I can wear it with o_O With what I have now at the moment, I was thinking my dark gray wool kimono would match. Maybe even the yellow and red momiji kimono too.. Or that 'graphic chukka' one. Nyehehehe!

I just received this and the other obi today! It's lovely - both have a very soft material! Not really my favourite type to tie, but I think it's worth it, just for the looks!

I was right about last week's obi - it certainly does match my green wool kimono (the one I'm wearing now - I'll post a separate rant about that later hehehe), and adds colour to it - it really brightens up the whole outfit, and makes it look younger! Hehehe..

Anyway, I'll post this now and do a separate one for my little adventure yesterday! Turrah!

Monday, 14 January 2008

What is koshihimo?

Koshihimo (pronounced koh-she-he-mow) are the long narrow strips of cloth with which you secure (tie) your kimono with. These are always hidden from view, and it is considered to be a major faux pas for it to be showing.

These handy little strings are very useful - not only are they used in tying your kimono, but they are also very useful (almost necessary in fact) when tying most obi styles! They can also be used to tie your sleeves up when doing housework so that the sleeves are not dirtied by water/oil/etc.

This item is one of the absolute musts to have when one wishes to wear kimono, even if it is the simple yukata.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week

I decided that this will be the kimono item of the week since I just paid for it! I bought it to match my green wool kimono (the one that's hard to match?). The details are as follows:

Lovely myriad of colour combinations! Just think of the sheer number of kimono I can match this with! I currently know my green wool one and pink wool one are perfectly acceptable with this - and even my gray wool one too!! *hearts*

This obi is made of silk and was dyed various types of flower medallions. I'm not entirely sure what the flowers are, but I know there's kiku (chrysanthemums) on it! It cost only US$5.02 too - a good bargain! I don't think there are any large visible imperfections on it either. *yay* I bought this together with another obi - that one will be next week's kimono item of the week! ^^

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Just a short rant..

*sighs* I've been really stupid lately. I just can't believe I forgot my camera charger at home!! I really had alot of plans for my camera too... :( I wore a kimono today - dark blue komon, silver snowflakes pattern, with a bright orange obi. I might wear this set again next week to the Kimono Exhibit in Llangollen (that's in Wales) but I may wear my green wool kimono + new white obi. Or maybe my salmon-pink wool kimono with same obi. And that together with the glittery white wool cape I bought in Japan. Yeah...

So anyway, I wore a kimono this morning (before I had to take it off - I was having menstruation cramps and the kimono wasn't helping!) and this time it was really really neat, unlike the green and white set I wore last time. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries just as I was about to take the first photo!! Ohh the agony.... I think I may have to borrow Mei's camera next week..

On the brighter side of things, I proved that I CAN wear a kimono that's 149cm in length, and make it look normal, with a decent ohashori and everything! *yay* this opens up soooo many doors to kimono-buying! *sniggers*

Anyway that's all for my rant. Turrah!

Monday, 7 January 2008

What is tabi?

Tabi are the split-toe socks one wears with kimono (though not with yukata - that is too informal for tabi). They are usually the first thing to go on after one has put on certain undergarments (except for juban - there are undergarments to protect juban from the skin too, usually made of cotton) because it is difficult to put them on once the whole ensemble is on.

Tabi is an important part of a kimono ensemble, and any ensemble would look incomplete without it (once again, except for yukata). Tabi are traditionally a plain white, but may come in various colours, patterns and types of cloth. They may be a patterned red, or made of lace. Plain black tabi are usually worn for funerals only.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Closet Feature: Kimono Item of the Week~~

Alright, this time it's a little different, cos I thought I'd post one of my yukata sets instead. Now, I'm only posting this as a set because this was the way the seller posted the picture :P Yes, I bought it 2 n a half years ago as a set, and it came like that as well as with 3 koshi himo. The whole set is actually in Malaysia at the moment cos I wear it the most often there. I just noticed I typed the word 'set' once in every sentence in this paragraph. LoL.

This may be one of my favourite yukata of all those that I have. I really like the colour of the dark blue and white together, and since I rarely wear dark colours on my actual clothes, this makes for a nice and refreshing change. Also the cloth is good quality and feels lovely against my skin, plus it's so breathable! To come to think of it, I've worn this yukata more often than any of my sets altogether! o_O

I will also admit that I really love the obi, mainly for the fact that it's plain white and will look good with any of my coloured komon! The joy ^______^ Maybe I really should've brought it back to London, just so I can wear kimono more easily.. (otaiko obi is much harder to tie compared to hanhaba obi!) Just as a small note, hanhaba obi = obi where the width of the whole obi is around 6" or 15cm.

I have pictures of me wearing it (in fact, I'd just worn it less than a month ago!) but those are in my brother's laptop and I forgot to take the pics from him! Oh well... Next time then! ^^ Turrah!