HIDDEN MEANINGS IN KIMONOS
There’s far more to kimonos than meets the eye. Subtle variations in style, colour, pattern and material, even the depth of sleeve and type of belt ( obi) have different meanings.
The silk komon decorated with small patterns is used for everyday wear, while the furisode, an eye-catchingly colourful and patterned kimono with sleeves so deep they almost touch the floor, is worn for formal occasions by unmarried women.
The formal wear for married women is a tomesode, which has shallower sleeves and patterns below the obi. The male equivalent is a more sombre, silk monsuke.
Tea ceremonies require an iromuji, a plainly dyed, silk kimono, while the mofuku is black and used by both male and female mourners. By contrast, the yukata is a brightly coloured, unlined kimono, made of cotton and worn for warmer summertime occasions.
Meanwhile, the hikizuri is the flamboyantly decorated kimono with a trailing skirt, worn by geishas and maiko dance performers. groves and lived the life of a Buddhist monk. I was beginning to get a feel for Japanese culture. But there were some insights that were more difficult to come to terms with. One was the
Robot restaurant in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo where Kiyomi took us for a cabaret-style performance featuring neon-lit floats, pumping amplified music and futuristically costumed dancers, which somehow just didn’t do it for me.
However, perhaps the strangest experience of all was the visit to a maid café – a bizarre concept based on the Japanese concept of moe, the big-eyed, innocent-looking female characters of cartoon anime – in Akihabara, the hi-tech area of Tokyo. Given animal ears to wear, I was served iced coffee and cheesecake by a simpering waitress in petticoat, pinafore and stockings while another performed ad hoc karaoke. Another fascinating insight into this contradictory culture, perhaps. But I couldn’t help wishing I was back at the sumo.
A 13-day Trails of Japan tour from Wendy Wu (0800 902 0888; wendywutours.co.uk) costs from £5,490 including accommodation, some meals, international flights, all transport and entrance fees