Obi sash is a traditional Japanese dress worn for Japanese martial arts, and a part of kimono outfits.
Obi sash for men’s kimono is rather narrow, 10centimetres (3.9in) wide at most, but a woman’s formal one can be 30centimetres (12in) wide and more than 4metres (13ft) long. Nowadays, a woman’s wide and decorative one does not keep the kimono closed. this is done by different under sashes and ribbons worn underneath it. The obi itself also requires the use of stiffeners and ribbons. There are many types of Obi sash, and most of them are for women. wide ones made of brocade and narrower, simpler ones for everyday wear. The fanciest and most colorful ones are for young unmarried women. The contemporary women’s Obi sash is a very conspicuous accessory. sometimes even more so than the kimono robe itself. A fine formal one might cost more than the rest of the entire outfit. Obi sash are categorized by their design, formality, material, and use. Informal Obi sash are narrower and shorter.
Obi sash History
In its early days, an Obi sash was a cord or a ribbon-like sash, approximately 8centimetres (3.1in) in width. In the beginning of the 17th century both women and men wore a ribbon type. By the 1680s the width of women’s Obi sash had already doubled. In the 1730′s women’s Obi sash were about 25centimetres (9.8in) wide and at the turn of the 19th century even as wide as 30centimetres (12in). At that time separate ribbons and cords were already necessary to hold it in place. Men’s obi was at its widest in the 1730s, being about 16centimetres (6.3in) wide.
Women’s Obi sash
The wide women’s type is folded in two when worn, to a width of about 15centimetres (5.9in) to20centimetres (7.9in). It is considered elegant to tie the Obi sash so that the folded width is in harmony with the wearer’s body dimensions. Usually this means about a tenth of her height. The full width of the obi is present only in the decorative knot, musubi.
A woman’s Obi sash is worn in a fancy musubi knot. There are tens of ways to tie an obi, and different knots are suited to different occasions and different kimonos.
There are many different types of women’s Obi sash, and the usage of them is regulated by many unwritten rules not unlike those that concern the kimono itself. Certain types of obi are used with certain types of kimono. the Obi sash of married and unmarried women are tied in different ways. Often the obi adjusts the formality and fanciness of the whole kimono outfit. the same kimono can be worn to very different situations depending on what kind of obi is worn with it.
Obi sash types
Darari Obi sash
It is a very long maru obi worn by maiko. A maiko’s darari obi has the kamon insignia of its owner’s okiya in the other end. A darari obi can be 600centimetres (20ft) long.
Hakata Obi sash
It is an unlined woven obi that has a thick weft and thin weave.
It is a collective name for informal half-width obis. Hoso obis are 15centimetres (5.9in) or 20centimetres (7.9in) wide and about 330centimetres (11ft) long.
Hanhaba Obi sash
It is an unlined and informal obi that is used with a yukata or an everyday kimono. Hanhaba obis are very popular these days. For use with yukata, reversible hanhaba obis are popular: they can be folded and twisted in several ways to create colour effects. A hanhaba obi is 15centimetres (5.9in) wide and 300centimetres (9.8ft) to 400centimetres (13ft) long. Tying it is relatively easy, and its use does not require pads or strings. The knots used for hanhaba obi are often simplified versions of bunko-musubi. As it is more “acceptable” to play with an informal obi, hanhaba obi is sometimes worn in self-invented styles, often with decorative ribbons and such.
Heko Obi sash
It is a very informal obi made of soft, thin cloth, often dyed with shibori. Its traditional use is as an informal obi for children and men and there were times when it was considered totally inappropriate for women. Nowadays young girls and women can wear a heko obi with modern, informal kimonos and yukatas. An adult’s heko obi is the common size of an obi, about 20centimetres (7.9in) to 30centimetres (12in) wide and about 300centimetres (9.8ft) long.
Maru Obi sash
It is the most formal obi. It is made from cloth about 68cm wide and is folded around a double lining and sewn together. Maru obis were at their most popular during the TaishÅ- and Meiji-periods. Their bulk and weight makes maru obis difficult to handle and nowadays they are worn mostly by geishas, maikos and others such. Another use for maru obi is as a part of a bride’s outfit. A maru obi is about 30centimetres (12in) to 35centimetres (14in) wide and 360centimetres (12ft) to 450centimetres (15ft) long, fully patterned and often embroidered with metal-coated yarn and foilwork.
Tenga Obi sash
It resembles a hanhaba obi but is more formal. It is usually wider and made from fancier cloth more suitable for celebration. The patterns usually include auspicious, celebratory motifs. A tenga obi is about 20centimetres (7.9in) wide and 350centimetres (11ft) to 400centimetres (13ft) long.
Men’s Obi sash
Men wear obis that are much narrower than those of women (the width is about 10centimetres (3.9in) at its most). The men’s obi are worn in much simpler fashion than women’s: it is wrapped around the waist, below the stomach and tied in a simple knot in the back.
Men’s Obi sash
It is an informal, soft obi. The adult’s heko obi is the size of a normal obi, about 20centimetres (7.9in) to 30centimetres (12in) wide and 300centimetres (9.8ft) to 400centimetres (13ft) long. Adult men wear the heko obi only at home, but young boys can wear it in public, for example at a summer festival with a yukata.
Children’s Obi sash
Children are dressed in kimono especially for the Shichi go san celebration, when girls aged three and seven and boys aged five are celebrated. Children’s kimono outfits resemble those of adults and their parts are basically miniature versions from adult’s pieces. The youngest children wear soft, scarf-like obis.