Kimono are beautiful, but they are WORK. Of course, I still stop and stare (as unobtrusively as possible, of course) whenever I see a woman in kimono walk by, but now I have a better appreciation for what all goes into wearing a kimono.
It all starts from the bottom up.
First come the tabi, two-toed socks that are zipped or buttoned at the ankle. The special toe split allows the wearer to sport sandals without suffering through the chafing bare feet would cause. (And it does. Ask my poor 3-year-old who didn’t get tabi socks for her 7-5-3 outfit in November. My bad.)
Next come the undergarments – the susoyoke (slip) and the hadajuban (the undershirt). After that, it’s time for the nagajuban, the long undergarment that has a collar that will stick out of the kimono itself.
A datejime – the first of what feels like many – is tied around the nagajuban at the waist. This is a simple cloth belt that is knotted and then tucked under.
Next is the kimono itself. As a married woman, I was dressed in a short-sleeved formal kimono.
That’s only halfway done, though. Once the kimono is on, its held in place by a silk belt called the koshihimo. The word literally means ‘waist cord’ and it’s about 100-200 centimeters long.
After the koshihimo is tied, a korin beruto is added. It’s tied a little bit higher up on the waist and pulls in some of the sleeve material.
Yet another datejme is added to the waist.
Finally, it’s time for the obi (the belt). But first, you need an obi-ita, which provides structure to the obi itself and gives Japanese women that perfect diaphragm-squeezing posture. Then you need an obi-makura (the obi pillow) to give shape to the obi in the back. Aaaand you need a third hand and the obiage, the silk used to cover the obi pillow.
And THEN the obi itself is added, and tied with … wait for it … an obijime. (If you said datejime, you were close.)
Whew! That’s it! Only 14 separate pieces to struggle with to turn out one woman in full kimono. 🙂 Not easy. And yet, the result is worth it.