Like many things in Japan, dressing in a kimono is a thoughtful, artistic process. Composed of many layers of cloth, there are a multitude of options when it comes to tying the individual pieces. The 帯 obi (sash-like piece around the waist), in particular, may take on a variety of designs depending on who’s dressing you.
Although kimonos are reserved, for the most part, for special occasions, many Japanese people still wear them. In ceremonies to celebrate age milestones for children, getting married, graduating, at historic places (especially shrines). The majority of the people I’ve seen wearing kimonos are either at festivals and shrines or during sakura season (early spring).
My friend Nicole invited me to an event partnered with the Tochigi Kuranomachi Museum of Art in nearby Tochigi City yesterday to be dressed in a kimono. One of the Japanese teachers she works with at school comes from a family that sells second-hand kimonos for a few hundred dollars. A full kimono brand new can cost thousands of dollars. There are, of course, places that sell them new for just a few hundred dollars, but the quality differs tremendously.
From the top! (Hover over the images for more info.)
After about 15 minutes of assembly and 16 different parts, I was dressed!
A kimono definitely improves your posture. In the front of the obi there was a stiff oval piece that helps to keep its shape. Nicole likened it to a corset, but neither of us thought it was uncomfortable. Each time a layer was added, the lady would ask if it was too tight or if it hurt. She had to pull quite a bit for some of the pieces, and I actually stumbled over a few times. That’s just because I have bad balance, though.
I always wondered if kimonos were cold. Yesterday it was cloudy and cold (3°C, 37.4°F) following a day of rain. With all those layers, my midsection and legs were fine, but my arms were cold.
After this, we went into the museum. It had a lot of paintings from the late 1800s as well as some jewelry boxes, bowls, and makeup from the period. There were also some cool posters from the 20th century.
We were photographed three times by the museum staff and complimented twice inside for our kimonos.
Then we ate lunch:
We walked around a bit and visited the local shops. After being in one store for about 10 minutes (they had so many cute things), the shop owner offered us some free coffee.
My cup had the cutest design! The parts with the lady bugs is actually a little bump. I would’ve bought it, but I can’t even count how many mugs we’ve got.