Pretty Things & Helpful Tips

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my WordPress blog


Does anyone know why my blog layout is confined to the left side of the browser window?
When opened to full screen in Chrome browser, my layout only covers 50% of the window width and in Firefox it is just around 60% of the width, with just plain black background on the right side. I don’t know why this is and I can’t find anything in the WordPress options to make it spread over the entire window. I want the menu strip down the extreme right side and the body of the blog to entirely fill the rest of the width. If anyone has the answers, please let me know via a comment.

blog layout problem


How to tie men’s haori himo
I want to start this post with this instruction diagram because I was asked for it by someone. My previous one had Japanese text but this one can easily be followed with no text. It also shows how a himo can be attached to the little loops on the haori but men’s himo are more often hooked onto those, with little S shaped metal hooks. This means the himo only has to be tied once, since it is unhooked to unfasten it, not untied.
Women’s haori himo are tied differently from men’s ones and are normally untied to unfasten the haori. A man’s himo can be threaded into the haori loops and tied each time it is worn, if one has no hooks, and some women’s himo, often ones that are a string of beads or a decorative chain, are hooked on and off instead of tied.

If you have no hooks you can make some out of a hairgrip, using pointed nosed pliers to cut and bend it into two S shaped hooks. I needed two pairs of pliars, one to hold it and one to bend. You may need to file the cut end to smooth it off so it doesn’t catch on things.  You can see the proper hooks in the picture below. Sometimes a necklace clasp is attached to each end and used to clip the himo onto the haori’s loops.



I thought I would show you this antique haori from my website.
It is the longer length, with the much deeper sleeves that these older ones have. I like the lovely soft blue colour of the silk. It is shown being worn by a UK size 8-10 woman and she wears it gathered at the back and with the front edge folded back, lying open at the front, held by a wide belt. Although haori are designed to be worn on top of Japanese kimonos, they do look fantastic with western world clothing.



Shibori Long Haori.
Here is another longer length, antique haori, also with the much deeper sleeves. This one is shibori (tie dye) silk and has a cute upper lining with ships on it. The external design is kiku (chrysanthemums). Shibori silk is highly prized in Japan because it takes a long time to produce when it is hand done, as this haori is. Because it takes a lot of time and skill, it is also very expensive. It is often seen on obiage (obi scarves), as this was a way to have some shibori without it costing an arm and a leg, since it was only on a small item. It still made the shibori obiage much more expensive than one with none on it, of course, but shibori clothing could be out of many people’s reach.


The ships on the lining are rather nice.


Here is the front…



I have a handy tip for mobile phone owners.
The cable on phone chargers is notoriously bad for splitting where it enters the end fittings. This is because that is the point that most often gets bent and that splits the plastic coating and eventually breaks the wires. To stop it happening, you can take the spring from a ballpoint pen and wind it around the cable, making sure to hook the end over the thicker part on the cable, to hold the spring in place. This spreads the stress on the wire so that it is no longer all at that very end point and causing it to weaken and possibly split. You can see what I mean from the picture of mine, below.



Kansai Yamamoto Yukata Kimonos.
Below are two Kansai Yamamoto kimonos from my website (I have some of his geta too). Kansai Yamamoto is the Japanese designer who designed David Bowie’s costumes for the Ziggy Stardust tour many years ago. He still designs clothing and does a range of different types of kimonos and Japanese footwear.
These kimonos are folded and stitched closed, so I can’t show them opened out, but you can see the patterns on the cotton.


The ball on it is called a temari (sometimes just written as mari). Temari are traditional, Japanese, decorative balls, often quite large, which are bound in different coloured threads to create the designs. You can see a closer view of it in the next photo. It has some nice, delicate, gold outlines, as do the stamens of some of the peonies.


This next one is a darker one, in colouring very popular in yukatas just now.


Closer view…


Some Kansai geta too…


and another…



As I mentioned above, temari are Japanese, decorative balls, with a pattern created by covering them in thread. Traditionally they were created by parents or grandparents and given to children on New Year’s day and were often made from the thread of old kimonos. I only have one or two temari, though not the ones in this picture, which were made by an 88 year old woman. Flickr user, NanaAkua, photographed this large and beautiful collection of temari created by her 88-year-old grandmother who began to master the art in her 60s.  Click on that picture to open a page where you can see 500 of the temari she made.


and a few more pictures here.


I’ll finish off today’s post with some noren. The first (blue) one isn’t one of mine, the second one (with puppies) is.
The blue one has Japanese text on it that says “iki”. Iki means understated elegance or quiet elegance. It is considered an art, an admirable trait to be iki.


This next noren is very cute, with the back view of a pair of puppies enjoying hanami (the annual cherry blossom viewing).
Noren are split curtains, hung at doors but sometimes, nowadays, used as room dividers or hung on the wall to be decorative. They are often hung from shop doors and you see them at the doors of tea rooms and geisha houses etc. Two strips is usual but you sometimes find them with more. you part the strips as you walk through. Both of these are two strip noren, roughly 85 x 150cm, split up the centre.


Here are the puppies close up…



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



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I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and its being there does not mean that I back or recommend it. 


