Hello, this is Yuko! Have you heard of きつけし Kitsukeshi? It’s my job, a kimono dresser!
I think it’s a unique Japanese job. Today I would like to introduce a kimono dresser.
- What is Kitsukeshi/ Kimono dresser?
- Advantages and disadvantages of kimono dressers
- One day as a kimono dresser
- It’s a very rewarding job!
What is Kitsukeshi/ Kimono dresser?
Description of kitsukeshi
A kimono dresser is the job of putting on a kimono. Kimono is a Japanese national costume, so the work of a kimono dresser is unique to Japan.
In old Japan, high-ranking people such as aristocrats and royal families were dressed by their attendants. Specialists also wore special dresses such as bride costumes and maiko. All the other ordinary people wore kimono by themselves.
However, in modern Japan, Japanese people rarely wear kimonos, and the number of people who can dress themselves has decreased, so kimono dressers put kimonos on people.
How can you become a kimono dresser? Do you need a qualification?
In order to become a kimono dresser, it is common to practice and train in a dressing class and make your debut as a professional.
There is a national qualification for a dresser, but it does not mean that you cannot become a dresser without a national qualification.
Also, holding a national qualification doesn’t mean that she/he is good at dressing. From my experience, gaining a lot of dressing experience on an actual human body is the way to become a good dresser rather than just being knowledgeable.
What are the work tools?
Work tools can be mainly clips and waist straps.
When you wear a kimono, you need many tools, but when a kimono dresser put kimono on a customer, she/he needs only a few tools. Most dressers put the necessary tools into such a waist pouch and dress it.
Others are sewing tools (to sew and stop the collar so that it does not move) and hair elastic (to use for arranging the obi).
I carry surgical tape (taping the correction towel to reduce the number of strings so that the customer does not suffer.) and a safety pin (first aid in the case of a kimono that does not fit) too.
Advantages and disadvantages of kimono dressers
You can know the depth of Japanese culture
The best point of the dresser’s work is to be able to know Japanese culture deeply. Looking at the structure of the kimono, we can see that it is very closely related to the history and ideas of Japan.
In addition, you can see how Japanese culture has changed from the pattern and color scheme of the kimono, and you can also understand the industrial history of Japan from the origin of the kimono.
The more you know about it, the more profound it feels, because it is derived from one piece of clothing “kimono” to anything in Japan.
Engaged in the milestones (celebration) of people’s life
From the 1950s to the 1960s, it was common for premarital women to learn dressing kimono, sewing and tea ceremony before getting married, but dressing kimono is not a part of the premarital taste of modern Japanese people anymore. Modern Japanese rarely wear kimono.
But for some reason, many Japanese still want to wear kimono at family milestones such as Shichigosan, coming-of-age ceremony, university graduation ceremony, face-to-face meeting between the two families before marriage, wedding ceremony, visiting the palace after the child was born, entrance ceremony / graduation ceremony for the child’s school etc.
However, many modern Japanese people cannot wear kimono by themselves, so the kimono dresser will dress it.
Therefore, the dresser can be a little involved in the family event. Moreover, many events to wear kimono are usually happy events as I mentioned above. I am very happy as a dresser to be able to help at such joyful events.
Opportunities to work are decreasing
The number of people who wear kimono is decreasing year by year, so there are very few jobs.
Also, wearing a kimono for each event means that many people wear kimono all at once at the same time, so dressing is concentrated.
I personally feel sad and lonely that the majority of Japanese people can’t wear kimono by themselves even though it’s a Japanese national costume, and the chances of wearing it are decreasing.
One day as a kimono dresser
So, here I would like to introduce my day as a kimono dresser! I picked up 3 events which are with a large number of people dressing up.
I helped last year’s coming-of-age ceremony in a large-scale dressing place in Sakai City, Osaka. The number of dressed people was about 500! About 30 dressers were there to dress people in order.
I left home at 1am (midnight!!) and arrived at the site at 3am. We had a meeting and started dressing up at 4 am till noon.
It took about 40 minutes for each person to finish dressing. There was the final check after dressing, and if the style was not good enough the person would be returned and dressed up nicely again with a different kimono dresser.
From 4 am to noon, I could only drink water, and I was very focused and dressed in a tense atmosphere (but I talked to customers peacefully), so I got very tired after finishing. And very sleepy.
Entrance / Graduation ceremony
In most national and public schools, the entrance and graduation ceremonies are on the same day, so dressing has to be done several times a day.
In most cases, the ceremony starts around 10 am, so the peaks are around 7 am and 8 am. And, mothers have to do housework as usual, so most of the time I go to their homes and dress up (=business trip dressing).
The kimono dressing for mothers at the ceremonies are the most orders that I have. So I’m good at this situation the most. It usually takes about 30 minutes for each person to dress.
Fire works festival
I help the person who wears the yukata too. I also dress several people on the same day. Yukata is simpler and less tools than kimono so you can put it on in a very short time. However, because it is simple, it is easy to lose clothes.
Make sure that you don’t lose your clothes as much as possible, but be comfortable and wear them for a long time.
Yukata uses a half-width obi to arrange how to tie it, so you need to remember some types of arrangement. Even with the same obi tie arrangement, the overall balance will change depending on the body shape, so we will change the arrangement according to the body shape and the atmosphere of the customer.
It takes about 15 minutes for each person to dress.
It’s a very rewarding job!
I wrote a lot about the work of a dresser, but it’s a lot of fun to meet various people through my work and to deepen my thoughts on Japan.
If you have the chance, please try on a kimono and experience Japanese culture.