Bebe Taian: February 2012

February 29, 2012

Old Memories

Not really, actually.

I don't tend to retain memories very well. Tomorrow I might have to look at my schedule to see what I did today. Yay for brain injuries. I guess there's an upside: whatever happens will have to be pretty traumatic to really stay with me... for the rest, there's journals, right?

But I found this one lying around on the hard drive. It's about two years old, I think, from before I chopped my hair short for the Matter of Trust boom project (post-Gulf oil spill). My hair was so, so long then. I was still unpacking boxes from moving in... from what, six months to a year before? I took it slowly. I guess it had something to do with trepidation. I've never stayed in one place for long enough to bother unpacking much.

But I had a desk to work on, and jewellery to make, back when I did that sort of thing. Before it became everybody's thing, I had an Etsy store that I opened in... 2005? 2006? Something like that. Jewellery, of course. Gothy stuff, pagan-y stuff, or just wire-wrapped fantasy stuff like woven leaves from beads and metal wrapped into bronze wreaths accented with gold. I mean, tiny leaves, sometimes studded with glass seed beads. I loved the work, but so much time invested, and so little return. And yet, I kept pushing to make things right up until last year...

And of course, kimono was the most comfortable thing to wear. Silk feels amazing on a bad day. Migraine? Nerve pain? Wrap up in silk. You'll hurt slightly less. And you'll look fabulous, no matter what. <3

February 27, 2012

Over 9000!

Today I hit 9001 page views! <3 Ookini arigatousan dosu!

I see that I've also been mentioned in the comments on an article about Lime Crime Cosmetics. I've heard some interesting things about them, and most of them aren't good. They rank up there with Orglamix and Glittersniffer. Oy. But the comment at least was friendly!

I'm also wondering why I'm being referenced to by what appears to be a Russian meme website. ??? I don't get the joke. ::FOREVER ALONE::

But thank you, everyone!

As well, I consider my Ebay clearancing to be a huge success. I undersold everything for what I paid for it, but I needed it out of the apartment so that I can make room for  my private collection. I unpacked and refolded everything on Friday before work, and I need two drawers for my obi alone! I currently have my juban and yukata hanging up because there is no room for them. O.o My wedding dress is also on a hanger! I'll have to take photos with the obi sometime. <3

February 26, 2012

Picspam time!

Lots of quick photos before I go to work. Just click on each to see them in a larger size. And there are so much more to come...

February 25, 2012

Private Collection: Red Iromuji + Maru Obi

Just taking a few photos while reorganizing my collection.

I've been weeding out what I wear, what I don't wear, and what I will never be able to wear due to the nature of the item (ie, wedding items I no longer need, childrens' items, etc.). Now that I've also rearranged all the furniture in my room, and gotten rid of a few pieces, I'm having to downsize and come up with new cat-proof ways of storing my clothes. Too many beautiful things have been (accidentally) destroyed by a cat's claws... and yet, I'm running out of room. This is part of why I need to get with a local museum and put some of the more fabulous Taisho and Meiji items on display; raise public awareness and appreciation for antique Japanese textiles, and... well, just to have more room.

But while I was doing that, I figured it would be a good time to get photos of an outfit I love while the lighting is good!

A red Heisei-era synthetic iromuji with a speckled woven pattern, paired with a silk/synthetic blend maru obi. The maru obi is post Taisho, I think, but it probably isn't much newer than the 50s. A red-orange silk obijime paired with a while silk obiage with a shibori matsu pattern, outlined in gold thread, match the colours and patterns in the maru obi. The bright reds and oranges are so vibrant in person! <3 And the sparse bits of black threads really pop in this obi!

This is another one of those times when I wish I had a better camera. It's clearly losing its' ability to focus, either up close or from a distance. I think it's finally time to start saving back for one. My old 3.5MP Kodak is just outdated, and it's been through too much to continue. Maybe this month, I'll make a little extra and get a good deal on a new one!

February 24, 2012

Ending soon!

