By TOMOKO NAGAI, Rafu Staff Writer
A fully licensed kimono instructor and costume designer, Sueko Oshimoto, and a kimono stylist and photographer, Kentaro Terauchi, have published a new book written in English and Japanese.
“Obi Musubi” (full color, 224 pages) shows how to wear a kimono and an obi. With many photographs and explanations it is a great resource to learn how to functionally wear kimono and obi, to get knowledge behind and around Kimono, and to simply be entertained by the beautiful pictures,
Oshimoto, is a certified master dresser of a Yamano-style kimono school in Japan. She and Terauchi run KIMONO SK, a service that offers kimono costume design, kimono rental, kimono art direction and kimono photography. The Japanese American community recognizes KIMONO SK as the provider of gorgeous furisode kimono for the Nisei Week queen and court at this year’s coronation and parade.
Oshimoto says that she made up her mind to write a how-to book in English in response to the wishes of many people around her. She is proud that there is no other textbook in English that teaches how to tie obi.
The book is aimed at readers with beginning to intermediate-level kimono skills. It includes step-by-step instructions from casual to formal occasions, such as wearing a komon, tying a Nagoya obi, tying a double obi, and various ways to tie a half-width obi, as well as knowledge of kimono and types of obi, kimono TPO (time, place, occasion) and kimono culture. Also included are modern kimono styles such as “vintage” and “kawaii.” She claims that the short obi or the small kimono can be wearable with styling ideas.
Every step is described in English and Japanese. Photos taken by Terauchi are used everywhere, and the steps can be followed with photos, making it very easy to understand. It is also possible to learn stylish knots with help of YouTube tutorial videos through the QR code provided in the book. Styles such as “Fuji Darari” and “Agehacho” are great for spicing up the yukata.
“There are many traditional Japanese rituals and habits respected among Japanese and Japanese Americans,” Oshimoto says. “Omiyamairi is the first shrine visit with a new born baby, Shichi-go-san is the children’s cerebration at age three, five and seven. Coming-of-age ceremonies and wedding ceremonies, too, are connected with kimono. They are important cultures that are deeply rooted in Japanese hearts.”
“On the other hand, I also wanted to write about the modern style and creative aspects.”
Oshimoto emphasizes that she would think the different ways of kimono should be all respected, with proper separations. “I divide modern into modern, play into play, and culture into culture. I think it’s useless if we don’t separate with clear understanding of each category. Mastering the basics is a must to apply it for others.”
Oshimoto explains the appeal of the book: “I can’t write everything in one book, but I put in the minimum necessary things. I want readers to enjoy kimono through this book.”
The hardest part was the translation, especially how to translate the kimono terminology into English. The project coordinator and kimono instructor, Sachiko Kamiyama Perry, and the editor, Beth Myers Yamamuro, helped them out. They spent more than a year working as a team to complete the production.
The authors and the publishing team recently held a soft-launch party at Yamamuro’s home in Orange County. The open-house style cerebration was attended by friends and guests who are active in kimono groups and businesses.
Akane Mashimo, vice president of the L.A. Kimono Club, which organizes a kimono contest held at Little Tokyo’s New Year’s festival, said, “We offer kimono classes and kimono rentals. English textbooks would be very helpful.”
Keiko Hashimoto, a member of the L.A. Kimono Club, welcomed the book, saying, “By reading this book in English, the barriers between kimono and English-speaking readers will be taken down, and kimono gets more borderless.”
At a recent New Year’s contest produced by the club, women of African and Korean ancestry wore kimonos on stage. “More people are fascinated to wear kimono. It doesn’t matter if you speak Japanese, or if you look like Japanese,” Hashimoto says.
Elizabeth Cluff said she became interested in kimono after the New Year’s event several years ago. “I don’t understand Japanese … This book is irreplaceable for me. Its value is priceless.”
For the first edition, 500 copies have been printed. The books are available at $45 a copy. Orders can be placed from around the world on a print-on-demand basis. Use this link: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/kimono-sk-presents-obi-musubi
For more information, visit: https://kimonosk.weebly.com/
Photos by TOMOKO NAGAI/Rafu Shimpo