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Thread: Restoring pleats in hakama

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    Question Restoring pleats in hakama

    Any suggestions on bringing the pleats in hakama back to life after they've long since worn into all the other folds and creases that have built up over time? I only wear mine in the winter to stay warm outside while training, and over the summer it's been more than a little abused in the corner clothing pile. The pleats have sort of disappeared amongst all the other creases.

    I was thinking that if I washed it and folded it wet, then left it in the boiler room to dry out quickly that I'd get a semblance of respectability back into it. However, I can't for the life of me tell whether some creases are just creases or whether they're the pleats. And trying to fold while wet with this very heavy cotton (something like sailcloth, since it's for staying warm) is going to be near impossible. I begin to understand the lot of sailors who had to reef wet sails.

    Anyway, suggestions? I'm not going to go out and buy a new one since this has a lot of life in it left. It's only fading in the couple spots where I've done a knee slide in gravel. The damned indigo is still coming off on my keikogi even after two years of use and washings! I'd like to get it decent looking without having to do something awful like ironing it.
    James A. Crippen

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    If the original pleats have disappeared, make new ones using the top of the pleats as a guide to where they belong. Lay the hakama flat and just re-create them. Keep them straight and evenly spaced and then, and here is the tricky part, USE AN IRON! The only way you will get the pleats to stay is to iron them in well with an iron at the proper setting for the fabric. Once that is done, you may want to actually FOLD your hakama after use to maintain them. Also, after you've refreshed the pleats with an iron, after washing it let it dry flat with the pleats arranged properly. re-iron as needed to keep them in place.

    Hope that helps. The scarcasm is free of charge.

    Ev
    Evan London
    Dojo-cho, Jinenkan Inazuma Dojo
    Orange, CT
    www.Jinenkan-Inazuma.com

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    I've read in several places and have had a few people tell me not to iron hakama. I understand that for the ones made of synthetic or silk, but I don't understand why people are adamant about avoiding irons for cotton hakama. Any idea?

    I think I'll do the pleat thing, then wash, and arrange the pleats to dry. I can't lay it down flat anyhere, so I'll try hanging it with a hanger and a bunch of clothespins to keep everything in place.

    BTW, thanks for the sarcasm. I always appreciate some of that. :-)
    James A. Crippen

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    No idea why people say avoid the iron. I have a Bujin techron hakama and it has taken ironing just fine for 5 years. By the way if you can't lay it flat to dry, lay flat to set the pleats, the clothes pins are a great idea, and then hang it over your shower curtain to dry. Take up less space and is a lot easire than trying to find a hanger to fit it.
    Good luck!
    Evan London
    Dojo-cho, Jinenkan Inazuma Dojo
    Orange, CT
    www.Jinenkan-Inazuma.com

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    Pardon my ignorance, may I ask what is a hakama. I know of a larger kimono-like, robe thats worn around the body, and held by a wide cloth belt, tied ina knot on the backside of the person wearing it. I keep forgetting the name.
    To every man there comes a in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing unique to him and fitted to his talent; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.
    Sir Winston Churchill


    Matthew Gehrke

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    It is the traditional split-skirt worn by Japanese men. Many traditional Japanese martial arts still wear them for training.

    Please see here for a picture: http://www.bujindesign.com/hakama.html
    Evan London
    Dojo-cho, Jinenkan Inazuma Dojo
    Orange, CT
    www.Jinenkan-Inazuma.com

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    The only article of clothing that is specifically knotted in the back that I know of is obi of the women's kimono and the variant furisode kimono for young (unmarried) women. The knot is a huge bow tied in the obi, which is itself very wide. The obi for a man's kimono is usually tied in the front, as far as I've seen. Often (usually?) the loose ends are tucked into the obi on a man's kimono, unlike the loose ends of the obi on a keikogi in the dojo.

    When wearing hakama the knot of the obi is usually moved around to the back behind the koshiita (back stiffener). This gives more room to tie the knot of the hakama in front, and also makes bending forward at the waist a bit more comfortable. The front cords of a hakama are also tied in the back if the himo aren't long enough to go around front twice, which of course depends on how fat the wearer is. But this is a simple knot which is covered by the koshiita and isn't visible.

    People receiving some kinds of nagewaza (throwing techniques) often move the knot on their obi around to the back so it doesn't stab into their gut when being picked up. This is useful for uke in hip throws, for example, where the tori's hip would ordinarily press against or underneath the knot of the obi. It's only done for training purposes, and usually uke will move the knot back around front when done because it looks strange otherwise.
    James A. Crippen

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    BTW, the hakama is strictly a man's article of clothing. The only occasions I know of where women wear hakama are in the dojo or demonstration, and as the miko at a Shinto shrine. In some more adamantly traditional koryu women are required to wear furisode kimono despite the men wearing the ordinary keikogi and hakama combination; this more closely reflects the reality of clothing during the medieval and early modern eras in Japan. (I approve of this practice wholeheartedly because the women are a lot more fun to look at and their bright patterns add not inconsiderable flair to what might otherwise be a typical display of martial skill. ^_^)

    Miko are the 'vestal virgins' of a Shinto shrine, although I think the virginal requirement is not always strictly observed. They do various tasks such as selling shrine goods, sweeping up, and are essential for the dances which are performed for the gods on certain occasions. The miko's hakama is universally bright red, a color which is otherwise never seen in a hakama. So don't get caught wearing a red hakama unless you're cosplaying a miko for some twisted reason. If so, you should also wear some red ribbons in your hair and sewn along the sleeves of your kimono; they aren't traditional, but make you look much more cute.

