The Twelve Days of Kitsuke (11): fukura suzume part 1 (with biyosugata)

On the eleventh day of kitsuke my musubi will be, fukura suzume!

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Kobe Fashion Museum: Kimono Exhibit

Literally a few hours ago, I got back from Kobe and seeing the special exhibit at the Kobe Fashion Museum, “Kimono From The Kofun To The Edo Period.”  I’m lucky that Kobe is only a couple of hours from where I live.  If you are able to go before the exhibit ends on January 12, 2016 I highly recommend it.  The official website and information can be found here.

So how was the exhibit you may be asking.  Well, unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos while I was in the galleries, so this post will be very text heavy I’m afraid.  But here were some of the things that struck me the most.

The exhibit was large.  Three whole galleries to explore.  I came around one corner and expected it to be over when to my delight, there was another great hall full of kimono for me to drool over.  The galleries were set up so that I made two or three trips through the hall to see everything.  Unfortunately, there was very little English.  The woman at the front counter gave me an English pamphlet with some info about the different eras, but it wasn’t that helpful I’m afraid.  I only wish I knew more kanji.  The placards beside each piece were full of info, but there were so many technical, specialized, and advanced kanji that I couldn’t read them.

I seem to remember reading somewhere before I went that these pieces would be reproductions.  If they were, I couldn’t tell.  most of them had small stains, rips, and repairs in them.  By the end of the exhibit, I was convinced that they were real pieces from the time periods.  If they weren’t, then my hat goes off to the curators who managed to age the pieces so convincingly.

One thing that particularly struck me was the apparent difference in width between the sleeve and the back panels of older kimono, especially since I’m used to looking at modern kimono.  First, the sleeves were much more rounded back then, and they were smaller.  I don’t know if it was just the small sleeves that made the back panels look wider, but it looked that a bolt of kimono cloth used to be wider in the past than it is now.

And they were small!  I’m always struck by how much shorter people were in the past.  Even if the kimono were wider, there is no way they would fit my 165 cm monstrous frame!

There is a book available from the museum for 1500 yen and I highly recommend it (you have to ask for it at the front desk).  It makes up for the lack of photos in the exhibit because it has photos of every single piece in it arranged by era.  The part that I was particularly thrilled about was for many pieces, they will list the techniques used to create the piece with illustrations.  In the back, there is a directory with each technique and an explanation.  I’m looking forward to sitting down and painstakingly translating it (or asking somebody with better Japanese to do it for me!)

The museum’s permanent exhibit was also really interesting.  It included different types of dress from France, England, and America from the time of Napoleon until modern day.  These were all reproductions and they clearly stated it on the placards, so it makes me believe all the more that the kimono were genuine pieces.

Overall it was a great experience and I hope you can get out to see it of you are in the area!

A page from the souvenir book showing the progression of the kimono through the different eras.

A page from the souvenir book showing the progression of the kimono through the different eras.

An example page from the souvenir book.  This is a good example of what I was describing with the small sleeves and seemingly wider back panels.  You can also a list of the different techniques used to create this kimono at the bottom.

An example page from the souvenir book. This is a good example of what I was describing with the small sleeves and seemingly wider back panels. You can also a list of the different techniques used to create this kimono at the bottom.

Ebi (海老) lobster/shrimp

Name: Ebi (海老) lobster/shrimp

Seasonal Association Winter

When To Wear It: all year

Auspicious: yes

History: Ebi can play two different roles as a motif, that of a seasonal motif, and that of an auspicious motif.

Seasonal: Ebi is a staple ingredient in Osechi, the traditional New Year’s selection of food.

Auspicious: The hunched back and whiskers of the ebi are features that are also attributed to an old man and because of this, ebi is considered a symbol of long life. It is often nicknamed the old man of the sea.

Ebi can also be referred to as Ise Ebi (伊勢海老) which is a particular species of spiny lobster found in Mie prefecture.

Identification: Ebi will resemble a lobster or a shrimp with a curved back, long whiskers on its face, and six legs.

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Shichi-Go-San (七五三)

Shichi-Go-San (七五三) is a milestone event that celebrates the health and well-being of three, five, and seven year old children.  Traditionally, three-year-old boys and girls, five-year-old boys, and seven-year-old girls celebrate this event, however many parents nowadays will get all their children dressed up in kimono at the same time regardless of how old they are to get family photos.  The children get dressed in kimono, take photos, and visit Shinto shrines.  The actual date of shichi-go-san is November 15, but children often get dressed up and take photos in the month before this date.

In this article, I’ll outline all the items needed for each age group, and some of the special kitsuke rules for dressing children.

Three-Year-Old Girls

Note: Both boys and girls can participate in shici-go-san, however the boys kimono at three years old is identical (but smaller and oh so cute!) to a five-year-old boy.  Because of this, portion will cover the girls kituske only. 

1. Padding: a towel should be folded in thirds and wrapped around the waist.

The completed look for a three-year-old girl.

The completed look for a three-year-old girl.

2. Nagajuban (長襦袢): This juban does not have any sleeves.  The haneri is colorful and includes children’s patterns such as rabbits and toys.  The collar should be sitting right against the neck.  girls don’t lower their collars until they are ten-years old.

3. Kimono (着物): The kimono is brightly patterned with tucks in the shoulders.  sometimes, this kimono has an ohashori sewn in at the correct height to make it easier to get dressed.

4. Obi (帯): three-year-old girls do not wear an obi.  As a substitute, a shibori obi-age can be tied around the waist in place of an obi, but it is not necessary.

