How to Wear that New Kimono

As I mentioned in an earlier post, last weekend we purchased Tessa a second-hand kimono at a local shop. The saleswoman showed us briefly how to dress Tessa in it, but on Friday I had the chance for an in-depth lesson from some real experts: a group of girls from Futaba, the Japanese-language school next door to the kids’ school.

All of them seemed to speak at least a little English, but one girl clutching her instruction sheet quickly emerged as the spokesperson. She asked me to show what I had, and I laid it out on the table. All of the girls gathered around to check it out.

The kimono team’s spokesperson on the left takes charge
They also brought several kimono ensembles and the required accessories, so they combined Tessa’s things with theirs to make a complete set. The girls were slightly older than Tessa, so I asked for the smallest one to step in as the model.

When we bought Tessa’s things I just got the outermost layer: the kimono and obi, or decorative sash. I knew that a complete kimono ensemble includes plain white underlayers but I decided to skip those. I heard that many Japanese parents opt for yukata (cotton robe with belt) instead of kimono for their kids, and once I saw the many layers of the kimono I could see why.

I won’t go into excruciating detail, but there are layers, and layers, and correct ways for assembling said layers, even though you don’t see them because of the layers on top. The obi is the outmost belt, but there are four more belts–four!–under it that you can’t see.

IMG_3547 2
Not practicing dance moves–just ensuring that we’re all clear on Left Over Right for the kimono’s lapels
The most important step of wearing kimono is ensuring that the left lapel is always on top. This rule also applies to the yukata cotton robe, as I learned at an onsen a few months ago. A Japanese woman very kindly pointed out that the left side always go on top, and later a Japanese friend explained the one time that the right lapel is worn on top–at a funeral, on the deceased.

Once the girls finished their dressing of the model it was my turn. I repeated their steps the best I could and hoped that I could remember them next week when it’s time to dress Tessa.

IMG_3563They even helped me with the decorative hair ornaments, modeled by yours truly.


Stay tuned for photos of Tessa from the big day!


3 thoughts on “How to Wear that New Kimono

  1. Pingback: Japanese Culture Day 2.0 – martayaki

  2. Pingback: It’s Dress Up Time! Kimono and Tea on a Friday Morning – martayaki

  3. Pingback: Let’s Go to the Hospital: Adventures in Japanese Health Care – martayaki

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