One of my biggest regrets of my Japanese life is to never have been able to wear furisode (振袖, long sleeves kimono). When you are a young unmarried woman aged 18-25 in Japan, there are two occasions to wear a furisode : the coming of age day, at 20 (成人式, seijin shiki) and the graduation ceremony at the university (卒業式, sotsugyo shiki). After, if you are lucky, there are also wedding ceremonies but this is rather uncommon or at least not every month.
At 20, I was in France and at my Japanese graduation ceremony , I was... in suit. Indeed, I was convinced that I would have to buy a kimono and considering the price it was clearly impossible. A few days before the ceremony, my friends of ASO48 told me a furisode and hakama set could rent but of course it was too late, as most students reserve their one more than six months in prior. So I attended the ceremony in a black suit, suronded by dozen of Japanese wearing colorful furisode / hakama. To make up for this, I decided to offer me a photo shoot in this traditionnal clothing with my degree. But, busy with my new job, this idea got completely out of the head, until my passion for Japanese traditional clothing came back abruptly this summer. I thought back about that shooting and told my mom about it : she decided to offer it to me for my birthday.
|All the pictures are raw|
After a first contact with the staff, I was invited to go to the store. We talked about what I wanted: in Japan, there is a practice called mae-dori (前撮り), which is to have your picture taken in furisode before the coming of age day. As I turned 28, it will be rather an ato-dori (後撮り) "ato" meaning "after" (I invented this word) coupled with a post-graduation session with my diploma .
Then I went into the fitting room where I discovered an impressive furisode collection ! It was like to be in a flower field as there was color everywhere. I immediately went to the Retro Modern Kimono section looking for the pieces I saw on their website: hard to choose as everything was pretty.
Basically, I wanted a furisode who remember the colors of the French flag and I spotted some models. The team, which was packed by the idea, helped me to sort and at the end I have tried two: one red, which I had seen on their website and a white, that they introduced me in the store. I felt for the white one but I still tried the other one to see that it didn't look good on me. I then chose an obi, accessories and hakama before agreeing on a date: October 10, the day after my birthday. By clicking this link, you can see the original outfit I had chosen before changing to something more colorful.
On the D-day, we had the appointment at 10 am at the studio. I put some traditionnal underwear and then I went through the makeup and hairstyle box . I brought some pictures and then I let the pro do what she wanted. In the end I had two different hairstyles for my two outfits.Then the dresser began the long process of clothing : a succession of towels (to hide the breast bump), fabrics and strings for a well tied result.
I decided to start with the hakama outfit, for the "post-graduation ceremony" photo shoot. When wearing a hakama, the furisode is rolled up to the knees, it is a funny feeling. However, the hakama makes a really beautiful silhouette. It extends and refines, I could wear that every day. Plus, it's not too tight.
Time to go to in the studio. If at first I was a little anxious because I don't know to pose, the photographer was super nice and set me properly. I think the poses are the same for everyone as he did that mechanically. I rather regret not having been able to make a little funnier poses but it wasn't the meaning of the photo shoot which wants to be quite formal. I brought my diploma for the occasion, so I had extra shots. Here's is the result :
Once the shooting was over, I came back to the back of the studio where the dresser dress me for the furisode-only shooting. The obi took a lot of time :15 minutes just to tie it ! But what a result! It is the most beautiful one I ever had.
It takes a lot of muscles in the arms to tie an obi correctly and the frail lady who was there to dress me surprised me with her strength. I asked some cute ties for my obiage* and obijime* which turn out respectivly to be a ribon and a flower. I put on my sandals again and I went back in front of the camera.
A few smiles and a 10 minutes break later, the staff took me outside in a park for outdoor photos. There were few people, fortunately, but I became an instant local attraction for eldery who were there. It was quite embarrassing to pose in front of them but the photographer was this time too really great and funny: I have lots of photos laughing. I even had pictures with my mom, what a luck!
Back in the studio, I went to change for my normal clothes. It's amazing that something which takes age to put on could be so easy and quick to undress : it was folded in 5 minutes. I kept my hair and my makeup as Daisuke had booked a restaurant for my birthday in the evening and I would be unable to do my hair and makeup like that alone.
Then we had to talk with the staff about payment and options. If it was agreed that I would have the all-deta CD (for free ! Thank you KH !), we were introduced to the different albums available for a paper memory, but it was beyond our budget. My mother just chose a photo to give to my grandmother. We will receive everything ... at the end of December! Damn, I thought that I would have the CD right away, I was speechless. In fact they retouch the photos and therefore it takes time, especially as this period which is particularly busy. Nevertheless, I asked (and got) a CD with the raw shots in order to make my article and send to my mom who came back to France.
In the end, I have over 300 shots. It is a valuable memory I would keep forever : the photo shoot or photos themselves. I look forward to receive the finished CD and the printed phicture.
Now, let's talk about money : it's very expensive, count around 40,000 yens, but it is an unique experience which worth the financial effort. Are you a girl and living in Japan? Start saving up now for rubbing this typical Japanese experience that only happens once in life. If I had to do it again , I wouldn't hesitate.
Hakama (袴) : traditionnal skirt.
Obiage (帯揚げ) : fabrics tie up to the obi.
Obijime (帯締め) : string whoch maintain the obi tie.
Tabi (足袋) : traditionnal socks
Zori (下駄) : sandals
Kamikazari (髪飾り) : hair accessories
Included : furisode and all the accessories, dress up, pro hair and make-up, photoshoot (around 100 shots).
To bring : 5/6 face towel, kamikazari hair accessories.
In option : All deta CD for 20 000yens, a printed picture for 10 000 yens, album from 50 000 yens.
Kimono Hearts website (in Japanese)