Haori Photo Shoot – The Versatile Kimono Jacket

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my WordPress blog


Haoris in the sunshine – A photo shoot with fabulous, Japanese haori kimono jackets

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day here in Scotland, so I made the most of it and had a photo session to get pictures of a few of my Japanese haori kimono jackets. Astrella modelled them all for me, sweltering in the heat without a word of complaint. We took 331 photos and I have selected 58 for you to feast your eyes on here.  The pictures may help you gauge the general length of them, as haori are longer than many people realise from pictures of them just on a hanger. Astrella is five foot one inch tall (roughly 155cm) and a UK size 10 and about 125 cm from wrist to wrist.

The first haori shown below is covered in large, pink and white ume (plum bossom) and shows how good haori can look when worn with a belt, which is something the Japanese don’t do. They wear them unbelted on top of a kimono and obi. You may notice that haori (and kimono) sleeve seams lie down the arms a bit, not up at the edge of the shoulders. The traditional way of fastening a haori, if one chooses to fasten it at all,  is with a single tie, just inside the fronts, called a himo, which holds the fronts edge to edge, not overlapped. As you can see, though, from photos on this page, haori do also look extremely good with a a belt added. The first one below is being worn with a wide elastic belt.

This next one has magnificent textile art of bright flowers on black, shown modelled with a narrow leather belt as well as without a belt. The large white stitching at the edge of the sleeves is called shitsuke and is often put in, by the Japanese, just to keep garment seams neat during storage. It is simply pulled out before wearing but, as this haori was just being modelled, I left it in.

All but one of the haoris in these photographs is pure silk, inside and out, and all are entirely hand tailored, with the seam edges completely hidden in the lined ones, so those can actually be worn inside out too. Some have hand applied textile art. The quality of the fabric and workmanship is absolutely exquisite.

The following photograph shows a haori in a pretty pink, with a design of magenta leaves.

Now a touch of 1950s pattern. Shown, in one photo, inside out. The bottom half is usually lined in the same silk used on the outside, with a lighter weight silk on the top half and the sleeves. This haori’s upper lining has a lovely design of colourful parasols on it.

Pink leafy repeat pattern.

Graduated pampas leaf pattern on russet. The leaves become more dense towards the bottom.

Bingata style print of pretty flowers.

The one below has autumn maple leaves, shown with and without a belt and shown inside out, with the beautiful lining on show. Haori are usually so exquisitely made, with hidden seams and hand tailoring, that you can wear or display the lined ones inside out. The lower half is lined with the same silk as the outside and the upper half and sleeves are lined with a lighter silk in a different design. This one has lovely Japanese parasols on the upper lining.

In the next photo you can see how beautifully they are made, with the edges of the seams completely hidden inside and out; not a line of stitches in sight in the lined ones.

On the next haori you see a wonderful design of stylised kiku (chrysanthemums) swirling over the silk.

Now black, with striking, champagne gold, metallic urushi (lacquer covered silk thread) woven to create a landscape design.

An iro muji (self coloured), scarlet haori, with flowers in the damask weave of the silk. I do wish I’d ironed it before the photos, though. They usually aren’t creased when unfolded, as there is a special way of folding haoris and kimonos to ensure they very rarely require ironing when unfolded for use.

Swirls of dragon fire on black silk, with subtle touches of gold detailing that are lovely when up close. A 1930s haori, so slightly longer than most of my more recent ones, with slightly deeper sleeves too.

Magnificent birds and flowers.

Big, pink butterflies on black.

Vermillion flowers and leaves on black.

Now for two examples of kuro muji (plain black) haoris, with patterns in the weave that the photos haven’t picked up. Each has one white mon (crest) at the centre of the back at shoulder level.

This second plain black one, below, is an antique haori, which are often longer than more recent ones. This one is 102cm long.  I am keeping it for myself.

Below is another metallic urushi landscape design haori, this one with glinting, distant mountains and a formal mon (crest) at the centre of the shoulders, making it a hitotsu mon (one mon) haori

An unusual one next. It’s a large sized, child’s michiyuki jacket but big enough for an adult to wear. It would fit a child because children wear them with big tucks loosely stitched in the shoulders, narrowing the width. Children’s ones have a collar and tassels, whereas adult michiyuki usually don’t have either of those and would also be longer than this one. The michiyuki you see in the next two photos is made of shibori patterned silk, with little red dots all over and large ume (plum blossom). Shibori is an intricate tie dye process, usually painstakingly, entirely hand done, making it a frighteningly expensive fabric that is highly revered by the Japanese, so this garment would have been for a child from a family with a great deal of money.

In Japan, haori jackets are not worn with the fronts overlapping and not worn with a belt but michiyuki jackets are worn overlapped at the front and they are usually fastened with press studs, which in itself is unusual, as almost all traditional Japanese garments are fastened only by tying; using using various sashes, cords, obis etc.

Finally, black silk, with painterly, red branches and little ume (plum blossom), shown with and without a smile. This is a haori that the model has kept for herself, to wear with her red, Terry De Havilland shoes