Obidome (帯留)

Obidome' refers to an accessory passed through 'Obijime'(a string tied around the waist to fix obi). It is called 'bottchiri' in 'karyu kai' (world of the geisha) in Kyoto.

Craft products are used for materials such as coral, jade, ivory, tortoiseshell, shell, crystal, gold silver, metal with cloisonne, ceramic and 'tonbo dama' (glass beads). Obidome is used by being passed through 'Obijime' which is usually a thin and flat string but sometimes wide and flat string. 'Bottchiri', another name of 'obidome', which is used by maiko is passed through 'obijime' whose width is wider than ordinary obijime, so it is exclusive to maiko.

It is said that obidome was invented by geisha in iromachi (a district where geisha is operating) who happened to pass a metal piece called 'tsuba' (a round or squarish guard at the end of the grip of a Japanese sword) of their customers or lovers through 'obihimo' (a string tied around the waist) in the latter part of the Edo period. Some old remaining obidome made in the very early days were remade of metal pieces decorated in Japanese swords. It gained popularity as an accessory on casual kimono among ordinary young women, then later, it was widely used by married women.

As its history shows, obidome was originally an accessory on casual kimono, therefore, using obidome on formal occasions such as a wedding or funeral ceremony was strictly prohibited
Therefore, there are views that using obidome in formal occasions such as a wedding or funeral ceremony was strictly prohibited, because it was considered to be rude and bad-mannered. Accordingly, in 'karyu kai' (world of the geisha), using obidome on kuromontsuki (black kimono marked with the family crests), the most formal attire was strictly prohibited.

However, as Japan westernized, obidome studded with jewels gained popularity among people in the upper class along with hair accessories since the prewar period, because Japan needed Japanese-style jewels that could match the western gorgeous jewels. Especially, putting obidome studded with diamond, sapphire, emerald and pearls on obijime in a party or reception was extremely popular when people wore formal kimono such as 'iro tomesode' (kimono marked with the family crests) and maru obi (a round-shaped kimono band).

Even other items that were not made as obidome can be a substitute for obidome, when it has a part on which a string can be passed through. Especially, brooches for western dress have been converted into obidome since the prewar period.

[Original Japanese]