Monday, September 12, 2011

Great Otaiko Knot How-To Video and Costume Tips

This weekend I had the chance to go to a fantastic Japanese-music concert, more of which I'll post about later.

I wore kimono to the event, and for the first time ever (remember, I've been a kimono collector a lot longer than a wearer!), I was very confident of the crisp and pretty "otaiko" obi knot I tied, and it's all thanks to this awesome instructional video showing two camera angles at the same time. :)

Even if you don't speak Japanese, it's an extremely clear visual step-by-step demo of how to tie the famous and common otaiko knot, the boxy loop knot worn by adult women with just about every type of kimono, and is great for costumers, cosplayers or women like me who wear kimono on occasion.

Make Your Own!

For anyone making a costume that uses a simple otaiko-tied obi (we'll assume the Nagoya type rather than the more formal fukuro type), you don't need all the actual doo-dads in the video to get a decent look. Here's a quick list of cheater materials for everything (I'll toss the obi in just to make it complete):

Nagoya obi (measuring one of my own for this, but there is some variation out there): a heavyweight fabric 130" long by 12" wide, with around 2/3rds of it folded and sewn to be half-width. Nagoya are either patterned all over (more formal), with a pattern on the drum part and/or front panel (less formal) or a solid color (most casual, I believe). Some are hand-painted, so paint away if you want designs!

Koshihimo: In this case, these pink, flat strips of fabric are just used, as you can see, to hold parts of the obi up until everything is in place and are taken away in the end. Any rough fabric will work, or even just a shoelace if nothing else is around.

Obi-ita: This is a flexible cloth-covered plastic board and is the first thing she puts on. It helps keep the front of the obi smooth. A cheap solution is to cut and glue a two-layer thick piece of posterboard in the same shape and long enough to cover your front, and tuck them in between the layers of your obi as you wind it around yourself.

Kimono clips: Binder clips, clothespins, anything that can stand up to that much heavy fabric can do the trick! If you have a real obi with embroidery on it, just be careful not to snag anything.

Obi-makura: It's a little tough to see in the video, but the obi-makura (pillow) is a firm, padded pillow shaped like a giant kidney bean with a string coming off each side that you tie around yourself in the front. It helps keep the otaiko poofed up and is not optional if you're tying that type of knot. You can fake an obi-makura by cutting off a leg of panty hose from a pair, tying a knot slightly off-center, stuffing a ton of newspaper up against the knot, and tying the other end to create your pillow.

Obi-age: The pretty silk scarf used to cover the obi-makura, (mine is around 65" long and 9" wide). In the video hers is white with red flowers. It's a simple rectangle of light silk, but any opaque light fabric can do in a pinch for a costume.

Obi-jime: The cord that ultimately holds up the tail of the otaiko (mine are around 65" long and 1/3-1/2" wide). In the video, hers is yellow. There are different types, but any basic round curtain cord or flat-weave cord can stand in.

No comments: