Book Of Kimono Paperback – Jan 1 1987
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About the Author
N Yamanaka is a Kodansha International author.
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First off, this book has a little bit of everything in it in regards to kimono history and usage. It does not have how to make a kimono, though it does have the basic preparation steps, like how to put on the protective lining collar for the under robe. There is especially a great deal of vocabulary and explanation - what are the parts of the kimono called, images of and descriptions of different styles and pieces. In fact, this is the only book I have ever seen (in English) to properly show all of the little things used in tying an obi. It shows not only traditional means of dressing in the kimono, but also the more modern "cheater" or "training" wear that is easier to use but in many ways more confusing looking than the traditional forms.
Because of all that detailed information, there are several places that might be considered a little brief to a person trying to learn how to actually wear the kimono themselves. For instance, the book does show you how to tie an obi for men and women, and as a plus, how to properly tie hakama pants and the ties on the jackets. However, the book only shows you how to tie two female styles - a formal and a more informal one - when there are really several fairly common styles for women. On the upside, there is a third style added about how to make and wear a "cheater" obi (a real obi is anywhere from 10 to 14 feet long, the cheater obi has a pre-made bow that you hook in place). Since the book has a photo spread showing several different types of obi ties for women, it was somewhat disappointing for me to only find the two styles and the cheater obi. For someone who is looking to just start, this is a good reference, but don't expect to see instructions for the other obi styles.
This book does show how to do common (but really, difficult) activities properly in a kimono (bowing, opening doors, getting in a car), the differences in wearing a kimono for married and unmarried women, and how to care for and store kimono. It describes the cleaning process, but points out that it is very complex and the kimono material is easy to damage, so most people do spot cleaning and rely on specialized cleaners. This book shows pictures of hair pieces, but does not have any information on how to do the hair styles (which isn't the topic of the book, anyway, but someone asked me about it once when I mentioned this book).
All in all, this book will answer all of the basic, introductory, or background questions, but if you are really interested in figuring out the details, this book will still leave you with a few questions.
This is, simply put, the best English-language reference that exists for people who are interested in both the traditions and wearing of kimono. The book covers the history, aesthetic theory, and creation of kimono, as well as traditional accessories and the meanings behind each item. It is the natural counterpart to Liza Dalby's excellent book that takes an anthropological look at kimono culture.
This book also contains a wealth of pracitcal information, from obi knots and step-by-step instructions for donning a kimono, to kimono etiquette for certain accessories, and for sitting, walking and eating. There's also, (wonder of wonder!) a section on the proper care and folding of kimono and obi, which I find absolutely invaluable.
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