Ending soon, near today at noon (Eastern time, that is)!

SOLD! - Silver metallic haneri for formal furisode or odori kimono

SOLD! - Burgundy formal haneri with metallic sakura

- Cute, casual asanoha pink haneri

- Taisho era (1912-1926) striped komon

SOLD! - Pink silk shibori obiage with kikko/tortoiseshell pattern

SOLD! - Pink shibori obiage with vine pattern

Ending in two days:

SOLD! - Burgundy fabric panel

SOLD! - Formal round-braided pink obijime

SOLD! - Stiff metallic tsuke obi bolt

Plus much more stuff to be listed/to be re-listed at the first of the month! I sold a few items, such as a kimono and a furoshiki, but I have so, so much more in my closets. I can't shut my drawers anymore! Eek! Well, time to weed out favourites...

February 22, 2012

2nd Month: Kisaragi/Kinusaragi

"Kisaragi" - Utagawa Kunisada I
Today begins kisaragi/kinusaragi (depending on writing and area, I think), which means "changing of clothes", or "wear more clothes". This time of the year was traditionally the middle of winter, which started in late December/early January, and lasts until March. This would be the time to pull out the heavier-padded juban and change your collars to something more appropriate.

Today, I think Kisaragi is now considered to be aligned with January 1st, but traditionally, this is the day. The name 'kisaragi' is still understood, but is no longer used except for in greeting cards and such. New Years' Day as it is celebrated today was introduced in 1948, although the Gregorian calender has been adopted in Japan since the late 1800s, during the Meiji era.

By now, we are nearing the beginning of March. Plum blossoms should be in full bloom, in reds turning to pink and white; a mimicry of both plum blossoms in snow, and an allusion to the colours of sakura to come! And of course, feel free to mimic in-season ukiyo-e by wearing asanoha, sayagata, or ivy-pattern fabrics in reds, greens, purples, and yellows. Are you inspired? <3

February 20, 2012

Private Collection: Taisho Roman

I bought this Taisho silk komon so long ago, I don't even remember who I got it from. (Maybe also from Shinei/Ryu?) It's modern in the use of bold stripes and patterns, but overall, I'd think it was Roman(tic) in the use of traditional patterns on the super-soft woven silk, flowers, and colour choices. I've worn it a few times before with one or two obi, but... nothing ever felt quite 'right' in the combination. I think at one point I wore my red nagoya obi with it, but it just wasn't fitting the feeling of the kimono, despite the matching colours. I have a black silk Taisho haori with shippou patterns that I tend to wear over it, as well.

But then, I got a surprise.

The asa no ha obi I talked about earlier arrived on Saturday. I only just got the chance to open it up and air it out. The smell of mothballs can be powerful, but it's a common scent in Japan where clothing is in real danger of damage from invading insects. I unfolded the obi to hang it up and... it's double-sided! A chuya obi!

The obi was listed as a girl's shibori obi, but I could tell from the photo that the fabric was printed, and not even in shibori style. By the measurements, I also guessed that it is a woman's obi (gyaru/onna) which could be translated to 'girl'/'female', but that normally, this sellers' use of 'girl' means a child (onna no ko). Probably, I could wear it. The photos available show a flat-black obi backing of black silk that looked somewhat faded or thin. The actuality of the fabric is that it is not stained, only that it looks like a faded black overdyed in red to give it an odd shiny black-burgundy look. That, and the silk is not plain shushu all the way through... it's woven! <3

About five feet of the obi is woven in karabana, tachibana, and shippou patterns! What an exciting find! I was already wanting to pair the asa no ha side with my Taisho kimono, as well as adding a black velvet collar to it for style, but this! This is just too perfect. The black front with the patterned side exposed over black collars with red accessories like a shibori obiage and red obijime, with the asa no ha side showing for the otaiko... the concept is just too awesome!
(Sorry about the lighting, but this shows the most accurate versions of the colour...)

Now, to find someplace to wear it...

