It is April. The season of 'sakura'(cherry blossom) has passed. The sunshine hours got longer, so the scenery in the evening was beautiful.
The other day, ‘Shunki Taisai(Spring Great Festival)’ was held at my shrine. The Great Festivals are in spring and autumn. Generally speaking, the great spring festival means to pray for good harvest, and the autumn festival means to thank good harvest. This time, I served as a ‘Maibito’(dancer). The song that I danced this time is one of 'gagaku'(Japanese traditional dance and music), "Etenraku". But its ancient dance is missing, and nobody knows. So, I choreographed the original dance of 'Etentaku'. To be honest with you, I think other shrines may get mad at my acts.
I went to Aichi Prefecture for flower viewing in kimono. Inuyama Castle is a national treasure. It was a very beautiful place.
I also went to Sanko Inari shrine in Inuyama. A cute heart-shaped 'ema'(wooden plaque) is dedicated. It is popular because it is looking good on Instagram.
It was still 'Ume'(Plum blossoms) season at that time, so I saw 'Ume'(Plum blossoms) at Oogata shrine. In present day, flower viewing means to see cherry blossoms, but it seems that it was mainstream to see 'Ume'(Plum blossoms) in Nara period.
I went to Tokugawa Garden finally. It is a quiet and exquisite Japanese garden. 'Sakura'(cherry blossom) were beginning to bloom, so I was lucky.
I think Aichi is an area where fits kimono.
I wore Tsukesage Kimono , so I would like to introduce Tsukesage Kimono .
Hi, this is Azusa writing again. Here in Osaka, it's getting warmer and warmer and the cherry blossom season is getting almost over. In Japan, when we say "flower" it often means cherry blossoms. Every spring, I get restless when seeing cherry blossom is coming out, and miss them when they are out of bloom. They are in bloom for only two weeks, and the flowers are special for me, and for almost every Japanese people, I believe.
For one thing, cherry blossoms sometimes reminds me of a somewhat uneasy feeling about new school, in a still a bit cold weather, and a smell of new textbook. In Japan, a new school year began in April. Most schools have a lot of cherry trees planted in the school yard and during graduation ceremonies or entrance ceremonies, they are always there, in full blossom.
Cherry trees grow throughout Japan from the south to the north, from Okinawa to Hokkaido. We are waiting for them to come out every year, so every March, the Japan Meteorological Agency analyzes and predicts the flowering dates of them and announce the cherry blossom forecast. We are really earnest about it. That is in news every day during the spring every year. The cherry blossom forecast called "the cherry blossom front". It moved from the south to the north, with beautiful flowers blooming.
When spring has come, many Japanese people have cherry blossom viewing party. It's traditional and called O-Hanami. That is one of the reason the cherry blossom front is in news. We usually eat, sing a song, and get drunk under cherry blossoms.
Today, I would like to introduce kimonos with a cherry blossom pattern!
Hello ICHIROYA newsletter readers. How are you doing? This is Iori writing. April has started. It is hot like early summer here! This is the month people start new life at a new environment or new grade at school in Japan. Lots of flowers are blooming, especially sakura(cherry blossoms) was in full bloom beautifully early this week.
My daughter has just entered the elementary school on the 4th April and we had an entrance ceremony. I decided to wear a kimono then, but I only had a Furisode kimono, which are for unmarried women. I asked my mother to borrow one of her kimonos and she gave me a Houmongi kimono. The houmongi kimono was the one my grandmother gave her (my mother) when she got married. Surprisingly, my mother has never worn the houmongi kimono! I liked that at first sight, so the houmongi kimono was woken from its almost 40years long sleep. Amazing!
Here let me talk about a little bit about Yomeiridougu( things a bride prepares for marriage). Once upon a time, marriage was not for lovers, it was for families to strengthen the bond. Women had no heirship. A betrothal money were exchanged in an engagement between a groom and a bride. Parents of a bride prepared lots of things for their daughter’s marriage as a distribution of property. They were such as chests of drawers, book shelves, 'kaioke' (a hexagonal container to store clam shells, which are used ancient shell matching game - 'kaiawase'), go-game board, nagamochi(wooden box for kimono or other equipment), hinadougu(girl’s ceremony thing), kimonos, obis and so on. These Yomeiridougu were prepared with parents’ wishes that their daughter could have a happy life without inconveniences. This practice has been keeping up today but the things has been changed with the times. Nowadays, for example, parents buy her daughter household appliance, furniture and so on for her new life.
My grandmother bought her three daughters a chest of drawers, kimonos and fukuro obis for each one. Kimonos are houmongi, mofuku(for mourning), tomesode and iromuji kimono. When I heard that from my mother, I thought “How much did she spend for them!?” My grandmother lost her husband when she was young and she raised her four children by herself. It must be very tough and need patience but she was a very gentle and calm grandmother to me. My mother told me “Grandma would be very happy if you wore this kimono.” I thought so, too. My daughter also liked that kimono so I am very happy. I would like to wear it more often.
