7/03/2011

High school student experienced kimonos

Last November a high school teacher inquired me, whose school is located in upstate NY. She asked me to teach her students how to put on the kimono. I accepted her inquiry. Ten students and two teachers came to Manhattan for the purpose of learning and experiencing Japanese culture in May. As one of their program, I had an opportunity to let them experience the kimonos on May 26th. Their program in NYC also included experiencing Japanese culture at Japan Society (NY) and lesson of Kendo, Japanese art of fencing.

I prepared various types of the kimonos; Furisode, Homongi, and Komon. I wanted them to know that various kinds of kimonos are worn, depending on various occasions and locations. But if I explained them just the knowledge as “Furisode is a kimono for unmarried women”, I guess students would be boring. To make them more interested in kimono, I planned to make students experienced various kinds of kimonos and use “lottery system”. The students drew lots for the selection of their kimonos. The students who drew the lots for formal wear kimono, Furisode, seemed so excited, while other students who drew the lots for casual kimono, Komon, seemed a little bit disappointed. But, when they saw their kimonos they wore, they were surprised at the vividness of the color and design on Komon and said in a wondering tone “Were Japanese people wearing this kimono in their daily life?”

After all of the girls put on the kimono, I said “let’s tie the obi around your kimono by yourselves.” Everyone looked at me with stunned face. Some of them said “By ourselves?!” When I showed them how to tie the obi, they started to mimic my movement and roll the obi to their bodies. My assistant, Sugiura-san, supported students kindly, but I continued my obi tying and some of the students look at me seriously and continued to tie it by themselves.

 It was really hard work for them to roll the obi twice to their body. So after they rolled obi twice to their body, I helped them to tie their obi properly. 
I formed the Otaiko (Drum Bow) style for the students who wore Komono and Homongi.
I made the standard decorative obi style, called “Fukura-suzume (Plump Sparrow)” for the students who wore Furisode.

I prepared Haori-Hakama and Tsumugi for boys to experience men’s formal and casual kimonos. They only had imagined the samurai style, which can be seen on the movies or Mangas, for men’s kimono. So, casual men’s kimono, Tsumugi seemed fresh to them.
The student who has been learning Kendo, Japanese art of fencing, brought his own wooden sword for pictures and enjoyed his samurai style.

Finally, Students gathered to take pictures. Students with Kimonos looked very nice surrounded by beautiful foliage. Hope they were inspired by the experience of various kimono styles. 

Time for photo shoot. I appreciated the clear sky!

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