Slaying my White Whale

I mentioned my “white whale” komon in this entry, and earlier this week the obi I’d purchased specifically with it in mind arrived. Today the weather was nice and I finally had some time to pull together an outfit, and I am thrilled with how it all came together.

I combined the busy arabesque komon with a nearly-solid obi with a bit of simple kinkoma embroidery in gold, tabi in a similar shade of eggplant, a goldish yellow haneri, and a yellow shibori obiage and matching yellow obiage with hakata details. As a final touch, I added one of my precious treasures, an obidome that was awarded to the Aikoku Fujinkai (patriotic women’s association) sometime before WWII. I will be writing an entry about this item itself in the future, when I’ve collected more information.

I look like a doofus in a few of these, but at least I look like a happy doofus!

Items used in this coordination

Have A Hanhaba!

In the continuing process of cataloguing everything, I present to you my meagre collection of hanhaba obi!

I have noticed that my predilection for hakata in all forms seems even more obvious when it comes to hanaba – for the time being, they’re all I’ve got!

Red striped hakata
I love the texture of this. It’s so lush up close, and the thin stripes are in some very unexpected colours, like a rich eggplant purple and soft sage green.

Two-sided taupe hakata
This is a lovely, subdued neutral hakata. It reminds me a bit of old crown molding. It’s almost white on one side, and a dark rich mushroomy taupe on the other.

Refined cream hakata
This is probably my favourite hanhaba obi. From a distance it’s a smooth, soft warm cream colour with thin stripes. It’s really up close where it shines. It’s a very delicate hakata in shades of white, a bright fresh blue, and a soft brick red. It’s also deliciously long and a pleasure to tie.

Blue and white hakata
This obi was actually bundled with a tiny synthetic kimono. I had no real interest in the kimono (and have since turned it into a juban) but wanted the obi pretty intensely. I was thrilled to bits when I got both pieces for $0.99! It just reminded me so much of Greek textiles, I had to have it.

Blackbirds singing in the dead of night

This obi is one of the most beautiful and frustrating things in my collection. It was a gift from a dear friend – I saw the strange black birds and fell in love, but was short of cash at the time.

When it arrived to me, the black silk backing was rotting away and leaving dust on everything, so it has been removed.

The strangest thing about it, however, is the proportions. The designs are evenly spaced every 24″/60cm. The obi itself is 133″/338cm, which is short for a full fukuro. The oddest bit, however, is that it’s obviously meant to be tied in niijudaiko, the formal double-layered musubi.

The last set of blackbirds is upside-down, and has less embroidery on the wingtips than the second-to-last set. However, the obi is so short it’s barely possible to tie it in standard otaiko musubi. I realize I am wider around the midsection than the average Japanese woman, but not to such a significant extent. Also, when tied in any normal manner, no birds end up anywhere visible on the front.

I do love the obi, and the fact that it was a gift makes it even more special to me, so I am seriously considering cutting it up and making it into a pre-tied obi, because I doubt there is any other way I could ever wear it.

I would love to hear suggestions as to what to do with this, and possible other musubi it may work with.

Edit: It turns out this may be a relatively obscure form of obi known as hikinuki obi, they are a form of stage wear that is meant to be tied quickly in front and moved to the back. It would explain both the pattern layout and the unusual motif. I will have to try tying it in this manner and see!

Update: I have finally repaired this obi. See the how-to and finished product here.