wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing
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My latest uchikake kimono
I know I must not buy more kimonos, I can’t move for the things and my home is now a warehouse with them crowding me out of every room but I could not resist the exquisite uchikake kimono you see below. It was expensive, as was the shipping from Japan, since it weighs about 6 kilos, so I can’t keep it and it will end up for sale on my website but I get to own it briefly, at least, and that will do. I have nowhere to display it anyway and it does not deserve to be hidden away in a box. It hasn’t arrived from Japan yet but I am quite excited about seeing it up close.
An uchikake is worn by a bride in Japan, part of one of many outfits she wears on her wedding day. They are not worn with an obi, they are worn open, rather like a coat, over her kimono and obi.
Uchikake are worn trailing on the ground, the bride stands with the hem laid out around her and the padded hem makes the bottom lie beautifully
It has magnificent aranami (wild waves), flying tsuru (cranes) and kumo (clouds). Cranes are a popular motif on wedding kimonos, as they are symbols of longevity, fidelity and loyalty. The Japanese believed cranes live for one thousand years. They mate for life.
On the front and on the back of one sleeve are red botan (peonies), symbolising happiness, wealth, and honour.
This uchikake is pure silk and has yuzen textile art, which means it was hand painted on the bolt of fabric used to make it. It will have cost ten to twenty thousand pounds, easily. In Japan, brides usually hire the uchikake for the wedding day, which will still cost a couple of thousand for the day’s hire. This makes buying a vintage one, for wear or display, a real bargain, as it will only cost a few hundred pounds and you get to keep it.