Just as with the kimono, there is an obi for every occasion. And every kimono needs a type of obi. We will take a look at the most common obis.
1) Tsuke Obi
Also known as the 'easy obi', it was invented to help older ladies dress themselves easier. Nowadays it is very popular because of that reason, it's easy to tie! It can be any color and/or pattern but generally isn't considered a formal obi. To make tying easier, seperate knots and bows can be purchased to avoid having to learn any tying techniques.
2) Nagoya Obi
Designed by a lady from Nagoya, this obi type was made to make tying the typical "Taiko Musubi" knot easier. It can be a formal or casual obi depending on the colors used. If there's gold thread, the obi is almost always formal. Many Nagoya obi only have a design printed on the front and on the part where the taiko knot is visible. Since the Nagoya obi was originally used as everyday wear it can never be part of a truly ceremonial outfit.
3) Hanhaba Obi
An unlined and informal obi that is used with a yukata or an everyday kimono. Hanhaba obis are very popular these days for use with yukata. Since this is an informal obi it is sometimes worn in self-invented styles with decorative ribbons and charms. Because tying this obi is relatively easy many Japanese people wear it during festivals.
4) Fukuro Obi
This is the most formal obi used today. It can be tied in the Taiko knot but it is capable of many other styles as well. It is used used for ceremonial wear and celebration. A fukuro obi is often made so that the part that will not be visible when worn is of smooth, thinner and lighter silk. Obis of this level of formality can be worn with a Furisode. The knots are often very elaborate and big, making them elegant and feminine.
5) Maru Obi
A Maru Obi is the most formal obi. An ornate pattern runs along the entire length on both sides. Maru obis were at their most popular during the Taisho and Meiji-periods. Their bulk and weight makes maru obis difficult to handle and nowadays they are worn mostly by Geishas and Maikos. Another use for maru obi is as a part of a bride's outfit or when bride-like formality is required. When a Maiko wears a Maru obi, the symbol of her Geisha house is visible on the bottom of the obi.
EXTRA: Children's Obi
Children wear either imitations of adult obis or softer versions. The knots can be simple or elaborate. Usually children's kimonos and obis are more decorated and the hair decorations for girls are more playful.
Click here for the next Kimono 101, where we talk about kimono footwear!
WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITER ｜ ABOUT WATTENTION NINJA