Bebe Taian: Coveted Kimono: Hikizuri Edition

January 22, 2014

Coveted Kimono: Hikizuri Edition

Since I'm going to be doing the geisha show today, I'm coveting plenty of kimono I wish I had... like hikizuri. Which might actually be long enough to trail behind me properly... if they were made in the past few years. If they're the vintage style I love, I can wear them as 'normal' kimono with an alluringly deep neckline.

 I'll be honest; I have nowhere to wear such a formal piece. It's like the black tie event dress in Western equivalent. Black hikizuri are so common on the market, however, and are usually in excellent condition- likely because there are relatively few occasions to wear them on. A couple of festivals like Hassaku, some formal events upon request, and outside of that, they can become outdated fairly quickly. And a geisha can't possibly go outside in outdated clothing, can she? What on earth are people paying her for if she's walking around in old clothes?

Nope, they get cast off after a few passes around. So some fantastic beauty like this can become ours... if you happen to have about $550.

The red lining in the kimono gives away it's age, and sadly, it's in great disrepair. Maybe it can be used for a display piece to illustrate past designs of geisha kimono, in some museum or in a private collection in a home without animals, but otherwise, I wouldn't buy this one. And yet, how wonderful it must have felt to dance in it...

The scene is of a Gion festival, naturally. The parade of people is a lively scene on such a dark and somber kimono. The colours are muted- is it to preserve the formality of the garment, or is the fade alluding to faded, dim memories of festivals gone by long ago, as seen by the maker of the kimono? A shame there aren't journals (that I know about) written by the makers of kimono like these... I would have loved to know the thought process behind deciding which scenes to paint. Naturally, Ichiroya is the seller of this piece.

A bright, lovely piece from Shinei is a refreshing blue and misty golden-white. You can almost feel the worn black lacquer lamp, hear the trickle of water into wooden buckets, smell misty air and grass, can't you?

Hagi, kikyo, and nadeshiko prove this one to be a summer kimono before you examine it closely to see the gauze weave. It's an ethereal feeling, otherworldly, to be in a garden in the twilight hours at dawn or dusk. The wet smell and slight sinking of your steps in the soft earth, rustling of leaves and occasional crack of a small twig, while crickets sing and (if you're lucky) fireflies light by. A black obi repeating firefly or lamp patterns would be ideal with this hikizuri, I think.

If you are thinking about buying from Shinei, you should know that when they were on Ebay, they had thousands of positive feedbacks (including quite a few from myself)... however, there were and sometimes still are some significant issues you might want to know about before deciding to use their services. Undeniably, they sell some gorgeous kimono, but it's a bit of a roulette scenario.


  1. What obi would you wear with the first kimono? I would assume a maru obi. But what patterns? I think the kimono is a winter kimono, with the three friends of winter featured on it. Could you give some examples with photos please.

    1. Because it's a kurotomesode-like style, the highest formality, there are only a few choices today: fukuro or maru only, in silvers or gold. 100 years ago, of course, obi with formal kimono were brighter, but it looks out of place today. This kimono would likely be worn with a gold-on-gold fukuro or maru obi in a form of otaiko style. Konomi wears a black hikizuri here with this kind of obi.

      As for pattern, these kinds of gold obi aren't really worn so often, so there are quite a few 'seasonless' options: kikko, clouds, kiku (chrysanthemums, which are somewhat seasonless), karabana. In this case, I'd probably go with waves to mimic the water pattern if it's closer to Spring, or shouchikubai if it's still December or January. Since there are plum blossoms, bamboo, and chrysanthemums, a pine/bamboo/plum obi likely isn't far off. I prefer an all-season pattern of obi since I don't wear this formality often, like this one: