Western Ignorance Learns Eastern Charm

I’m always fascinated by Asian cultures. They are such a tight knit group, seriously family oriented and very supportive. One thing I have experienced is that some are givers. I recall living in San Francisco and visiting Chinatown around the Chinese New Year. I walked into a shop, and eyed a beautiful carved bone necklace. My mother had a similar one which she bought in the 1940’s, and I wanted one too.

Apparently the shop had opened that day, and when I looked at the necklace and asked about the price, stating why I wanted it, the shop keeper gave it to me; free.

Bone Necklace similar to mine. Found on Rubylane.com

And so it is true with a recent purchase I made. I stumbled, albeit blindly, across the Japanese tradition of furoshiki, which is a form of fabric gift wrap, all tied together with a pretty bow in front. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furoshiki Oh so presentable! Now let me explain the back story.

You see, I purchased a silk kimono many years ago. It was downright gorgeous; all hand stitched, all in pieces of varying sizes; no curved seamlines, no inserted sleeves. Every piece of fabric was shaped around the wearer, and if you ever had the courage to take one apart, you will know exactly what I mean. It’s as if each piece of fabric is a puzzle piece to fit in a certain way and finishes with a beautiful product that fits in a three dimensional fashion.

Anyway, I purchased this kimono so long ago and wore it until the silk was threadbare, if silk could be “threadbare”. It was so soft, flowy, elegant in its solid grey blue fabric; I hated to give it up. But I vowed someday I would have another!

Enter Kyoto Kimono of Endicott, New York. How I came to know this shop was the owner did a trunk show for my quilt guild and brought some beautiful silk pieces; some of which I still have and some I made into beautiful bags. I asked her about my kimono: Why the solid color on the outside? Why the ombre stripe (a stripe that gradates in color from dark at the bottom to light at the top) along the bottom edge. She not only described its purpose, the tea ceremony, but she also dated it for me, sight unseen. So you know I had her in my radar!

Fast forward a few years, and I found she has an Etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/shop/kyotokimono so I favorited it. And every so often, I’d look to see what she had. Beautiful kimonos and haoris, but none that interested me. Until……just a few weeks ago, she had it. The One…. but in a different color; raspberry. So what? It was solid, and had the same ombre stripe on the inside that matched the outside color of the kimono. And the price was better than what I paid for that grey blue one so long ago. (See the pictures below)

So I bought it. And when it came, (here’s the fun part, so pay close attention to this), I saw a bundle of a beautiful floral blue fabric.

Package as it looked to me

Oh, I wasn’t happy. Nope. I didn’t go any further; I didn’t open the package but did manage to slip my hand inside to feel the blue fabric. I thought maybe she sent the wrong thing. Did a light bulb go on in your head just now? Well, mine was still dim at this point. (I’m laughing as I’m writing this). So I sent her an email, along with photos of her listing, a photo of the package, and a screenshot of the text of her listing. Oh yes, I was thorough! (those “8×10 color glossy photographs” from Arlo Guthrie’s song, Alice’s Restaurant comes to mind as I write this)

She was quick to reply, stating “If you don’t like the color, you can send it back”. Color? I didn’t even get the solid color I wanted, let alone have a floral print. Of course, I didn’t reply in that fashion, because it could have been a mistake and we all make mistakes; I’ve certainly made mine (and I was going down the same road again!). So I told her how disappointed I was and that I would like to send it back.

Well, she replied right back, the sweet and patient person she is and told me my kimono was wrapped in a furoshiki! (see description below) My face was about as red as the raspberry kimono. Need I say more?? A beautiful blue floral piece of cloth, large enough for a headscarf, tied lovingly into a beautiful bow, with my silk kimono wrapped inside. Duh!

“Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they will never cease to be amused”–Terri Garey

Furoshiki: “are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths traditionally used to wrap and/or to transport goods. Consideration is placed on the aesthetics of furoshiki, which may feature hemmed edges, thicker and more expensive materials, and hand-painted designs….” — taken from Wikipedia

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