Friday, July 31, 2015

Photos from Special Tea Ceremony

As a member of our local chado (tea ceremony) group, The Way of Tea in Tennessee, we usually do practice and demonstrations, with only one formal tea gathering in January. Another member built her own chashitsu (tea room) and held a smaller private gathering - a rare treat for us! The occasion was not only to celebrate the chashitsu but also to welcome a special guest - our sensei's mother. Please read my other post about the weekend we spent with her.

I was finally able to get some pictures from the event. There are only a few, but here is what I have to share.

As our normal practice space does not have a tea garden, we never get to practice this part. Here, sensei's mother is showing me how to use the tsukubai.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Your First Kimono

When I do presentations, people often ask me about what they should be looking for when they are looking into buying their first kimono. Now after doing the last reflective post, I'd like to offer my advice on purchasing your first kimono. Please note that this is only my opinion on these matters, and there are many schools of thought here. Whatever you decide to do, my biggest piece of advice is to do your research on everything possible before you buy. Most experienced kimono enthusiasts will tell you that they have an early purchase that they regret! Hopefully, this advice will help you feel more comfortable in making your first purchase.

1. What type should I buy?
I know that people are often drawn to kimono because of the bright, bold patterns they see, but what I find most frequently is that they are looking at furisode (the long-sleeved young woman's kimono). Furisode are easily one of the most complicated kimono to tie, and I strongly recommend that you do not make it your first purchase. There also seems to be a pattern of people wanting kurotomesode (ceremonial black kimono with pattern below hem only) for a first kimono (I actually wanted one for my first as well!). This type of kimono is ultra-formal for married women. While lovely, it's hard to tie and also difficult to find appropriate occasions for. I strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with the types of kimono out there before you buy.

Truly, I think the best kimono to start with is the yukata. It's one layer, usually cotton, and often washable. They also won't break the bank (usually) and come in a variety of patterns that will suit almost anyone's taste. The obi types used with the yukata are more simple to tie than those that will be used with other types of kimono. It is also needs fewer accessories (see question #4).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Kimono Evolution

2015 is the 8th year I've been practicing kitsuke. At the end of 2007, I bought my first yukata, and then this thing we affectionately call the "kimono bug" bit me, and I've been hooked ever since! My reflection started as the result of a recent post on the IG Facebook page asking for us to show our early kitsuke and describe our improvements. This prompted me to take a look back at all 8 years and see what has changed. I'd like to share my journey with you.

END OF 2007

My first kitsuke ever. This was taken shortly after buying this yukata. Unfortunately, I have no full shots of this particular kitsuke attempt. I did research before buying the yukata on the old IG forums, and I remember using a shoe string to act as a koshi himo.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Positivity PSA

I wanted to make a post related to positivity in the kimono community, especially regarding those that are just getting into the hobby. As a nurse, we often hear of other nurses “eating their young”, and I have sadly seen it happen quite a bit with kimono fans as well. Not everyone is this way of course. I have seen some people being wonderful ambassadors. We are not going to get and keep people interested in kimono if we are bringing them down for not knowing all of the intricate rules and not having a vast collection with tons of coordination possibilities; these things take a long time. I am not saying that we should abandon educating newcomers. They often are seeking knowledge, but they don’t know the questions to ask. As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” When we do educate them, we need to be tactful and encouraging. We need to watch over our beginners, offer constructive criticisms when warranted, and let them know that we have been in their shoes. I’m sure everyone reading this has had a point in their lives where someone told them that they cannot do something, that they are not good enough, or that they failed. Remember how that felt? Do you really want someone else to feel that way? We need to remind ourselves of their skill level and accommodate for that. We all were beginners once. Let’s try to offer more compliments than criticisms, and most of all, let’s be kind to one another. In the age of the Internet, supposed anonymity has turned more than a few people into cruel creatures. Don’t let yourself become that person.