Mannered Mondays: Giri, Reciprocal Obligations

This post is typed verbatim from Keys to the Japanese Heart + Soul, an excerpt from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia with authors' notes at the bottom.

Giri, Reciprocal Obligations

'Giri' refers to the obligation to act according to the dictates of society in relation to other persons. This only applies to particular persons with whom one has certain social relations, however. It is a sense of giri that obliges reciprocity in giving; it compels one to return equal favours to those who have been helpful. The concept implies a moral force that causes one to engage in reciprocal activities, even when a person is not particularly inclined to do so.

To feudal warriors, giri referred to an obligation to serve their lord, even at the cost of their lives, to repay the on received from their lord.

To be observant of giri is an indication of high moral worth. To neglect giri is to lost the trust of others, and to eventually lose their support. Generally, human feelings do not conflict with social norms (as people usually think according to what they were conditioned to believe), and observance of giri does not conflict with ninjou (what one "naturally" feels towards others, love, hate, respect, etc.). However, conflicts do inevitably arise, and must be dealt with accordingly. Today, giri and ninjou are outmoded connotations, but the concept is far from eradication. The concepts are still very important in rules of conduct today, and someone who does not adhere to them may find themselves in difficult positions.

Previously: On, A Sense of Indebtedness
Next: Ninjou, Natural Feelings

February 19, 2012

Usui: Rainwater

Usui is the second term of the solar calendar in the Japanese old traditional calendar.'Usui' refers to wateriness, or in this case, rain water. This does not necessarily mean that it is the rainy season in Japan, since the calendar is Chinese in origin and was imported by the relatively newly-established Japanese society.

Remember that China and Japan once used the same lunisolar system, with both a lunar cycle set and a solar cycle set. The nijuushi sekki are the 24 sets of seasons, which are further divided by 3 for a total of 72 seasons. Some 'seasons' last only a day, especially for special solar/lunar events. Those who pay very close attention to this calendar may develop a more keen eye when looking at what someone is wearing for a special event, such as festival clothing that only comes out once a year!

Perhaps you could go one of two ways with clothing today. Either dress in bright, popping colours to remind people of the coming dry weather full of flowers and hues, or go with the weather and wear water-themed or cool-coloured clothing that matches your environment, such as grey, purple, and blue kimono on a dreary day.

February 17, 2012

Ara ma.

I'm an idiot. Did you know that? It's true. So, I was bringing in groceries, and I thought I had my hand on the outside of the car door. Except that I can't always feel my fingertips... and I ended up closing one in the car door. Auuughh. That hurt. Kind of black and swollen today. I think I cracked the bone. The nerves are definitely out of whack. So, I'm taking a bit off of blogging until I get it sorted out. Fun, eh?

More than likely, I'll do some back-posting on the stuff I missed. There's a few seasonal changes coming. ^_^ Plus, I still have some manners/psych posts.

February 15, 2012

I bought hooks!

So, the long story short, is that I'm selling off a tonne of kimono due to economic reasons. This means that the normally-priced items at BebeTaian are going at LEAST half-off. Now is the time, if you want something awesome for cheap!

- Reclaimed vintage kimono silk in burgundy for crafts
- Red vintage bingata furoshiki
- Bolt of stiff silver fabric for tsuke obi
- Round-braided flamingo pink obijime cord
- Pre-WW2 synthetic komon
- Dusty pink awase iromuji kimono
- Taisho striped kimono in modern colours
- Three obijime, in green, pink, and blue
- Round-braided red obijime cord
- Purple silk juban, perfect for fabric

I bought extra-strength hooks to hang my kimono rod up on the wall (no holes in the walls here, even for relatively permanent fixtures. -_-) , so I should be taking more photos of awesome kimono stuff this week! I just need to rearrange the room to get the most light out of a dark apartment. We're away from the sun, so getting adequate pictures of large items has proven to be difficult at best.

