Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kimono Secret Arsenal: The Obi-Ita

For folks who are new to wearing kimono, whether you're a cosplayer or designer researching a historical look or just someone who enjoys wearing them, I'm happy to report there are a lot of hidden tricks and tips for getting that perfect, effortless look.

One of them is the humble "obi ita" or "obi board 帯板", said "oh bee eat uh". If you've ever tried to put on an obi and wondered why it looked creased, wrinkled, or messy in the front after ten minutes, it's because there's no hard support underneath it.The obi-ita, usually a stiff piece of plastic or cloth-covered cardboard, takes care of this. You put it on either under the entire obi (if it has elastic ties) or under the final layer wrapped around yourself if it's the simple type shown here. This is a standard part of kimono "underwear" accessories and isn't considered cheating, though it may feel like it!

If you're on a budget or only need one for a day, you can get by with a mock obi-ita made out of any stiff, smooth poster board, the kind you find in a grocery store school supplies aisle. Cut out two pieces long enough to cover the obi's entire front section (one may not be stiff enough) and place them under the final layer as you tie it around yourself.

Don't worry about the obi-ita showing, whatever kind you use. If you tie your obi tight enough, the obi-ita should remain where it is with no or minimal shifting.

These handy little boards can be found at several online dealers and on Ebay, though you may want to try different variations on the word: obiita, obi ita, or obi-ita.

Image courtesy of and copyright Ichiro Wada.

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