Meiji Era Kimono Style

I read an autobiography of a rakugoka comic story teller, 志ん生 Shinsho, who was born in 1890, Meiji era. Although he was a son of samurai family, he was poor because of drinking, gambling, and playing at hanamachi red district. His description about how poor he was is so funny and tell us old kimono habits in early 20 century.

For example, he said he never rode a train, always walked to everywhere to save train fares. “I walked and walked, tying my haori coat at my neck (like Batman!?) with bare feet, tying my geta shoes at my waist, since I was afraid my geta heals wore out.” Today in Japan, we never see a man like this. I guess he hung his geta with obi sash…
He mentioned that because of his poverty, his family also wore a little. His wife wore only koshimaki at their house. Koshimaki is kimono underskirt… So his wife was like The Venus de Milo!?


Kimono Article on English Magazine.

I wrote about kimono for Tokyo Journal, English magazine published in Japan. I heard it was sold in some foreign cities. If you find it, please read the kimono article.

The photo shoot for the front cover and the kimono article was held on end-July. The model wore awase lined furisode under 30C (86F) temperature… I wrapped the model’s arms with ice pads because I really worried that she had got heatstroke! But she was so patient and tough. She survived.

All of kimonos for shooting from Ikeda-san’s antique kimono shop. Ikedasan’s selection’s furisode is 4000 yen and obi is just 1000 yen. (in total $50!) Although the writing was a hard work, I really enjoyed the shooting. I am so sad that I forgot to take a photo of Ikeda-san and me. Ikeda-san is famous kimono coordinator and antique obidome collector. Some of you may know about her books.


Geisha Show!

On my birthday, hoping a unique event, I asked to take me to Geisha Show! There are some reasonable tours for travelers. I heard English geisha tours were much popular than for Japanese, but this night, I met none of non-Japanese.

After 30 min ride on bus, we went Mukojima old red-light district area. Two geishas, one hangyoku (geisha apprentice) and one shamisen player welcomed us, 17 Japanese people, most of us were women. Although this type of event used to be limited for man visitors, now both customers and entertainers are women.

They served dinner for us, cheered with us, played music and danced. I really enjoyed their beautiful and traditional kimonos. Surprisingly, they wore kimonos quite loosely (but not slovenly). Hangyoku-san’s embroidery haneri (inside collar) was so cute!
Mukojima means Other Side (of Sumida river) or Out Side of Edo (old Tokyo) central. Isolated and lawless area man could be absorbed in self-indulgent pleasures with geishas and oirans, if he was rich!