You can hardly tell I’m foreign from the back, right? Riiiiight. 

I’ve been interested in kimono for several years, and while I perhaps know more than the average person about the aesthetic and history of this piece of Japanese culture, I’ve never formally studied it–as in, I wouldn’t really be able to dress myself without lots of assistance. 

And, this November, I’m entering a regional competition to dress myself in an especially decorative one in under eight minutes. Crazy? Maybe a little. I’ve been practicing for about a month now, and yesterday I finally put on a kimono and an obi (the belt) instead of only one or the other. It only took a couple hours…

Thankfully when I take part in the competition, I’ll already be dressed in 16 of the 25+ pieces of clothing and accessories and tools I’ll be using in the completed outfit, so I won’t need to worry about all the prep time and take down. Furthermore, I’m using a special competition-oriented tool called a “biyousugata,” which allows me to fold the obi into a “fukura suzume” (stuffed sparrow) shape in front of me before mounting it onto my back. 

More documentation of this endeavor to come. For now, suffice to say that wearing kimono is just as much of a fuss as it looks. There have already been evenings when I need to drag myself to go practice and inwardly gawk at just how many pieces are necessary to (hopefully) create the ideal shape, and times when it’s painfully obvious how slow I am at folding large pieces of fabric. Yesterday I even had a nightmare about sagging pieces of fabric at my hips.

But once I put the kimono on and listen to it swish around me, I finally remember, “oh. These are fun. I do love these.”

It can be a bit of an acquired aesthetic, but feel free to ask any questions you want about this culture while I document my progress. I might or might not have answers, but we’ll see!

(Thank you for the photo, XiaoMan!)