Shichi-Go-San

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.

For more information on how to dress a child for shichi-go-san, click here.

Kimono Diary October 12-18, 2015

What a week! It seems that my weekends are becoming busier than my weekdays, and this weekend was no exception.

Saturday=Shichi-Go-San

Yes, shichi-go-san. This past weekend, and for three weeks in the future, I’ll be volunteering at a local photo studio dressing children for shichi-go-san. I’ve mentioned my practice sessions in past kimono diaries, but this weekend I got to put those lesson into use. My teachers and I dressed kids from as young as one year old, all the way up to ten years old. Yes, it’s traditional for only three, five, and seven year olds to get dressed, but when you have a sibling as well, lots of parents want to have pictures of their kids together.

For the really little babies, I got a big surprise looking at the kimono that they wear. It’s actually two pieces that look like a completed kimono and hifu combination when they’re on. The bottom half is just a skirt with an elastic waistband. Really, really convenient for dressing a squirming, crying baby!

And boy, was there crying. I was actually expecting them to cry when they saw me (the foreigner) especially the really young ones, but that didn’t seem to be the thing that set them off. It was things like not liking the feel of tabi on their feet, being around too many strangers (not just me), and being forced into the third outfit of the day by their over-eager parents (they had tiny suits and costumes as well as kimono).

The oldest girl we dressed was a ten-year-old girl (her younger sister was seven). For young girls, kitsuke is different from adult kitsuke. For example, the collar sits right against the neck instead of being pulled back, and a shigoki goes around the bottom edge of the obi. However, when a girl turns ten, she begins dressing like an adult, so these features change. We were constantly checking with each other if we should do certain elements like the child version, or like the adult version when we were dressing her.

Sorry, there are no pictures of this part of my weekend.  Restrictions on privacy and all that.  However…

 

Sunday=Aki Matsuri

And you thought matsuri only took place in the summer! Aki matsuri (autumn festivals) are very different from summer ones. The gods are taken from their home temple in a portable shrine to another temple or shrine nearby. They’re accompanied by drums and gongs either pulled or carried by a group of men.

My husband was invited to carry the band along with about forty other people. This presented a conundrum to me, to wear kimono or not to wear kimono. I decided to wear kimono, and chose a fancier yukata that I wore with a juban. Since it was still so warm, I didn’t want to wear a fully lined kimono, and I didn’t want to stand out any more than I already do.

Then, just as I had finished getting dressed, a different aki matsuri passed right by our apartment, and not a single person was in kimono. That fact, combined with the fact that I had no idea how long or far I would be walking, meant that I decided to undress and change to western clothes.

And I’m kinda glad I did. The festival ended five hours after it started, and there was nowhere to sit down, except on the ground, something that I was reluctant to do in jeans and t-shirt and would not even consider doing in a kimono!

And the matsuri was wonderful. Lots of sake and snacks for people participating in it, kimono worn by the priests that looked like they came out of the Heian Era, and lots of people to talk to. I had a ton of parents pushing their children in front of me to practice speaking their English. This brought on reactions ranging from “No way!” (said in perfect English) to kids begging me to become their English teacher at school and promises to come back next year.

My husband had a tougher time of it. He was a part of the carrying team, and he’s several centimeters taller than everyone else there. He just couldn’t find a comfortable position to carry a large log on his shoulders without stooping and hurting his back and his sides. He told me as he laid down that night, “It hurts when I live!”

Before the pain started!

Before the pain started!

 

You can see the portable shrine in the front of the procession.

You can see the portable shrine in the front of the procession.

My husband's attempts to find a comfortable position.

My husband’s attempts to find a comfortable position.

Food and sake!

Food and sake!

The musicians.  They were so cute!

The musicians. They were so cute!

I love the way they tie up the sleeves on the furisode so the kids can play during the breaks.

I love the way they tie up the sleeves on the furisode so the kids can play during the breaks.

Even the priests get to enjoy the sake and food.

Even the priests get to enjoy the sake and food.

That’s all for this week. Happy kitsuke!

Kyoto Shibori Museum

We arrived at the Kyoto Shibori Museum on a rainy afternoon. The first thing the master did when we opened up the door was to hand us all towels to dry off. It was a sign of good things to come!

We had booked ahead for our shibori experience. There were two choices. A scarf would require folding and clamping techniques while a furoshiki (wrapping cloth) would require winding and knotting. We all chose the furoshiki class. We were led into the classroom and to our pleasant surprise, the teacher offered to do the whole class in English!

We had twelve designs to choose from. Each one already had the stitching in place.

If you look carefully, you can see the threads already stitched into the furoshiki.

If you look carefully, you can see the threads already stitched into the furoshiki.

Six would be completely our work, and six had hari-hitta shibori knots pre-tied in them.  We all chose designs that included hari-hitta shibori.

My furoshiki came pre-tied with hari hitta knots.

My furoshiki came pre-tied with hari hitta knots.

