Presentation of obi tying at the museum – TM Symposium Day3

There were many chances to meet wonderful people at the symposium “From Kimono to Couture” held at the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. Finally, an incredible event happened to me.
On the last day of the symposium, I had a great chance to show obi tying in front of all the attendees at the final session!

Although the name of this symposium included kimono, no people wearing kimonos have appeared except the reception on the first night. After all talks were finished on the previous day, an American lady suddenly asked me to put on her kimono for the final session, because she cannot put on it by herself instead of bringing it. In addition, she requested me, as a kimono specialist, to show obi tying in front of all the attendees.
While I asked her whether she had requisites for kimono dressing, I found that she had little of them. Although I originally planed to eat crab cakes, specialties of Washington D.C., for dinner, I was too busy worrying about the next day’s presentation to go to the restaurant, and went to a drug store for shopping. At the store, I bought cotton gauzes more than two meters, instead of waist cords, koshi-himo; a heavy paper, instead of an obi-ita board; cardboards for fixing the shape of obi; and elastic bands. It was difficult to find even substitute goods of requisites for kimono dressing at the unknown store. I could not possibly find clothespins at the store. Just after I have gotten cotton gauzes and elastic bands, I should have optimistically thought that it could be done. I should have tried my presentation of obi tying almost ad lib.

In the next morning, on the day of my presentation, the American lady showed me her kimono, obi, and goods she had. As her obi was hard like having a core, I thought I could make a good shape without an obi-ita board. On the other hand, the length of her kimono had, unfortunately, the similar length as the length from the base of her neck to her ankle, although she had told me that her kimono fitted her very well. I was wondering if I could make ohashori fold, tucking up beneath her obi, but I could make it using two koshi-himo bands she had. Instead of a date-jime cord, I used cotton gauze. In this way, I tried to make an orthodox kimono form without requisites for kimono dressing.

The final session was held under the big tent at the inner courtyard of the museum. Even though it was unfortunately raining, the courtyard was crowded, filled to capacity, and several attendees had to stand. On the session, the collections of Japan-related cloths from kimonos to contemporary costumes, which each attendee had, were shown. They received many comments from professors of fashion-related universities, curators of museums, specialists for costumes, and other attendees. My turn was coming at the first part of kimono collections.
First, the American lady appeared in her kimono with the otaiko form of obi tying, which I had already made on back stage. Second, we had question-and-answer session about kimono. Third, I showed switching obi tying from the otaiko form to the variation form, Aioi on stage.

As I met and talked with Ms. Liza Dalby on the previous day, as was referred to the last blog entry: “Lunch with Ms. Liza Dalby - TM Symposium Day2”, she stood by me during my presentation and explained what I was doing and using to an audience. Sometimes she asked me what I was doing and I explained it to her in Japanese; then she translated my explanation to English for the audience. It seemed like collaboration between Liza and me. In addition, she introduced me to all attendees as a kimono specialist. Thanks to Liza, I didn’t feel nervous and showed obi tying of the variation form in a relaxed manner. Since koshi-himo bands were missing, I pulled a belt off my one-piece dress and used it as a transient band. I am interested in the fact that the audience raised a cheer. I could play kimono dressing performance slightly.
After I completed the obi tying, the audience broke into a loud cheer. Finally I was very satisfied.

On the closing remarks by Ms. Maryclaire Ramsey, CEO of the Textile Museum, when she said, “Thank you very much, Hiro”, the audiences applauded me all together! I was too impressed by their applause to stand up, although I should take a bow.

Frankly, I was not satisfied with workmanship of the obi tying, but I believe that I could show that we can make various forms from just one obi; once we change a form of obi tying, expression of a kimono and obi is dramatically changed; and obi-tying holds enormous potentialities to create fashion.
My presentation of obi tying should bring a feeling of unity on stage. I am very pleased that I showed real obi tying in front of many people interestd in Japanese culture.


