9/21/2009

To put ardor in the wedding style


Last Saturday I went out of town on business to Connecticut and dress a bride in kimono for her wedding. It took about 3 hours by Amtrak from Pen Station, New York to Middletown, Connecticut.
How wonderful wedding and couple are!
Because I was asked to dress her in furisode, I would like to try obi tying as aioi, a family of tateya, standing arrow. Aioi, originating from the noh song “Takasago”, is widely used as obi tying for a bride. Aioi means pine tree, where both red and black pines come out from one root. As pine tree represent long life, the song “Takasago” represents long life and harmonization of the couple.

I had asked for the bride’s hope of obi tying, and created the variant obi tying based on aioi. This picture shows the trial piece of obi tying. Although it seemed different from original aioi, I developed and created it with best wishes for the new start of the bride and bridegroom.

It is wedding ceremony before a shrine that comes to mind immediately, associated with wedding and kimono. The first wedding place before a shrine similar as nowadays was the ceremonial hall in Tokyo Daijingu (big shrine), cerebrated for the wedding of Emperor Taisho at the palace sanctuary in the royal palace and built in 1900. At that time, most people held their wedding at the bridegrooms’ home, regardless of social ranks. But in 1950, most people held their wedding before the shrine.
Old days on the day of the wedding, a bride took a bath early in the morning, cleansed herself, and prepared her ceremony. She prayed to Shinto and Buddhist deities for informing them of her wedding. Subsequently, she had congratulatory brunch with her family members and went to the bridegrooms’ home with the matchmakers and people from the bridegrooms’ home. Late afternoon, a bride and groom took their wedding at the bridegrooms’ home, and finally held reception banquet over midnight.

Ms. Masuko Chiba, a famous professional kimono dresser and hair stylist in the Showa period (1926-1989), said, “In my child’s mind, I had admired the view of a bride led by her hand through road between green barley fields, with her face concealed by tsunokakushi, a hood or white silk cloth that fits on the wig of a bride.” which is quoted from the Hyakunichiso web site. At first when I read it, I wondered why a bride had been walking outside. But after I studied wedding dresses, as I mentioned above, I knew that a bride had been led by her hand to her bridegrooms’ home for the wedding ceremony up until not long ago. Little Masuko, born in the Meiji period (1868-1912), also saw a bride led by her hand to her bridegrooms’ home, which should be the beautiful scene.

Japanese wedding costume adds charm to a bride. Originally, uchikake was a formal wear for a woman of samurai families. So, some accessories of shiro-muku-uchikake, a purely white bride costume, represent preparation to marry with a samurai. For example, a dagger means the preparation of death in her emergency, which sounds robust. On the other hand, hakoseko, a fancy box, should be kept inside her collars, which sounds feminine.

Japanese wedding costume includes a lot of interesting stories.

After I was asked to dress the bride in Connecticut, I read the book about Japanese wedding costume again. And I dearly felt that dressing for a bride is pretty wonderful. I hope the forever happiness of the bride and the bridegroom.

Reference book: “Japanese traditional practice and ceremonial costumes” by Michiko Ishikawa, published by Hyakunichiso

9/12/2009

Kanzashi: Japanese hairpin


These are Japanese hairpins, kanzashi, made by Kintakedo in Gion, Kyoto.
They are kanzashi for real maikos, immature geishas.
I was deeply moved by kanzashi because of their beauty, when I opened the box coming from Kyoto. I captured a moment.
They are called tsumami kanzashi, pinching hairpins, made by small pieces of fabrics, which represent mountain upon mountain of flowers. These fabrics are habutae; smooth, glossy silk cloths with fine weave, which are recognized as the top quality products of kimonos’ liner. In addition, they are called hana kanzashi, flower hairpins, where many flowers were used as motifs.

Maikos’ kanzashi have already been determined each month. Maikos with less than one year of experience have kanzashi composed of small flowers and use bura, which hang from kanzashi, whereas older maikos use ones composed of bigger flowers.
These kanzashi are composed of small chrysanthemums, which represent kanzashi on October for maikos with less than one year of experience.

Even a kanzashi implies many meanings, season and years of experience. I suppose all the kimonos and accessories for maikos make maikos perfect beauty.

I showed the kanzashi to the students of my kimono class. Especially, their beauty made American students shout with pleasure.

The book “A Geisha’s Journey” published by Kodansha International is popular among American kimono lovers. The heroine, Komomo, had originally wanted to retire after 6 years of experience as a maiko, because through her experience, she had wanted to introduce Japanese culture overseas. But she reconsidered that she should introduce Japanese culture from the inner side of hanamachi, geisha world. She finally determined to introduce Japanese culture through working as a mature geisha and mastering the secret of performance.

The harmony of a veritable tapestry of professionals who want to master the secret and craftsmen who have mastered the secret seems strong and beautiful. I have become painfully aware that we require huge efforts to pursue a certain track.

I would like to pass on “the harmony of a veritable tapestry” through kimono, but I really struggle to pass on a simple skill to the American students of my class, because of my poor English. Initially I thought that I could naturally acquire English one year after I moved to this country, which was fatal misunderstanding. If I would like to acquire communication abilities in English, I should study English very well. I have started studying English during my business. Now I am going to the English school, where a Russian girl is one of my classmates. She seems very serious, because she comes to New York City only for studying English.
Not only I can't say what I want to say, but also I can’t fluently introduce myself; however, I have realized my first objective since I went to the English school. Really I must not forget my first objective to pass on the wonderful Japanese cloths to many people all over the world.

I think that it is nice and important to do things with a sincere effort even on the acquisition of English.
While I see these kanzashi, I decide to pass on things and skills as many as possible through my business in USA.