Apr 7, 2008

Moving in kimono

Part of the beauty of chanoyu is the stately and graceful way that the host moves in and out of the room and the sound of silk on tatami mats. I am so glad that my students want to wear kimono to okeiko. As part of the introduction to tea ceremony, I dress my students in kimono so that they know what it feels like.

It is amazing how much the kimono affects our movements within the tea room. When I was first learning tea, I felt like a cow in the tea room. I had such a hard time moving around in the tea room and feeling like I had any kind of control of my body. Then when my sensei dressed me in kimono I felt even more restricted and awkward. Just sitting down and standing up became a challenge. I could not judge where I would land and I always made a loud thunk as my knees would hit the tatami. Then I would have to squirm back and forth or side to side to move to the right place and the kimono would come apart at the knees and it would take me forever to fix and adjust it.

I thought I knew how to walk, but in the beginning I would take too large a stride or walk too fast and my kimono would tangle in my legs. In the tea room, we take two steps per half tatami mat and if you walk properly in kimono, your stride comes out to just the right size and you end up entering and exiting on the correct foot. Women’s obi do not allow slouching so it forces you to sit with correct posture and when you sit with correct posture, seiza sitting is not as painful (though seiza sitting is still hurts, just not as much). If you sit with the correct posture, you also won’t have to keep adjusting your collar because of gaps that come with slouches.

I also found in dealing with the sleeves of the kimono, I was much more conscious of my arm position, wrist position and keeping my elbows round. That is not to say that I still drag my sleeve through the kensui on occasion.

After okeiko, I would always wear my kimono home. Partly because I feel very special wearing kimono, and partly because my husband says that all women in kimono are beautiful.

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