Mary's KIMONO Story

Today I wore a red kimono. The garment belonged to the Fujii family, who had kindly agreed to host me for the weekend. Mrs. Ishikawa, a friend of Chieko Fujii's, agreed to use her kimono expertise on my behalf that day. She worked quickly and with a professional air, tying red ribbon that way and wrapping a white robe another way. After one hour of fitting, the seventeen pieces of the Fujii kimono finally came together and despite my Western face, I felt like I could wear the Japanese character for a few moments that day. As we drove off to Ushiku Chateau with Chieko, Tatsuya, and Masashi for photographs among the blooming plum trees, I waited calmly, hands in my lap, like a hina doll or a bride about to be swept off to the ceremony. At the Chateau, older people in the garden looked closely at me, wondering what the occasion for the kimono was.

The Fujii kimono was a beautiful piece, fit for some aristocratic woman of the distant past. Red brilliant silk with floral patterns of pale yellow and pink adorned the robes of the Fujii kimono. The sleeves fell into long drapes nearly to the waist, making me feel like a bit of priestess. The undergarments of a kimono are made of simple cotton and many ribbons bind the kimono together. The sash or obi sweeps out of the back and forms a large bow. Not every Japanese woman knows how to properly make up the kimono. It takes a "sensei" or a kind of expert to perform the task of fitting the kimono.

In the Japanese beauty ideal, the woman's figure is cylindrical and straight. The waist is not drawn in like its Western counterpart, and curves are not emphasized. It is difficult to move quickly in the kimono, so one must think before acting. To wear the kimono is don the civic virtues of the Japanese. Tranquility and restraint live in the layers of the kimono, casting their spell of beauty and bringing calm from the Heian world into our present age.