We are often asked by friends or people we know to come and evaluate the kimono from their mothers or grandmothers. The auction schedule is quite busy, so we do not go to individuals' houses that often but still sometimes we go.
The visit of the client goes like this----the house is from mid or late Showa period( Showa 1926- 1989) and usually parking place is only for one car. We park the car in front of the house. The house is empty - the inhabitant is now in hospital or senior peoples' home or has passed away. Some time has passed since the house became empty.
The client guides us to tansu, chest or a pile of kimono wrapped with tatoshi paper. Sometimes there are memo on the tatoshi, showing what is inside.
We ask how tall was she, opening the tatoshi.
150 cm or so? They usually say.
`It must be the average women's height of that age but now the average height is much taller, 10 cm more or much more' I repeat what I said on the phone when the client asked us to come.
(150 cm is less than 5 feet)
Some people have Oshima tsumugi, supreme tsumugi which cost so high originally but the lining is usually discolored so much and there are brown patina all over after long time storage.
The lining silk of certain era was not in good quality and tend to discolor so much. I tell this fact to the client. The client is surprised and looks unsatisfied.
`It is still Oshima' they say so, but actually they do not sell and we need to tell this.
We see black haori very often also at these houses. Black haori with dyed or pattern on the back.
They are the kind mothers wore to attend children's elementary school entering ceremony.
I remember my mother wearing that type of black haori over iromuji kimono. Most mothers at that time wore black haori for children's important event. The haori we are seeing must have had been worn by the client's mother or grand mother.
We keep looking the kimono-- some kimono must have been the ones given by the wearer's parents when this wearer got married. Parents prepared a lot of kimono for their daughters in old times. It has been said, if you had three daughters, you went bankrupt. For parents, prearing kimono for their daughters was a duty, so they saved money in order to tailor kimono for their own daughters. Pale pink semi formal kimono, and also funeral kimono both for summer and winter- parents prepared those things so their daughters did not get embarassed at her husband's family.
Older women all have those kimono given from their parents.
We check carefully but most kimono are small, have patina from storage. We check wishing there were special thing such as meisen with unique patterns or woven Miyako Jofu kimono which are considered to be very valuable and also connoisseur's items.
However, most of the time, we cannot find such rare items. Now we need to talk to the client.
`Do you have relatives or friends who might like to have these kimono?'
The client looks at us with puzzled face. `what do you mean?'
`Kimono fabrics are used as craft materials too' we say.
They say, `do you mean all these kimono have no value?'
Not only kimono, people leave many things behind filled with memories.
I feel so sentimental seeing all these things including kimono.
What do I leave behind when I go? Clothings? Books? I have nothing like jewelry or rare coin collection.
Real estate? It seems there are empty houses increasing, so I doubt the value of old houses - the value will not become highter, I guess in this population decresaing time.
How about things not real? Our newsletters? The things I wrote in my blog?
They will be remembered for some time but will be forgotten. I want to leave something meaningful for this world but I probably cannnot, I will be going with nothing behind.
I (Ichiro) am writing this in the seat next to my daughter.
She is used to drive and can drive well recently ( I can sleep well while she is driving!) I noticed, she's got half of my DNA. I am glad I could leave something behind.
I just could not help wishing her happiness.