geiko

Happy Easter!

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

 


You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk


Rita Ora.
One of my vintage, silk kimonos, from wafuku.co.uk, modelled by the beautiful Rita Ora.

haorisweeritao

Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

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Cabinets, Kimonos and Celebrating the Topknot

wafuku blog aug 12 logo A

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

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Magnificent, kimono shaped cabinets by the Californian artist, John Cederquist. His work is influenced by advertising, Japanese woodblocks and American cinema and animation. He creates vivid images using wood, wood inlay, stains and epoxy resin. These kimono shaped cabinets are from 2005. I covet them all.

Bluto's diner

Bluto’s Diner
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Big Fish

Big Fish
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Heavenly Victory

Heavenly Victory
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Double Fuji

Double Fuji
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Forrest Grows The Flying Fish

Forest Grows The Flying Fish
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Kosode That Built Itself

Kosode That Built Itself
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Mr Chips

Mr Chips
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Searchlight

Searchlight
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Skyways

Skyways
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Bluto’s Diner Partially Opened
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Bluto’s Diner Fully Opened

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Downton Abbey fans may have noticed that Lady Mary, in the UK television series, Downton Abbey, wears a lovely kimono as a robe. Whenever a show portrays the 1900s to 1930s, you tend to see a kimono being worn if a scene is called for with a woman wearing a robe.

I’m afraid my screenshots are rather fuzzy but they are the best I could capture.

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Another UK television show, Mapp & Lucia, based on the novels by E. F. Benson, has Lucia wearing a lovely kimono (see below). My screen grabs of it are even worse than the Downton Abbey one, as the scene with Lucia wearing it was in a room with low light, but you can see clearly enough that it is a little black beauty of a kimono. It is a lovely, old furisode kimono. Furisode are the ones with the ultra deep sleeves, a style worn in Japan by young, unmarried women on special occasions, such as to their graduation or to a wedding. Lucia’s is a lovely example of one from that era; it will have been very expensive, both when new and now.

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Here is a handy little guide to kimono types and where they may be worn

kimono types - when to wear

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Shimada Mage is a Japanese Festival held in Shimada city around 19 September each year. It celebrates the topknot (chignon) hairstyle.

There are different theories about the origins of the Shimada Mage hair style: some say it was created by prostitutes working in the Shimada-juku inn district on the old Tokaido route to Edo, some suggest that it is the style used by the Kabuki actor Shimada Mankichi (1624-1643), others think that is the Japanese word Shimeta, in the sense of tied-up hair, became “Shimada” and others think that Tora Gozen, a native of Shimada, devised the style herself. Tora Gozen was a prostitute said to have been on good terms with Soga Juro Sukenari, the elder of the two brothers in the famous tale of Soga.
She is also depicted in Kabuki theater as Oiso no Tora, a key character in works such as Kotobuki no Taimen. In front of the Yakushiji Hall, in the grounds of Uda-ji temple in the Noda district of Shimada City, is a stone memorial known locally as “the grave of Tora Gozen”.

Shimada Mage is the most popular traditional Japanese hair style. It has been worn since the 13th century, but like the other Japanese hair styles, it developed mainly during the 18th century, as part of a wider blossoming of Japanese traditional culture.

Most of the information above is from the Shizuoka Gourmet website, where you will find more pictures and more information about this festival.

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I wish I knew what the writing on their kimonos says.

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Above photo from Shizuoka Gourmet

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Traditional Japanese Wigs. A lovely, Japanese lady, whom I know on G+, attended a Japanese wig event, where she watched wigs being styled by a professional. In Japan, brides who wear traditional, Japanese wedding kimonos wear wigs to complete the look. Here are pictures of wigs created by the artisan at that event.

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Wax is combed through the hair, then it is tied and twisted into ornate designs.

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There are many variations of the style.

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Wigs are also worn by geisha (geisha are also called geiko in some areas). The trainee geisha, called maiko, who have very ornate hairstyles lavishly decorated with flowers and pins, don’t wear wigs but have their own hair styled and therefore have to sleep with their necks resting on uncomfortable little blocks, called takamakura (high pillow), so that their hair touches nothing as they sleep. When they paint their faces white, they leave a centimetre or so of skin pink and unpainted around the hairline. The two reasons are that it keeps the makeup and facial wax out of their hair and it reminds people looking at them that there is a real person hiding behind the doll like mask of makeup. Once the maiko graduates into a fully fledged geisha, she cuts her long hair and has wigs made instead. A geisha therefore wears her makeup over her entire face, under the edge of the wig, with no flesh colour showing around the edge, apart from the eri-ashi, which is the unpainted pattern of peaks or curves at the back of the neck. She usually has a widow’s peak at the front. A geisha can also sleep more comfortably because she just takes off her wig and sleeps with her head on a standard pillow, with no neck block required to raise the hair from being disturbed. She no longer has to go through the weekly, agonizing ordeal of having her hair restyled, she just gets her wigs regularly maintained instead.
Some geisha have a bald spot on the top of their scalps due to how tightly their own hair was pulled and tied when they had, as maiko, to keep their own hair styled. The constant tight pulling on the scalp gradually damages the follicles until, at that tightest spot on top, the hair ceases to grow. They tend to be rather proud and fond of this bald spot, as it marks their suffering for their art. Not all geisha have been maiko first, one has to be young to become a maiko, One might be a maiko for about 4 years but it depends when one starts. If older, the apprenticeship has to be shorter, if not young enough, one has to become a geisha without can become a geisha but not a maiko. Not surprisingly, it carries extra prestige for a geisha to have been a maiko first.

