Tag Archive: obi


Back in the beginning of April, the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department at my school had its annual “Spring Fling.” I did a whole kimono demo last year, but to save on time this year and do something different, I did a fukura suzume musubi demo. My friend Mariah volunteered to be my model. I dressed her in kimono behind the scenes, and then just did the obi for the demo. It was actually my first time tying fukura suzume, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I had to reference my book a few times though. At one point I had to have my teacher come over and hold the tesaki while I tied the obi-jime cause I didn’t have enough hands! I’m also jealous how well this kimono fits my friend haha. I didn’t get to wear kimono because as soon as I was done, I had to run to class. =/

四月四日East Asian Languages and Literaturesっていう学部はSpring Flingっていうパーティーをしました。去年着物デモをまるごとしたけど、今年違うのにして、ふくら雀デモをしました。Mariahっていう友達はボランティアのモデルでした。じかんがなくて、デモの前に着せて、デモのために帯しか結ばなかったのです。実はふくら雀を結ぶのが初めてだったので、見た目がよかったとおもいます。本を何度か見なくてはなりませんでしたけどね。私の手だけ足りなかったから、先生が手伝わなければ一人でできなかったのです!その先すぐ授業があったから、着物を着れてしまわなかったのです。

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How did I do? ^_^

Otakon 2012

I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long; I was preparing for Otakon for the month and a half prior.  But I have a few posts to make up for it. Friday was cosplay day, and I dressed up as Mori Ranmaru from Pokemon Conquest. I’ll do another blog post about that later.  Friday was pretty chill, I bought a new men’s gray tsumugi so now I have some casual men’s wear.  Rachel, Collin, and I went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch, and of course I had to have the general Tsao’s; how else do you judge a Chinese restaurant?

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For dinner, I went to a pretty authentic Irish restaurant called Tir Na Nog in the Inner Harbor with my friend Cooper. It’s really nice and is on the second story, overlooking the harbor. I got fish and chips and we caught the opening ceremony of the Olympics. We sat there in awe, it was just amazing! Afterwards, I made Cooper do an impromptu photoshoot for me by the fountain.  Looking at the pictures now, I was a tad disheveled, but hey, we were walking around in 9o° F+ weather. I’m still really happy with them.

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Saturday was our big day!  9:30-11:30AM workshop was a huge success! We got about a 40-50 person turn out.  The models were so happy to be dressed up, which made me really happy. We did men’s kimono with hakama, women’s yukata, women’s informal (komon with nagoya obi), and women’s kurotomesode with fukuro. If you were at the workshop, tell us how we did in the comments, and tell us what you would like to see or have us change about it for next year! Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

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Then, we had the pleasure of helping people dress; it was a lot of fun! I got to speak to man who was a JET; just what I want to do! so that was really nice. I also got to talk to a guy who worked in Japan, and I loved listening to his stories as well. While I was helping the guys, Rachel was helping out the girls.

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Then I went off with my friend Cooper for a photoshoot with his friends/cosplay group. They did Hitman cosplays, which admittedly, I know next to nothing about. I more or less took pictures for him, and I got some pics of the Zelda photoshoot beside us while I was at it. And I got some Assassin’s Creed for my friend.

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We visited my favorite vendor, Yokodana Kimono, before he headed off for our big dinner. I just love these two; they are wonderful.

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Dinner was a blast, and the food was great. I was so happy to see everyone have such a good time.

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Rachel, Collin, and my sushi boat.

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And then mochi icecreaaammmmm!!! Red bean (my favorite) and green tea!

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Once we were back at the hotel, I had Jean take some pictures for me.

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And Izzy’s rave outfit.

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I just went and hung around the convention a little more, then went to hang out with Cooper for the night.
Sunday was pretty chill, no cosplay or kimono. That’s it for now! I have a few more posts I’m working on, and school will be starting soon, so I’ll be able to pay more attention to the blog again.

Yabane and Bamboo Komon Taisho Ensemble

I decided to redo this outfit after restoring the sleeves of my kimono, and this is definitely one of my favorite outfits! It’s so summery, I can’t wait to wear it out! ^^ These are my only Taisho pieces, so I’m really lucky they look good together! I was really proud of my tsunodashi (the musubi –tsunodashidaiko) too. I think the musubi and criss-crossing the obi help the outfit look even more retro. I’m really excited about the sleeves, they’re super long and I just want to see them blow in the wind XD This is also the first time I’ve worn a kimono tsuitake (no ohashori) style. So here’s the pictures!