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

This is another cute holiday imported and instituted by candy companies and other industries in Japan. Even so, it's one day in the year that you can somewhat break societal expectations by giving a guy chocolates without too much embarrassment. In Japan, it's the women who give chocolate to their Valentines, and sometimes to close friends. Then, on White Day in March, the guys return the Valentine by giving girls white chocolate!

Of course, not all chocolate given on this day is "love-chocolate" (honmei-choko). Women also tend to give chocolate or small gifts to bosses, coworkers, or other people they are bound to by a sense of 'on-giri', so don't get too many ideas! This sense of indebtedness to coworkers or supporters means that at any opportunity, reciprocal gifts must be given, including on Valentine's Day. Make sure the person you are receiving from is really interested in you before making a move.

PROTIP: Men, you are expected to reciprocate on White Day. Write down what you got today from whom, so you don't forget to return the favour.

Also, don't panic too much. Or else, an XKCD comic will happen to you.

Private Collection: Zori, Vintage Haori, + Phoenix Kimono

This haori is a new addition to my collection, courtesy of Bika-Bika-san!

It's a vintage piece, and the lining has obviously been replaced with some kind of pink synthetic brocade, but OMG it is sooo comfortable. In the photo (from Bika's Flickr), it looks very orange and wrinkled. She must've ironed it before sending it out because it came wrinkle-free! It's also more of a pinkish salmon colour, with an orange tint. I was happy to wear it on my second day of owning it, when I went to lunch with my husband and parents-in-law. Tip: no time to dress in kimono? Wear haori over a nice shirt and jeans. It's comfy and styling. Add a wide belt, if you like. My haori has himo attached, so I skip the belt, but quite a few haori are sold without himo, so...

She also sent me a cute new pair of zori, and a gorgeous sha phoenix kimono! I can't wait to wear it, but it'll have to wait for summer. I have to think of an obi to go with it. I'd really like a white sha hakata obi, but that's dreaming, isn't it? Even so, maybe by then I'll find one...

Yeah, I think I'll have to get new shoes to go with it, too. Something in blue. I already have a pair of natural wooden geta. I should probably get some strong nylon cord for ties (to secure the hanao at the bottom) and some fabric to make my own. I believe I have some nice velvet scraps laying around, and I KNOW I have a lot of kimono fabric scraps waiting to be used...

It's such a pretty kimono. I hope I can do it justice.

So happy! Ookini arigatou-san dosu, Bika-bika-san! <3

February 12, 2012

Kenkoku Kinenbi, National Foundation Day

Jinmu-tenno, from Wikimedia Common
Yesterday was Kenkoku Kinenbi, National Foundation Day. I'd like to have written it yesterday, but I ended up working all weekend. Actually, I'm supposed to be in again in an hour. So, maybe only a quick post for now?

National Foundation Day is on Feb. 11th every year. On this day, it is said that the first Japanese Emperor, Jinmu-tennou, established the new country in 660BCE (before common era), placing the original capital in Yamato. However, this actual date is uncertain. There are no records of his life or his reign, and indeed, there aren't any actual, firm, verifiable records of any ruler until the 29th Emperor or so. In fact, most modern historians and archeologists aren't even sure if he actually even existed himself, or if he was a historical composite figure of many legends and myths that became widely known and accepted. Curiously, Jinmu-tenno was born on the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calender, on Feb. 13th, 660BCE (much the same way various religious figures of the West were all born on the same date, which happens to coincide with celestial activity; see Christ, Mithra, Attis, and Horus).

