The other day I got the chance to meet one of the oldest kimono companies in Kyoto. -They have preserved kimono since 1840 and received great awards as a traditional kimono company in Japan. Honestly, that was a great experience for me to meet people like that, because it helped me know more about kimono, but also made me realize that how kimono professionals work, what they would love to pass onto people, and what they ate passionate about. I also got to touch a bunch of high classed kimonos and tried them on. What still sticks on my mind the most is that they would love us to enjoy wearing kimonos from the bottom of their heart. ; I could tell that they truly love kimono, which is rare to see these days even being in Japan.
So from now I am going to talk about Obi (帯). About kimono itself, I will explain it to you later on.
To those who are not sure about what Obi is.
Obi is one of the most important parts in Kimono because it gets attentions the most. Once you change your obi, you will be able to expand your fashion style. Obi allow you to get different impressions There are wide varieties of Obi so I can’t say how much it costs, but if you want to get a great one, it can even cost you over 1,000,000 yen. producing obi definitely can’t be replaced with robots or any machines so they are handmade in most of the processing procedures.
3 different places in Japan are well known as producing best Obi in Japan.
Most of the Obi is produced in Kyoto, where their kimono is well-known as ‘Nishijin Ori’ (西陣織）They tend to use lots of gorgeous colors such as gold, silver. They say their Obi is good for formal occasions. They do look stunning.
・Hakata (博多） in Fukuoka prefecture
They use lots of silk, and the design is more unique and sophisticated. They look more simple and focused on the design or fashion.
・Kiryuu 桐生 (Gunma prefecture)
They use chemical fibers apart from natural ones, which is unique out of these three. They are often used for 七五三 (which is the ceremony held on November where children at 3, 5, 7 years old dress up.)
There are also different types of Obi depending on which occasions you are in.
Mainly, there are two : 袋帯(Hukuro Obi) , なごや帯Nagoya Obi)
The former one is longer and for formal occasions, while the latter one is only for casual occasions. But again, sometimes you have to be careful about the designs. Our culture values TPO (Time, Place, Occasions) a lot. If you wear an appropriate type of kimono, you will be considered as a person not having a common sense. However, many people lately have only the formal versions of kimono as we don’t have the idea that kimono can be worn on a daily life enough. – in which point, they are working on. I notice that they make lots of obi that can be used in both formally and occasionally, which is a current modern change. They also are working on the fashion a lot. Every obi suited 15 different colors of kimono. That way, they can re-use the kimono they already have or enjoy the kimono style.
I personally looked well with gray kimono with purpole Obi as they say. I loved it too. The kimono I now have, which was originally from my grand mom choosing for my mom. (The pic on the top.) though, I didn’t find the kimono that is as flashy as it. – The reasons are, as the kimono company people say, that the kimono that we have now are most likely from our grandparents’ tastes where they were living after WW2. and supposedly they were frustrated or stressed out not being able to have the things as much they wanted. So they wanted to get a flashy / vivid kimono as they wanted it to be noticeable, they were old enough to wear the flashy kimono so they at least chose ones for children, or they used cars a lot to arrive at the destinations so they didn’t mind wearing the gorgeous colors. Who knows, these are the theories after all, but I found it interesting. Lately, more dark or simple colors seem to be common especially among young people. Kimono’s trend isn’t changing as often either they say.
Kimono has reflected people’s lives in each era. 🙂