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Clothed in Culture

By Travel Noire

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I felt like what I assume every bride feels like on her wedding day: elegant, excited and fortunate. It was always a dream of mine to do a photoshoot wearing a kimono and I was finally getting the opportunity to do so. The embroidered silk fabric would adorn my skin the same way it did the Geishas that I saw in the National Geographic documentaries I watched as a child. I didn’t want the porcelain Geisha style makeup, nor did I want the Geisha styled wig. I wanted to remain true to myself, yet create and document my memory of Japan in a unique way.

Wearing a kimono isn’t as easy as it looks. If you thought putting on and wearing a sari was troublesome, think again. It takes a true professional to do it right. Keida sensei is a traditional Kimono master from Nagasaki, Japan. She is one of the few internationally recognized Kimono masters in Japan and was absolutely thrilled when I asked her to clothe me in one of her Kimonos.

 

Japanese people are serious about presentation and no exception is made when it comes to their traditional wear. To make the kimono look sleek against my body, pieces of white gauze had to be placed across my chest and back. No lumps or bumps, curves or swerves were allowed to this party! After the placing of the gauze I had to be wrapped in another piece of cloth in order for the loose pieces to stay in place. At this point, the idea of going to the bathroom seemed impossible.

Ready and stiff as ever, I placed my arms through the kimono. It felt amazing on my skin. Initially I was to wear a purple Kimono but my eye caught the gold kimono on a mannequin (blame the Slick Rick and Trinidad James in me). After some additional tucking and pulling, Keida sensei tied my Obi (sash). She carried me to a mirror, I gasped then we both laughed. She signaled towards my hair “Can I?” All I could do was smile. She carefully placed two handmade chopsticks into my hair.

 

I was ready for my close up.

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This story was curated by Afiya Francis.


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