Among our items for sale at ICHIROYA, there should be lots of items which someone gave to their loved ones. Each one was a part of somebody’s life. Thinking of that, I feel I like those items with much more love. Don’t you think that, too?
Today I will introduce kimonos and obis for summer. These are refreshing to look in hot summer.
Hi from Yuka. Ichiro and I came back from NYC on 27th. We already miss NYC!
We like to write about this exhibition and share the photos with you.
The exhibition is to show unique linings of men's haori from before WWII. You may already know but men at that time often had interesing designs both dyed and woven in the lining. Of course they are just lining and made to be inside. This time all these haori were displayed inside out. Do you think such exhibition could suceed?
Firstly, we cannot talk about this exhibition without mentioning about this Globus Washitsu.
Is this really in the middle of Manhattan? The building is on Broadway and there was suddenly Japan and the silence!
As staying there for 10 days and having the exhibition and meeting many people, we gradually became aware, why Steve san decided to create this space.
Preparation started! We brought 70 men's haori but had no idea how to display. The exhibition was held on 8th floor and there is even upstairs partially double height!
We were given so much help from many people, and without Dorothy san, those beautiful display never happened. She appeared with bunch of cord with the excellent gadget handmade by her and poles and started working quickly and efficiently. With her long time experience of museum exhibitions, she knew how to place each haori. She advised to fold the sleeves inside to have more space to show more haori, we felt as if scales were fallen from our eyes! We never thought about it!
Is this okay here?
I got it!
Animals were given nice place.
These haori with fusion culture looked good here
ea House, KeiSui-AneaAn
Tea House, KeiSui-An, the samurai was given the best place
Ready to welcome people, dozo gorankudasai
All haori were categorized in 7 groups, "scenery and travel", "hobbies and past time", "samurai", "animals", "war theme", "Taisho roman", "Ukeyoe and folk tales" and each group were given best corners.
We will be so happy if you could click here and feel you were there visiting this exhibition and enjoy!
We had a reception night too, and Ichiro made a speech to thank all the people who made this exhibition possible (he surprised me, he suddenly tore the speech manuscript in front of everyone and started talking about what he felt by improvising! The whole thing and NYC were too inspirational, he could not help talking about it.
My turn came, Ichiro talked quite long, so I did not want to talk long, but I regret (this I regrest most)not to read the particular part of the flyer by Steve san. It tells everything about this exhibition.
"What secrets hide beneath men's clothing?
HAORI, Japan's traditional jackets, contain private messages. Concealed within them are pictorial linings, HAURA with surprising themes, that reflect the whims and fantasies of their owners. These linings may reference yearning for a beautiful landscape, protection by a chosen god or favorite animal, a pleasant pastime, an historic event, the desire for a special woman.
All will be exposed in this unique exhitigion as these jackets will be presented inside out to reveal rare glimpses of private woulds and closely-held secrets."
We like to thank everyone who came to visit this exhibition, from NY and also from New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., and from so far as Virginia, Florida and even from Colorado, by car, by train and by airplane. It was like a dream to meet people in person after many e-mail exchange. Meeting Kimono De Jack girls including Ichiro's highschool classmate in kawaii kimono was so exciting and so much fun too. We like to thank all the comments, are so grateful to be given the information we were not aware too.
I want to close this newsletter with the favorite photos from this trip, actually I LOVE the photo on the top the best, Dorothy san brought the Japanese quince branches and placed in the corner which made the whole exhibition so special (domo arigato gozaimasu, Dorothy san)
And this is what we saw from the door on the top floor from the haori room!
Hello everyone! This is Yoko writing this week's newsletter. Ogenki desuka? Hope everyone is finding signs of Spring in your town. Here in Osaka, days are longer and warmer. We find 'Ume' (plum blossom) blooming beautifully everywhere. Soon, it will be 'Sakura'(cherry blossom) O-Hanami season. I am looking forward to taking my beagle Marin to Ohanami next month. :)
Ichiro and Yuka left for New York on Friday. It seems that their exhibition of Men's Haura at Globus Washitsu in New York city will draw a large crowd already. If you live nearby or happen to be in the neighborhood next week, please stop by!
I wish I could sneak in Yuka's suitcase for an opportunity to peek, but oh well, I will just sit tight here and Gaman!
As for today's topic, I would like to write about one of my favorite Japanese movies. I subscribe to Hulu and Netflix because I love watching western movies and TV drams mostly, but last week, I watched the most humorous Jidai Geki, Japanese Samurai movie. The title is 'Cho Kousoku! Sankin Koutai'. It translates to 'Samurai Hustle' according to the Wiki, but it literary means 'super high speed Sankin-Koutai'. Sankin-Koutai is a Daimyo(provincial lords)'s alternate-year residence in Edo. Under that system, Daimyos were ordered to serve the central military government every other year, so they went back and forth between their territory and the Edo once a two years. When Daimyos go to the service, they made extravagant processions accompanied by retainers to show their power and dignity. This processions were called 大名行列, Daimyo Gyoretsu.
