Bebe Taian: Yabane: A Kimono I Love

November 21, 2010

Yabane: A Kimono I Love

I don't know whether or not to give this one up or not. I am leaning heavily towards "not" because I adore the  colours and pattern, but like most Taisho kimono, it is far too small. I can't get an ohashori out of it- it's length is that of what I need in a juban. x.x What to do?

The pattern is 'yabane', lucky arrows/feathers. The broken feather end of an arrow is said to have protective powers for the person who carries it. You can see this superstition echoed in an episode of 'xxxHolic', where Watanuki gives the broken arrow shaft his friend/rival gave to him to a young fox-spirit. It granted him a favour with the fox family later in that episode when many oni (demons, in a sense) turned against Watanuki.

Once, a long time ago when I knew nothing of kimono, I had an incredible piece that I should have never let slip away. It was a Taisho-era kimono with cream and deep red lining, the outer entirely in two shades of green asa no ha pattern. It is my favourite pattern now, but it wasn't at the time. It was also very damaged. Many, many age spots and tears, both inside and outside. The American family that had purchased it post-war in Japan had treated it poorly, wrapping it in newspaper and stuffing it in an attic for decades. Today, maybe I could have restored it. But then, perhaps not. I still look for a kimono like the one that got away. Those greens, that pattern. Or a bolt of fabric like that. I would happily sew a kimono on my own, if I could remake that one.

I dream of one day owning many Edo-style kimono, and of course, Taisho-era pieces, but I also love new ones. Still, my love always goes back to simple patterns and colours, like the Edo days. Maybe this is part of why I love this kimono so much, even though it is impractical to wear.


  1. If you really love it, and it's the right length for you to wear as a juban, I think the answer is obvious. Wear it as a juban! That way you can justify keeping it, and think how amazingly iki it would look peeking out of a sleeve or hem.

  2. You think so? ^_^ Now I have an excuse to find another kimono to go over it fashionably. The fabric is a little stiff, so maybe as a dounuki instead? 30's fashion was awfully fun... and winter is a good time for layers...


    By the way, I'm envious of that crow obi! :P