Sumo ー 相撲

When I first came to Tokyo, in October 2007, it was for three months. My husband was working every day, and I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up watching the November tournament and I got hooked.


It might seem like a strange sport to fall in love with, but I love the ceremony, the athleticism, and most of all the various characters that make up the upper ranks of sumo (the white guy from Belarus, the two battling Mongolian champions, etc.) For each of those 15 days, 4:00 pm would find me in front of the television, watching the best 15 battle, round robin style, until the one with the most wins was awarded the Emperor’s Cup.


Watching sumo on TV is fun; but getting the chance to watch it live is even better. It’s so exciting to hear the crowd cheer for their favourite wrestlers. You can even pass lower ranking sumo wrestlers in the hall after their matches.



**New York City– ニューヨークにて

MODE & CLASSIC NEW YORK presents the spring / summer 2012 collection featuring Japanese traditional fabrics and Kimonos on the Opening Night of Brooklyn Fashion Weekend.

Time:            Thursday, September 29, 2011
                     Door opens 7:00PM Show 7:30PM
日時:         2011年9月29日(木)
                     開場:19:00    開演:19:30

Location Industry City at Bush Terminal
241 37th Street, Brooklyn NY 11232
(Near 36 St. Subway Station, D N R Train)

Admission Free, RSVP required

RSVP:        rsvp@bkfashionweekend.com



Reflections on Kimono - 着物について

Even though, in Tokyo, the summer heat is still here, August 31 marks the end of 'yukata season', and marks the time to get back into hitoe (single layer kimono). After looking so forward to yukata season, I have to say, it wasn't my favourite. One of the reasons was my lack of wardrobe options. One of my inspirations to begin this project was to explore the eco-fashion side of kimono. Kimono is a perfect example of eco-fashion; they are usually recycled, or passed down, and worn again and again. Yukata (lightweight summer cotton kimono), on the other hand, was impossible to find recycled (in my size), so as I had to buy a new one, I decided to limit my purchase to one. This meant that I wore the same yukata for 2 months, and to be honest, I found it tiresome. At least with kimono, I have 5 to choose from, and feel like I have some variety.

The second reason why yukata season was less exciting in reality, than in my dreams, had to do with the weather. It was soooo hot this summer, that every time I wore my yukata, I felt like I sweat so much, that I had to wash (and press) it for the next time. Does everyone also do this. For some reason, I was afraid to re-press without washing, and yet - I couldn't re-wear the yukata after wearing it all day without re-pressing it. It was a lot of work.


 So now we are back to hitoe season (the month of June and the month of September) and then, I'm quite excited, back to full kimono season in October.




The Sartorialist in Tokyo - ザ・サトリアリストが東京に

If you love fashion, then he needs no introduction: New York blogger/photographer Scott Schuman pioneered fashion photography in blog form when he began The Sartorialist, in 2005. He travels around the globe, taking pictures of people who dress in a way that catches his eye. This week he was in Tokyo - and these yukatas caught his eye....

ファッションが大好きな人には、彼は紹介するまでもない。NYのブロガー/写真家であるスコット・シューマンは、2005年に「ザ・サトリアリスト」を始め、ブログという形態でファッションを紹介する先駆者として活躍。世界中を旅し、彼の目を引くようなお洒落をしている人を撮影し続けている。そして今週、彼は東京に滞在 – この浴衣姿が彼の目を引いたようです…

Trends spring from Schuman's blog... so perhaps we will soon see yukatas on the streets of New York or Paris!!



Reflections on Kimono - 着物について

model: Tamaki Hiroshi - 玉木宏

Remember back in June - I was reflecting on how a kimono is like a super-hero costume for generating kind comments and sentiments? Well, turns out I'm not the only one who recognizes this!


Last week, a friend introduced me to a man in kimono; a very daper, well-heeled man in kimono. Turns out this man-in-kimono owns a kimono company in Kyoto, spent some time in Canada when he was younger, is about the same age as me. Needless to say, we had plenty to talk about. When we got to the topic of kimono - he has had similar experiences to mine - but better! He started wearing kimono full- time about 5 years ago and he said he has noticed that the service he gets (stores, shops, hotels, restaurants, etc.) is better by merely being in kimono. And he's not alone. He said some of his customers have reported being seated before other patrons in restaurants, getting better tables, even getting better cuts of sushi - all by wearing kimono.


