14 August 2015

1066 in Japan- a very brief overview

Getting started with Heian period Japanese garb (794-1185)
Aka: 1066 in Japan- A very brief overview
Julia May, with inspiration from Kay Marszalek

Let me start with the basics: I am not a scholar in Japanese material culture. Our Prince has a Japanese persona. While we, of course, assume our King and Queen will have a long and distinguished reign, some folks wanted to get Japanese garb together—just in case! (tongue-in-cheek).

Baroness Khadijah offered to teach an introductory class on Japanese garb. The material she has available to share is in paper format, instead of electronic. After attending her class, I have tried to reconstruct some of that great knowledge with web-based information. My goal is offer a “starter package” which honors the culture and people whom we are recreating but does not get into finer, and important, details. I welcome comments which contribute resources for the finer details.

What we readily know about clothing in this period is that there are few illustrations of it. The armchair researcher will be surprised, delighted, and frustrated that uncredited line drawings from one manuscript are used by many of the sources out there. 

The site “The Rebirth of the Tale of Genji: The Costume Museum” appears to be quite popular, and one can easily see why. Clothing of court persons, both men and women, are depicted in color re-creations, as well as line drawings which are labeled with the names of individual garments. Clicking on the fuzzy “Explanation” button yields fantastic garment-ese translations. Unfortunately, the site has not been maintained in the last several years, and links are starting to break.

“Anne Liese’s Fibers and Stuff” offers a breakdown of the types of clothing worn by individuals of different ranks. Some of it appears to be borrowed from “The Costume Museum”, but there are other images available as well.

“Yusoku Kojiysu Ron: A History of Japanese Clothing and Accessories” is a difficult site to enter. From the link above, click on the upper brown box in the center of the page. This should bring you to a framed website which is difficult to copy links from. It has greater detail about men’s clothing (women’s has not been fleshed out) and an excellent color chart. Clicking on “Kasane No Irome” provides Western dates for the Japanese seasons. The seasons would dictate appropriate colors to wear.



The Facebook page Kyoto Fan has posted a rich collection of public photographs from recreations of three Heian period ceremonies, including some layers of dressing.

As for making the clothing, a few websites are available with cutting and construction plans. SCA participants will recognize similarity with Western panel and gore construction.

Pants http://fibers.destinyslobster.com/Japanese/Clothes/japmakewomenshakama.htm

Robes. Robes are special because each layer is cut slightly different from the last, so that the edges of each layer are visible. This appears to be quite an involved process which likely would take a pair of people several weekends to complete for/with each other. This site “The Kosode: a Japanese garment for the SCA period” by Lisa A. Joseph has many documented resources, references, and explanations of choices made.http://www.wodefordhall.com/kosode.htm

This site by Lisa A Joseph is considered a go-to for serious garb research. I found that as I "wandered" through the other sites I could start to get a feel for the garb. This site ties it all together, and provides details which help you see things you didn't know you should look for on other sites.

Joseph also has a gallery of SCA folks’ modern reconstructions of Japanese garb in period. http://www.wodefordhall.com/samurai.htm