Furisode girls here to make your day!

Some of my favourite shots!

To all curious onlookers at the park: Yes, we were there to make your day! XD

Sakura-hime waiting

Himes resting at the pavilion. Tired.

Kogane-hime crossing the river

The day we became Kogane-hime and Sakura-hime

It’s the day of our Furisode photoshoot. I’m amazed. I felt glam. So glam. Glam and chi-chi, more so than I’ve ever felt in any western style dress I’ve worn. I’ve come away from today with valuable lessons in mind, that I shall – at length – share with you in chronological order of my learning:

1) Bliss comes in many forms.

The day began with me sleeping in late – which I usually do since, as Blossom will gladly point out, I sleep like a dead log. Shizuru, Blossom and I would be the Himes for the day, while Yukikahou (a.k.a. Kahouya/Kitsuke-oba-san), would help us get ready. As Kahouya did my hair ala Malay-Dance style, she proceeded to move on to the kitsuke, dressing us up one by one. I have to admit, she and I take a very different approach to the process. I tend to wrestle with it – to git r’ done, as it were. She, on the other hand, smiled all the way through, blissfully wrapping us in silks while constantly checking if we could breathe. We joked about her unusual joy found in dressing up other people, but I do realize that she approaches the process like an art form. Seeing the ‘creations’ come together in her own way made her happy, which is something I should pick up. Kahouya beat my kitsuke time, OBVIOUSLY, getting us all dressed and out the door like an efficient mother hen.

2) Photoshoots bring out a sense of your inner self.

And apparently, my inner self is old and dated and probably wrinkled and naggy. I wore my golden furisode, with yellow flowers in my hair and a comb and hair-sticks (they probably have proper names, but I am too tired to research). My bronzed look made me look… well, old poised and classically glamourous. Still, I was the Mama-san to my two geisha girls.

Shizuru had transformed into Shizuru-hime, garbed in red with her hair elaborately curled and done up. She was rather beautiful, truth be told, her hairstyle accentuating her features and making her look like a lost and severely culturally-confused westerner. Was it obvious that her hobby is doing her hair up? Yes, just a little. She was vibrant and eye-catching in her red, like a pretty lost ang-pao.

Blossom was sweetly flowery, revelling in the femininity of her furisode’s motif. For all that she sometimes comes across as caustic and jaded, she ultimately comes out of the clothing closet as the girly girl who wants to be pretty and girly and wreathed in flowers while being surrounded by Takeshi Kaneshiro/Daniel Henny clones – or the ultimate creation of a TK/DH lovechild, synthesizing their hotness into one mighty uber-stud. This paragraph took on a life of its own, it seems.

Even the props we used conveyed our personalities, with Blossom opting for a sweet lotus-leaf motif fan while I ran around looking murderous with a tanto stuck in my obi.

3) Posing is harder than it looks.

You feel so self-concious! Is my hand ok? Do I look kaku (stiff)/constipated/insanely-smiley? All these thoughts are running through one’s mind. Shizuru, the veteran of many a photo-shoot, took to it like a fish to water, while Blossom had a bit of trouble settling into it. Eventually, the OMGIAMPRETTY of her furisode seeped into her nervous system and she started to be more at ease. It was nice to see her finally opening up and enjoying herself, since she has this self-fulfilling belief that she grimaces on camera and always looks horrid in pictures. She even went so far as to try and take pictures with terrapins, but they were scared and ran from her for some reason. Don’t let it fool you, people. Posing is tiring, frustrating and moving from place to place hurts your feet more than anything.

4) Photographers have a hard job.

It is not just taking photos – point and click. The number of times I saw the frustration on their faces at a shot not taken right… I have to hand it to them. It was an honour working with them, for all that I probably irritated them with my stupid jokes. The effort put in was nearly palpable, and once again, I have to sit back and admire the talent and art that they create. Hats off to them, especially knowing that I have little to no patience to do their job. I was extremely impressed. And they even accommodated my whims to pose in the sunlight which made my furisode glitter (Magpie Mode Initiate)! I will forever be grateful to stand in the middle of the water, glittering like a fallen sunbeam!

5) Zori are the shoes they make you wear in hell.

They are narrow, uncomfortable, and have no distinction between left and right feet. Why? Isn’t it obvious that feet are shaped different? Why no left and right shapes? Why are they so narrow? Agony, agony and pain. My feet soaked for an hour and they still hurt.

Right, my long preamble is over. Goodness knows I talk/write too much. Pictures to come, promise! We have to begin the painful wait now for the photos to be processed. It was only towards the end of the day that I realized I’d survived posing, walking, shallow breathing for 5 hours on nothing but a cup of tea and half an egg-sandwich. I had a big dinner, believe me…

But I know I speak for Blossom/Sakura-hime when I say this: Thank you everyone. It has been truly a pleasure. You’ve made this day a day to remember for us and rekindled my love of kimono, which has dwindled in my busyness. Thank you Shizuru-hime for organizing the event so well (so teacher). Thank you Kahouya for dressing us up so professionally and prettily and for touching us up throughout the day – especially me. Thank you Eriol and Eugene, our photographers, for taking pains to immortalize our hime-ness in the best possible way. Thank you God for not making it rain that much today and for not letting us slip off stepping stones and fall in the water. Thank you to everyone else who was there, for your helpful advice, company and occasional bag-pulling. Even the people who walked by and stared at us with a smile – thank you! It really has been a wonderful day.

Furisode Bliss

I’m somewhat sure that I can speak for Blossom in this regard, but I… am… in… love…

Our long awaited furisodes have arrived. We worked hard for these – we worked hard for the money to buy these, we worked hard to choose them, we worked hard to plan for accessories for them and they have finally arrived.

These are vintage, which to me initially brought a gasp to my throat as I opened them and touched mine for the first time. I’ll not forget that feeling of silk against my palm, it’s like touching the breeze… They were beautiful, slightly marred, but beautiful nonetheless. Blossom’s was made during the mid Showa period (1926-1989), and has really beautiful dyeing that reminds me of a painted piece of art. It’s also sweet, pink and girly, like her.

I have no idea when mine was made, though the side I bought it from listed it as ‘quite old’. However, I doubt that this was made relatively recently like ten years ago – unless the mouldy-monster has had a field day spraying the inside lining of my furisode with its brown goo. Still, the thought of touching a piece of clothing that has seen so much history, that has lived through memories of someone else who might not even be alive any more just brings out the melodramatic poet in me. What was that person like? Was she a good person? I wonder what she’ll say about me wearing her beloved furisode…

Incidentally, my mother asked if I was scared bringing something ‘old’ and that has had ‘someone died in’ into my room. To which I replied, “…no.”

It might be dramatic of me to relate this to human relationships, but I’ll do so anyway. It is really like I just got married. To look at the furisode, knowing that mine was probably sewn in the 1920s, is like falling in love. You see the marred portions of it, you see where the gold has faded and age has touched it with a slight patina. It would be so easy to focus on the negatives. But when you step back, it takes your breath away.

It also smells of mothballs.

I hope I go through life always appreciating the beauty of the whole and not minding the faults of the moment. The things one learns from a furisode. (Yes, in case few have noticed, I do tend to take everyday experiences and weave them into philosophy of transient life, written in semi-decent prose.)

Enough talk: ON TO THE PICTURES!!

Faded Glory

Faded Glory

Peony Pink

Peony Pink

~Plum