Continuing from the previous entry, I’ll be doing a furisode style kimono again with detailed patterning and long, swinging sleeves. Such a flashy kimono requires an appropriately fancy style of obi (belt) to go along with it.

The flashiness of a kimono and style of obi may change depending on the situation. For instance, at a tea ceremony, simplicity is key. You don’t want to be the overpowering element in the tea room. In these cases, you would usually stick with a drum-like flat style of folding the obi.

The furisode, however, is used in particularly felicitous circumstances. 20-year-old women wear this on their coming-of-age day, and they can continue to use them as unmarried young women when they attend weddings. 7-year-old girls going to shrines and temples for their Shichi-Go-San visit wear them. Maiko (geisha in training) wear them because they are still so young, unskilled, and immature than they cannot be trusted with the art of conversation–so they should at least be a pretty thing to look at. In both milestone rituals in girls’ lives, taking a commemorative photograph in very flashy furisode (whether inherited, bought new, rented, or selected at the photo studio) is practically essential. Not everyone can be a real maiko, but any female tourist can be one for a day at numerous photo studios that specialize in this in Kyoto (in Matsue, you can get the normal kimono experience for a day.)

Because it is meant to be so much fun to look at and you would wear it when you really do mean to be quite noticable, that means fancier methods of tying the obi are appropriate. Many of the participants in the foreigner category in the kimono competition are beginners, so many of them are taught to go with the fukura-suzume style (see those steps in this entry from last year.) Or at least, that was my experience last year! Everyone was doing the same thing, including the girls who placed. The fukura-suzume is like a stuffed (fukura) sparrow (suzume), a little bird who has just grown fat from a feast spreading its wings to fly.

Because this will be my second time taking part in the competition, I wanted to try a new style, and we’re going with a bunko style–it pretty much looks like a bow with even ends, though the specific style of bunko may vary. The approach we finally decided on is fairly standard chou-bunko with one unique twist, and it looks more like a butterfly than a chubby bird–not that I have anything against chubby birds, they’re quite cute and happy-looking. I saw a happily-fat little one the other day, and a part of me shouted, “Look, a flying obi!” (I have yet to see fat butterflies, though.)

Probably due to having past experience now, I learned the steps a lot faster this year. The real question is how fast I can do them on stage! In the meantime, more practice, and photos of said practice to come.

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