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June 13, 2006 8:13 PM   Subscribe

How, in the name of all that is good and holy, exactly do I wear a hakama?

The first time I laid eyes on this Japanese formal garment in the flesh, my mind boggled -- here, splayed out in front of me, was a bewildering abundance of spare cloth, pleats, and curiously long straps.

I can step into the thing okay....and I can discern which side is "front" and which "back"...

But how do I make it look right? How do I tie all the straps? Do I tie them above or below my (men's) obi? What sort of knots do I use?

When I try to wear this thing, I feel as though even the most polite Japanese would have the damnedest time keeping a straight face in my presence.

I need to figure this thing out, and I don't want to resort to ordering some book online, sight unseen, and waiting for it to ship.

Please help me not look like (more of) a fool! Mefites, I beseech thee!
posted by kaseijin to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry I can't be more help, but there is a wikipedia entry on Hakamas. It has a little bit of information on tying the obi, and it might be a good starting point for more in depth information.
posted by chndrcks at 8:25 PM on June 13, 2006

i have to google around for some kendo websites... i know how to tie one but i'm not sure i can describe it fully.

you start with the front straps, wrapping them around your body n times and then tying at the back. then you thread the back straps between your body and the belt formed by the front straps, and tie it in the front.

there is a nice trick for making a square-looking knot in the front, but i'll have to google for that...
posted by joeblough at 8:27 PM on June 13, 2006

here's one

a formal hakama may be different than what we use for kendo though.
posted by joeblough at 8:30 PM on June 13, 2006

some info about the knots.
posted by joeblough at 8:33 PM on June 13, 2006

I bought on when I was in Japan. I can't remember why exactly. Basically you put them on with the flat slightly hard part towards the front.

There are 4 straps.

Take the two front straps and wrap it around your waist using them to hold up the back part. Bring them all the way around (to the front) and tie them to each other.

Do the same with the back.


You are one slick japanese motherfucker.
posted by pg at 8:41 PM on June 13, 2006

Bought 'one', rather.
posted by pg at 8:42 PM on June 13, 2006

I wore formal Hakama for college graduation in Japan, but it was the girl kind with a bow tied on the side.

I did find an illustrated guide, though.
posted by Alison at 9:19 PM on June 13, 2006

If you have anyone who can show you, I'd highly recommend it. It's pretty difficult to get everything tightened up just so - you either squeeze yourself to death or it falls right off.

Otherwise, one of those guides will do you well. Takes practice, practice, practice.
posted by Orrorin at 9:38 PM on June 13, 2006

Are you in Japan? There are kimono/yukata/etc shops here that will tie you up all nice and proper for a fee. Or find an ex-pat obaasan in TX (according to your google maps) to fix you up.
posted by ejoey at 12:49 AM on June 14, 2006

It's hard to learn things like this from a book (ever try to tie a knot from a diagram?) Go to an aikido class: the senior students wear them and are used to putting them on a few times a week. It's easier to follow where all the bits go when you can watch someone else do it.
posted by azuma at 4:40 AM on June 14, 2006

Some photos here. Sites are all in Japanese, though, sorry.
posted by misozaki at 5:55 AM on June 14, 2006

I learned both from fellow Aikidoists and from this page of the Bujin Design website. I've been wearing a hakama for two years, though, and still have issues with keeping it tied properly all through class. Best thing to do is get tips from the way other people do it and see what works for you.
posted by bibbit at 7:02 AM on June 14, 2006

Wow! Some really good links! (I liked Lowry's comments.) And here, as an Aikido guy, I thought I'd have some info for you. As it turns out, I tie my hakama the opposite of the illustrations/descriptions here - back first, then front. But, I only do it how my instructor (1st generation Japanese) taught me. In fact, I think once he made a comment, when someone pointed out how another (higher ranking) instructor's hakama looked different, that his (my instructor's) method was "less formal". Go figure.

If I may ask... Why are you wearing a hakama?
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:43 AM on June 14, 2006

Response by poster: Awesome information here - thanks, guys (and gals)!

The photos have helped a lot, and it's not a super-formal hakama. I'm wearing it for iaido, which I just started. My instructor sort of showed me, but I needed some home practice as well, and was thoroughly lost.

I'm not quite tying like a pro now, but thanks to you guys, at least I'm getting there!
posted by kaseijin at 10:17 PM on June 14, 2006

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