Friday, October 22, 2004

Am a geisha/maiko

When I stepped into my kimono lesson (kitsuke is the correct Japanese term), I was greeted by the teacher with a cheery "Lynn-chan, can you be my model for period costume (jidai ishou)?" Ever the adventurer, I said yes happily. Turns out my teacher (sensei) is teaching an advanced level kitsuke lesson to a group of students aspiring to be kitsuke masters (professor is the term used), and she needs to practice on someone beforehand. So for the next hour I pateintly held out my arms at my side while sensei and her assistant frantically worked around me. After putting on a underrobe, first they had to put some padding on me, one draped in front of my chest, and three in the back, to give me a perky butt (sensei's words exactly). Then comes the second layer, called nagajuban. This layer is usually made of silk of a subdued color like ivory and pink, but for jidai ishou, the skirt and the sleeves are a luxurious red silk. The back of the collar is pulled way low to expose a good portion of the neck. Now comes the real thing. The beautiful black kimono with colorful drawings near the bottom hem. This kimon differs from the modern day ones in that it's longer and slimmer. Around the opening of the collar, sleeves and the bottom hem, a padded layer of white silk edge is attached. The front hem is pulled open and secured so a triangle of the bright red under skirt peaks out. From there on, the real torture started. A long piece of red silk fabric (maybe 10m?? they sure tied it around me a million times) was wrapped around me from just below my hip bone to reach my armpit. I imagine that's how mummy would feel, if they could feel. We're not quite done yet though. On top of this comes the obi. I think the particular pattern was called "yanagi" but I am not sure, as I was focusing all my concentration on breathing. Anyway, with the obi came more tying of strings, etc. etc. But I must say the end result was pretty impressive, although I could neither walk nor sit and I had no idea what to do with my hands. Mind you, I have worn kimonos before, but this is an entirely different league. Hats off to the petite Maiko-sans who have to drag all this fabric around while entertaining guests! Phew, now I am tired just writing about it.


Rachel said...

You look lovely. How lucky to be dressed up by sensei, and in such a special kimono. I've only worn a kimono once in my life but I enjoyed every minute. I felt feminine and protected, nothing exposed.

Did your teacher really say "perky butt" in English?? I didn't know that was important. I thought the kimono was supposed to create a sleek, cylindrical appearance of a woman's body, with nothing sticking out too "perkily."

Lynn said...

She said it in Japanese. You are right, normally it doesn't matter, but for this type of costume it apparently does. Something about making the fishtail-like part look sleek.