18 February, 2015

Kimono curiosity

On Sunday I wore my summer kimono (known as a yukata) to church. It wasn't my intention but I was egged on by the deacon leading worship. 

It created an interesting effect when I was doing my "hats" presentation, as you can see. Talk about culturally mixed up! I use nine labelled hats to help explain the different roles I fulfil in Japan, I've just never done it while wearing a yukata!

I feel somewhat conflicted about wearing my yukata for a couple of reasons:

  • I never do in Japan, and I think it gives the impression that we do wear special costumes in Japan.
  • It makes me seem more special that I want to be. As indicated from the title of this blog, I'm determined to be viewed as ordinary. 
  • It diverts conversations with people from the content of our talks to what I'm wearing, which is not what I'd prefer.
Maybe my thinking is wrong, but that's how I feel. Therefore I've never worn it to church before. But, all that aside, it is a fun thing to do occasionally in Australia. I haven't yet been pulled over by a policeman and surprised them, though I rather suspect they are somewhat surprise-proof.

I usually point out to people that it isn't as comfortable to wear as it may look. I felt uncomfortable and hot on Sunday in it, even though it is designed for summer. Around my middle I wore four belts. It has no fasteners, so modesty relies on the belts being tight!

It is actually a bit tricky to put on, as it is one piece and you have to do some tricky folding and arranging to get it all right. If you're interested, you can go to this video (English subtitles) to get an idea of how tricky it can be to put on. Though I don't do the bow part myself as it shows on the video, I own a "cheaters bow", pre-tied and stiffened, it slips in the back of the obi. But as stiff as it is, it is uncomfortable, meaning that I can't lean back into any chair.

If you're interested in a bit more detail about kimonos, a missionary colleague of ours, who loves to wear kimonos, wrote a very informative blog post about it what she wished she'd known before she bought her first (second-hand) kimono. But it is longish and quite detailed enough to scare most people off (but worth scanning through, nonetheless, if you're interested).

There are many detailed rules about how to wear kimono, but there has been a recent movement to try to bring kimonos back to the "common person". Here is a blog post about a flash mob-type kimono gathering, they're calling "Kimono jack". Check out this English news article about the worldwide movement.

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