The purpose of this system was to make Daimyos serve in military defense service in Edo (Edo Bakufu) and to have them spend huge amount of money for the processions, so that the Bakufu can put them under control. In other words, take away their financial power so that they can not resist the Bakufu! This system lasted until the end of the Edo Bakufu. The origin of festival attractions you often see at Japanese festivals are derived from this custom. At the root of these gorgeous processions were vanity, pride, and sorrow of regional lords.
Oh! back to the story of the movie! Well, this movie is about one poor Daimyo trying to reach Edo at unbelievably high speed by deceiving a decent Daimyo procession at government checking stations. It is not just a family comedy, but it also includes cruel Samurai battle and love scenes, so I do not recommend watching in front of kids, but if you need a loud laugh, please watch this heart warming Samurai movie!
So today, I would like to recommend some items with Daimyo procession motif!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen! We have a big announcement today. We're going to hold the exhibition 'HAORI'S HIDDEN HAURA' from March 22 to 25 in NYC. There's a message quoted from the exhibition's brochure.
"What secrets hide beneath men's clothing? Haori, Japan's traditional jackets, contain private messages. Concealed within them are pictorial linings, Haura, with surprising themes that reflect the whims and fantasies of their owners. These linings may reference yearning for a beautiful landscape, protection by a chosen god or favorite animal, a pleasant pastime, an historic event, the desire for a special woman. All will be expose in this unique exhibition as these jackets will be presented inside out to reveal rare glimpses of private worlds and closely-held secrets."
Curators Yuka and Ichiro have carefully assembled over 30 enigmatic Haori especially for this exhibition. Of course, they're leaving for NYC! If you have any plans to go to NYC, you must visit this exhibition!
Here are another Men's Haori which were not selected that exhibition, but they're no less unique than those!
Hi! This is Nagisa writing again. I'm looking forward to the Haura's exhibition, too. (I'll stay in Japan, though...) Anyway, speaking of Haori, Men's formal black Haori usually has Kamon(family crest). Kamon is a culture unique to Japan, and almost all Japanese have the Kamon which has been handed down from their family lines. Today's theme is the history of Kamon. Are you ready for time traveling?
The origin of Kamon goes for back to Heian Period(794-1185). Heian noble started using simple marks on their ox cart in order to find their own cart. It was originally a mark for indicating ox cart's owner. These marks were gradually began using not only ox cart, but also clothes, tools and so on. This is the origin of Kamon. In the latter Heian Period, there appeared Bushi/ Samurai, and they expanded their power more and more since then. They also needed Kamon mainly to tell the difference between friends and foes, so they used Kamon on their flag or camp curtain at the battlefield. Kamon was designed simply to distinguish from far, and these Kamons also have owner's belief or origin of their ancestors. The design of Kamon became diversified with the times. In Muromachi Period(1336-1573), Kimono with Kamon was already worn as formal Kimono by Samurai. Some generals of the Warring States Period(1467-1568) have plural Kamons, and they had used these Kamons depending on the situations. Before the Edo Period(1603-1867), Kamon had established as the symbol mark of Samurai. Then, I'd like to introduce you some Kamons which have unique meaning or origin.
< Mokko >
This is the 'Oda Mokko' which is different from popular Mokko-mon. In general, it has four petalled flower. Nobunaga Oda is one of the Samurais who has many Kamons. (It says that he had 7 Kamons.) Especially, he loved this special Mokko Kamon which has five petalled flower. According to a rumor... 'This is the bloodstain remained on the tray by cut-off enemy's head.' Nobunaga joked with a laugh about this Kamon. Oh, terrible...
< Sakura >
'Sakura'(cherry blossom) has been loved by Japanese from ancient times. However, it was unpopular with Samurais. Because, they believed that Sakura is unlucky flower due to the state in which they're falling. So that, there's not many Sakura motif Kamon.
< Rokumonsen >
This Kamon is designed in the motif of 6 copper coins. It's well known Kamon used by Yukimura Sanada. There are some opinions why Yukimura used this Kamon. For example... It was believed that this price 'Rokumon' is ferriage of the River Styx. Using this Kamon on the flag at battlefield, he indicated the readiness to die, and encouraged his own troop. On the other hand, it was a tip with irony for enemies. That is, it was his message, 'Go to hell'. I like latter one, haha
< Hikiryo >
It came into its presence due to the simple design at the battlefield. Besides, it's designed in the image of dragon... How creative they are!
< Kokumochi >
Today, this is just a white circle to dye out own Kamon. However, it was popular Kamon among Samurais in the past. Kanbei Kuroda is one of them. There was also black circle, too. What does it look like? Here is an interesting episode about the origin of it. Once upon a time, Hanbei Takenaka was shot with an arrow in the chest, but he has a mirror-shaped rice cake in his bosom, and the rice cake saved his life! So, he decided to adopt the rice cake design as Kamon. Dramatic!
Did you enjoy today's topic about Kamon? There are more and more Kamons with unique, funny and mysterious episodes other than those. Please pay attention the small Kamon on the nape from now on! How about find your favorite one?