My Visit to Japan - 4
At the Nezu Shrine there were ladies dressed in kimono for part of the festivities but I caught them "backstage"
I attended a shamisen (three-stringed instrument) concert where lots of the performers and the audience were in kimono
first post on this blog was about a Quilters' Guild Area Day that I attended in Fleggburgh, Norfolk when Jenni Dobson was the guest speaker. At that meeting Jenni gave a "live insight" into the kimono which was spellbinding and incredibly instructive.
Kimono literally translates as garment and is worn as a series of layers and ties, all with particular significance. Now that Japan has become more westernised kimono are more often worn for festive occasions, to visit shrines and for weddings. I suppose that's in a similar way to the Scots wearing their traditional kilts.
Kimono are made of fabric 13-14" wide and approximately 15 yards long. Kimono are unstitched to be cleaned and to be stored and the Japanese show "respect for the selvedges" - no material is actually cut away during the making and as they are often passed on they can be made larger for the next wearer if necessary. The Japanese also believe that any element used to make the kimono becomes part of the garment and should not be taken away - so any tacking will be found remaining in the finished garment.
I recently found a poignant post about the discoveries made when taking a kimono apart, you can read it on Heather's blog.
It was wonderful on that occasion in Norfolk to have the opportunity to examine some kimono at close quarters and see how they had been stitched. It was even more wonderful to be in Japan and see kimono being worn.
Jenni Dobson recommended "The Story of the Kimono" by Jill Liddell for anyone wishing to learn even more and I have finally tracked down a copy (it's out of print and ridiculous prices are asked for it on the various book seller sites I've tried previously) which is on the way from America at this very moment. I look forward to sharing it with you when it arrives. In the meantime there's a great website with loads of information about kimono that you might like to look at, it's www.japanesekimono.com