Konnichiwa Club
The kimono literally means "a thing to wear". Kimono evolved through gradual changes in the shape and color of the formal undergarment worn by the nobility in the Heian period -9C~12C. Ladies of the court at that time wore 12 layers of Kimono for ceremonial occasions.

As a formal outer garment, it first appeared in the Edo era-17C. Since that time, there have been no real changes in the kimono. The Edo period was the golden age of Ukiyoe woodprints and also of the kabuki theater. The fashions of Kabuki Theater enter the main stream of Kimono design.

It is said that the Japanese kimono were perfected during the Edo period. It was the age when the Tokugawa Shogun ruled Japan and it lasted for 265 years that preceded the opening of Japan to the west.

In that period, national policies restricted contact with foreigners. The desired goal was peace and stability. The samurai class monopolized political power but the town's people created the popular culture on the basis of their economic power. Clothing throughout the countries served to distinguish the classes. For example laborers and farmers were forbidden the use of silk.

At the end of the Edo period, the culture reached its apex. A pleasure seeking and decadent atmosphere was expressed in a life style and clothing of the town's people. The shogun opposed this trend and issued repeated prohibitions, however town's people devised various ways to get around these prohibitions. The simple refinement in the expression of color born in this period lives today as a distinctive character of Japanese culture.

The idea of putting on Kimono in layers also has contributed to a unique and deep appreciation of colors and their combinations. Great care is taken in matching and harmonizing a color of the kimono collars, colors of the outside and the lining, a sash and other accessories to go with the Kimono.

To give you examples, the shades of the plum blossoms, wisteria, pine and tiny golden yellow Japanese roses.

In Japan, there are 4 distinctive seasons. Partly because of this, the Japanese are said to be sensitive to changes in nature. We fostered to live in harmony with nature. We can see the close relationship with nature in the Kimono, traditional Japanese clothing.
Choosing colors to mirror the seasons and their mood is a reflection of how the Japanese have become finely attuned to the changes in the seasons and learned to appreciate the beauty of things in nature.

A close connection with nature also exists in the vegetable dyes, patterns and designs of Kimono textiles. Herbal dyes can give soft, deep and long lasting colors. Patterns or designs of textiles are chosen from among auspicious seasonal flowers, birds or sceneries. Patterns include hand made, machine made, woven, tie died, embroidered or combination of techniques.
Textile designs are made so that the flow of movement can be enjoyed when worn. To give you examples, willow leaves in the breeze, current of a river and ocean waves.

When the Kimono and obi are laid out, they show straight lines. They are beautiful as they are. But when they are worn, they become free form and radiate their true beauty. The elegance and refined beauty of the Kimono derives more from the atmosphere created by the manner in which the Kimono is worn than from the beauty of the cloth itself.

How is the Kimono worn? First you start with the undergarment. Next while you are still able to move freely. you put on the Tabi. special Japanese socks ',
After this, one more thin undergarment in the same shape as the Kimono is put on. Being the base for the Kimono. this long undergarment must be put on with great care, in particular the neck must be meticulously adjusted.
Now the Kimono itself is put on. The Kimono is a loose garment, which adjusts to fit the person who wears it, the front being completely open. In place of hooks or buttons, the Kimono uses two sashes called obi and several cords at key points. The front of the Kimono is adjusted and held by a narrow obi which is worn under the broad obi. If this is improperly secured, the Kimono may easily become misshaped even with the slightest movement. Many codes or sashes will secure the Kimono. The tightness can be adjusted, too. This allows for the necessary adjustments to make the Kimono fit the individual figure. Last of all, the outer most obi is tied. This is the greatest challenge and the most difficult point in dressing. Quite a few women cannot tie the obi on their own and need someone to help them.

The distinctive feature of the Kimono is different from that of the western clothing. Western clothes, whether they are ready-made or tailor made, come in a great variety of forms, designs and sizes. Careful measurements must be taken and then clothes are tailored to fit the size of the wearer. We can see western clothes finished appearances before the garment is put on.
In contrast, the Kimono, be it formal or casual, it has almost the same shape. Size and figure are not usually taken into account. In choosing Kimono cloth, one must imagine the finished appearance especially the spackling design which will appear on the front of the Kimono. If the Kimono is taken apart, it can be resewn into the shape of the one piece of material it originally was. The true form of a Kimono appears only after it has been put on a human body.
Western clothing needs to be hang up in order to keep its shape. The Kimono is folded almost like paper into a very compact shape. Quite a number of them can be conveniently stored in a small space. Moreover, the Kimono is little affected by fashion. Women can pass down their Kimono for as many as three generations as long as they take good care of it.

What is true of the Kimono is true of the obi. Only in the act of tying the sash, its beauty and real significance become apparent. When we talk about tying things, it was believed possible to transfer one's love or spirit through the tied knot, If the strands of knot were well unified a new value could be created, just as a new value, a child, is created through the union of men and woman. From very early times people exchanged knots of love or knots to act as amulets to ward off evil or injury. The knot was regarded as being the resting place of the soul. The sincerity of this belief can be seen in a poem from the Manyoushu, the earliest (8th century) and longest anthology of Japanese poetry.

The Kimonosash my wife has tied,
Never by my own hands will be undone.
Though the sash be completely severed
I'll not untie the knot,
Till I see her again.

Today, the majority of Japanese regard the Kimono as a ceremonial costume. However, the Kimono plays an important role in our culture.
In America. you have many sayings in connection with football and baseball.
Conversely, some sayings come from the Kimono. When the Kimono is folded to put away, you should make the folds straight and correctly. The Japanese word 'orimeo tadasu' evinces the good manners. The Japanese word shitsuke 'basting' means disciplining, especially children, and training in proper manners and behavior. Similarly, from the Japanese expression 'erio tadasu to arrange collars' we have meaning to straighten one's posture. From these examples we can perceive the practical lessons the Kimono has to impart.
Kimono is rooted deeply in our culture.

Family Crest

The Japanese showed respect for their ancestors through the family crest.
The family crest shows the sense of history and group in concrete form.
A quick glance at a crest produces a sensory reaction. The paulownia of Hideyoshi immediately conveys the brief splendor and sudden fall of the Toyotomi family. The three leafed hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family calls to mind the implacable power of the shoguns that ruled Japan for 265 years. And the sixteen-petaled chrysanthemum crest of the Japanese Imperial family represents to some the sacred divinity of the emperors.

Each family has its own crest. There are about 12000 different crests.
The patterns are chosen which have auspicious meanings. Most of them were chosen from the plants, which are believed to have talismanic power against evil. For instance, chrysanthemum is said to have both medicinal and talismanic power.
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