For some reason rainy spring days make me want to wear kimono. I wore kimono more frequently when I lived in Oregon (mostly in the high desert, not the rainy valley), but since moving back to California several years ago I haven’t put in the effort. On Monday, while rain clouds moved in over the drought beleaguered Bay Area, I decided it was time.
The last time I’d worn a kimono was on the one rainy day of my two week trip to Japan in 2013. Here I am walking through the Ginza in the rain, wearing a chirimen kimono that I’d struggled with for half an hour due to being so out of practice. Five minutes after this photo was taken I walked into a kimono shop and bought a beautiful obijime that suited the outfit much better than the pink one I had been wearing. The shop girls were impressed that I’d dressed myself, and I apologized repeatedly for having done such a lousy job of it.
The kimono I wore yesterday was much easier to put on, considering I had the luxury of a trunkful of kitsuke tools to work with and the benefit of a large mirror. The hanhaba obi was a major plus as well. This simple striped obi is my all-time favorite, and it has seen considerable use from my days of kyudo practice and work at Japanese cultural events and anime conventions including SakuraCon in Seattle, WA, Kumoricon in Portland, OR, and Fanime in San Jose, CA.
The casual komon (小紋 – fine pattern) kimono is one I picked up in Asakusa last year. It’s a soft and subtle tsumugi in muted shades of… well, I’m not sure how to describe it. Parchment, persimmon, and teal? I love how the colors of the fabric are reflected in the colors of the dye used for the stenciled design. The overall effect is very natural; no screaming oranges or bright greens, just calm and gentle hues. It hadn’t been my first choice for the day, but it turned out to be the best choice.
I’m looking forward to making this more of a habit this year and wearing kimono or yukata every Tuesday. Do you wear kimono? I’d like to hear about your experiences!
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When I lived in Japan from 1975 to 1978 I took a kimono dressing class and also studied bingata dyeing and indigo dyeing. After I returned to the states, I only dressed myself once or twice. When i got married in 1981 I wore and a white furisode with white obi and over that an uchikake. A Japanese student helped me to dress for the wedding in the San Jose Rosegarden. We were married by a Chan Buddhist priest from China and toasted each other 3 times with sansancudo. My girlfriend from Japan was the maid of honor (she did not wear a kimono). The only photos I have of the wedding were taken by friends because we did not have enough money for a professional photographer. Fifteen years later I went to a professional kimono dresser in San Jose who helped me get dressed again for an event at my church where women modeled their wedding gowns (or had younger women model them if they could no longer fit – not a problem with a kimono :-). Then my husband and I went to a professional photographer for our “wedding” photos. My husband had to wear a different suit because he could not fit into the one in which he was married. Good for you for remembering how to dress yourself.
Susan, that’s a great story! Thank you for sharing.
I have gotten waaay into kimono over the last few years, and have been something of an internet-ordering kimono junkie. I just need more excuses to wear them. 🙂 I live in the east bay and have gone to SF Kimono Day only once, I need to go more… If you need a dressing buddy let me know. 🙂 Or if you know of any other organized kimono-appropriate activities in the bay area, I’d definitely be interested. Thanks for the post!
I would love to do Kimono Day together sometime! There are other events, mostly in SF, that are kimono-appropriate. I bet we could get at least a small group together sometime this year to go out and experience them.