Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nikkei Matsuri

The Nikkei Matsuri in San Jose's Japantown is one of the festivals that I look forward to attending every year. It is a vibrant little street festival with lots of artisan vendors, food booths, music, demonstrations and performances. For me, it has become one of the markers of the seasons-- with the Nikkei Matsuri, spring is really here.

Since this is a festival of the arts and of spring (as well as corresponding loosely with 'Boy's Day,' at least in that the big carp flags are always brought out for this festival), I of course wished to dress for the season. Recently, I'd acquired through E-bay a lovely kimono of a pale silver color with a repeating diamond design of fans in dark purple. I had thought that the colors would be cool enough to hint at 'spring' and that I could wear an obi and cords that would accent the feel of the season. Unfortunately for this plan, the weather promised to be quite warm and I couldn't justify going out in a fully lined kimono to a place that had plenty of hope of shade, but little of seating or air conditioning.

I didn't want to opt for one of my yukata, for though they are cotton and unlined, and entirely appropriate for an outdoors festival, I felt that they were just a little too casual for an occasion where I hoped to be taking in some of the classical dance demonstrations, as well as shopping on the street. Fortunately, there were other options.

Front view of hitoe kimono with woven obi.

Back view of hitoe kimono with musubi tied by  Ann.
This is an unlined or hitoe kimono that I picked up at Nichi Bei Bussan during their 'Thank you' days. Being unlined, I didn't have to worry about having an extra layer on top of the juban that I wore to protect the garment. What I did worry about was that the colors would be a little too autumnal, especially with an obi in a golden tone. I think I was able to offset that effect by highlighting the blue hints in the obi with my bag and the blue on the hanao of my geta. The kanzashi also say 'spring' and though you can't really see it, I'm wearing a second stick that has a little koi charm on it in honor of the carp that are flown for this festival.

One of the things that I enjoy about this festival is that it affords an opportunity to see others dressed in kimono.

Of course my eyes were closed, but we couldn't resist the photo-op.
Beyond seeing others in kimono, this can also be a time to educate people on how to wear their kimono. When one is approaching the garment for the first time, there are all kinds of mistakes that can be made, starting with how it is crossed across the body (you always want to be left over right, unless you are dressing a corpse!). I regret that I was not present when Ann did her good deed for the day and helped a young woman get into her own yukata properly.

It was also fun to see some cosplayers (individuals dressed in the manner of anime/manga characters that they like) wandering around, though we didn't get any photos of them.

A final shot-- the pinwheel was given to me by the gentleman in the right-hand side of the previous photo.
Every year, I see more and more people coming out to the festival in kimono or costume, and I hope that the trend continues as more people discover the joys that can be had with dressing for the occasion.