For the Sake of More Freely Moving
Trying out Kimono ①
by MISAGO Chidzuru, Professor at Tsuda College

Kimono are hard to move in, stiff, and you can’t move quickly in them. Movement is hindered by the bound obi, one can’t walk quickly, and one can’t move vigorously. Currently, everybody has this image about kimono.
I often hear it said: the pace of today’s lifestyle is fast. Back in the day it was calmer. Is that really so? The speed of communication and traffic has increased, but hasn’t the amount we move our bodies decreased? Formerly, the Japanese moved really fast. Not just the way in which they moved. They used their bodies. They used them extremely fast.
After making breakfast for the family, while it was still dark, I left the house and climbed up to the shrine on top of the mountain to pray for my sick father. I did this every morning. I don’t think the distance was less than 10 kilometers. I left the house for school at 4:30 in the morning, walking 15 kilometers. When going down the mountain, I went through the trees, because it was faster than the road. I sound completely like an old mountain sage, but I say it so people can understand what I am talking about. Mr. TAKAOKA Hideo, a scholar of Physical Education, said that samurai would fight with rude people like those who wave around their swords. Realising their opponent was about to draw, they would draw at the same time. Really, earth-shatteringly fast. That is how quickly the Japanese of old moved.
We are animals. We are animals because we move. We are comfortable because we move. The Japanese are known for being good at walking fast. The way the Japanese walk is fast. The kimono is such a people’s traditional clothing. For that reason, it seems unlikely that it is by nature hard to move in. It is most likely a very practical garment. If it were hard to move in, history would have weeded it out long ago.
It has been 9 years since I started wearing kimono almost everyday as casual, everday clothing. Compared to people of old, that is yet a pretty short career. However, dressing like this, I have come to understand how it feels for the body to live wearing kimono. I no longer think that kimono is hard to move in.
All traditions are originally born from convenience and a way to beautifully live life. I want to recover the quick movement of wearing kimono. So we can more freely move in kimono.