Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Motif: Eagle (Washi)

Strong and noble, the eagle is one of the few masculine motifs that is not a geometric pattern. As a consequence, it is often found on garments with more subdued coloring, and not one likely to appear on women's kimono (though there are always exceptions to the rule). It is also a very popular motif for kimono for little boys, such as they might be draped in for their first shrine visits.

As the motif is masculine, darker color combinations prevail and any pairing of obi is likely to be fitting for most seasons. The guidelines for men's kitsuke are not as extensive as those for women's, and thematic seasonality is not as strong a consideration so there can be a little more leeway. Also, the pallet of colors found most readily in men's kimono means that it is fairly difficult to pair things that don't compliment each other in some way.

Hawk and Pine (matsu) hakamashita (top) with plain black hakama.
I put the above ensemble together for a New Year's visit to San Jose's Japantown. California winters mean that I don't always need a haori for an added layer of warmth, but a plain black haori with this would certainly not go amiss. The subdued colors speak to the climate of the season, and while the New Year is a very festive time, I chose to let the auspicious nature of the eagles and pine that appear in the motif hint at that. 

I'd like to point out that while it is not unheard of for women to wear hakama, they tend to be reserved by the modern wearer for either sport, like Kendo, or for graduation ceremonies. In the later case, the hakama would likely be of some bright color (purples and greens seem to be the most popular) and they would be paired with a furisode as graduation is considered a formal occasion.

At some future date, I will do a more in-depth post on men's kitsuke, at least as far as I have come to understand it. If any of my kind readers have tips or pointers, I would be most interested if you cared to share them in the comments!

Tomorrow, we'll be visiting one of the many popular floral motifis, Fuji (wisteria)!


  1. I used to work with a man who taught school (1st grade) in Japan for a year. He learned so much and had totally immersed himself in Japanese culture. I look forward to learning more. Alana@RamblinGarden from
    Ramblin with AM