The hari-hitta shibori knots pre-tied in my furoshiki.

A close up view of the hari-hitta shibori knots pre-tied in my furoshiki.

We also had to choose the colour of dye we wanted, red, blue, or purple. Our guide mentioned that all the shibori dyeing done in Kyoto was done with silk fabric. Cotton dyed with shibori (including yukata) was always produced in Arimatsu. Finally, we started. Everything was already stitched into the fabric. We had to pull, wrap, and tie off the threads. We were taught how to do two different techniques.

Hira Nuishime Shibori

This technique involves stitching along a line and then pulling the thread tight.

that type of shibori

Hira nuishime shibori pre-dyed and post-dyed.

My final hira huishime shibori knots.

My final hira huishime shibori knots.

Kasamaki Shibori

This technique involves stitching around the shape you want to create, pulling the thread tight, and then wrapping the threads around the cone of fabric several times.

Kasamaki shibori

Kasamaki shibori pre-dyed and post-dyed.

My completed kasamaki shibori.

My completed kasamaki shibori.

We got to use a shibori stand when we did our work. It’s basically a base with an arm holding a piece of metal that has been bent in on itself. The space is large enough to let untied thread through but it will stop a knot from passing through. We used it for all of our shibori tying. I had heard that a lot of shibori is done by machine now, and when I asked about it, our guide explained that yes, it is done by machine, and the shibori stand is the machine. Without it, a person can tie 300 dots per day. With the “machine” a person can tie 3000 dots per day. Mind blown.

All three of us working with our shibori "machines"

All three of us working with our shibori “machines”

Once the tying was done, it was on to dyeing. We had each chosen a different colour, so when we got downstairs, there were there vats of dye bubbling away merrily on the stoves. We were given GIANT chopsticks and told the keep the cloth moving until the timer went off.

Me and my giant chopsticks!

Me and my giant chopsticks!

Double, double, toil and trouble!  Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

Double, double, toil and trouble! Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

Rinsing off the excess dye.

Rinsing off the excess dye.

After rinsing, we passed off our furioshiki to be dried and went on a tour of the museum.

hon-hitta shibori knots, the ultimate level of shibori tying.  Using a stand, an artist can tie 3000 knots in a day.

hon-hitta shibori knots, the ultimate level of shibori tying. Using a stand, an artist can tie 3000 knots in a day.

We got to experiment with taking out the shibori stitching after the dyeing is complete and we got to see several different examples of different techniques.

Practicing pulling apart the knotted threads.

Practicing pulling apart the knotted threads.

We also got to try on full shibori furisode. All three of us have experience putting on kimono and were able to do it ourselves. Our guide commented that it was the first time that he had never had to help a visitor get dressed. I think he was quite amused.

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The wall hanging behind us is completely done in shibori.

The final step was to take out the knots and reveal the patterns. Our guide told us to cut off the knots, but not to pull on any of the threads yet. Once all the knots were cut off, magic happened!

I think the Kyoto Shibori Mueseum was one of my favourite activities from my weekend in Kyoto. It gave me a whole new appreciation for shibori products and I’m very temped to go back and do it again. I’d love to learn more and try to do shibori on my own. The English language support was an unexpected and priceless bonus. I also have to thank our guide for taking so many great pictures of our experience.

Their website is here and they recommend that you call ahead to make a reservation, especially if you would like the class taught in English.  Their website also has an incredible amount of information on different types of shibori. The scholar in me was drooling over it.  Rest assured, this will not be my last post on shibori!  I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of it yet!

 

 

GirlGamerGaB

I have a good friend named GirlGamerGaB.  She’s a big fan of Japanese horror games and does Let’s Plays of them on her youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/GirlGamerGaB/ She specializes in playing horror games in Japanese (some that have yet to be released in English!) and translating them as she goes.  She recently got some visitors from home and they all wanted to be dressed up in kimono.  Of course, I was happy to help!

Displaying the kimono for the girls to choose from.

Displaying the kimono for the girls to choose from.

Choosing obijime and obiage.

Choosing obijime and obiage.

GirlGamerGaB in a kurotomesode.

GirlGamerGaB in a kurotomesode.

Having some fun with an antique wagasa.

Having some fun with an antique wagasa.

This is a three-crested irotomesode.

This is a three-crested irotomesode.

Checking out the musubi in the back.

Checking out the musubi in the back.

The only furisode of the day.  I love this colour!

The only furisode of the day. I love this colour!

I had to do a quick review of the fukurasuzume musubi the night before!

I had to do a quick review of the fukurasuzume musubi the night before!

All three girls enjoying their kimono experience!

All three girls enjoying their kimono experience!

We all had a great time choosing kimono and obi and getting dressed.  I only wish that they weather had cooperated a bit more.  It was raining all morning, but as soon as they had to get undressed and I had to go to work, the sun came out.  Typical.

