Sunday, November 14, 2010

What to Wear to Meet the President

Kimono formality, while generally outlined by TPO (time, place, occasion) charts, can be as tricky as Western clothing when it comes to what to wear for what event.

If you'd asked me what would be appropriate women's kimono for meeting a U.S. president, I might have gone for a gold fukuro obi and kurotomesode, the black with hem-patterns kimono type and the highest-level formality for a married woman. However, on Obama's recent trip to Kamakura to visit the temple that houses a famous giant Buddha, the temple director Michiko Sato wore a fairly subdued fukuro obi and houmongi (visiting wear), which is two steps down from a kurotomesode (kurotomesode, then iro(color background)-tomesode, then houmongi). Takao Sato, the man with her, is the temple's chief monk and is not dressed in typical men's wear.

After following the link, you can click back and forward a few more photos to see more of their outfits and the Buddha.

Given Michiko's age (tradition requires more subtle colors for older women) and the nature of the event (walking around the temple and chatting rather than a formal dinner, etc.), her outfit makes sense to me, and it was interesting to see a real-life example of a situation not found on most TPO charts. ;)

Regarding Kamakura itself, it is a pretty day-trip out of Tokyo and worth going to, but a little touristy in spots. If I'm remembering right, you can also actually walk down into the Buddha as he's hollow.

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