Obi Bundle Part III – Fukuro Obi

I continue to make ploddingly slow progress when it comes to my share of the obi bundle. Today, the fukuro obi.

Gold and white fukuro obi with traditional patterns

I love the variation of traditional kimono textures and patterns on this obi. I’ve needed a traditional white and gold obi to pair with kurotomesode for quite some time now, so I’m very pleased I managed to get this one. Another interesting note about it – unlike most modern fukuro obi, which are only patterned on the visible areas, this one is fully patterned down the entire length. This will allow for much more leeway when it comes to tying it.

Gold and seafoam green fukuro with round karabana and clouds

Okay, this one? IMPOSSIBLE to photograph properly. It’s just waaaaay too shiny. It’s not the sort of thing I’d normally consider my tastes, but I love the soft seafoam green colour, and the gold has this really interesting irridescent shift to it, so I couldn’t resist. I have no idea what I’ll pair it with, but I don’t care. It’s gorgeous!

Plum fukuro with kiku

This one is really interesting. At first glance it’s sort of dull and drab, even the gold and silver of the kiku is muted compared to most modern fukuro obi. However, the fabric is incredibly lush and rich-feeling, and the base is very unique. It’s a heavy rinzu of kiku leaves, so it’s almost as if the flowers are sitting on a bed of plants. The colour is also impossible to describe – in some lights it’s a plummy eggplant purple, and in some it’s sort of an espresso brown. I can’t stop looking at it, because there’s always something new to see. It’s so subtle, but so unique.

Cream fukuro with pastel tachibana

This poor beautiful baby has a fair amount of age-related patina, and due to the pale base colour it’s quite visible. However, I’m sure I can find a way to wrap and tie it so that the worst parts are hidden. I love tachibana so I had to give this one a chance.

Obi bundle!

Just a quick post today, because I’m too excited not to share this! A few months back, Naomi was kind enough to orchestrate and organize a huge obi bundle split amongst a few members of the IG forums. After much negotiation and wheedling, we each ended up with an amazing selection, and I got my box today! Here’s a little preview of all the glorious goodies I’ll be cataloguing over the next little while.

Obi bundle

Tokaido Fukuro Obi, through the kindness of another

Every once in a while, someone does something amazingly kind that you absolutely don’t deserve, and it reminds you that there are still some truly kind and exceptional people out there. Suara, one of the members of the Immortal Geisha forums, is one of those people.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love anything with the Tokaido 53 Stations motif, and there was a gorgeous obi on eBay that I had my heart set on. Several friends and family members all offered up some cash to help me get it, and I put in a ridiculously high maximum bid. Things went perfectly until the very last second, when I was sniped. I was devastated. I posted a rather angry and expletive-laced rant on the forums, and did my best to move on.

A few days later, another beautiful obi with the same motif but different stations got posted, and I was determined to get it. Unfortunately, I’d suffered the violent death of my backup hard-drive and had to re-prioritize my finances. I bid what I could, got outbid, and yet again posted on the forums, expressing my frustrations.

Fast-forward a few weeks, after a rather long and stressful few days, when I come home to this in my inbox:

Dear Moony,

The last obi for over $170,– made you so sad and I know how much you like this series of Obis. That is why I bid and fought for this obi as a small present to you. A present to say thank you for your kind help, not only to me but also as a mod for many many people here at IG. I tryed to let this obi send to you directly, but I did not have your name and address, nor you Ebay name, and I think, the seller did not realy know what I wanted. So instead of taking any risk, that a wrong person gets it, it is on its way to me, and if you would be so kind to send me your name and address, I will send it right to you ok?

I think that you are a wonderful person, so please except this small gift to show my apreciation.

Kind regards from Germany,

Suara

I was at a total loss for words – in fact, I started crying. While the entire forum is a close-knit community, I’d never dealt directly and personally with Suara, never had any interactions that I’d have imagined would have made such an impression. I was, and still am, beyond touched.

I made a promise to wear the obi and photograph it as soon as possible – unfortunately when it arrived this morning it was too hot for boxers and a tank top, let alone a kimono suitable for this amazing piece. However, I did think that the situation deserved at least catalogue photos, because it’s too beautiful not to share.

The obi base is a soft neutral with a slight shimmer – not quite gold, and not quite cream. The three stations on it are Ishiyakushi, Ohtsu, and Odawara. They’re woven in with great detail in a mix of warm browns and beiges and cool blue and green. The obi is lush and gorgeous, and will make an amazing complement to my strange chidori houmongi/kurotomesode hybrid, as well as several other kimono.

Station 9, Odawara

Station 44, Ishiyakushi

Station 53, Ohtsu

*A quick note on my station numbering – some people may have noticed that it doesn’t always correspond with the numbering used on all websites. The problem is that some places start the road with Nihonbashi being 0 while some consider it station 1. I stick with the numbering system the first reference I used, which starts at 0.