Now, the service is Japan is stellar. Really. Imagining it being better is difficult. But is it true? Is there a subtle industry deference to traditional dress? Are kimono wearers reaping secret benefits? If you're still not convinced to get out your kimono by the stories in this blog, aren't you at least tempted by the lure of a 'better piece of sushi?'



Summer Kimono Event - 夏の着物イベント

This week we held our first event! Our Summer Kimono Event was a chance to visit my kimono school and take a lesson on how to wear yukata. The event was open to any woman; those who already had yukata and those who were trying it for the first time (one of the lesson prices included a yukata).


Choosing a yukata and obi is not as easy as it sounds. First, there's your personal preference of colours, and trying to find a yukata in a colour combination - with a print - that you like. Next is the challenge of finding a contrasting obi that suits both the yukata and your taste.


Of course, all of that is the outside, there are still the hidden pieces that bring it all together. However, the pieces are so few compared to kimono, that it makes yukata the perfect kimono to learn on.


Even the obi's are easier for beginners, as they are smaller and tied in the front (and then pulled around to the back).


In the end, everyone had fun -


"Thank you for giving me a wonderful opportunity to revisit my culture" - S

"A big thank you for organising the event - I like yukata much more than kimono." - J

Then a few of us went out for a drink in our yukatas. I tried to pick somewhere that would look as 'pretty' as we did - so I chose Frames (in Daikanyama). But in the end, it looks like we are celebrating Christmas in yukata! I wonder if it's possible to celebrate Christmas in yukata in Okinawa.... hmmmm!



Dressing Yourself (online resources) - 自分で着付け(オンライン資料)

Many of the followers of this project live abroad, can't commit to taking kitsuke (kimono lessons), or merely need a quick refresher on 'how to get dressed. So today I'll share with you my favourite online resources (all in English):


Kimono / 着物:

Before I even found Hakubi Kimono School - I was looking for online sources about kimono and kimono dressing. This video amazed me the first time I saw it and it has has been my inspiration - she gets dressed (and ties her obi) in 6 minutes! I'm still trying to be that fast!! (I'm down to about 15-20 minutes, now).


This is also one of my favourites - whenever I need Nagoya (full-size) obi tying help, I turn to a Canadian (pure coincidence) who films this tutorial in her tea house in Canada. In a little over 5 minutes, she covers how to tie an Nagoya (full-size) obi.


Yukata / 浴衣:

And now that we are in yukata-season, if you can't make it to our 'learn to wear yukata' Summer Kimono Event, this online tutorial might help. A simple, how-to for yukata wearers.


And last but not least - before I learned how to tie Nagoya (full-size) obi, I used to turn to this online instruction guide. Now that we are in yukata season - this is great as a quick guide to hanhaba (half-size) obi bow.


And lastly, when all the fun is done here's a brief reminder of how to fold your yukata and/or kimono for the next time.



A special offer from Blue Man: 浴衣でご来場のお客様にオリジナルてぬぐいプレゼント!

Everyone's going crazy for yukata - even BlueMan is getting in the mood! Anyone who goes to see the show (currently in Roppongi) in yukata (until August 31) will receive a complimentary tenugui*!  Tenugui are perfect for making summer purses, like those shown here.


*while supplies last.


Summer in Japan - 日本の夏

Summer time means festival time! This past weekend marked the Nakameguro Summer Festival - with street dancing and lots of fun! (even the rain couldn't stop the fun!)


Everyone was out to enjoy the night, with food, drinks and dancing, it was perfect!


I was so excited to be dressed for the occasion. I even had my fan tucked into my obi! There's still plenty of summer and summer festivals left to enjoy (the Noryo Bon Odori festival and the Sumida River Fireworks are still to come!)


If you want to learn how to wear yukata, make sure to join our summer kimono event on August 23rd. You need to r.s.v.p. by August 12th (you can do so by leaving your name in the comments section below) - hope to see you there!



TopShop introduces Kimono tops - トップショップが送る着物トップス

Following our post last week about yukata being a good alternative to sunscreen and the perfect article of clothing to protect oneself from the sun, I just discovered U.K. high street retailer TopShop had the same thought. Topshop is selling three specially selected sun safe kimono tops, and will donate £10 from each sale to support Teenage Cancer Trust. The idea being - young girls need to protect their skim from sun exposure, and why not do it stylishly with a kimono-inspired cover-up!



