We are often asked to choose a matching obi for a kimono our customer choose.
For those who travelled to Japan might have worn yukata at Japanese ryokan and the obi comes with the yukata must have been more like a narrow simple tie either made of the same fabric with the yukata or a very simple sash which is easy to tie.
We have narrow type of obi in our website too but most of the obi we have are more fancy type. We see many customers abroad using obi for interior display for example table runners or tapestry. Obi are mostly approx 30 cm wide and 300 to 440 cm long(12 inches wide and 120 to 170 inches long). To see types of obi, please see here:
Fukuro obi are about 60% patterned obi. Solid color part comes around the body which is not shown when it is worn. Basically you fold obi into half width at the beginning(with the starter part) and start wrapping around your waist and then with about a quarter length of the end part, a bow ( you can call it a backpack or whatever) is made.
Recently we are listing this obi- this is a kind of fukuro obi:
With the usual way of obi tie, you cannot tie this obi, I mean you can tie but the patterns does not come at appropriate part. At front of your waist, there will be no patterns with this obi if you tie with the usual way. Why this happens?
Kimono are traditional clothings and EVERYONE was wearing kimono before but with the change of lifestyle, here, people wear western clothings now. Just as culture classes just as languages, dancing, music and so on, there are Kitsuke( kimono dressing) classes. I mean now, and there are many major sects, they have big ad on TV and campaign too( such as you can take FREE lesson only now and so on).
You may find it strange --- paying fee to learn one's own traditional clothings! However, there are many Kitsuke schools. They seem to have own method, and the obi shown above seems to be made for that particular way of tieing, so this works with that method only. The obi is patterned for that method only, and we heard there was a certain sect (I am not sure this sect still exists) which taught this method, so they must have ordered to weave obi for this method. We see this type of obi not often and we heard even among Kitsuke teachers, the obi seems very rare and unusual.
Kitsuke schools - we always wondered how they started.
It seems the origin has peculiar and complicated background. One of the reason we heard is a plot from gofuku(kimono) industry. Everyone had to wear kimono in older times, there was no choice, and no kimono dressing schools! Mothers dressed children(actually they made kimono for all family members) and naturally the children grew up and dresses themselves. Some rich women had maids at home to help them dressing.
One of the explanation we heard was an important person of Tea field suggested the `right' way of kimono dressing as an important manner as they taught the way of tea. and that was said to be the origin of Kitsuke schools.
Another thing we heard was, at Tokyo Olympics (held in 1964), wearing kimono in proper way has been required, especially for companions(they thought it was a shame to show girls wearing kimono in not proper way), so they made school of kimono dressing.
In any case, the history is not so old- those kimono schools were made after WWII, comparatively new thing in kimono wearing history.
Right after the war, it was still considered, women should got married and become good wives and stay home- that was the way. So going to college or university was considered to lose the chance to get married. In Hanayome shugyo(training to become a good wife) `curriculum', kimono dressing was added. Cooking, Flower arangement and way of tea seemed to have been main things. (I too had to learn flower arrangement before I got married, my mother said I should be able to arrange flowers for Oshogatsu, new year days) and sent me to her friends who was a flower arrangement teacher. It was OK, I enjoyed learning that.
During the war, people in cities moved to countryside - they brought their fancy kimono to farmers there to exchange with potatos to live. Kimono were like jewelry and worked as money.
Going to Kitsuke lessons are not unusual thing among women now. Their mothers do not really know as they grew up in yofuku(western clothings). Video and books are good too but at schools you can learn manners and rules also.
Do you like to know how much is the fee? If you go to one of the biggest school for three months, ( two hours lesson x 12 times), the fee is approx US $370. Some schools offer classes for free but we heard after the beginners class, you are shown nice obi and other accessories and are recommended to buy...
Well...we wish this could be just more simpler. Fashion is becoming borderless and has more freedom, but as far as kimono is concerned, still a sort of complications seems to remain. But I am not pessimistic- we see women enjoy wearing kimono in natural way (not in timid way)sometimes. Change is what fashion is supposed to be and kimono also will keep living with some good change.