Fukuro obi catalogue

For dressier kimono or more formal events, sometimes you need a dressier obi. Something with a lot of bling, something you can tie a big ornate musubi with. Fukuro obi are generally blank on one side and patterned on the entire other side, or they may have a large blank area that gets wrapped around the waist to save on bulk and budget. They typically have bold, celebratory motifs and a lot of gold or silver embroidery or woven threads.

Gold pattern and kamon fukuro

This is a great obi to pair with kurotomesode, it’s a little mature and subdued, and the gold is warm and soft – not brassy or tacky looking.

Champagne and pastel fukuro

Another shiny obi, it’s soft and easy to tie and looks nice with furisode. It’s got rippling rivers and pockets of soft pastel flowers. Not typically to my tastes, but practical to have in any varied wardrobe.

Orange fukuro with gold grasses

I’m not going to lie – I bought this primarily because it reminded me of a creamsicle. It worked out well though – the peachy orange is a perfect match for the ume on my kurotomesode, and some of the tachibana on my indigo taisho houmongi. It screams Showa era, but it’s cute and fun and I still kind of love it.

Black, red, and gold celebratory fukuro

Another one that screams Showa Wonderful. These obis are incredibly typical of the late seventies through early nineties, and are still being produced, though not in quite as much volume. This one has red kiku and gold and silver cranes, and kikko (tortoishell). It’s a very loud, very auspicious obi.

Gunmetal paving stones fukuro

I’m not quite sure how to describe this one. It’s blue, it’s green, it’s purple. It’s irridescent and reminds me of oil on hot asphalt in the heat of summer. Because of the strange chameleon-like quality, it’s amazingly versatile and goes with a lot of things. It came bundled with a kimono, I bid on the kimono and go the obi as a bonus, and oddly enough I’ve worn the obi several times, and not yet worn the kimono once!

Red and black faux-shibori fukuro

I love this one so much. It originally belonged to my friend Amelie, and I coveted it. When she told me she was selling some items, I jumped on it. Why, then, have I not found anything to wear it with yet?! It’s separated into roughly thirds, with two thirds being bright tomato red with a dyed faux-shibori pattern, and the remaining third in black with a stylized chain of wisteria. I will wear it one day, I just need to find the right kimono to do it justice.

Hakuna Hakata

First off, happy new year to anyone reading this! I hope the coming year is safe, healthy, happy, and filled with beautiful things.

But now onto the actual point of this entry – my love affair with hakata-ori (hakata weave). Guess who watched The Lion King recently? XD I don’t know many people who collect kimono who don’t appreciate the supple, geometric beauty of hakata textiles. I do know one, but she’s silly.

Hakata is a beautiful distinctive woven textile from the city of Hakata in the Fukuoka region of Japan. It’s typically a single thickness, similar in texture to gros-grain ribbon. Generally it’s decorated in a geometric design in a contrasting colour, symbolic of Buddhist treasures. However, more organic or fanciful hakata does exist! I recently missed out on the chance to bid on a white and red hakata obi with fish on it. 🙁

Other terms for hakata weave can include honchiku or honchikuzen and hira-ori, so if you are searching online, try looking for these terms as well.

For women, hakata tends to evoke a more casual feel, although geiko commonly wear them with more formal kimono. Men, however, are lucky and the bulk of men’s kaku obi are made of this sort of textile.

My personal collection of hakata textile is small, but I hope to change that eventually. All of the hanhaba obi I own at the time of this entry are hakata. I also own several fukuro-width obi of various formality levels.

Cream ro hakata fukuro


A soft creamy-white synthetic ro hakata. It’s technically fukuro, but the only ro kimono I currently own is a komon, and when folded in half this obi could easily pass for being something more casual. That’s part of the magic of hakata.

Green and gold hakata fukuro


Proof that you can indeed dress up hakata. This is a rich slightly blue-leaning green with white and soft gold weaving. It’s not yellow, it’s definitely gold-coloured, and definitely too dressy-feeling for a casual outfit. It has the perfect blend of vintage “laissez-faire” and modern dressy feeling for the vintage furisode I wear it with.

53 Stations of the Tokaido hakata nagoya


This is a particularly special piece to me. Within my kimono collection, I collect items with the 53 Stations of the Tokaido motifs. I found this one online and as soon as I’d saved enough money to purchase it, I found out someone I know online had beaten me to the punch. Through the kindness of said person and Yuka and Ichiro at Ichiroya, it found its way into my grubby little hands. Geometric hakata, organic hakata, and Tokaido motifs! Gleeeee!

Last, but definitely not least I have the two non-traditional hakata obi Naomi sent me in a box of goodies. I’ve yet to coordinate these with an outfit, but I will soon!

Pale and dark pink fukuro


Two soft, dusty shades of pink with white, black and yellow accents. I love how fun this one is. Definitely on the more casual end of things, I’m considering pairing it up with the purple yabane komon I bought on my birthday.

Orange and pink fukuro

This is such a fun and unexpected colour combination. A similar dusty pink to the previous one, mixed with a bright reddish orange and vivid green. I honestly have no idea what I’m going to wear this one with, it’s a challenge!

That’s it for my hakata, for the time being, but damned if I won’t be getting more eventually!