Good news dear readers, I graduated from kimono school yesterday and am one step closer to becoming a docile and domesticated Japanese woman. If only it were true! (The becoming docile and Japanese part, that is.) (Well actually the wanting to become any one of those things too.)
Last week they TIMED me getting dressed. I thought they were fucking with me when they pulled out the stop watch, like hey, let's play watch whitie panic! But no, apparently to get the certification for the foundation course you need to go from panties to tied obi and smoothed seams in under 25 minutes. Being yours truly, I passed although not before my sensei noted that I had started to develop a bad habit of tying everything slightly off centre. They said my balance was off and that I needed to find my centre. As I told my mom later on the phone, I didn't need a kimono class to tell me that!!
The logical explanation is that because my right arm is stronger I tend to favour it and pull harder than with my left. I'm personally convinced that my emotional state is subconsciously showing itself through my kitsuke product. Will have to keep an eye on that.
Yesterday was a review class where I tied a bunch of different obi knots to refresh my memory and I think I finally got my collar to sit right! It's really been bothering me lately because I can never get it to sit just right but I think the key is to pull it down in the back prosti-style and once you tie the front it will sit appropriately.
My sensei is so sweet, when she handed me the certificate she started going on about how it pleased her that I was interested in kimono culture and that in the next level course I'll learn even more (I took this to mean they'll have me back). Then she tells me that she saw a TV program featuring a foreign woman who runs an onsen who "wears kimono properly and everything" and that she is so steeped in Japanese culture she puts Japanese people to shame. Putting her hands on my shoulders she then said, But don't worry! you don't have to go that far. Thank god for that. I smiled inwardly as I remembered when the school mistress sewed half a collar onto one of my undergarments and told me to finish up the rest at home. This entailed actually adding pieces of fabric with a needle and thread. I promptly gave up at home that night after attempting to attach a piece of fabric haphazardly cut from a 100 yen apron with a 100 yen sewing kit.
The next week the mistress saw that no progress had been made on my top and said, Oh you don't sew? No lady, I went to an actual university, not a home-ec college in some rural town south of Tokyo. Scornful as I am, I do actually wish I could sew so I could fix some of my antique kimono. I wish I could cook better too but that will come in due course after I start taking Japanese cooking lessons next month! Don't worry, it stops there, I'm only interested in eating home-cooked Japanese food and textiles.
If the onsen's foreign okami-san (mistress, proprietress) has piqued your interest - a quick google tells me her name is Jeanie Fuji of the Fujiya Ryokan. She has also written a book called Japanese People Are Not Japanese Enough (in Japanese for the Japanese). I'd be curious to read what she has to say...But until then, I have my next three month kimono class to think about.