Walk a day in my getas and tell me what you think.

Yesterday was Children’s Day’s eve here in Singapore. It’s usually a huge affair for schools as the kids look forward to a concert put up by teachers who get to hog the limelight in a positive manner for once and do things that have got nothing to do with their immediate work duties.

I promised my kids that I would wear something special since it was Children’s Day and they scored perfect marks in their last spelling test. I deal with 7 year-olds so they’re still pretty easy to bribe. I was also tasked with co-hosting the concert, in addition to performing… so it was the perfect excuse to see how it was like to keep a yukata on while running around and working.

I’ll start with the positives and get to the negatives later.

I managed to get a set at the last moment (thanks to to Yukikahou! : )) and paired that ensemble with a few items of my own. Kids love bright colours so it gave me a chance to don a bright yellow obi with a creamy pink silk sash. Also borrowed Plum’s yellow getas.

I managed to get the yukata put on under 20 minutes at 9.30 am. It was a little messy but nothing a quick tuck and fold didn’t fix. Wrong fan but convenience trumps accuracy, in this case.

Kids loved it and I got thumbs up from students I don’t normally interact with. So that was all good.

I managed to keep the yukata up for most of the day, only taking it off at 5pm so that my mid-section could get a break and I could conduct a proper physical education lesson. Kids were disappointed that I changed out of it. Lol. The yukata is easy to adjust and with an extra tie to keep the sleeves up and out of the way, the sensation of wearing it is not unlike wearing a fitting kebaya with a structured camisole or corset.

Come 6.30 pm, I rushed out of the office… invoked BFF power and got Plum to come over and help me out with the komon. While I would tie it by myself, this wasn’t some Children’s Day concert I was going to but the proper Annual Teacher’s Day Dinner that the school holds.

Fixed the Sakura Drops komon ensemble with a proper cord and zori. Also, we remembered (somewhat) to pad the waist this time!

Sakura Drops Ensemble Close Up

Me getting ready:

What to do with hair?!

For both ensembles, I managed to get my hair up in little buns and embellished one with the kanzashi. I felt like a real-life doll and went to the dinner where I was greeted with a few surprised looks and praises. I wasn’t the centre of attention as was the case for Plum’s annual dinner affair. My experience with wearing the komon was a little more… colourful.

Firstly, while the kids loved the yukata and the idea of wearing clothes that expressed one’s interests and individuality, a few adults at the dinner didn’t. I got comments like ‘why so costume-y?’ or ‘oh, you must be so uncomfortable!’ without actually asking me if I was. I did hear a ‘why is she wearing that?!’ and a ‘*snicker* no waist.’ behind my back. No. Really.

It was a little like being back in school as a student and I got teased for having curly hair.

I won’t go into detail about the dinner in general, save that it was a generally unpleasant experience (for other unrelated reasons) and made me actually feel a little bad that while I looked good, no one appreciated the fact that a lot of thought went into this ensemble. Not to mention the efforts of so many people. Especially Plum’s.

I don’t want to sound like a social activist for kimono lovers but you’d think people would show more sensitivity and tact here.

Still, I had no regrets spending a entire working day in Japanese traditional dress. ^_^ I’ve learned a few things:

  1. Modern office life isn’t suited to yukata wearing. Not in Singapore anyway.
  2. Kids love the prints on yukata and will tell you that you look beautiful/gorgeous/wonderful/insert-suitable-adjective-here.
  3. The obi and all the stuff that goes around your waist, does prevent you from eating much. Though I didn’t feel faint. I just got full really fast and on portions much lesser than usual.
  4. Not everyone will see the kimono or anything that’s different in a positive light and they don’t even need to go through WW2 to be total a$$holes about it. It was more out of ignorance as opposed to malice though they do go hand-in-hand most times.

~Blossom

EDIT:

Yukikahou was kind enough to suggest wearing things as part of a group and I agree that it would help to have someone with you who would wear such an item. But people who would want to wear kimonos to functions are few and far between and the people I work with just aren’t comfortable with wearing it. Even after I tried convincing them that it’s not that much different from what they normally wear.

I think I can put up with the name-calling and insensitive remarks. This is really more of their problem than mine.

I’ll still wear the kimono to formal dinner functions. It’s comfortable and pretty… and downright more meaningful than any other off-the-rack strapless cocktail dress.

Sakura Drops Komon Ensemble – 1st joint post EVER!!

(Hurrah for our first joint-post, made possible by the power of googledocs! Italicised bits are Plum’s.)

Finally managed to invoke BFF power this weekend and got Plum down over to my place and ask her to test-drive the Sakura Drops komon I had. Putting on a kimono requires a great deal of coordinated pyscho-motor skills so instead of the normal concoction of cocktails (I’m alchohol-free these days anyway), we had coke, chocolates and Law & Order playing on tv while we got to getting me dressed up for our first ensemble snaps.

