Hello, my name is Lynn, and it’s been three months since I last made it to kitsuke lesson (Kitsuke・着付け means the act of putting on a kimono).
I stepped sheepishly into the classroom, and was immediately greeted by Takamoto sensei’s warm hello. As you recall, she’s the one who used me as a mannequin to practice her very own kitsuke.
A round of greeting and catching up later, we got down to business. First, I had to put on my own kimono, as we do at the beginning of every lesson, even though today I won’t be tying the obi on myself. It was comforting to know that after three months I haven’t completely forgotten the basics. I did forget, however, how to tie the Otaiko・お太鼓 (translation: big drum, the most commonly seen boxy looking knot worn by married women). So I reviewed that too.
Next up, today’s obimusubi (帯結び・obi knot): Tateya (立て矢: vertical arrow) and Hirosue Tateya (広末立て矢: vertical arrow with a fanned out end). Hirosue Tateya or some of its variations are the most commonly used obi knots by brides on their wedding day after changing out of their white wedding kimono. You can also see them on young girls on Coming of Age Day (成人の日). In short, it’s a knot used on festive occasions, and this is what Hirosue Tateya (the more elaborate of the two) looks like.
Not particularly pretty if you ask me. Or maybe I am biased because it was a pain in the you-know-what to tie the darn knot. Because it is slanted, the balance is extremely important, and the rule of 1/3 is strictly followed every step of the way. One has to ensure that the bottom “wing” is not too large; and that the angle is just such. A special pillow (one that rotates) and a string with three elastic loops were used. When making the two “wings” of the knot, three clips were engaged to hold the yards of fabric in place; it was also a time one wished one had an extra hand. Thank goodness I was using my practice obi made out of polyester, which was relatively light. I couldn’t even begin to imagine tying a heavy, elaborately adorned silk obi into this knot.
While I was struggling with the darned “Vertical Arrow” a classmate of mine made this pretty knot, called Beni Tsubaki (red camellia). See flower on the left.
Now, isn’t this so much better looking than the Tateya? Can you see how the Tateya differs from Hirosue Tateya?
Yup, it’s missing the little fan shaped end on the upper right corner.
Next week, I start reviewing all the knots I learned in the practical lessons. Then it’s time for the test: putting on a kimono and tying the Otaiko knot on myself in less than ten minutes. I definitely need lots of practice to pass this test.