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Full set here.

This second tutorial I made is my first ever YouTube video! It’s in two parts: the first part is dressing in the kimono, which can be used for any kimono, save for maybe kuro-tomesode, and the second part is tying otaiko with a Nagoya obi. Later, I’ll do formal kimono and men’s kimono. I’m really excited about this, but unfortunately, the sound on my camera apparently doesn’t work so well, so I’ll probably re-do this at some point. It gets the job done though!

Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI7UG05psAE

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDUY3V-n0xc

I decided that I should finally do a series of various kimono tutorials. This first one is a picture tutorial for yukata and hanhaba obi. The obi is tied in kai-no-kuchi musubi.

The Flickr link is here!

So I’ve already told you guys about my new yabane komon that I traded Kim for,  but she also gave me a lovely chuuya obi from a bundle she got!  It’s gray on one side with geometric designs in shades of dark blue and navy blue on the reverse side.  Since they matched perfectly, I figured I should wear them together and show Kim. So here is my outfit that I dedicate to her.

Blue and Gray Yabane Komon
The obi is a little on the short side and the placement of the pattern makes it hard to get on the taiko, but the fabric is really soft and it’s comfy to wear. Here’s a shot of the obi:

Reversible Nagoya Obi with Blue Geometrics

So you have your new kimono and it’s on it’s way. The next step is to get an obi.

Step 1: What kind of obi do I need?

The formality of obi are just as important as the formality of the kimono. In the last installment, I suggested buying any kind of kimono that appealed to you, so in this step, I’ll guide you to the right kind of obi you’re going to need for it. I’m assuming again that you’ve done your research on the types of kimono or have at least identified the kind of kimono you have purchased. I’m also assuming the TPO is irrelevant. So, if you’ve bought a…

  • Yukata – You could go two routes with a yukata. You can wear it as a yukata, as it is most commonly seen, such what you would see at Japanese summer festivals. Out of all the combinations, this will be the cheapest, due to the fact that you wont need many of the accessories you will need with a regular kimono. If you choose this, you will need a hanhaba obi. They are half the width the other types of obi and much shorter. When you search eBay, search both “hanhaba” and “han haba.” The second route you could take is to dress up the yukata as a komon. It will become the formality of a komon, regardless of whether or not its design most resembles a komon. If you do this, you will need a nagoya obi. These obi have a narrow section that is half-width that you wrap around the waist (either sewn shut or not), and a wide section with which you make the bot/knot called a musubi. Sometimes you will find a very fancy nagoya obi that is decorated with metallic threads; avoid this type of obi, it is too formal.
  • Komon – For a komon, you’re best bet is going to be a nagoya obi. Again avoid any with metallic threads. Some fukuro obi may be acceptable. Fukuro obi are typically formal obi that are about 400cm long and about 27-30cm wide along their entire length. Nagoya obi were not created until around the 1900s, so before then, there were fukuro obi meant for informal wear and you can still find some today. Personally I prefer fukuro obi over nagoya anyways. These informal fukuro are often not silk (or hakata weave), lack any sort of metallic threading, and lack auspicious motifs.
  • Iromuji or Edo-komon – This one can be tricky because iromuji are very versatile. You’re going to have to look at the crests: if your iromuji lacks crests, you’ll probably want a nagoya obi or informal fukuro; if it has 1, 3, or 5 crests, you’ll want a fukuro obi. For 1 or 3, you should try to either avoid metallics, or at least make sure the obi isn’t heavily metallic. If you’ve chosen one with 5 crests, it ranks as a very formal kimono, and you can wear a heavily metallic obi with it. Edo komon are a special type of komon that appear to be one color from afar, and therefore rank with iromuji in formality. They often have one crest and can be paired with a formal nagoya or a not super metallic fukuro.
  • Tsukesage and Houmongi – While these kimono are technically different, they are both considered “visiting wear” and are the standard formal kimono. Tsukesage are very slightly less formal than houmongi, but for the most part are paired with the same obi. Tsukesage typically have no more than 1 crest (or none), while houmongi can bear 0, 1, 3, or 5.  The same general guidelines for iromuji can be used here, except that fukuro obi are going to be worn with those even with no crests. The metallic on the obi should correspond with the number of crests, as it did above.
  • Iro-tomesode  and Kuro-tomesode – As tomesode, these kimono are inherently VERY formal, even though iro-tomesode can have 0 crests. For these kimono, you’ll want a fukuro with metallic threads (a lot for kuro-tomesode) and/or an obi with auspicious motifs. You have another option called a maru obi. These obi are 100% patterned along their lenth and are full brocade. If you find an obi listed as a maru obi that isn’t full brocade or filled with auspicious motifs, the seller has more than likely mislabeled what is actually a zentsuu fukuro obi (a fukuro obi that is 100% patterned instead of the typical 60% (rokutsuu) fukuro obi). You should, even with limited experience, be able to pick out the obi suitable for these types of kimono just by browsing eBay.
  • Furisode – For furisode, you’ll probably have to look at the motifs/metallic used on the kimono. If the motifs are auspicious/all seasonal, you’ll need an obi with metallics. If not, you will still need a fukuro, but it isn’t necessary to have metallics. If you’ve found yourself with a ko-furisode, and you want to wear them with hakama, you’ll need a hanhaba obi. If you want to wear it as a regular kimono, the designs on the kimono should correspond to a komon, iro-muji, or tsukesage/houmongi. Choose and obi accordingly. If the ko-furisode has embroidered, floral crests, do not take them into account.