Regardless, this is the date that is traditionally held today for the event, established during the Meiji era in 1872. There are some very intriguing political reasons behind the establishment of this holiday. Meiji-tenno was fighting claims regarding his legitimacy as Emperor after the Tokugawa shogunate was overthrown, and establishing a holiday that would link him with Jinmu, son of the Sun-goddess Ameterasu, in the eyes of the public would ensure his stay on the throne. Originally, the holiday was established as Kigensetsu, "Empire Day", on January 29th- the same year as Meiji-tenno implemented the national change from the traditional lunisolar calendar to the Western Gregorian calender. However, because of the original date, no one paid attention to it and saw it as only the usual Lunar New Year. A year later, in 1873, he then moved it to February 11th, but never disclosed how this day was calculated. Kigensetsu became one of the four major holidays in Japan until the 1940s, when it was temporarily abolished after WW2 due to it's extreme Shinto-based, nationalistic overtones. Ironically, Feb. 11th of 1946 was the date General MacArthur approved the draft version of the Japanese Constitution. Kigensetsu was re-established during 1966, this time under the modern name of Kenkoku Kinenbi, in order to once again unify a broken country and to show national strength and patriotism.

Another interesting note: "kenkoku" is a double-entendre word, similar to the way "shi" works. "Kenkoku", said one way, means "National foundation". Said/written another way, it means "Detestable nation". I am certain that many an essay has been written on the subject using this play of words.

February 8, 2012

Hari-kuyo, Sewing Needle Memorial Service

Did you know that Japan has a memorial service for worn out or broken sewing needles? Neither did I, until today! They have one for many human-like objects such as dolls, but I didn't know about sewing needles!

Every year on Feb. 8th, or in some places, Dec. 8th, there is a kuyo service for hari, sewing needles. One sticks them into a firm block of tofu or konnyaku (which I suggest you try if you're on a diet). They are then offered to a shrine.

It is a ritual of respect for the tools of the sewing/tailouring industry, and the lives they help support. This tradition dates back to at least the Edo era, when men and women would dress up in their best clothes and hold a funerary service for all of the needles and tools broken in service that year. This service involves a three-tier altar at the shrine (usually, kuyo is a Buddhist ceremony, but Shinto shrines will hold them, too). The bottom tier is for accessories such as scissors, measuring implements, things like this. The second is for the block of tofu or konnyaku, where everyone will put their needles to be laid to rest. The third is for food offerings, usually white mochi cakes, fruit, or things like this. When someone uses something for a long time, especially a thing that supports your livelihood, it can gain a spirit of it's own. It is this spirit that the food offerings are made for. Then, the priests will say prayers or sutras in order to soothe the spirits of the broken needles, and to bless those who used them, finally praying that the energy put into these objects will be bestowed again on their users so that their skills may improve in the next year.

Sewing on this day is completely taboo.

There is an article here on the subject. It is a few years old, and is short, but worth the read.
There is another written at a kimono blog that I love to read.
There are many lively photos at this persons' Google+ album!

February 7, 2012

Mannered Mondays: On, A Sense of Indebtedness

On, A Sense of Indebtedness

This post is typed verbatim from Keys to the Japanese Heart + Soul, an excerpt from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia with authors' notes at the bottom.

On: favour, indebtedness

The social and psychological debt one incurs upon receiving a favour or gift of major proportions. On occupies a central place among the values that maintain the Japanese social order, in which human relations are bound in a network of reciprocal obligations.

In feudal Japan, on referred to the debt a warrior incurred in receiving land and protection from his lord and carried the obligation to serve in battle. Similarly, one receives on from one's parents and ancestors; this is repaid with filial piety (kou). Others who may be onjin (a person to whom one owes on) include a teacher, an employer, or someone who has saved one's life. On is immediately linked to giri*1, the Japanese concept that one is required to return a favour, and a person who fails to repay on is called on shirazu (one who does not know on), one of the worst insults a Japanese can receive. At the same time, on is so profound that one can never fully repay it, which puts the on-receiver in a relationship of permanent subordination to the on-giver.

*1, giri (pg. 89, "")

Previously: Higengo Komyunikeishon (Nonverbal Communication)
Next: Giri, The Societal Obligation to Act

February 6, 2012

Happy Birthday!

I've been hearing it all morning. ^_^ It isn't unpleasant. Just a reminder that I'm another year older. Not sure how I feel. I feel like I'm finally matching the approximate age I was in my head... fifteen years ago. But I've advanced since then. Not that my body matches what I think it is in my head to begin with, but at least the age is catching up. And today, I'm taking time to relax and do... virtually nothing.

