Book Review – Kimono, Color Books Edition

Kimono (Color Books Edition)
by Motoko Ito and Aiko Inoue
Language: English
ISBN-10: 4586540370 Listing

This is the first kimono-related book I ever purchased, way back when. I found it on eBay and thought it would be a worthwhile investment. It’s the book that taught me what items I’d need, and how to tie otaiko musubi. It was probably the best kimono book investment I ever made, despite the fact that it’s only about 4 by 6 inches and 124 pages long. A while back I realized I couldn’t find my copy, so Naomi picked up a copy off Amazon and sent it to me, since the seller wouldn’t ship to the wild norths of Canadia. I’m so glad to have it back!

The book is a wonderful little resource. It’s separated into categories that explain types of kimono, types of obi, different weaving and dyeing methods, and dressing instructions. The information is concise and clear, without being patronizing. The obi-tying instructions are accompanied by great photographs that really help with the whole process.

Overall, the book is really a little gem. If you’re very familiar with kimono it certainly won’t give you any amazing heretofore unseen insights, but it’s a great little book to slip into a pocket or sleeve when you’re traveling or just need a quick reference. If you’re not familiar yet, it’s a wonderful introduction to the basics of kimono.

I would recommend this book for:

-People interested in learning the basics of kimono.
-People who want to learn about Japanese textiles and decoration methods.
-People looking for quick references for some simple obi musubi (bows).

I would not recommend this book for:

-People looking for coordination ideas.
-People looking for in-depth or advanced resource material.

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Haneri – the finishing touches

In my mind, one of the items in any kimono wardrobe that really helps inject personal style and flair into an outfit are haneri, or decorative under-robe collars. They are sewn onto the juban to protect it from dirt and oil as well as to add a coordinating colour and design. By default, most modern juban have a white collar already attached, but you can always sew a more brightly coloured or textured one over top.

White collars are proper and traditional on more formal and mature outfits, such as with kurotomesode, iromuji, and mofuku. However, on younger outfits involving furisode, or any outfit involving komon, tsukesage, or houmongi, the right haneri really adds a visual punch. I may even consider wearing them myself with iromuji with the right accessories (and to the right venue), and I have a few that are primarily white with some metallic accents that I wear with kurotomesode. However, I would never wear one with mofuku (funeral wear) as I feel it would be frivolous and disrespectful.

I have a relatively small collection of “real” haneri, but I have a lot of handmade and improvised ones as well. Really, any fabric that is lightweight and long enough to cover the juban collar will work fine.

White with seigaiha
haneri-7 haneri-8
This is a beautiful and delicate white collar with pink and mauve seigaiha (stylized wave) and little squares. The white silk also has a subtle reflective fleck texture.

Mauve with spiders
Naomi got this one for me to go with my infamous spider obi. It was too perfect an opportunity to pass up!
haneri-5 haneri-6

Black with ume and bamboo
I love the slightly vintage feeling of this one. I also really like dark haneri in general, especially with casual outfits.
haneri-3 haneri-4

Blue with sakura
A sort of subtle pastel one. I have an outfit in mind for this but I haven’t had the opportunity to wear it yet.
haneri haneri-2

Shibori silks
These are actually scraps of silk Naomi sent me, but they are the perfect size to wear as haneri. I love how vibrant they are.

haneri-11 haneri-10

Handmade cotton selection
These are hemmed quilting cotton I got in a trade with someone on the Immortal Geisha forums. They’ve all got a definite Japanese feel to them (except the striped one which is just freaking adorable) and look great with a bunch of different outfits.

Obidome converter, just about the best invention ever.

Earlier this week, Erica sent me a box full of awesome goodies, and tucked inside was this epic doohickey. I’ve wanted one for quite a while, so I was really thrilled.

Obidome are pieces of jewelry meant to be worn on the obijime. I have several, but they’re the kind of thing that are always nice to have more of – they add a wonderful finishing touch to an outfit. Unfortunately, they don’t often show up on the secondary Western market, and when they do the prices can get prohibitively expensive.

Enter the magical obidome converter. It’s basically a very thin piece of tubing with obidome hardware (two flat metal loops) attached to the back. You insert the pin part of any brooch or button through the tube, and voila, instant obidome!

Obidome Converter Obidome Converter

And here it is on a brooch.
Obidome Converter

Rather than hunting eBay and garage sales and thrift stores and hoping I may luck out and find an obidome, now I can just use all the old costume jewelry and pins I already have lying around. Yay!

No kitsuke for a little while

Just a quick note, my actual kimono-wearing posts are going to be a tad sparse for the next little while, due to a compressed rib and strict orders not to “do anything physically taxing or binding”. I may have a few old outfits from the archives I haven’t shared yet, but I’m not sure.

Also, posts in general will probably not be as frequent for the month of December, since I work in a toy store and my hours are going to be kind of crazy for the next few weeks. When I’m not at work, I’ll be sleeping or trying to fit in some Christmas shopping.

I’ll still be doing the occasional catalogue post and I have a few tea-related posts queued up, so I won’t be totally gone, but things will be a bit quieter around here until the new year.

On the merits of shigoki obi

Shigoki obi are one of those items that really aren’t necessary by any means in a kimono wardrobe, but once you’ve gotten a couple you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. If you’re like me and are built like the offspring of the Jolly Green Giant, and you have a preference for older kimono, they are a godsend. They are a great way to hide a lack of ohashori, or one that is too short to sit properly and lie flat.

These long loose types are traditionally worn by young girls, but lately with the trend in Japan leaning towards the vintage, the funky, and encouraging women to find their own personal style in kimono, they are making a huge comeback. There is also a variation called the kakae-obi that is stiffer and solid, sort of like a wide ribbon, and typically worn by a bride on her wedding day. I really like the looks of these particular accessories, but I’ve never seen one worn simply as a stylistic element so I think for the time being I will avoid doing so.

Typically they are in the standard beni-bana orangey red that was traditional for accessories and undergarments, but more often now they are coming in combinations of fun patterns and colours. BikaBika recently posted some amazing scans from the newest edition of Kimono-hime and one outfit featured a girl wearing an adorable white-and-red candy-stripe shigoki. I would absolutely love one of these for myself.
Spring Coordination Page 2

So far I only have red ones, but they’re all slightly different shades of red and all have different fringes – two have red with gold, one has a slightly peach cast, one is just solid red. The first example is how they should be worn, the second example is using one as a substitute for the momi, the red cloth geisha wear under their obi.
Halloween 2010 Kitsuke Geiko-inspired kitsuke

If you’re building up a kimono wardrobe and looking for a way to inject a bit of fun and personality into your casual outfits, I’d really suggest investing in at least one or two shigoki obi!