    I believe the origins of the hakama are usually explained as being a sort of leg protection worn by horse riders. Analogous to chaps, heavy hakama would protect the rider's legs from thorns, low branches, and the like. I think they descend from the kariginu costume worn during the Heian era by nobles while hunting, but I could be mistaken. The split legs of the skirt are not universal today, and are done away with by some people because of their nuisance with long kimono, but would be necessary for horse riding. The pleats probably developed for fashion purposes, to make the hakama seem more fancy. Hakama are worn when armored, but they usually have narrower legs (compare with the nobakama) and are tied up beneath the suneate shin protectors.
    James A. Crippen

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    Originally posted by J. A. Crippen
    ...The obi for a man's kimono is usually tied in the front, as far as I've seen. Often (usually?) the loose ends are tucked into the obi on a man's kimono, unlike the loose ends of the obi on a keikogi in the dojo....
    May I ask where you have seen men wearing a kimono with the knot in front?

    While the obi knot for a karate/judo/aikido keikogi is usually tied in front, a kimono obi is properly tied in the back. There are at least a half-dozen ways to tie men's obi (and more than one type of obi), but all are done with the knot in back.

    Here is a link to one type of obi knot, the kai-no-kuchi, which is the most traditional knot used when wearing kimono with or without a hakama:

    Kai-no-kuchi obi with yukata
    Last edited by Brian Owens; 4th January 2005 at 05:48.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Originally posted by MartArtsNovice
    ...I know of a larger kimono-like, robe thats worn around the body, and held by a wide cloth belt, tied ina knot on the backside of the person wearing it. I keep forgetting the name.
    That would be...a kimono.

    A light-weight version worn during the summer is called a yukata.

    Full-length kimono are often worn with hakama, but a shorter version called a hakamashita is also available. It looks like a kimono when the hakama is on, but doesn't get bunched up as much and allows more freedom of movement.

    There are several types of jacket worn over the kimono, a common one being the haori.

    An excellent resource in English for those interested is The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka. While the majority of the book is relegated to women's kimono, there is a chapter on the history and development of Japanese clothing from ancient times through the Edo period and on to today, and a chapter on men's kimono.

    Here is a link to Amazon.com's page for this book: The Book of Kimono
    Last edited by Brian Owens; 4th January 2005 at 05:53.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Originally posted by MartArtsNovice
    Pardon my ignorance, may I ask what is a hakama. I know of a larger kimono-like, robe thats worn around the body, and held by a wide cloth belt, tied ina knot on the backside of the person wearing it. I keep forgetting the name.
    Here is a picture of a simple men's kimono, and below that a full-dress formal outfit consisting of kimono, hakama, and haori.





    There are many combinations that are considered proper, depending on the time and place. For example in a wabi-style tea ceremony a man usually wears either a kimono with hakama, or a kimono with a short version of the haori (the name escapes me at the moment); but would not wear all three items.

    Also, regarding why the obi knot is placed in the rear, imagine what it would be like to sit on the floor in seiza and bow to your hosts and fellows if you had a stiff obi tied with the knot in front.
    Last edited by Brian Owens; 4th January 2005 at 06:17.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    May I ask where you have seen men wearing a kimono with the knot in front?
    I actually have no idea why I wrote that. I own a couple kimono myself, and of all things, I actually know how to tie my own obi (many Japanese people need help to do this nowadays). The only reasoning I have is that I was actually thinking of uwagi, not kimono.

    BTW, a haori (or even a kimono? not sure) with a formal crest design on it is called 'montsuki' which just literally means "mon attached". The 'mon' is the name for the crest design, usually circular.
    James A. Crippen

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    Hey, Thanks Mr. Brian Owen.

    I appreciate it. I am trying to learn about Japan and its culture. I wish to travel there someday, after I graduate from college. I am thinking about teaching Japanese in to highschool kids. I joined the Japanese Club, at my school. I like it so far, I hope my club gets to hold a matsuri in March, but its still in the planning stages. [B]
    To every man there comes a in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing unique to him and fitted to his talent; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.
    Sir Winston Churchill


    Matthew Gehrke

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    Originally posted by J. A. Crippen
    ...BTW, a haori (or even a kimono? not sure) with a formal crest design on it is called 'montsuki' which just literally means "mon attached". The 'mon' is the name for the crest design, usually circular.
    Yes, both the haori and the kimono come in montsuki versions, and there are even variations on that theme; one version of the montsuki kimono has a single mon centered on the back about six inches below the collar, and the most formal/ceremonial version has 3 mon, one on each breast and one on the back.



    The montsuki haori, as far as I can recall, has either one mon (kuro montsuki haori) or three (one on the back, and one on each sleeve), but the latter may have five (one on the back, one on each sleeve, and one on each breast) -- I can't recall for sure.

    Anyway, here is a chart of some common mon. They are very beautiful as graphic designs, and served the same function in feudal times as did the coats of arms (erroneously called "family crests") in Europe.

    Last edited by Brian Owens; 5th January 2005 at 05:04.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Originally posted by MartArtsNovice
    Hey, Thanks Mr. Brian Owen.
    That's "Owens" (son of Owen), but please feel free to call me Brian.

    Originally posted by MartArtsNovice
    ...I am trying to learn about Japan and its culture. I wish to travel there someday, after I graduate from college.
    Me too. My goal is to work for three to five more years, then move to Japan to study under my former teacher's teacher. I hope to be able to pay my way while over there by teaching conversational English.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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