Normally, I'd post a Mannered Mondays article, but I think I have three to edit and post. The difficulty I'm encountering with them is that I don't simply want to "Open Book"-model things; I want to paraphrase or expand certain things, talk about examples, etc. that one source alone doesn't always do. The thing is, my writing skills... are less than awesome. And I don't want to mess things up and misrepresent something, since I'm not an actual resident of Japan and didn't grow up there. It's taking me a lot longer to write about some articles than I anticipated, so I think I've decided to do them twice a month instead of every week. That will still give me... the three I completed, the three I'm behind, and 23 more articles. At least that will still give me time to write about something else!

Finances have been tight, but DH has gotten me an awesome birthday present. Besides things like making me tea and getting me chocolate cupcakes with strawberries this morning, he's buying me a gorgeous obi. My favourite pattern: asa no ha!

If the measurements are correct, it's about 14 feet long (432cm) and just over 10 inches wide (26.5cm). It's listed as a girls' obi, as if it were for children, but for how wide it is, I think it may be a hanhaba obi for women. It's a bright, theatrical piece, reminiscent of Junichi Nakahara's work. In fact...

February 3, 2012

Kinyoubi Kimono Challenge 2

Previously, "How did you discover and get into kimono?"

2. Your dearest kimono item(s):

This was the first kimono my husband bought for me. Technically, we bought it before we had the marriage paperwork, largely because I object to a legal system that tells me that I have to be tied to one person forever, and that I can only be with one person, or else I'm a 'bad' person. ::raises eyebrow at Puritanical, Christian-based legal system:: Needless to say, we considered ourselves to be partners long before Florida decided that we were.

Appropriately, the first purchase was a tomesode covered in open fans. It is Taisho-era, as evidenced by the longer sleeves and red lining. I purchased it from Ichiroya, along with a red silk juban with a REAL kinran eri. It was quite expensive, but it is very much in mint condition. I suppose the person who owned it had few formal opportunities to attend. I can understand. :P

We also purchased a Meiji-era maru obi, tan with birds, pine needles, and seigaiha wave patterns. Maru obi would have been worn with this type of kimono, so it made sense. Pine needles are a romantic symbol in weddings; when pine needles fall, they fall together. Birds and waves are about us; one of us, an Air sign, the other, Water, in Western astrology. I don't think I've ever seen an obi with horses and rabbits on it. ^_~ Of course, I later acquired a white and gold shouchikubai obiage, and a pale blue obijime to match the wave pattern. Now, I need shoes. I had a vintage pair of white and pale gold shoes, of the vinyl kind, but the plastic hanao broke while wearing them. Fortunately, I had a pair of flip-flop sandals in the car that day!

Another kimono is one that was purchased for my birthday. I wrote a little about this one here, while talking about the pros and cons of buying straight from Japan online. It appeared blue in the sellers' photos, but was actually royal purple! Which was perfect, because what I'd really wanted to begin with was a purple and red kimono. I later got the perfect obi for February, when my birthday is. <3 This year, I might wear something different, though... I am still deciding.

Next time: My most used kimono items (not including juban, datejime, erishin, etc.)

Setsubun is here!

... and I worked straight through it.

There's an outfit that I keep talking about wearing, but I have to alter my juban to wear it. I'm wary of altering Taisho silks, so I'm trying to get a modern one that I won't feel bad about cutting new sleeves for.

Setsubun is a day of dressing up in costume! It's immensely fun. Liza Dalby talked about dressing up as a geisha on that day, back in the 70s. Technically, she was working as a geisha, but since she was only an anthropologist, it was acceptable because she was not *really* a geisha. Some dress up as kabuki characters, or other famous characters in history. Men may dress as women (although, this was once much more widely practiced in daily life a few hundred years ago), and old women may wear younger hairstyles, or vice-versa. Geisha still practice this custom with their clients today!