Summer Handbags – 夏のハンドバッグ

I have been waiting all year to be able to use this birthday present! In the package was a furoshiki (a square piece of fabric), two hoops and the directions to make this perfect summer handbag. Furoshiki are abundant here in Japan. Everyone has one (or 10) in their homes. They are the equivalent to an‘extra bottle of wine’ in North America; you never know when you need a hostess gift, a last minute present, or to have on hand for yourself.


And since Furoshiki are usually cotton and almost always colorful, once you have handles, it’s easy to make a quick summer purse that goes well with yukata!



The perfect sundress – 格好のサンドレス

Summer is lovely, isn’t it? Great weather, great food, great occasions to spend time with friends, and great clothes. Before The Year in Kimono project– summer clothes always meant ‘sundresses’ to me. That single, lightweight garment, usually good for day or night, that you could just throw on and go. And I’m happy to find that a yukata is almost like that too. No socks, no padding, no nagajuban! It’s bliss! Of course, the padding is still supposed to be there, but what would summer be without breaking the rules just a little.


And I can see why Japanese women like yukata. Given how hot the summer sun is in Japan, and how prone it is to leaving sunspots, Japanese women often cover all exposed skin from the sun – which is exactly what a yukata does. Arms – covered, legs – covered, chest – covered!  The only parts not covered by a yukata are: the tops of the feet – but they are usually protected by the shadow of the yukata, and the face.. but for that you can use a parasol. So if it was merely for fashion…. which look would you prefer?



Yukata, finally - やっと浴衣!!

I'm back from my vacation in Vietnam. It was so much fun ! We had such a lovely time and enjoyed the food, the people and the culture. And although I didn't wear kimono - I did see kimono while I was there... in this ad!


I've been struggling with my yukata search for a while, now. They are either too short or they fit 'just right' but I was warned they might shrink after the first washing. So, in desperation, late one night night I turned to the internet. After all, it had been successful for me with the zōri (traditonal kimono shoes), so why not with yukata? I was so excited - I found a company, with an English website, they had LL size yukatas, in cute patterns and for only about 4,000 yen ($45 USD). So I ordered one! It arrived after only 3 days, but arghhh - it is too short!


Then a friend offered to take me to a store they knew, in Shimokitazawa, and finally I found my yukata! The summer is in it's fullest, hottest wave and I finally have a yukata!!



The half-way point - 中間点

How fast the times flies (when you're having fun)! I can't believe that I have reached the half-way point for The Year in Kimono! I'm about to take a little vacation (I'm off to Vietnam, and no - kimono is not in my suitcase... if Canada had trouble understanding, I don't think Vietnam would fare much better). While I leave you for two weeks - enjoy this recap of the adventure thus far:


Breaking the Rules - ルールを破る:

What started the 'breaking the rules' theme from the very beginning was lack of proper shoes. With less than 2 weeks from idea to go - I didn't have time to start the project with proper footwear, and thus... I started my first appearance in kimono already breaking the rules.


A/r/e/c/o/l/e magazine - アレコレ雑誌:

Just a month after the project began, A/r/e/c/o/l/e magazine contacted me and asked me to contribute content in their segment dedicated to bloggers - in Japanese! This meant The Year in Kimono project was read by Japanese kimono aficionados before we even started to get noticed by English readers and press. Look for The Year in Kimono in Volumes 69-71.


Kimono School - 着物学校:

I was a little shocked when I first learned that the typical kitsuke (kimono wearing) course is 6 months(!!) - but it turned out to be one of the most cherished and fond memories I have of the project thus far.


This is mostly due to my lovely teachers at Hakubi Kimono School. Always patient and kind, they are my sartorial inspirations for this project - thank you!


The Translators - 翻訳者:

It was extremely important to me from day one to make this project bilingual (even though my Japanese level is low) so none of this would be possible without the translators! Thank you to Elie Yoo (Dec.-Feb.) and Chiyono Jaeger (Mar.-Jun. including the a/r/e/c/o/l/e submissions) for adding your Japanese words and voice to the first half of this project!


I'll be back in July - in the meantime, enjoy the blog and reading about The Year in Kimono - the first half.



