Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Obi Made Easy

This summer saw the return of the yukata, a traditional summer kimono. Everywhere you went, it seemed, young people were wearing yukata -- men and women.

When I told friends that intended to take my yukata to Japan for the Gion matsuri, their immediate reaction was concern: "Are you sure you know how to put it on?"

It's actually more complicated than it looks, and knowledge about how to wear a yukata and tie the obi has not exactly been transferred to the younger generation. Like many things Japanese, wearing any kind of kimono is an art; you can't just throw the thing on and hope for the best (well you can, but you'd look sort of silly).

Numerous magazines and websites popped up to give advice. But there was also one ingenious Japanese invention which made the whole thing much easier: the "hook on obi."

One side of the obi has a hook which attaches to the band that goes across your waist.

The other side of the obi is pre-tied into the bow, eliminating the need to wrangle the obi into a nice shape.

In my own case, I still required the help of a "professional." Someone padded my back with a towel so my yukata would fall in a nice line from my shoulders to my ankles. And we learned that men look better in yukata if they have a small beer belly; my friend's stomach was padded with a towl.

Once dressed, we got on the with the business of enjoying edamame, and working on the beer belly.

My wife and I were married in Kyoto in March and I wore the traditional hakama. It seems that a nice belly would aid in achieving the optimal "look" in hakama too. My minor belly was actually amplified by a number of towels. Any other day and I would be seeking to head in the other direction.

My wife's kimono bound her tightly so I suppose the same logic doesn't apply in a unisex sense.

Enjoy your blog.

Mike in Akita
...and by "Enjoy your blog." I, of course, mean that I enjoy your blog.

Otherwise, wishing you all the best in appreciating your own blog would be rather odd.

Enjoy your blog.
Thanks for the kind words, Mike! I'm glad to hear that we were not the only ones subjected to the towel treatment. Enjoy Autumn in Akita; I'm quite envious that you are in such a lovely place.
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