Grey Kimono with Floating White Camellia Pattern Inspired by Sanjuro, plus bonus Black and White Kimono

Click for larger version (PNG):grey kimono, black and white kimono; click for PDF version: grey kimono, black and white kimono. Click here for the list of dolls.

Brian and I signed up for Netflix again recently. We had it a few years back, but canceled our subscription when we both went to grad school and then when he started his own business, leaving us little time to see each other let alone watch movies together. Now, with more reasonable work schedules, we’re merrily filling up our queues again — although I think I got up to around 300 movies in my queue last time, and I’m trying to be more restrained this time around.

The last movie I got was Sanjuro, a samurai movie directed by Akira Kurosawa, and I asked Brian if he wanted to watch it with me. “It’s not going to be like that other one, is it?” he replied. “That other one” would be Rashomon, which we went to see last year; Brian had never seen it before, so he went into it expecting some fun sword fights presented from different perspectives. After he crawled out of the theater, he was despondent about the human condition for a full week. “I don’t remember the description too well, but I think this one’s supposed to be funny,” I replied, a little hesitantly, thinking that I really shouldn’t be so impulsive with that shiny “Add” button.

Luckily, I was right: I think Sanjuro is the funniest samurai movie I’ve ever seen, although it’s hardly a comedy. Toshirō Mifune plays a wandering samurai who lends his expertise – less out of pity than from exasperation at their incompetence – to nine young samurai trying to save their clan leader from being framed for corruption. I don’t like to give too much away, so if you like samurai movies, see if you can find this one somewhere.

I’ve taken a stab at drawing a kimono here – my first one, and it sure does show, so if you know more about kimono than I do, please forgive me. I have a passing acquaintance with the various kimono rules and guidelines, but I’m no expert yet, so rather than a formal kimono I was aiming for a more casual and stylish look. (It might help to know I’m a big fan of CHOKOとチョコと, Mamechiyo — just try to tell me this isn’t awesome — and so on) The main design is a reference to the climactic scene in the movie, where the signal to attack is a mass of camellias floating down a stream. Now, camellias are apparently a rare design for kimonos, because the entire flower drops off the plant at once, instead of petal by petal; this was thought to be evocative of beheading, and therefore not the kind of imagery you wanted all over your sleeves. My design is intended to reference the movie, so I will not worry about emblematic misfortune. (But, should your doll accidentally get her head ripped off, she’s in a better position than a samurai — just print her out again.) Incidentally, the white thing on the obi (the sash around the waist) is the sail of a boat – I didn’t position it right, and it’s covered up by the obijime (the yellow cord). Since you can’t see the back of the obi, you have to imagine that the large, flat knot at the back has a pattern with two more boats on it, for a total of three boats. That would be a not-so-subtle reference to the actor Toshirō Mifune, whose family name 三船 literally means “three boats.”

Since I missed Saturday, I’m adding a bonus today, a black and white kimono. Kimono are all about the patterns and colors, so I thought it would be much easier to draw kimono if I could just have a coloring-book style page to test colors on. I’ve been reading about kimono for many months now: the problem is that I’m familiar enough with them to know all the many ways in which I could get things wrong. If I draw a French court gown in colors that weren’t popular back then, or a 1920s skirt with a hemline a couple inches off, it doesn’t bother me, but somehow kimono are really intimidating. But now I’ve gotten over this first hurdle, I’m going to try some more designs!

By the way, there are a couple new paper doll blogs for you to enjoy: …. Of Paper Dolls…. and Kat’s Paper Doll Emporium. Check them out and leave nice comments! Don’t miss the other delightful paper doll blogs, either – there’s a handy list of them to the right.

Prismacolors used: Cool Grey 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70%, Sandbar Brown, Aquamarine, Light Aqua, Indigo Blue, Blue Lake, Powder Blue, Black, Sunburst Yellow, Goldenrod, Tuscan Red, Crimson Red, Dark Umber and Light Umber, Verithin Black, Sakura Souffle White Gel Pen

23 thoughts on “Grey Kimono with Floating White Camellia Pattern Inspired by Sanjuro, plus bonus Black and White Kimono

  1. Since I live in Asia, I love seeing Asian themed outfits, and this one is beautiful. You didn’t list the colors used, so I was wondering if the camellias and stream were done with gel pen…

  2. Could you do a kimono piece by piece so that we can see each part. I’m confused by the piece below the obi-is that a separate band?

  3. It’s part of the grey kimono: after you put on the kimono, but before you put on the obi, you tie a sash around your waist then blouse out the kimono over the sash. That fabric fold is called the ohashori, and it helps you make the kimono the right length.

  4. Ooh, cool! Very nice, especially for your first kimono drawing! I love the explanation behind the imagery (the point about camellia=beheading was very interesting!) I was in San Francisco this summer and we ate at a restaurant named Mifune (my dad’s a big Kurosawa-fan); I remember seeing the kanji and being all excited I could figure out what it meant. Haha.

    Oh, one liiiittle thing I’ll point out about kimono, which I learned from an afterword page in Kaze Hikaru (one of my absolute favourite manga, set in 1860s Japan), is that the seam at the shoulder actually falls farther down the arm rather than right at the shoulder, unlike in western clothing. The width of the sleeve-fabric is about the same as the width from mid-back to “shoulder.” I had never thought of it myself until seeing it in that afterword. That (and other fascinating tips on kimono-wear) was in volume 15, if you’re curious :D

  5. Oh, you know—I realized after looking at the b/w version that you did draw the seam correctly, and what I thought was the seam was just the cloth-fold. So I apologize!! I should’ve known you’d done your research!

  6. Congratulations on getting over your kimono fear.It’s lovely. I, like you, have always been scared to draw a kimono because I know just enough about them to be certain I would get it totally wrong. If you’re feeling like staring at totally beautiful kimono’s, I recommend Fashioning Kimono: Dress and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Japan. It’s primarily photos of kimonos (women’s, men’s, children’s) from the early 20th century. Art deco patterned Kimono’s. Beautiful stuff.

  7. This is amazing. I read one of my younger sister’s favorite mangas, Mamotte! Lollipop, and the main character did wear something like that, so I’d assume that it’s right.

  8. Thank you for mentioning me! I also checked out the other site you listed, I liked her designs. It must have been difficult to draw your kimono, but it sure looks nice!

  9. Very good job, but then you do everything very well. Was wondering if you thought of doing any outfits from The Prince of Persia movie. I love the female characters clothes. It was a pretty good movie also.

  10. Ah, Liana, it’s been such a long time! I’m ten now, not eight like a used to be. So you took my idea of combining your two obsessions?

    But I think you should do cHristmas stuff, just saying, for the holidays.

    I don’t know what name I used to go by, buit I think it was Saetbyull…

    Love the dress!


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