Step 2: Buying the obi

We’re going to follow the same basic steps as in the kimono search, only were going to remove the “-” sign from in front of “obi” and put one in front of “kimono.” Make sure you’re searching with saved sellers only and save your search. This will pretty much give you all of the obi on eBay. I forgot to mention last time, but sort by “newly listed” this way, you wont have to go through every page to find the new ones.

Step 3: Choosing an obi

You’ve got the formality down, but there is something else to think about: coordination. Until you get the hang of coordination, you can think about the three ways you can coordinate kimono and obi by color and design: matching, complimenting, and contrasting. Matching a kimono with the obi means’ that the color and maybe motifs are the same or are different shades of the same color. Complimenting kimono and obi means that a color or two from the kimono are chosen and match the main colors of the obi. This way, you can bring certain colors of the kimono forward, especially if many are present. Contrasting means that the main color of the kimono and obi are opposites on the color wheel, or combining “warm” and “cool” colors. It is often a good idea to contrast floral and geometric. If the kimono is all floral or very much so, maybe picking an obi with geometric designs will help break it up.  It isn’t that necessary at first, but another thing to think about is seasonality. This is a big Japanese thing. Most floral motifs have a season in which it is acceptable to wear. Not such a big deal in American, but if you like to get technical, you may want your obi to be the same seasonality as your kimono. Some pieces stretch over multiple seasons or are all-seasonal. Geometrics are all seasonal. A sense of Western coordination definitely helps, but there are a few differences from Japanese coordination: black and white match everything, navy blue and black do not clash, different geometrics don’t necessarily clash, and similar colors of different shades do not clash, just to point out a few. And most importantly, make sure YOU like it. The perfectly coordinated ensemble may not be to your taste. Don’t get lost in the guidelines and make sure your ensemble matches your own personal style and flair!

In the next installment, we’ll finish off your new kimono ensemble and I’ll tell you how to save money by making the accessories for dressing with household objects. If you have any questions about this post or if you need help or advice, don’t hesitate to comment or contact me! Thank you for reading!

I’m saving my post about Otakon for a little until I have all the pictures to go with it, so in the meantime, I’ll try to give my best advice about getting your first kimono.

Lately, I’ve had some people approach me about getting their first kimono from the Facebook group for our local convention here in Pittsburgh, Tekkoshocon. For the sake of this not being ridiculously long, I’m going to assume you’ve done your research on the different kind of kimono. Oh, and that you are buying women’s kimono. So let’s start, shall we?

Step 1: Finding real kimono for affordable prices

The best advice I can give here is go the “links” tab above and click “ebay links.” Favorite every seller on that list. Go to “advanced” on the side of the search bar in eBay, paste “kimono -haori -tabi -zori -geta -michiyuki -fabric -bolt -obi -juban -kinchaku -bag -hippari -happi -doll -uchikake -furoshiki -kanzashi -obijime -obiage -jinbei -thread -han -haneri -date” into the search bar. Then go to the bottom of the page to “sellers” and select “only show items from” and then make “my saved sellers list” the only checked box. Press “search.” Before you go browsing, save the search by pressing “save search” above the listings so you can go back to it any time. This will effectively list all the real kimono on eBay by sellers you can trust (until you learn how to pick out fakes). Now, some are going to be expensive, obviously, but many are much more affordable than people think. If you decide to invest in an expensive piece down the road, that’s great and well worth it, but for now, let’s get a feel for pricing and worth.