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Geisha in wigs

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Maiko Satoryu (left) and maiko Umesaya (right), by Michael Chandler on Flickr

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

haorisweeritao

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Left Over Right – Florence Welch Gets It Wrong – Celebrities in Kimonos

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk WordPress blog

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Left Over Right

I notice that Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine, wears a furisode kimono in her Dog Days video. What really puzzles me is that she wears it with the fronts the wrong way round; she has the right front over the left one, whereas kimonos are worn left over right. Even if she didn’t know the left over right rule, it is very obvious with her kimono, as you can see from the third picture of her below, because the left side of the front has the deep, fancy pattern on it and the right front has only the smaller, simpler, bottom end of the design, so she has the nicest, most striking part of the front pattern hidden under the right side’s front. It would also look so much nicer with a sash that was about 3 inches deep and firm enough not to gather up, like a wide belt or something, worn with the buckle at the back.

Florence and the Machine

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine

Here in the West, women wear their clothing fronts right over left and men wear them left over right but in Japan both genders wear their traditional clothing with the left front over the right. Well, that is unless they are dead, because, in Japan, only a corpse wears the kimono fronts right over left. It is not just people from outside Japan who get it wrong; nowadays most Japanese people do not wear wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing), so they don’t tend to know the rules involved in wearing it. It is not altogether unusual for a Japanese person who is wearing a kimono for the first time, perhaps a yukata one at a summer festival, to wear the fronts the wrong way round and it is also not unusual for an older, more informed Japanese person to rush over to them and try to switch their kimono fronts around, horrified that the young kimono novice is dressed as a corpse. Yukata kimonos usually have an all-over repeat pattern, so the pattern doesn’t make it obvious that the left front should be on top.

With a tomesode, houmongi, tsukesage or furisode style kimono it is usually obvious which front should be on the outside, because the pattern on the left front will be much more decorative but on a kimono with an all-over repeat pattern, such as a komon style kimono and most yukata kimonos, it is not obvious, which is why kimono novices get it wrong, especially if they are used to western world style women’s clothes being worn the opposite way. However, on the kimono Florence Welch is wearing in her video, it is very obvious which front should be on the outside but she still got it wrong.

Florence Welch

My daughter, who thinks she knows nothing about kimonos, has clearly picked up a fair amount of kimono knowledge from me over the years, mostly while modelling kimonos for me, because it was her who saw the video, spotted Florence was wearing a kimono and noticed, to her chagrin, that she had the fronts the wrong way round.

In saying that, way, way back when my daughter bought her first Japanese kimono, the one that made me want one and started me collecting, we didn’t know the left over right rule either and it was not obvious because that kimono had an all-over repeat pattern, so we do have photos of her wearing that first kimono with the fronts the wrong way round. Had it been one like Florence’s, though, I’m sure we would have realised which front went outside simply by looking at the pattern, so we can’t work out why Florence didn’t realise it.

We westerners seem to find it so hard to overcome our tradition of right front over left front for all women’s clothing, even when the pattern on the kimono makes it obvious the left front should to be on top. I even, however, saw some full sized paper kimonos, made and displayed by a Japanese artist, with the woman’s kimono fronts correctly placed but he had the man’s kimono fronts incorrectly right over left. It’s only here in the West that all women’s clothes are worn right over left, not the case with Japanese kimonos, regardless of whether one is male or female (unless it is a corpse, then it’s right over left). Here in the West, only men’s clothes are left over right. I understand western women’s clothes are right over left due to the fact that women of fashion in the past used to have maids to dress them and right over left was easier for the maid facing the wearer but I don’t know for certain if that is true.