It was fun putting on the clothes for her. I was able to at least ensure that the cloth under her arms and back looked neat. One of the most painful realizations is that if you mess up putting on the kimono properly, you’re doomed, no matter how nicely you tie your obi and all that. Still, it was fun getting this done. While I wanted to try out the more elaborate taiko, I knew that Blossom would be melting under that komon so I decided to get it done fast and easily with a taiko musubi that I was familiar with. I felt like such a Kitsuke Lady o-o;

First, the result:

Sakura Drops Ensemble

God. I love more komon even more after putting it on proper. The blue obi looked wonderful against the cheerful floral pattern and even Plum’s getas were pretty matching, even if they are a little tight. Now, I know that a komon ought to be worn with informal zori and so far, all the books and sites we read through pointed that out but…

WWOD

Yeah, that’s pretty much my reasoning for making do with geta. What Would Oshin Do? I’ll tell you what this cultural icon of resilience would do. She’d make do. No zori? No money? No one has a decent pair of zori? It’s all right. I don’t think the normal everyday woman back in the Meiji period would go shopping to the wet market in her zori. She’d have that geta and very much use it for nearly every errand she had to run.

*Insert Gaijin Defensive Assertion* o.0

Anyway… here’s a close up:

Sakura Drops Ensemble Close Up Sakura Drops Ensemble Taiko Musubi

Overall, I found the komon much more comfortable than the yukata. First, the polyester material, while marginally warmer, was softer. The sleeves were also much shorter and that made it easier for me to at least, put it on by myself during the initial folding and securing with the koshihimos. I’m still not as neat as I would like to be but Plum didn’t have to do much repair work on the folds so… yay me, I guess. Lol.

I also have to point out that I learned a lot more by watching her tie and listening to her mother me about which fold goes where as opposed to studying a pictorial guide. Plum’s obi skilz are uber. It certainly made the process easier and maybe I’ll try it out. Later. *glances at obi she left hanging to air*

You should give it a go, the taiko is easy when tied in front, though you’ll need to either stretch or invoke Onee-chan Powers to get the makura and age tied behind your back.

To all us solo-ist kimono wearers out there, Almost any knot can be tied independantly in the front and then pulled around your waist to the back. Provided you wear your obi ita with a strap under the obi, not between the folds, and pull the obi around in a clockwise direction. Once it’s at the back, you can neaten the obi makura, obiage and obijime ties on your own. But you will need someone to help you straighten the musubi at the back, which will be out of shape because you had to push it under your arm. Tying musubi makes me wish I could eat spinach and get super arm strength like Popeye :/

I know. =.= My arms were pretty tired though by the time we were through adjusting and clipping and practically marinating me in kimono goodness. Not only did I have my hands up and out, I had to do some pseudo sleight-of-hand trick with getting the presewn haneri (fake juban collar) to stay over the collar stiffener and in place with the elasticised clips (which really put the flexibility of my shoulders and elbows to the test) that wove out of and into the kimono through the slits of the sides.

We realised that we had to make do with a lot of things e.g. the lack of a traditional obiage and obijime. Hence, we invoked the power of WWOD and decided to raid my mom’s closet for suitable replacements. *mental note to self: thank mom when she comes home from Jakarta*

After all that trouble though, came the realisation of just how important padding your waist is. Seriously. After twisting your own arm, standing still for a good 20-40 minutes while everything is being put on and adjusted, we realised that as the obi crumpled up by the side… that I had forgotten to pad my waist. Hence, resulting in this minor catastrophe:

Sakura Drops Ensemble Taiko Musubi

Moral of the story: PAD YOUR WAIST. Seriously. Just pad it. Even if it’s only at the back.

If I had remembered to pad it, this bit wouldn’t have crumpled as much. (On the bright side, this means I’ve lost weight! Go, me!)

All in all though, for our first ensemble, this wasn’t a bad attempt. I felt like a hime even if Plum felt like a kitsuke lady. After spending nearly an hour putting it on, I didn’t feel like taking it off just yet. Plus, I needed to testdrive it as I’m planning to wear the ensemble to a semi-casual dinner on Tuesday night.

Just as I had experienced at my own event wearing a tsukesage, it’s important to at least test drive your kimono lest you feel faint as I did. It’s hard to breathe when you’re tied up in an obi, let alone eat an 8 course meal, however cheap the food may be.

Things I learned just by sitting down in my living room in my komon, properly put on:

1. My posture is immediately corrected.
2. I’m able to fold my koshihimos into the correct starshaped folds for storage properly. Nihon-powers +100! (I am such a nerd. >_<;)
3. I drink my coke like ocha without realising with one hand under the bottom.
4. I don’t stomp around my own house.
5. So goddamned hard to reach for anything beyond an arm’s length as shown by picture here:

cant reach... hand it to meh!!!

(It’s like I’ve got a three-toed claw for a hand. Ugh.)

Also: 6. I (Blossom) will not sit under the fan even though I am so hot and melting under the komon because I hate draughts that much even if they would do me good. ^_^

Edit: I did sit in front of the fan with the komon on. I just refused to sit in front of it once I had it off. I’d rather cool down naturally. Which I did so within a couple of minutes. <_<;

Anyhow, just to wrap this post up before we ramble on and on… putting on a kimono is fun and yes, it will make you feel pretty. It’s good for the soul. Especially, with coke, chocolate and Law & Order playing in the background while your BFF is trying to adjust your obi-makura.