The name properly means "seasonal division", and is one day before the first of the nijuushi sekki, "Risshun" (Beginning of Spring), which falls between Feb. 2-4th according to the lunisolar calender. Even though it has been long-celebrated, Setsubun is not considered to be a national holiday. Setsubun is sort of a New Years' Eve, marking the end of the old season, and starting a new one.

On this day, cleansing rituals are performed. A long time ago, burning dried sardine heads was thought to be a sort of incense that would drive away evil. Certainly, it must have driven away people! Others would decorate doorways with fish heads and holy tree leaves, as well as special ropes, in order to achieve the same effect. Fasting and other rituals are practiced, and vary from place to place.

Today, it is usually only the mamemaki ritual of throwing roasted beans around the house and out the doors, chanting "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" (Devils out! Happiness in!) before picking up and eating the number of beans which corresponds to your age. Some areas eat this plus one, to ensure continuance for one extra year. The person who does the throwing is traditionally a male who is born of the animal of that lunar year (this year, the Dragon). If this person does not exist, the male head of household, or today, any head of household, will throw the beans. Some will dress as oni while throwing the beans! It's a very fun ritual, although increasingly, people are attending the ritual at shrines instead of doing it at home. Obviously, there would be a lot of work to do if you had to clean beans up from your house and front steps.

Shougazake (ginger sake) and ehomaki (a special sushi roll approx. 20cm long) are special foods to eat on this day. If one can eat an entire ehomaki by oneself, while completely silent throughout and while sitting and facing a particular lucky direction (the direction of the animal of that year), then one will have exceptionally good luck and good health! Historically, this practice started in the Kansai area, and spread outwards.

February 1, 2012

Coveted Kimono: Black Sails in the Sunset

Black Sails hikizuri.

I've been looking at this hikizuri since around 2001-2002. There's actually several identical ones, which doesn't normally happen, since hikizuri intended for geisha tend to be one of a kind, made for the person wearing them. There's at least eight of these in existence. One person on the Immortal Geisha forums found a great scan from the 70s of some Yamashiro onsen (bath house) geisha wearing them! 

Even so, I've easily been able to save $400 for a hikizuri like this... and yet, I've never done it. If I had money like that to spare, I've usually purchased something like new shoes (provided my old ones have been worn to pieces), good cookware, piles of other kimono... all but one of these.

I guess at first my reasons were that $400 at *once* was often unreachable. If I waited too long, any 'fun' money would eventually be spent on bills, household stuff like floor cleaner, whatever was going on. Little things, mostly. Snacks, or eating out. I preferred to spend on kimono once or twice a year. And I really do have so many now... a quantity of very pretty items over one spectacular item. But also, where am I going to wear a hikizuri? It would make sense if I had, say, a bedroom that was cat-free, where I could hang it up on the wall as art, but I don't. An everyday kimono, on the other hand, is still beautiful, and I can wear it wherever I'm going. This is what I thought then, and I still think it now.

But today I also think about another issue: the symbolism of wearing THIS particular kimono. It isn't a treasure ship, which is different- an auspicious symbol, a ship piled with magical items from Japanese lore. This is a black Western-style ship, and what do we know about Western ships and Japanese history? Think black warships when Perry went over and demanded that the country open itself, or there would be war. Some choice. It's one thing for a Japanese to wear that kimono, especially for a dance of some kind. It is a completely different thing for a white person to wear that kimono. I can't do it. I still think it's a beautiful piece, but... it's beautiful on a geisha. Not on me.

You wear karako (child motif), you are assumed to be motherly. You wear taiko (drum motif), perhaps to play. You wear kabuki themes, you are connected to that play somehow- it is your favourite, or you have an interest in theatre. You wear black war ships, and... what will people think of you? I have to wonder about this. I guess in most places in the world, no one is thinking beyond "Oh! Pretty dress!" Maybe my thought is irrational. Even so, I can't help but to think of what someone from Japan might see if I were to wear it.

I'll stick with cats and plum blossoms.