Dec 22, 2017
It was an exciting day for me as I was going to wear kimono. Most importantly, the kimono that I was supposed to wear was from my sensei's wedding day, the one she wore when she became a beautiful Japanese bride.
Sensei unwrapped the history of kimono as she helped me wear the beautiful costume. She went on telling me how, from the days of past emperors to the post-world war era, kimono have evolved. The glory and fame of the emperors of those days would symbolically also be reflect in the kimono the women of that time would wear. The fabrics used were high quality silk while the prints used traces of gold and platinum. Those kimono were not just beautiful but full of the pride of Japanese prosperity.
Today, not all women in Japan wear kimono but people still love to have at least one set of kimono at their disposal. However, this is also changing as the buying culture is being replaced by a rental culture, not because people don't like to wear them but because kimono are getting too expensive for many people to afford. Just like everywhere else, Japanese lifestyle, even though comparatively insular, is quite influenced by western lifestyles.
Sensei was unwrapping the kimono set, along with the legacy it carries, in a beautiful way. As I touched the fabric of the kimono, I could feel the coolness of the silk. Sensei started explaining the pattern. One of the patterns was really beautiful. There was a sailing ship. It looked like a painting to me and I asked sensei about it. She explained that the sailing ship was something her grandfather painted in the kimono for her mother. The kimono was legendary and was being passed down the generations. Her mother wore it as a bride and she did the same. Her grandfather who drew the ship was not a professional artist yet his love for his daughter was clearly reflected in that piece of art.
The layers of kimono felt amazing as I wore it. It felt a bit heavy in the beginning but after I wearing it for a short while it was just perfectly fitted and comfortable to move in. I felt very special in the attire, though my long face and sharp pointed nose made me look far from Japanese.
In my own thoughts, I went on interpreting the sailing ship in the kimono. The ship could have been there representing life as a journey. As in a journey, life passes through several stages; a wedding being one of them. The grandfather might have thought, just like a ship encounters various challenges while crossing a sea, his daughter could go through ups and downs but a strong ship, which might be a metaphor of a determined heart, stands un-wrecked, making the voyage smoothly. He was probably wishing his daughter the capacity to be resilient throughout the journey of life. The other interesting thing was that the ship painted was very colorful so he must have also thought that the new beginning of his daughter's life was going to be very colorful and blessed.
I am not sure if sensei ever had an answer to why the ship was there, but for me it was just as interesting to interpret my own thoughts as to seek the real answer.
I am Babina Kharel living in Niigata, Japan. I come originally from Nepal but I am a permanent resident of Canada. I am currently living in Japan with my wonderful husband.