Sunday, 30 June 2013

Kimono lesson

Yesterday I was very lucky to experience my one and only kimono lesson, just days before leaving Tokyo for good! It was arranged by a lovely woman called Kyoko who I met at Machida antique market. Her daughter Yuki has regular lessons and she offered to show me how to put a kimono on herself, and then she and her lovely teacher showed how to put one on me. It was a very special experience and I feel honoured to have ben invited along to participate in it.

I was amazed at the amount of layers that are used. Yuki started by putting a thin cotton under kimono on, and then she put this thin, silk under kimono on. This is tied tightly closed and then a thin red obi is tied over that.

The kimono is then put on. Note how the collar has to be away from the neck as it is more attractive that way. It is held centrally in place with a clip. Yuki took time to measure the kimono so that it was the exact length off the floor. The kimono is then folded over at the waist and held in place with elastic straps.

Another thin obi is then tied over the folded kimono at the waist, and it is only then, that the proper obi can be added. Yuki's was a beautiful one that complemented her soft pink kimono.

Yuki started by tying her obi at the front (so that she could see what she was doing) and then swivelling it around to the back. It was stunning!

The obi is finished off with a hot pink obijime. This is a rope or cord that comes in many varieties, colours and ways of tying and often has a bead added too.

It was then my turn to have a go and the ladies chose a beautiful blue and white shibori kimono for me to wear. It felt surprisingly comfortable having it put on.

The obi was just as stunning as the kimono and a turquoise obijime was added as the finishing touch.

Look how amazingly they tied the obi! There are many variations on tying the obi - such an art.

The finished result. Yuki's lovely teacher Fukada Masae is on the left and Yuki is on the right. We even got to have a mini tea ceremony with scrumptious green tea and sweets.

Thank you ladies for a truly special afternoon!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Our last night in Ishigaki

We spent our last night in Ishigaki at Kabira Bay, which is about a half hour walk from our hotel. It is a beautiful place, and even better when the 'crowds' have gone. The beach is stunning and we found a fab place to have okonomiyaki, one of our favourite Japanese foods and probably the best we've ever had! I definitely recommend going there if you are in Kabira Bay.

Snorkelling in Sukuji bay

On Monday we went snorkelling in Sukuji bay, near our hotel. The water was beautifully clear and we saw some stunning bright fish - no manta though!


On Sunday we went to Taketomi, a tiny island ten minutes by boat form Ishigaki. It is small and quiet with beautiful old low-rise houses with terracotta tiled roofs. We spent some time wandering around, but it was bloody hot!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Last stop, Ishigaki

We are now on the last leg of our Japan trip in beautiful Ishigaki, a rather remote island far south of Okinawa and closer to Taiwan (about 111km away) than the mainland of Japan. You would never think that Japan had such a tropical environment, and it's lovely! We are staying in our own little villa which has a hot tub on the verandah.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Next stop Koya-san

After a few days back in Tokyo after our Thailand trip, we have headed off again for more travels. This time we headed South to tick some Japanese places off our list. First stop was the Toyota factory in Nagoya (gosh I'm a good wife!), followed by an overnight stay in Osaka. One of our favorite Japanese dishes is okonomiyaki, so we found a fab restaurant to have that last night. After a mooch round the castle in Osaka this morning, we headed to Koya-san this afternoon. It is a beautiful town up in the mountains and full of monasteries that rent out rooms. We are staying in a beautiful place where we had a tasty dinner served to us in our room, followed by a soak in the onsen (hot tub). It's now 8pm and I'm ready for bed!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Our home for the week

This is our home for the week - Anantara resort in Hua Hin, Thailand. Not a bad way to spend a week! See you soon.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Printing at Futaba-en

A few months ago I wrote about a trip I did to a the Miyoshoji river where a lot of traditional kimono printing and dyeing still goes on. Once a year, the town celebrates this tradition by hanging kimonos across the river. While I was there, my friend Michiko found out about some printing classes that we could do at Futaba-en, and so we returned there last week to do a little sample class using paper stencils to print the dyes onto fabric.

The dyes were laid out for us and we had 6 colours to work with. The brush is made from deer hair.

The fabric is taped down to a board and then each stencil is placed over the fabric and pinned in place. Each colour had two paper stencils and the dye is brushed through the stencil using the deer hair brushes.

The finished result!

Beautiful coloured brushes and a colour test strip.

Shades of purple.