Lunch with Ms. Liza Dalby - TM Symposium Day2

I had had an appointment to meet with Ms. Liza Dalby for lunch on the 2nd day of the Symposium “From Kimono to Couture” at the Textile Museum. She was a presenter of the symposium. I could not have believed that I really had lunch with busy Liza.

Ms. Liza Dalby wrote about Geisha and Kimono, and recently wrote about the tales of Genji, originally written by Murasaki-Shikibu. Her books are highly admired even by Japanese people. More recently, she wrote and published a novel “Hidden Buddhas”.
This book, “Kimono: Fashioning Culture“, is one which kimono lovers in USA almost certainly have. She is also a researcher of Japanese culture. She had been interested in Japanese culture since her infancy. Initially she stayed in Saga City in her teenage year, and then she stayed in Ponto-cho, Kyoto to research geisha and experienced geisha training. I am impressed by what she thinks about the Japanese spirit.
Before attending this symposium, she emailed me that she liked my home pages very well. On the way to Washington D.C., I have already been excited for anticipation of meeting with her.
At first, because many attendees addressed her as the main guest of the symposium, I thought that it was difficult to have a lunch with her, but she told me that this lunch time was set for our talks. Actually I talked with her for more than one hour!

We talked about kimono in the American life, traditional Japanese dance, noh performance, and so on. She regarded kimono as not only fashion, but also culture. Especially we talked up a storm about how to explain iki to American people. She focused on iki in Japanese culture now and supposed that iki can be translated as the French word “chic”.
Then she was very interested in the spirit of noh performers. I had learned noh performance in Japan. At that time, the teacher interestingly told me that noh is unfriendly performance to audiences. Noh performers should inspire imagination of audiences. Instead of making performances easily understandable like other stage performances, noh performers should make them abstract and commit their interpretation to imagination and feeling of audiences. The teacher also told me that although shi-te, a dancing hero, looked quiescent at the stage, he kept high-tension in his mind as if a top could rapidly spin for the stabilization. Actually noh dancing should not be quiescent. Sympathetic resonance between noh dancers and audiences makes noh more imaginative.

Liza said, “So that explains what I cannot easily understand. These are wonderful words.” Then she told me her favorite sentence written by Zeami: “If it is hidden, it is the Flower; if it is not hidden, it should not be the Flower.”
I mostly sympathized with her talk, but differed about the interpretation and history about shima stripes, which I should study afterward. We didn’t run out of things to discuss. The time just flied by. More than one hour for lunch ran out as quick as a flash.
Finally Liza told me, “When I visit New York City, I will go to see your kimono class.” Really? I could not believe what she said, but dreams should come true if I believe it. Now I believe it.
I promised her to invite to my room and said goodbye at the café, because the next session has already started. Thank you very much, Liza!

The photo shows Liza and me buying coffee after lunch.

The first night on the Symposium at the Textile Museum

Previously when I visited Washington D.C. for sightseeing with my mother, I felt that it was a boring city, but this time because I had the purpose to visit it, I realized that it is the great capital of USA.
The Symposium named as “From Kimono to Couture” was held at the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. from October 16 to 18, 2009. I attended this symposium.

I went to the reception party before the symposium. How wonderful guests were! I also found Mr. Fujisaki Ichiro, a Japanese ambassador to the United States, attended the party.
The site of the party was the inner courtyard of the museum. Even though it was unfortunately raining, the party was held brilliantly under the tents. The photo shows the scene of its reception at the museum. Many stylish ladies and gentlemen were coming.

I had a chance to talk with the president of the Textile Museum, and also Ambassador Fujisaki. I told them my dream about kimonos, but Mr. Fujisaki said, “You don’t wear a kimono, although you tell us your dream about kimonos.” “I’m sorry. I don’t like to carry big loads from New York.”

I could give my business cards to many guests, including Mr. Fujisaki and talk to many guests about kimonos. To make dream come true, it is important to assert myself at the appropriate time. I convinced in the evening that it's all right if I could continue to believe myself.

However, I should have worn a kimono.