Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Houston Japan Fest - Yabane and Shamisen

This past weekend was Houston's annual Japan Fest, where over 20,000 people gathered to enjoy Japanese traditional music and martial art demonstrations, crafts, children's games, shopping, and on the pop culture side, cosplay and spontaneous "battlegrounds" popping up.

I went both days, and my favorite outfit of the weekend was the one I wore Saturday, a fun and casual take on an ultra-classical yabane kofurisode (short-sleeved furisode) softened by adding pink accessories and a cherry fake collar to mimic a juban underkimono layer underneath. Technically you need a juban for any kimono over a yukata in formality, but I'm not wearing one with a lined kimono in 86 degree heat to an all-day outdoor event.

For the obi, I tied it in the popular "tateya" (standing arrow) pattern often seen with furisode.

Yabane 矢羽根 is a stylized vertical pattern of typically interlocking arrow fletchings, worn centuries ago by servants on samurai estates, if I recall correctly. Eventually fashionable townspeople began wearing the pattern and it's been a popular design ever since.

(I was also interviewed in this outfit by a local news station, so for my fellow Houstonians: if you happen to see a woman in this outfit on Channel 39 that was me. Hopefully I don't sound as dorky as I think I did. ^_^;)

At a later point I'll put up a tutorial for the mock obi-jime (pink cord) I made for this outfit. It was both simple and cheap and is something I'll definitely do again if I can't get hold of a real one in time.

Here's me in the outfit with Yutaka Oyama and Masahiro Nitta of "Oyama x Nitta Duo", an award-winning shamisen duo that performed at the festival. My kitsuke needs a lot of work, but I was happy to meet them and enjoyed their show!

If you'd like to know more Carnegie Hall put together an informative page when they played there last month, and here's one of their videos, Karma, on Youtube. Very sweet guys, and talented!

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