Little House In Ise

Short Skirts (A Trip Report)
April 15, 2008, 16:18
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , ,

Japan is a land of many contradictions — at least it confuses the hell out of me most days. One of the contradictions that leaps to my eyes is the whole school-girl-skanky-uniform thing. Since high schools have dress codes that mandate skirts of a certain length and the current fashion is scary (I’m the father of a little girl, OK?) short, many girls manage to have it both ways by rolling their skirts into their waistbands. This gives them the short skirt they want but if challenged at school they can quickly prove that they are within the dress code.

And how is that related to Aikido? Well, you see, _my_ skirt is too short. When I first bought my hakama I intentionally ordered it a bit short. It turns out that my measurements were also short. I also roll the front panel under my belt.  All that together means that I have a lot of ankle and more than a bit of gi-pants showing below the edge of my hakama. Back in Seattle, this drew laughter from Dave over at Aikithoughts but it didn’t really strike home to me until a student at the Mie Aikidokai took one look at my hakama and announced that I was wearing it High School Girl Style. Since then, I have heard other comments about how much I must have grown since I bought it, how fat my stomach must have gotten to have pulled the hakama up so high… Perhaps my hakama was made for training in the Sailor Moon Aikido Ryu? I liked this culture a whole lot more before I could understand the language. 😉

So, when one of my sempai offered to introduce me to his favorite tailor I agreed. After practice on Saturday we hopped into his car with a third friend and went to the Toyama area of Shinjuku (north of Honbu a bit). The shop was completely unmarked — just a brown door between a cheap looking beauty salon and an odds-and-ends shop. The door lead to a very narrow staircase at the top of which was a cluttered little room with perhaps two tatami mats worth of space free. The rest was taken up with sewing materials, half made hakama and piles of belts and gi. It suited the little old man who owned the shop.

He came in and apologized for the mess while promising to clean it up. My sempai laughed and complained that he always said that but never did anything about it. The old guy ignored that but listened closely to the rest of sempai’s spiel. He went on about how I really needed a hakama but I also needed it soon. It turns out that the old guy is very good but also famously slow. He then took my waist and hip to ankle measurements. He made a note of my weight and height then promised to be ready by next Saturday.

The base price is 7,000 yen. Embroidery costs 200 yen per character and with shohizei (tax) the total was 8,190 yen (about $80) — excellent! As for quality and fit, I don’t know from my own experience but Sempai is actually stockpiling this guy’s work. He is building up a supply of tailor made hakama against the sad reality that the old guy won’t be making them forever. Given their friendly banter and the feeling that I am not the first person sempai has brought to this shop I think sempai may be performing a sort of a social service by driving customers to his door. I don’t mind, he is also performing a social service by getting me a longer skirt — reduces the need for eye bleach.


8 Comments so far
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High School Girl Style Hakama :)))
Can’t wait ot get me one of these!

Comment by Kadi

Not mine but I saw Hello Kitty embroidered on a hakama at a seminar once. I almost choked holding back laughter! 🙂


Comment by Eric Holcomb

I’ve sighted the hello kitty hakama too! Or else there are more than one.

Comment by userhacker

I tried to warn you, Eric! 🙂

I always laugh at the guys over here who cut their gi pants short so they won’t show when they hike up their hakamas….

Man, getting the measurements right is a pain though, isn’t it? 🙂

Comment by aikithoughts

I’m sure it would look better on you than me but I still don’t recommend it!

U. Hacker:
The Hello Kitty I saw was worn at the Endo seminar in 2006. It was worn by a small strawberry blonde girl. I later bumped into another young woman (at a tanto-tori seminar in West Seattle) who matched my memory of the Hello Kitty girl. I complimented her on it. She had also seen the Hakama but was insulted that I might think it was her. It takes all kinds! 🙂

I just got it this morning. I must say the material is nice and the fit is, to my eye,beautiful. Now, whether I can roll in it is the question to be answered Monday…

BTW, _I_ never cut my pant legs off, I tacked them up! 🙂

Take care,

Comment by Eric Holcomb

Well, the girls here in Morocco are doing the same thing (rolling skirts shorter at the waistband), and I suspect even girls in America are doing the same. When I was young I used to fight with my mother over the length of my skirts, and never thought I’d be in the position of now having to do the same thing with my own teenage daughter.

Madame Monet
Writing, Painting, Music and Wine

Comment by wpm1955

You’re probably right but in most places in the U.S. now I think they wwould just buy a short skirt. 🙂


Comment by Eric Holcomb

[…] Posts Kagami Biraki 2009 / 2009年の鏡開きShirakawaya — Martial Tailor ShopMaking MochiShort Skirts (A Trip Report)Iwama!America Wins a Pissing Contest or Distance is More Important than AccuracyGrilled Cabbage and […]

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