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Everybody Loves A Kimono

It seems everyone loves a Japanese kimono. Below you can see a photo of Dita Von Teese dressed up as a maiko (apprentice geisha). It’s a pity she is not wearing okobo geta, like those shown further down this page. When Dita Von Teese visits Japan she always gets a new set of photos taken of herself in a kimono. It takes them about an hour to get her dressed up, in preparagtion for the photos. Dita advises that every woman visiting Japan should do this too.  If you are not likely to be in Japan, you can always treat yourself to a genuine, Japanese kimono from my www.wafuku.co.uk website. Below Dita you can see Sarah Jessica Parker, in Sex In The City, wearing a floral kimono to a party, Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce, Vanessa Williams, playing Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty, Drea de Matteo in Desperate Housewives, wearing a pretty orange kimono, which I think is actually a girl’s one, rather than a woman’s one, and she has the fronts, like Florence, the wrong way round with the right one over the left instead of left over right. Janet Jackson,  Madonna, Jessica Alba, Reese Witherspoon and a few others and, of course, my daughter in the kimono that started my obsession with them. Since kimonos, when worn the traditional way, are worn with a big fold-over at the waist and, with children’s, big tucks at the shoulders, the children’s ones are actually quite big when the tucks are taken out and the waist isn’t folded up, so they can have a nice fit on an adult, as you see on Billie Piper.

Dita Von Teese dressed as a Maiko

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Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex In The City

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Rita Ora Models a Wafuku kimono.
The May 2014 edition of Elle Magazine (UK) features the singer, Rita Ora, whom you can see modelling one of the silk kimonos from my www.wafuku.co.uk website.


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Rita Ora in a kimono from www.wafuku.co.uk kimono

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Above, on Rita Ora.

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The same kimono (not on Rita).

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Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce

wearing a shortened, soft silk, antique kimono, in lovely muted colours

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Vanessa Williams, playing Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty

wearing an embroidered furisode kimono

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Drea de Matteo in Desperate Housewives

she too has the fronts the wrong way round

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Bowie yukata

David Bowie

wearing a casual, cotton yukata kimono.

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Billy Piper

in what is actually a little girl’s kimono

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Janet Jackson

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Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink,

wearing a pink, antique kimono, with another kimono hanging on her door in the film

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Hope Davis in The Matador

wearing a komon kimono open over black trousers & top

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Madonna

even she has the fronts the wrong way round

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Jessica Simpson

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Justin Lee Collins in a really nice men’s kimono and hakama

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Shirley MacLaine

wearing a hoari kimono jacket over her kimono in the first photo

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Jessica Alba as Sue Storm of the Fantastic 4

in a white kimono, as the bride at a Shinto style, Japanese wedding

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Miranda Clarke in the tv series Firefly

wearing an antique Japanese kimono over her dress

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Also from the tv series Firefly

The heavily pregnant character in this episode is wearing a red, Japanese michiyuki. Michiyukis often have covered buttons down the front but they actually fasten with press studs. This girl has hers only fastened at the top, with the front pulled slightly open because she has the large, pregnant bump that they want to emphasise in these scenes. They don’t normally lie open when worn.

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Reese Witherspoon

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John Wayne

in The Barbarian & the Geisha

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Freddie Mercury

from the band, Queen.

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Gene Simmons of Kiss

wearing what is actually a women’s kimono.

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The Beatles wearing  Japanese happi (festival jackets),
provided by Japan Airlines to first class passengers.

The chainlink pattern on their happi is one of the komochi-Yoshiwara patterns, this one being “Yoshiwara-tsunagi” a single link wide chain. There was a guide to entertainment at Yoshiwara, at Tebiki-Chaya, at the entrance to the Yoshiwara.
Komochi-Yoshiwara was used as the pattern on the noren of “Tebioki chaya”, the guide teahouse. At the time, Yoshiwara wass representative of stylish play for rich men. The chain represented the hold such pleasure had in keeping them in Yoshiwara and the suffering of the women bound to stay there. It has remained a popular motif on happi and summer yukatas.

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My daughter

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uchikake

Uchikake Kimono

That one now belongs to London’s Grange Park Opera for a production of Madame Butterfly, photo below of Cio Cio, in Madame Butterfly, wearing it.

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Too Small is Iki

I was talking to someone recently about Japanese geta and zori. The facts that they are rather narrow, that the toe post is in the middle and not offset to one side like western world flip flops and that they all tend to be quite small in length and don’t seem to vary an awful lot in size were mentioned. The narrow soles and the fact that the toe post is central means one side of the foot overhangs the side of the sole. The Japanese also allow their feet to overhang the back of the sole, with both geta and zori, they don’t consider that to look too small, they consider it iki (quietly stylish) but to the western world eye it looks slightly odd. We in the West expect the entire foot to sit within the edges of the shoe’s sole and not to overhang it at the sides and back. Below you can see a diagram of how they should be worn and why they are worn that way.

How the Japanese wear geta

In the photo below, you can see an example of what I mean.

maiko geta

It shows the foot of a maiko (apprentice geisha) in her high geta, called okobo, with the side of her foot up by the toes hanging slightly over the side and the heel hanging over the back. If the foot does not overhang the back of the sole, that is also considered fine but you can see that an overhang is considered acceptable with traditional Japanese footwear. The person I was talking to about this wanted a pair of my zori for a photo shoot but thought they were no use because all were a little too short in length for the model but, on learning that the Japanese often wear them with heels overhanging, selected a pair for the photo shoot after all.

I have an entire blog post all about Japanese traditional footwear here

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