5. Hifu (被布): The hifu is the apron or overcoat.  Nowadays, it is worn exclusively by three-year-old girls.

Five-Year-Old Boys

Note: girls do not traditionally celebrate shichi-go-san when they are five years old.

1. Padding: One towel should be folded in thirds and wrapped around the waist.

A juban for five-year-old boys. The lack of sleeves makes it easier to dress a squirming child.

A juban for five-year-old boys. The lack of sleeves makes it easier to dress a squirming child.

2. Nagajuban (長襦袢):  This juban does not have any sleeves. The haneri for the boys is solid white or grey (unlike the girls).  The back of the collar should be sitting right against the neck.  The koshihimo should be tied as high as possible to keep the collars in place.

3. Kimono (着物): the kimono that this studio uses for the boys are a solid color with no patterns.  tucks are sewn into the shoulders.  The koshihimo should be tied as high as possible to keep the collars in place, while still remaining hidden underneath the obi.

The obi tied in an ichimonji musubi.

The obi tied in an ichimonji musubi.

4. Obi (帯):  The boys have a choice between a pre-tied obi and a regular (albeit child-sized obi).  If a regular obi is used, it should be tied in an ichimonji musubi (very similar to a chou-chou musubi but the obi is folded in half instead of three mountains). The height of the obi should be determined by measuring the length of the hakama first.  The hakama should reach to the child’s ankles.

These hakama are pre-tied. There is a snap sewn to the back of the cross and it snaps into place at the correct height. The straps pull tight and are tied at the back underneath the hakama.

These hakama are pre-tied. There is a snap sewn to the back of the cross and it snaps into place at the correct height. The straps pull tight and are tied at the back underneath the hakama.

5. Hakama (袴):  When dealing with kids, the more tricks you can use to make things easier, the better.  Hakama, like obi, can come in tsuke (pre-tied) forms as well as the regular version.  For the pre-tied version,the cross at the front is sewn into shape, the ties all come around the back to tie under the hakama and out of sight, and the cross has a snap on the back that attaches it to the hakama at the correct height.

6. Haori (羽織):  After putting on the haori, secure the haori himo, and fold the collar down in half at the back.

Here you can see the solid-coloured kimono, haori, haori himo, hamaka, and ken (the short sword)

Here you can see the solid-coloured kimono, haori, haori himo, hamaka, and ken (the short sword)

7. Ken (剣): The ken (short sword) is slipped into the hakama on the left side, and tilted so that the top is slanted to the center of the chest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven-Year-Old Girls

Note: boys do not traditionally participate in shichi-go-san when they are seven years old.  I have the most pictures of this process because it is the most difficult. 

towels used as padding

towels used as padding

1. Padding: towels go across the chest and wrapped around the waist.

this nagajuban has no sleeves to make dressing easier.

This nagajuban has no sleeves to make dressing easier.

2. Nagajuban (長襦袢):  This juban does not have any sleeves, and the haneri (usually with cute, childlike motifs like rabbits) is already attached.  The collar of the juban should be flat against the neck.  Only when a girl turns ten does the collar drop down.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the kimono with a nii-juu age. About 1 cm of juban collar should be visible.

Here is the kimono with a nii-juu age. About 1 cm of juban collar should be visible.

3. Kimono (着物):  These small, child-sized kimono have some key differences from adult kimono, most notably that there are tucks sewn into the shoulders of the kimono, and the sleeves are furisode length. Here are some of the key things to remember when dressing a child.
(a) The koshihimo that secures the kimono is tied higher up on the body than on an adult kimono.  This gives the illusion of longer legs.
(b)About one centimeter of juban collar should be showing.
(c) The left side seam of the kimono should be running straight down.  It should not be pulled to the front.
(d) In order to match up the okumi seams, it is usually necessary to create a nii-juu age (a double ohashori).  This has the added benefit of moving all of the bulk of the kimono high enough so it will be hidden by the obi.

This is the back of the pre-tied obi before the bow is inserted. Folding up one corner gives it a nice look.

This is the back of the pre-tied obi before the bow is inserted. Folding up one corner gives it a nice look.

The bow should be high enough that the tips are visible over the shoulders.

The bow should be high enough that the tips are visible over the shoulders.

4. Tsuke obi (付け帯):  With children, it’s important to make everything as easy as possible, and this is especially true for the obi.  wrap the waist portion of the obi around the waist and match them at the back.  fold up the bottom corner of the obi to create an aesthetically appealing look, and insert the obi bow.  The top tips of the bow should be visible from the front over the shoulders.

Here is the shigoki tied at the back. The tails should be the same length.

Here is the shigoki tied at the back. The tails should be the same length.

5. Obijime (帯締め):  for such a formal occasion, a stuffed obijime is used.  For a two-toned obijime, the gold end should end up on the left side of the child, and the knot should be centered with the cross of the juban and kimono collars.  Since this is a celebratory occasion, both tassels should be pointing up.

6. Obiage (帯揚げ):  A shibori obiage is always used, and fancy ties are encouraged.  My teacher has developed a unique way of creating a flower in the obiage.

7. Shigoki (扱き):  the shigoki is a red scarf that is wrapped around the bottom of the obi.  It should be folded first in thirds, then in half.  With the edges pointing up,  match up the bottom of the obi with the folded edge of the shigoki. Wrap it around the back, and tie in a nice big bow on the left hip.

Here is the completed front view.

Here is the completed front view.

8. Hakoseko (筥迫): This decorative touch should be slipped into the collars of the kimono above the obi.

9. Sensu (扇子): The fan should be placed on the left side behind the obijime.  The top of the fan should be angled inwards.