Don’t sweat the small stuff!  But if you’re interested, check out my facebook, twitter, and instagram for the small, spur of the moment ideas, articles, and activities that I find and do related to kimono!

http://www.facebook.com/readysetkimono
http://www.twitter.com/Readysetkimono

http://www.instagram.com/readysetkimono

Sodo Kimono Contest

Sqeeeeeeee!  Today I watched the Sodo School of Kimono (makers of the biyosugata) preliminary round for Shikoku and Chugoku.  A few of my friends were competing in the contest (I decided not to due to an extremely hectic work schedule) so I had people I was cheering for!

The itinerary was women’s furisode (using the biyosugata to create a plump sparrow bow), women’s tomesode, women’s casual, men’s category, children’s category, foreigner’s category, and the team category (think synchronized swimming but with kitsuke).  Contestants in each category had eight minutes to complete their kituske, but the fastest kistuske of the day was 2:19! He was a 16 year old who practiced three hours a day.  He ended up winning the men’s competition!

The opening ceremony.  I mentioned it in a previous post, but privacy laws are strict in Japan.  I could only get permission from a few friends to post their photos so I have to censor everyone else's faces to protect their privacy.

The opening ceremony. I mentioned it in a previous post, but privacy laws are strict in Japan. I could only get permission from a few friends to post their photos so I have to censor everyone else’s faces to protect their privacy.

The women's furisode competition.

The women’s furisode competition.

The women's tomesode competition.

The women’s tomesode competition.

The women's casual competition.  The judges are examining their obi.

The women’s casual competition. The judges are examining their obi.

The men's competition.  This is the first place winner.  He's only 16 years old, but he practices three hours a day!

The men’s competition. This is the first place winner. He’s only 16 years old, but he practices three hours a day!

The children's competition.  Contestant #2 wasn't having anything to do with it.  The organizers eventually had to come out, dress her, then take her off stage when she started crying.  She didn't win, but she stole the show!

The children’s competition. Contestant #2 wasn’t having anything to do with it. The organizers eventually had to come out, dress her, then take her off stage when she started crying. She didn’t win, but she stole the show!

These four and five year olds were some of the first children to finish dressing.  The first completed kitsuke clocked in at 3:32.

These four and five year olds were some of the first children to finish dressing. The first completed kitsuke clocked in at 3:32.

The team competition.  Everyone dressed in sync, and at the end, they all checked each other to fix any tucks or wrinkles that may have been missed.

The team competition. Everyone dressed in sync, and at the end, they all checked each other to fix any tucks or wrinkles that may have been missed.

Kimono and hijab work really well together.  This team is from one of the local universities and I think they're from Indonesia.

Kimono and hijab work really well together. This team is from one of the local universities and they’re from Malaysia.

The foreigner competition!  I focused on my friend here because I can actually show her face and she was placed right in front of me so getting photos was easy!  Here she is tying her obi with the biyosugata.

The foreigner competition! I focused on my friend here because I can actually show her face and she was placed right in front of me so getting photos was easy! Here she is tying her obi with the biyosugata.

lining up the eri.  All the competitors had to turn to the side to avoid flashing the judges.

Lining up the eri. All the competitors had to turn to the side to avoid flashing the judges.

Adjusting the ohashori.

Adjusting the ohashori.

tying the obiage after putting on the obi.

Tying the obiage after putting on the obi.

One final check before going to the judges.

One final check before going to the judges.

Second person to finish!  This is my other friend, the only man in the foreigner competion.  I wanted to get more pics of him,  but he was on the other side of the stage and my camera couldn't handle the distance in a dark theater.  Sorry!

Second person to finish! This is my other friend, the only man in the foreigner competition. I wanted to get more pics of him, but he was on the other side of the stage and my camera couldn’t handle the distance in a dark theater. Sorry!

Getting interviewed.

Being interviewed.

Getting interviewed again.  It's really nerve wracking and easy to forget your Japanese when EVERYONE is looking at you!

Being interviewed again. It’s really nerve wracking and easy to forget your Japanese when EVERYONE is looking at you!

Getting the obi judged.

Getting the obi judged.

After the competition, before they announced the results, there were a couple of demonstrations.  First was, I kid you not, dancing while putting on kimono.  Synchronized kitsuke to the max!  A friend of mine managed to film it in two sections.

After that, there was a demonstration of obi tying in the shape of flowers.  Absolutely stunning!

kiku obi!

Kiku (chrysanthemum) obi!

Momo/peach blossom (I think) obi

Momo/peach blossom (I think) obi

 

Finally, the results.

Guess who got first place in the foreigner's category?  CONGRATS!

Guess who got first place in the foreigner’s category? CONGRATS!

She'll get to go onto the national competition in Tokyo next year.  Good luck!

She’ll get to go onto the national competition in Tokyo next year. Good luck!

The is the kimono queen, the grand prize winner of the contest accepting her prize.

This is the kimono queen, the grand prize winner of the contest accepting her prize.