Spotlight: 1970s Kimono School Textbooks

Spotlight 12: Hakubi School Textbooks – Somehow I Lucked Out!

Welcome to Mukashi no Sewing’s twelfth spotlight! Today I wanted to share with you a find from Yahoo Japan Auctions that I bought quite some time ago, and which turned out to be strangely prophetic! I was just getting into wearing kimono properly at the time, and someone on a kimono Discord server happened to link a bunch of auctions for kimono textbooks with the caveat that they were on the older side. “Older” and “book” are two of my favorite words to pair together, so I hopped on over and snatched up this set for cheap!

1977 isn’t really THAT old, but it is older than I am!

This is a set of kimono school textbooks from the Hakubi Kyoto Kimono Gakuin, published in 1977. (Gakuin means “academy” or “institute.”) The Hakubi school of kimono was founded in 1969, only eight years prior to the publication of these books, and has been going strong since with over 100 branches operating throughout Japan. The academy teaches both how to dress as a personal pursuit, as well as how to become a professional dresser or instructor.

The set of textbooks consists of three books – one about kimono technical knowledge (aka how to dress), one about general kimono knowledge (types of kimono and obi), and one about manners in kimono.

“Technical knowledge” – this is the “how-to” book.

The technical knowledge book is all about how to actually wear kimono and obi. It shows not just the basics, but also specialized dressing techniques such as for furisode for Coming of Age Day or children at Shichigosan.

The general knowledge book describes the many different types of kimono and obi for men and women, and the time, place, and occasion for wearing each.

Really enjoying these covers, too!

This book is SO of its time. Look at these awesome Showa gals!

I LOVE the men’s kimono section. Whereas the female models are all smiling pleasantly, every dude is making some kind of weird face. They range from “What am I even doing here?” to “Who the heck are you?” to “I’m a mid-level yakuza boss.”

The manners book might come as a surprise, but if you haven’t worn kimono you might not know that you have to adapt a lot of your movement to the garment. Additionally, this book covers things like how to behave in traditional settings. Most people in America don’t learn how to ballroom dance or behave at military banquets – this is a similar sort of “finishing school” type instruction for Japanese people who might not know these particular cultural points naturally.

Kneeling in seiza is fine for a few minutes. After that you have two options, which are endure the pain or endure the pain.

There are basics like how to kneel, how to bow, how to open sliding doors, and that sort of thing…

…as well as more detailed instruction for events such as weddings or Obon.

Remember I said this acquisition was prophetic? Well, as you know I started taking lessons last year from a professional kimono teacher, and Sparrow Sensei just happens to be a graduate of the Hakubi School! Without even knowing it ahead of time, I ended up with a vintage set of textbooks from my own school. Crazy!!

I wonder if I can still buy these komono (dressing accessories)… 😀

According to Sparrow Sensei, the older textbooks differ from the newer ones in some essential points, particularly in the types of obi tying methods. (I want to assume the photos of kimono types have been updated but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were still using the vintage ones lol.) I’m not sure if I can acquire the newer ones without being in Japan and actually enrolling in a Hakubi course, but even so I am very happy with my vintage set! I hope you enjoyed getting to see a little slice of kimono history as much as I have. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe below so you don’t miss a post, and I look forward to seeing you back here next time here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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