My apologies for this hugely delayed post. This post in fact is very special to me as I had the unique and amazing experience when I attended a lecture demonstration on Kimono which was held by the Embassy of Japan at the Tourism, Beauty and Fashion Institute in Hawally on 21st March 2013. It was presented by the beautiful Japanese actress and classical dance performer, Mrs. Hattori. The presentation was done at three different venues, Sadu House, Kuwait University - Kheifan campus, Tourism Beauty and Fashion Institute from 19 March to 21 March. She was awarded a memento at the end of the presentation.
Mrs. Hattori and the ladies who accompanied her gave a beautiful demonstration on how a kimono is worn. Mrs. Hattori went on to explain the history and tradition of the kimono, the various materials, designs used in a kimono, maintaining a kimono and many other interesting facts we never knew earlier. Mrs. Hattori was wearing a 40 year old kimono gifted to her by her mother. The lecture demonstration was greatly appreciated by the large number of audience in all the three venues. A Japanese traditional dance was performed at the end of the demonstration at Sadu House and Kuwait University, Kheifan.
Kimono is a very elegant and beautiful traditional outfit of the Japanese women worn in the past. Due to the modern and western outfits preferred and worn by the women of Japan, the kimono remains to be worn on special occasions. The young generation of today are not familiar with the art of wearing a kimono, so when an occasion arises, they go to the beauty salon where they are dressed up in a kimono. With the modern living however, it's not very practical or convenient to wear a kimono on regular basis.
Some interesting facts shared by Hattori through her demonstration of how a Kimono is worn:
1. An undergarment resembling the kimono is worn first, inorder to protect the kimono from soiling, as cleaning the kimono is a very expensive and time consuming affair. Its takes two to three weeks to clean a kimono.
2. The kimono is worn in a manner that does not show the body curve and shape. One is expected to walk or move around in a kimono very gracefully.
3. Kimono comes in free size which can be worn by any woman irrespective of how big or small she is.
4. When being dressed in a kimono, one should look up and stand tall. The open part of the kimono falls to the right. Once the kimono is draped and worn, one has to hold it while sitting so it does not open up.
5. After the kimono is worn, a towel like material is worn around the waist. Then, a long fabric belt called Himo is folded length wise and wrapped around the waist, with an opening on the top side to keep one's purse or mobile. A dancer would have the opening at the bottom side of the Himo, to keep her fan.
6. A string is fastened around the Himo to secure the fabric belt in place. A box shape is created using the same fabric at the mid back section. The shape of the box is adjusted to the size of the person.
7. Socks is worn on the feet and the shoes worn are supposed to be smaller than the feet. Mrs. Hattori stated that one would not face any discomfort while walking in a shoe size smaller than the feet, which she demonstrated by walking across the stage with ease.
8. If you are wondering what jewelry is worn by the ladies in a kimono, well, they don't wear any jewelry at all. So traditionally, a lady wearing a kimono will not be found wearing earrings or necklace or bracelets. All they wear is a hair clip and or they would have designs on their footwear. So when she takes off her shoes, people would go, 'look, she has nice shoes'.
9. Only a dead person is draped in kimono in a reversed manner.
10. A colorful coat is worn on top of the kimono. The edge of the coat lies on the floors due to its length.
11. Due to the fact that kimonos are very expensive, one has to be careful not to soil it, therefore, the sleeves are held back while dining. While washing one's hands, the sleeves are secured in manner where they won't get wet.
12. The posture of the person wearing a kimono is important. One should stand tall and not slouch while wearing a kimono.
13. The left hand covers the right hand while standing. This is because in the past, it was required to do so, as one could then easily reach out for the sword secured in the left side of the waist, with the right hand.
14. While doing so, the thumb should be pointed inwards making the hand appear small.
15. Mothers pass on their kimonos to daughters. The kimono would bear the family's emblem at the back top center and on the side of both the sleeves . A dancer will have special marking on the top back part of her kimono. Samurais will have their own special emblem. A girl would have several sets of kimonos from her mother, when she get married.
16. Kimonos have seasonal motifs as designs. Cherry blossom motif would symbolify advent of spring season. In fact, the kimono with a spring motif would be worn before spring and not during spring, which means, the kimono worn in a particular season would have the motifs of the next season. The sleeve too would have designs.
17. The material used during different seasons would be different. During winter, a double layer kimono would be worn and in summer, a single layer kimono. Kimono materials come in silk, cotton, linen and wool and are very expensive.
18. People would greet each other by discussing the weather or nature. For example, 'What a hot day'
19. History of kimono dates back to a 1000 years when everyone used to wear kimono in their daily lives.
20. There are specialist designers and creators of kimono material. The material is then dyed, motifs are imposed. Hand painting work is incorporated. Japanese embroidery is done using very thin thread so it won't poke the wearer. Inorder not to make it heavy, only the ouline of the motif will have embroidery.
21. A black kimono with designs would be for formal wear. Kimonos for wedding would have lots of flower designs
22. Those attending a funeral would wear a plain black kimono.
23. Young unmarried girls would wear kimonos with long sleeves and bright prints and designs. Eligible men would recognize her as a prospective bride.
24. Pastel and simple kimonos are worn at tea ceremonies.
25. A bride would wear a white kimono with a white hood covering her head. Once she goes to her husband's home, they would paint on her white kimono. Mrs. Hattori added a touch of humor to this by saying, the bride wears the hood to hide her horns and when she goes to her husband's home, she would remove the hood and her horns would come out and she'd tell her husband to do as she commands.
25. Every motif or design on a kimono symbolifies good health, long life, beauty, good luck and so on. This makes the person who is wearing the kimono feel protected, safe and something to depend on. All these are given by parents to their children because parents want their children to be happy.