Okay, so this comic is actually from a month and a half ago, seeing as I’m running out of practice time for the kimono dressing competition. During the hot and humid months I had only been practing folding the obi, but once it was cool enough to wear all the necessary layers I donned my kimono for this year’s competition.

I had been feeling good about my practices until that point. Somehow, I had forgotten what a pain it is to move around in furisode.

I’ve worn heavier kimono before, such as cotton-padded and elaborately woven uchikake bridal kimono (wore over the rest of the outfit) and Heian era style 12-layered juuni-hitoe, and the first things people ever say when they see the pictures is “wow, that must have been heavy!” This surprises me since it never really bothered me. Sure, they were heavy, but not bothersome when you’re elated at the chance to wear them. Plus, I was just doing things on stage or taking pictures for fun. I didn’t actually have to function in them, and I certainly didn’t have to fold an obi in mere minutes while wearing them.

Although the furisode is weighty because of its shin-length sleeves (made weightier by the silk under-sleeves), it’s certainly more managable than the excessively decorative uchikake and juuni-hitoe, but… I take that back, modern furisode can also be excessively decorative if you have that kind of money to spend of them–they are still managable enough for a skills competition. My kimono is also heavier this year than last year because it’s made of chirimen silk instead of rinzu silk.

Rinzu is a sleeky silk, and very shiny:

Click for photo source (Japanese)

Last year I found this relatively easier to move in without feeling terribly weighed down, but this might also have been because I wasn’t using silk inner-sleeves. You can get away with not using them at this level of competition, but I figured I may as well do it in proper form and have the inner layer this time. They are supposed to be only somewhat visible, but sometimes one layer of sleeves falls out of the other layer and you see entirely too much of them.

The pattern I had last year was very busy, and therefore if I had a weird wrinkle or something it didn’t stand out too much. My kimono this year has a much more subtle pattern which is only on certain parts of the kimono (the bottom, the sleeves, and the left shoulder) rather than all over it. Therefore, if my layers don’t match up quite right, it’s easier to tell!

It’s made of a slightly heavier chirimen material, typically a crepe-like silk. Besides kimono, this fabric is used for making all kinds of Japanese-y goods, which you’ve most certainly seen if you’ve ever been to Kyoto. There’s plenty of chirimen crafts throughout Japan, like these shijimi clams (a speciality of Lake Shinji here in Matsue).

Well. Just a few more weeks to practice. Still need to shave my time down a bit, but more importantly, I need to make sure my folds and layers are neat so the deep red chirimen won’t display my mistakes to the world!

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