Monday, February 8, 2010

Kimono Secret Arsenal: The Tsukuri Obi

Traditionally, a casual hanhaba (half-width) obi knot is secured with nothing but itself. Through careful tying, it will hold itself and the knot together. Wider and more complicated obi and knots use a few other items, but the idea is basically the same.

If you're just getting into kimono, taking a strip of fabric over ten feet long and wrestling it into a good obi look can seem pretty intimidating. But not all hope is lost! The tsukuri obi (作り帯) is ideal for beginners, kimono-for-a-day costume cosplay folks, or more experienced wearers who just want to simplify getting their outfits together.

A tsukuri obi (also known as a kantan obi 簡単帯 or tsuke obi 付け帯) is pre-tied: it comes in two separate parts, one the back knot already tied, and the other the long strip that goes around you. You secure everything with hidden cotton cords.

For yukata, summer cotton kimono, I'm not a fan of hanhaba tsukuri obi because the bow is usually fairly stiff, making them easy to spot. However, I saw plenty of young women in Japan using them so it's not considered "cheating": to each their own!

You can also find tsukuri obi for more formal looks and knots. If you're curious, try searching "pre-tied obi", "tsuke obi" or "tsukuri obi" over on Ebay or at online dealers.

Image copyright Pitke and used with permission.

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