A Tiring Evening Spent Photographing Japanese Vintage Kimonos

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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A Tiring Evening

It’s 4:15am and I’m not long home from visiting my daughter in Glasgow. We spent the latter part of the evening and a couple of hours into the morning taking photos of kimonos, which she models, for my site. After about 4 hours of taking the photos while she poses, I always seem to have an exceedingly sore back, her arms ache terribly and we are both tired out but we then still have to fold all the kimonos the traditional way and pack them up for me to bring back home. She is terribly patient and does this for me every 2 to 4 weeks.

In the photo above, you can see stacks and boxes of kimonos, haori and obis. There are around 60 kimonos and haoris in that photo and about 20 obis plus a smattering of other items, just a tiny droplet in the ocean of wafuku (traditional Japanese garments) I own.  About two thirds of the items in those stacks are the kimonos she modelled tonight. Tomorrow I start rotating, resizing and colour adjusting the photos, to make them ready for use, which will be a full two or three days of work.

Below you can see my daighter modelling one of tonight’s batch of kimonos, a pretty, silk homongi (houmongi). Photographing them takes so much time that we don’t do the traditional fold over at the waist or use an obi, she just wears a broad elastic belt, which is what she usually wears with her own kimonos, and she stands on a little footstool to compensate for their length. Kimonos are deliberately very long and the traditional way to wear them is with a tie around the waist and the fabric pulled up and folded over it, which shortens them, then the obi goes on top, with the bottom of the fold-over showing below it. In the western world, the average height is slightly higher than it is in Japan, so some are tall enough not to need to do the fold over. You can see video instructions on how to put on and adjust a kimono, in an earlier section of this blog

As soon as I got home, aching and beginning to seize up a bit, I rewarded myself with an entire 500ml tub of Häagen-Das, pralines & cream ice cream. Now wishing I’d stopped eating half way through, even though I felt I deserved the entire tub.


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