Friday, June 8, 2012

Foreign Friday - Guest Post

Hello everyone,

I am honored to be a guest blogger on Nancy's Foreign Friday blog!

My husband Doug and I recently visited Japan, the land of my ancestors. Many of Nancy's photos that we have all enjoyed are still typical of Japanese culture and scenery. Of course, things have changed since 1980 when she was there, but one of the traditions that has not changed is the beauty of the kimono. Most people wear "modern" clothing; however, various kinds of kimono are still worn by men and women to formal occasions, such as weddings, graduation, New Year’s Eve, tea ceremonies, and visiting. Usually when a girl wears a kimono, her mother or grandmother help her dress and learn the proper procedure. However, this tradition is not as strong as before, so some women attend kimono-dressing classes instead of learning from a family member.

Doug and I began our trip to Japan with a visit to a former student of Central Wyoming College. Her name is Tamami. Since she did not learn the intricate art of kimono wear from her mother or grandmother, she found a special “kimono teacher” who conducts Saturday lessons for a small group of women. Tamami has been taking kimono lessons from this teacher for about a year. There are many details and traditions involved in the exact selection of fabrics and accessories, in addition to the actual process of getting dressed in a kimono. Tamami invited her teacher to demonstrate this process during our stay.

When the teacher arrived at Tamami’s house, the teacher dressed me first, with Tamami's help. These photos are in today’s Foreign Friday. Next Tamami dressed herself, with her teacher's help. I don’t think one could dress oneself because so many things need to be checked, such as the length of hem in relation to the ground, the amount of space between the neck and the collar, the seams which need to be perfectly straight, and the belts which must be tied in a specific way to be attractive from both the front and the back.

It took about one hour for the teacher to dress me, beginning with silky white undergarments with a thin white belt, then another layer of garments with another belt, then more belts to keep all the clothing in place a certain way, then the final kimono and decorative sash which is very tight in order to hold everything (and me) together. The clips you see in the photos show how the fabric must be positioned in a certain way while the belts and other accessories are tied on.

It took Tamami about a half hour to get dressed, with the teacher’s help to be sure that all the rules of wear were carefully followed. Then, the two dressed my husband Doug, and that took another half hour. You get to see Tamami’s and Doug’s pictures next Foreign Friday!

We enjoyed this unusual, precious experience. I am glad to share these photos with you.

Sheila N.  ~ Wyoming

Sheila was given a choice of fabric for her kimono. Since she loves pink that
was her choice, but Sheila said pink is more appropriate for a young girl's kimono. 
These items are the undergarments.
Several layers are worn under the outer kimono.
You can see multiple belts and fasteners in this photo.
These special socks, called Tabi, are worn
with the shoes, called Geta. Notice that the big toe
is set apart from the rest of the sock, which allows
the Geta to be worn comfortably.
Sheila wearing the kimono under garments.
Note the belt/sash that she is wearing
to keep these garments in place.
Tamami's kimono teacher adjusts Sheila's obi, the kimono's belt.
Sheila said, "I like the pink kimono with the navy obi."
The obi was arranged so the flower is perfectly centered. 
Once the back of the obi is perfect, the teacher adjusts the front. 
Kimono dressing teacher and Sheila N.
The pink clips in the teacher's apron are used for measuring
 and temporarily securing items. Note the light lavender under
garment "collar" and how it complements the outer kimono. 
Sheila N. reveals the back of the kimono
 and the perfectly arranged obi.
Next week's post will feature Tamami and Sheila's husband in traditional Japanese kimonos.

Update: You can see typical summer kimonos, called yukata, here.


  1. So many pieces! No wonder you need a teacher. Is a kimono uncomfortable to wear?

  2. Wow. I had no idea! The doll a family friend brought me from Japan certainly wasn't so layered... Thank you Nancy, Sheila, Tamami and the teacher for this educational post.

  3. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing

  4. Wow! A friend gave me geta and a yukata some years ago, and I thought that was a challenge to figure out how to wear. A formal kimono looks infinitely more complicated, but still beautiful!

  5. Fascinating!! I had no idea there was so much involved in wearing a kimono. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have a new appreciation for the time this dressing is so beautifully done

  7. WOW!! that is alot of pieces of clothing to put on!! A ceremony in itself! Thanks for sharing...looking forward to the next post!

  8. One restaurant I worked in required me to wear kimono and undergarments. I had a "cheat" obi but still had various obi ties and garment sashes. The biggest challenge I had was trying to wear it traditionally with my size D cup bust! I never managed a "flat" cylindrical look

  9. Very interesting..I cannot imagine wearing so many articles of clothing at once..think of all the laundry:(


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