Breaking the Rules: meet Shito Hisayo - ルールを破る:紫籐尚世

My adventures in yukata hunting led me to the most beautiful kimono boutique in Omotesando and the chance to meet designer Shito Hisayo, who started designing her eponymous line over 35 years ago. What makes the designer, and her collection, unique is her approach. Shying away from the traditional use of a single tan (bolt of fabric), Hasayo instead focuses on fabric, pattern and color in an effort to allow women to look slimmer through texture, lines and fabrics.


Hand-made, attention is given to every detail of the kimono, including her own signature nagajuban (under kimono) which is lightweight and sleeveless (the extra layer is incorporated into the lower part of the kimono sleeve). This feature, as well as a very structured eri (collar), which lays down and allows the neck to look more elegant, are all secrets Hisayo employs to slim the wearer and let her appear at her most elegant best.


When questioned about waste (traditionally a kimono is a 'zero-waste' garment - meaning that without patterning and cutting and by using a single tan - there is no fabric waste in the construction of kimono), Hisayo was quick to point out that each of her kimono obi comes with additional accent pieces, almost mini-obi, to complement the look and re-use extra fabric. Her gorgeous accessory line including geta and purses, in typical Japanese fashion, also uses excess fabric.


One of Hisayo's kimono or yukata would be a gorgeous asset to any wardrobe (not mine, sadly - as this project is on a budget) - and she is the first kimono designer I've met who is breaking the rules and the result is gorgeous.



Searching for Yukata - 浴衣探し

The count-down is on.... in a very short time, it will be yukata (lightweight, summer kimono) season! If you've followed this blog for a while, you know that since the beginning, I've been waiting for yukata season. Literally. From the very inception of this project I remember thinking "how hard can it be to wear a kimono? besides, it won't be long until yukata season is here" - those were the days when I thought yukata season started sometime around mid-March (oops!) But come the first of July, it's here, it's here!! And, of course, like all things kimono - I'm having trouble finding something that would fit. The standard "L" size yukata fits a woman up to 163 cms. (have I mentioned I'm 172 cms?) - which wouldn't be a problem except apparently yukata shrink. So the day found me back in Asakusa searching for an ooki (big) yukata. The search is still on.



If you live in the Tokyo area, and have caught "The Year in Kimono" bug - and want to give it a try, we are arranging an event in July (near Shibuya station). The event will include a lesson, a yukata and obi  (sash) - everything you need (except footwear) for 6,000¥. You can join even if you have yukata and just want a refresher on how to dress yourself (just 2,100¥)! Leave a comment below and we will send you the details by the 10th of July.



Breaking the Rules part II - ルールを破る(パート2)

I've written about it, and thought about it, and invited your comments about it and here it is - breaking the rules part II. Lots of fashionistas, when they think about kimono, think about romanticized images like the one above (taken from a U.K. lingerie site). But the true problem in buying a kimono and wearing it like above is the length. Kimono, if you are ever going to wear it in the fashion the Japanese do, needs the extra inches to 'double down' below the obi (sash) in order to look proper.

皆様、お待たせしました。「ルールを破る」で最初紹介したアイディアをまた考えて、皆様からいただいたご意見も読んで、パート2を書いてみました。(UK のランジェリーサイトで見つけた)上のイメージで想像がつくと思いますが、欧米のファショニスタ達が着物を考えると、変にやりすぎてしまう傾向があると思います。着物を写真ようなコンテンポラリースタイルで着る際に問題になってくるのは丈の長さです。日本式に着物を着るなら、帯の下からはみ出す、その余分な丈(おくみ)も必要です。

What started as necessity (kimono were handed-down through the family, so extra length from the tan (or bolt of kimono fabric) was 'rolled up' and saved for future (taller) generations) has become a necessary requirement for the look. So when you want to break the rules, you are restricted by the length of the kimono.


But, it was Saturday night, and I wanted to look that that picture above, so I added a necklace and tried to figure out what to do with all the extra fabric (usually hidden and bound by my obi).


And it didn't matter how many ways I tried, and how high my shoes were, which belt I added, it looked ridiculous! Verdict: you can't wear a kimono both ways. If you want that lingerie-site look, you need to get the kimono shortened. But know, once you shorten it - you won't be able to wear it in the traditional way. Sadly, in this case you can't have your cake and eat it too (but I'm still going to try)

残念ですが、この場合は一つを選ぶしかないですね… まだまだ試行錯誤は続きます!
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