IMG_0155 obijime

Let me stop and praise the humble obijime. As the outermost belt on traditional Japanese dress, it provides that final bit of color and contrast. Usually made of woven silk, it can also serve as a base to a jeweled obidome, which looks like a tiny belt buckle. But in its own right it is a beautiful thing, soft and silky, often with much detail in the fine weave.

Every market I visit has at least one stall piled with used obijime, usually available for a song. Better quality and/or unused ones are often displayed with obidome and tend to be more expensive. I invariably pick up a few here and there, with an eye towards a project (like the one I wrote about yesterday) or for my favorite new use!


The irony is that the use, while a bit irreverent, is actually quite appropriate really. Lately, I’ve been wearing them as casual belts with jeans and trousers. They perk up the most ordinary combination. And while midriff selfies are brutal, I want you to see how they really look on.

pink and green obijime belt

obijime belt

So cute, no? I’m also planning on pulling some out for spring dresses – I see lots of possibilities.

I haven’t been the only one doing some serious repurposing around here. Visiting friends from Doha came to the Tomioka Hachiman shrine sale last weekend and made a beeline for the dealer with all the high-end samurai gear. My friend’s excellent eye went straight for the antique sword portepee, a woven cord that wrapped around the sword handle to keep it from slipping away during a fight. Now you know how I normally avoid all the “male” antique stuff – and frankly I could not tell you the name of this item in Japanese – but I just love what she did with it.


Her fresh view saw it as a necklace and it can even be worn two ways, or maybe even more with thought put into it. The detail work on the weaving is absolutely spectacular and it almost feels like it is made of metal but I believe it is actually silk.


Talk about irreverent repurposing!

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