Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Morita Akemi Sensei's Kimono Class (入門クラス)

On Saturday, I had my final kimono class. I don't think I've mentioned it here (oops!) but since April of last year, I've been taking lessons on how to put on the kimono myself from Morita Akemi (森田 空美) sensei. Morita sensei is based in Tokyo and her kimono coordinates have appeared in magazines like Waraku (和楽). She's also written several books about kimono.

Sensei and I (I covered my classmates' faces with stickers because I haven't asked them about the blog)
Morita sensei's method of wearing kimono uses a minimal amount of 腰紐 (koshihimo - a thin sash) and 伊達締め (datejime - a slightly thicker sash) and absolutely no elastic products. That means that the kimono is extremely comfortable to wear, and you can even eat in it (that was a huge difference from my 成人式 (seijinshiki - coming of age ceremony), where my furisode was so tight that I couldn't eat!). And since I really like kimonos and have been gifted a few, I thought that I should take a course on how to wear them.

Since I have absolutely no experience, I took the introductory class (入門クラス), which costs 91,000 yen for 6 lessons - in other words, one lesson every two months. I also got this textbook:

The lessons are pricey, but they are extremely worth it. Morita-sensei is a really lovely and kind teacher. Did you know that I actually planned to wear a kimono to my cousin's wedding, but when I showed it to Morita sensei (I was lucky enough to have a lesson about two weeks before the wedding), she told me that my obi was a fukurou obi. It's longer than a Nagoya obi (which is what we learnt to tie in class) and uses a different method, so she invited me to stay for the more advanced class for free so that I could put it on myself!

While I can't put on a kimono in 15 minutes, like sensei can, I can finally put it on myself! Of course, things tend to go much smoother with sensei around, but at least I can get the basic shape right. And by the way, this is my kimono at the final lesson:

Sorry this photo wasn't very flattering hence another sticker
The kimono and obi were both presents from some really generous people! The 帯締め (obijime - braid around the obi) and 帯揚げ (obi age - cloth that is not very visible in the picture) are actually too formal for this kimono, but I didn't manage to find appropriate ones in time, so I'm really sorry for that.

And this is the back:

Apart from how to put on a kimono, sensei also gave us advice on how to coordinate the kimono and when to wear certain types of kimono. One really fun part of the lesson is seeing which kimono she's wearing and listening to her talk about it.

In fact, she had a special lesson in October where a kimono shop was invited down and their wares brought out. Those that wanted new kimonos could get a coordinate picked by sensei (which is really magazine worthy), and those who didn't could bring their old kimonos and get sensei's advice on what would go together. I almost bought a new obi, because I don't really have obis that match the kimonos that I've been given, but I ended up not getting them because of the lack of cash. Still, I was impressed by the lack of hard-selling or soft-selling during the lesson! (No one gave me any grief when I changed my mind)

There are actually two more courses, and I was initially planning to take the next one this year but I ran out of money. So I'll be taking a break from kimono lessons this year (and doing something that doesn't cost as much) and will hopefully continue next year!

If you're a fan of kimonos and own a few and you live in Tokyo or Fukuoka, I highly recommend Morita sensei's lessons! This is really the most comfortable way of wearing kimono that I've tried, and if you want to wear kimono more often (she recommends to the theatre, out to town, and just about anywhere — even a plane!), then you should look for the most comfortable way to wear it.