Even though I'm an old married lady, I was happy to dress up in a kimono today and go to Ippodo Gallery in New York City to celebrate Girls' Day. The Chelsea gallery displays the talents of Japanese artists, giving them a platform and exposure in New York City. Ippodo's current exhibit, A Celebration of Spring - HANA, centers on the theme of flowers ("hana" in Japanese) in an attempt to pull us out of the winter doldrums. In honor of Hina Matsuri, Ippodo offered everyone who wore a kimono to the exhibit today a bowl of matcha, the thick, powdery tea that is served during traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
So I donned my flower-patterned kimono went to Ippodo with my Japanese teacher, Emi Kikuchi. Kikuchi Sensei is an expert on kimono, and without her, I never would've been able to put on the contraption. It had been a few years since the last time I wore a kimono, and I'd forgotten everything about it. Thanks to Kikuchi Sensei, however, I felt like a princess.
Here I am with my spring kimono, thanks to the expertise of Kikuchi Sensei.
The only bow a like is the one tied behind a kimono.
Kikuchi Sensei and I spent a couple of hours at the gallery, receiving a special tour from Ippodo's Yoko Takahashi. Takahashi-san was enthusiastic in describing each artist and work involved in her current exhibit. It was a pleasure being there with her. Read my review of the exhibit itself here.
My absolute favorite part of the exhibit was Mikiko Hayashi's paintings of scenes from The Tale of Genji, a book by Japan's Lady Murasaki Shikibu and widely thought of as the first novel ever written. These paintings aren't simply paintings. Hayashi recreated the book's court life on the inside surface of polished clam shells. Hayashi painted identical pictures on each side of one shell in the style of a shell-matching game (known as kai-awase) that was popular in the Edo Era (from roughly 1603-1868).
Kai-awase shells ©Mikiko Hayashi, ©Ippodo Gallery
I may have forgotten how to put on a kimono properly, but being in that costume, drinking ceremonial green tea, and hearing Japanese spoken between Takahashi-san and Kikuchi Sensei transported me to another time in Japan. I felt surprisingly at home.