Step 2: Pick stuff you like and watchlist them

Go ahead, pick anything you like! This will help you get a sense for which kind of kimono you like. The reason I’m not telling you to get a yukata because they are the easiest is because you should spend you’re money on something you like and will wear. You can learn how to dress in any kind of kimono with practice. Some people may disagree with this method, but once you learn how to dress in one kind of kimono, you can dress in them all. I started with a kurotomesode, which is arguably one of the hardest kind of kimono to dress in. So anyway start watchlisting some kimono!

Step 3: Picking a kimono (or two)

Now you have a list of kimono you like. You may have read somewhere that kimono are one size fits most.  This is mostly a lie. One size fits most Japanese. The sad truth is that we Westerners do not have a Japanese person’s build.  There are two things about sizing that you have to worry about: width and height. Let’s start with height. A kimono that is ideal for a person is about as tall as they are. This is because you adjust the length of the kimono when dressing, and the excess is put in a fold at the waist called an ohashori or ohashiori (this seems to be dialectal). This waist fold is proper when wearing kimono (for women’s kimono only) . At the very shortest, a kimono can be 10 centimeters shorter than you are tall. A kimono can not be “too tall” for you, so don’t worry about that. Did I mention you’re going to have to get used to the metric system? Easy enough? On to width!  This is the part that is hard for me to break to some people. Kimono do accommodate up to a certain size person. There is a limit, however. I have yet to put this into an American women’s size. Kimono do have different widths, but they stay within a certain range. This is because Japanese bolts of fabric for kimono (called tan) only come traditionally in one width, and due to the way kimono are constructed, without seam allowances, the maximum width of a kimono is 5 times as wide as the bolt. A fitting kimono needs to wrap around you at least 1 1/4 times, and at best 1 1/2 or more times. Most sellers give this measurement as the “shoulder to shoulder” width. Multiply that by about 2.5 to get it’s width. So now go through you’re kimono and find the ones that fit you. As a side note, there is one more important measurement for a kimono and it is the wingspan. Due to the way Westerners are built, our wingspan is  about as big as our height. That is not the case for Japanese people. A kimono that fits in the wingspan goes from wrist to wrist. I’m 5’5″ and have never found a kimono that fits me properly in wingspan. Due to the fact that we can’t fix a kimono for our arm length, this shouldn’t matter unless you’ve found a kimono that would not go past your elbows. If it hits your forearm, you’re good.

Step 4: Buying the kimono

eBay is easy to use, and you must have a paypal account to pay most sellers on eBay. Just remember, if you love a kimono, but won’t be able to pay your rent if you get it, it isn’t worth getting. Save up first, or buy what you know you can afford. Sure that kimono that was owned by a kubuki star is beautiful, but you can’t eat it or live in it. Now this sounds like common sense, but the hobby of kimono is a slippery slope. You’ve been warned.

For my next installment, I’ll go over the next step: buying an obi to go with the kimono. As a last note, the seller ryujapan-99 has a weird way of payment. They will send a form to your email, that you will have to fill in once. It will tell you the final cost of the item, as well as listing the shipping options. See how much you have to pay and send the form. Go to http://www.paypal.com and send the amount you owe to ebay@net-shinei.co.jp and list the payment as “goods.” The most important part so they don’t screw up your order is this: under the “message” section, copy and paste to it the name of the listing, which is in the description in big, black, bold print.  You can read more about Shinei and ryujapan in this IG thread. Disclaimer: I am NOT responsible for your individual experience with this seller! But I can say I’ve been a loyal customer and have never had a problem. *knocks on wood*

I love comments and feedback about my blog and my posts! Please share your experience about your first kimono with me, or ask me questions! Did this help?

Thanks for reading!

I’ve had this yukata for about a year now and just recently found an obi that I think does it justice. After losing one of my first auctions (another crane yukata), Moonblossom, a mod on the IG Forums, was very kind and showed me this yukata on eBay, and I instantly fell in love with it. So now I finally get to give back the favor by showing it off.  This is still one of my favorite kimono and still my only yukata. I got the odori hanhaba from Shinei (and had to pay EMS to get it here in time, or else I would have gotten it for nice and cheap). This is outfit 1 of 3 for Otakon. I didn’t think about it, but when I wear this to the con, I’m going to use my silver obi-jime with the crane obi-dome I traded Tzippurah-san for.

IG thread here.