Kits-Mas Day 8 – Sho Chiku Bai

Sho Chiku Bai (松竹梅), or Three Friends of Winter, is an auspicious motif comprised of plum, pine, and bamboo. I’d initially wanted to do an ikebana on this theme, but finding flowering plum branches here at this time of year proved utterly impossible. But then I remembered that this beautiful vintage kurotomesode I got recently had it as a motif, along with other bright and auspicious items. I know it hasn’t been long since I coordinated it last, but it still felt like the perfect start for today’s outfit.

I debated doing a simple and traditional coordination with a metallic obi and white accessories, but something felt lacking so I ended up doing a more geisha-styled outfit with the red obiage and then coordinated with a wide red-and-green obijime. I tend to do this a lot with my vintage kurotomesode, but somehow I feel that it does them more justice. Also, these accessories just feel so much more vibrant and festive, don’t they?

I love how these pieces look together but this obi is in really rough shape – there are several places where the weave is basically just shredded. So there’s my first (and likely only) resolution of the year; I’m going to convert this into a tsuke-obi because it’s beautiful but I don’t want to risk tying it again in the state it’s currently in.

I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start! I’m hoping this will be an excellent year for all of us.

Items used in this coordination

明けましておめでとう! Akemashite omedetou! Happy New Year!

The new year is upon us! A time of renewal, change, and hope. I wish all of you the best for 2016 and beyond.

To celebrate the beginning of a new year, I pulled out one of my favourite kimono to coordinate. I bought this one the last time I visited Vintage Kimono in Boulder, Colorado. At first glance it looks like a relatively minimalist kurotomesode, with a sparse design of chidori and matsu (plover and pine). However, it’s also got a smattering of chidori on one sleeve. This was a brief trend for kurodomesode, which traditionally only have patterns on the hem. As western-style seating spread through Japan, kimono designers realised that a lot of the artwork and craftsmanship of these most formal kimono were getting lost, as women sat up with their feet tucked away. They started putting a small design somewhere that would be visible in theatre-style seating, usually on one shoulder or sleeve.

The trend has since fallen out of favour and kurotomesode have gone back to their hem-only design placement, but you can still occasionally find little oddities like this one. I’ve been told that at this point I can choose to wear it as a kurotomesode, or a very formal houmongi. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as how I’m 34 and still single.

I paired the kimono with a fairly typical white-and-gold obi with auspicious designs, tied in standard niijudaiko musubi, to hopefully double my good fortune for the coming year. However, I’d forgotten what a complete and utter beast this thing is to tie. It’s very long, even by modern fukuro standards, as well as being very slippery and floppy. It has a core, but it’s a very soft one. So unless I go in forearmed with a handful of extra himo and clips, it always slides around and loosens while tying it. Thankfully I had not only a bunch of tools but also a very helpful and cooperative father to hold bits and pieces while I tied other bits and pieces.

I’ve decided that this year, I am not going to make resolutions. They never work for me. I am, however, going to set goals. If I attain them, fantastic! If I don’t quite succeed, at least I tried and progressed. There’s no point in making myself feel bad for not achieving relatively arbitrary marker points.

Kimono-related goals I would like to set for 2016:

  • Lose enough weight to comfortably wear kimono again.
  • Consistently and regularly work through the backlog of book and tea reviews I’ve got half-done.
  • Coordinate more outfits on Tsukiko.
  • Write more. Blog entries, fiction, personal journal entries. Doesn’t matter what, so long as it’s words.

Do you have any kimono-related goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments.