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Kimono Contest

Did you know that there is a kimono-dressing competition in Japan?

I didn't know that and was surprised when my kimono teacher asked me if I would like to participate.


Those of you who know me in person know I don't like being on stage and judged by others. Accordingly, I was hesitant about taking part in this competition. But as you also know, I find it difficult to say "no" when I feel someone else's happiness or enjoyment depends on my participation or performance. So, after several requests from the members of the Kimono Club, I said yes to participating in the event.

Tanzaufführung während des Contests

I effectively had half a year to prepare for the event. However, as lessons only took place every two weeks for two hours, I perhaps had a good week for active preparation.

From putting on a kimono to the order in which the individual steps are to be completed to "No more using a mirror to check," it went very quickly. My teacher was strict and always demanded discipline, correctness, and, of course, quick learning. After all, we had no time to lose. In December and January 2022/23, I practiced putting on the kimono almost twice a day at home within the 7 minutes given. I have included a small online graphic here to give you a little idea of how these work and 7 minutes is a short whole thing.


Then, of course, the obi has to be tied. In my case, the bow's name on the back was "O-Taiko." This is a reasonably simple way of tying, but it is secured behind the back and, therefore, requires flexibility in the shoulders and a little practice. I used the article in a kimono magazine from Japan as a guide, as there are very few valuable diagrams on the subject on the internet. I think I can do my bit and create a few decent graphics.

As you can see, putting on a kimono is not so easy, especially not under time pressure and on a big stage. The nervousness, the many people, and the self-made pressure of perfectionism meant that I had a total blackout when it finally started. It wasn't that I couldn't move, but my head was blank, and I couldn't remember a single step. At this point, I am very grateful to my teacher for one sentence. She told me, "It's not your head that remembers the movements. It will be your body that has repeated the movements 1000 times and internalized them. Let your body remember and take the lead."

At first, I was taken aback by the sentence and couldn't understand it. But I understood when I stood on stage and watched from the outside as my body moved calmly, calmly, and confidently as if by itself.

I got dressed in just under 6 minutes, which was also a new record for me, and with two small mistakes, I got third place in the foreigner classification—a great honor for me and my teacher.

The contest and the knowledge I gained from the lessons are memories and experiences that cannot be replaced. Since then, the subject of kimono and Japanese clothing has captivated me even more and opened up a whole new world for me. I am grateful that I was asked, and I am grateful that I didn't say "no" even though I wanted to. Sometimes, the universe provides growth opportunities that can be scary at first but, in hindsight, are beautiful experiences.

Since then, not only have I continued to work on my kimono skills and knowledge, but I have also continued to attend a kimono school. But that's material for another post. Stay tuned, and look forward to new stories from Japan.

Best wishes, and have a wonderful Advent season.


And for those who would like to watch my complete performance, here is the link to the YouTube video.

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