My Traditional Japanese Obi Shopping in Japan

On my last rip to Japan I had a quality time as I wrote in my previous blog “A Journey to Japan”. I wanted to buy some more obis and, at the last minute on the final day in Tokyo, I found a Japanese obi shop and bought several obis without inspecting them as carefully as I usually do. When I got home and had a good look at them I found some problems. It might be a good idea to leave my thoughts about these obis so that I could remember this experience.

Japanese obis were sashes used on traditional women’s garments and these particular ones were called Fukuro-obi. These were worn on formal occasions. There were several types of obis and these Fukuro-obis were high quality, not at the top but the second. Obis vary in rank and sizes.



Although obis were very special in the old days and still are, there is a disadvantage. Because the fabric is vintage or antique, many obis that are sold today have had a long use and may have creases, stains and sun-burnt areas. Especially white obis show stains badly. It is pity because white obis with gold and silver embroidery are particularly beautiful. One can try washing them or ask for dry cleaners to do the job, but there is no guarantee that stains will come off. The photo below shows stains on the lining of a white obi that I bought.

However, when you want to make a bag from an obi, for instance, you could always choose the part that is not damaged. Most of the time, stains occur on the lining fabric and usually the outer obi is not too bad.


The two photos below are good condition without stains but they are creased, on the lining and the outer fabric. The battle is to get the creases out. If I use low heat iron, it will not be too hard to flatten the creases.



For this red obi, I have to choose the parts which are re-usable and consider what I can do with them because there are some dark stains on the lining as well as the embroidery side.


On this green obi the outer fabric is not too bad but the lining has some wear and tear. I will find and keep the good parts for re-making purpose. If the worst comes the worst, I will change the whole lining to other silk fabric.

The moral of the story is it is best not to hurry some things. I wish I allowed more time to make sure I got good quality obis. If I ever go back to Tokyo and purchase some obis, I will not make the same mistake again.




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