Thursday, April 26, 2012

Things to Admire, A Kimono Sale

Green Grass Gets Me Everytime

The hill behind my grandparents' house was thick with lush green grass, good for rolling down hill in summer, driving the riding lawn mower, and for nights out in a tent. In college as the stress mounted, green lawns wooed me. I wished to be a cow that had an excuse to spend all day in the grass, chewing, sniffing, being. Of course motherhood and breast feeding cured me of any desire to ever want to be a cow again, but lawns, lawns lure me. I do not have a lawn in Japan, few do. A friend recently held her last soirée, she will depart soon. She has a lawn, and I was invited. I enjoyed the luxury of eating my lunch as I gazed at soft green grass. Then, I went inside to admire the goods.

Unsung Housekeeper Duties

As my children transition into full-fledged elementary school children, my daytime hours, their school days, are freer. I liken it to being on a spree, gorging myself for a few short hours to unpack later as I stand at the stove, the sink, while hanging laundry, etc. Yup. Despite modern technology and new roles for women, I'm basking in the unsung housekeeper duties wondering how I can find my Alice (the housekeeper from the Brady Bunch). It took five years, but I finally made the time to go to my first kimono sale.

The Kimono Sale

The kimono sale was all I expected and more. There were good deals, there was nice stuff, and there were obasans. Japan needs to find an Olympic sport for these women to compete because they would medal. The look older, tiny, sweet, quiet, and fairly non assuming, but they will take you out, they will riot, and they will win.

To go to the kimono sale you have to get a number about an hour before the sale. The ideal number being within the first one hundred to be amongst the first group they let into the shopping space which is in a community center. The first one hundred assemble about ten minutes prior and wait with their numbered ticket in hand. Shopping bags resembling clear plastic garbage bags are passed out.

The organizers told us to form four columns. The obasans were outraged. The tenor and pitches of the Japanese voices rose up; they were mad, near riot. I can't translate directly, but the yellow tickets we had been given were waving in the air, the ladies were shouting at the organizers, and so the organizers relented. We were to reassemble by number. I was holding number thirty-seven and standing in the first row. I was now force shuffled to the ninth row. I may be younger and taller, but those old ladies moved me eight rows back with shoves, pushes, and brute elbow force. Nothing comes between an obasan and her shopping, I don't care if she is seventy, she will force you out. Not surprising, I landed next to number thirty-five. My feet didn't move, just my body.

My prep had included reading a friend's blog, an idea of what I wanted to purchase, a backpack to keep my hands free, and an extra bag for carrying loot homeward. I had envisioned kimonos being ripped off the racks as I rushed forward or some horrific Christmas sale type nightmare, but beyond the jockeying for position, the obasans were their usual shopping selves. My advice, don't come between an obasan and her merchandise. She won't outright shove you out of the way, but she will needle you repeatedly until you give a quarter and then she will take over and block you out.

All that said, there was plenty! I felt like a kid grabbing for candy which tamed me a bit. There were embroidered obis for ten dollars, yukatas for three dollars, and even kimonos for twenty. Amazing deals depending on your likes for colors, fabrics, and styles. The prices zoomed up and down, but they were good.

It is finally learning to sew that motivated me to go. I was after fabric for that future quilt I plan to attempt. I'm not sure I got enough after getting home and realizing that some of the fabrics weren't cotton and that my son expected a gift as well as my daughter (they want their own stash for sewing and costumes), but I hear there will be another sale in the summer. Since I just might be here, I plan to go back.

Show & Tell

Alas, I am dithering from the green grass and the lovely luncheon. My friend hosted the post kimono sale luncheon for everyone in return for a show and tell with their loot. The lure of the grass and the chance to chat with another friend one on one (too rare in my life) meant I missed some of the goods, but seeing a few was enough. Old things became new treasures and some have plans for future repurposing like my someday quilt. It was a lovely adventure and a perfect day you can have only in Japan.
A kimono and obi for a little girl I know
A wedding obi from the Kimono Sale 1500¥

1 comment :

  1. The word for those old women is "Obatalion". I didn't make it up either. I first met it in 1962 at a "sale" in a department store.
    I'm amazed that you even got your arm in there to grab something!


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