Japan is the land of harmony, or “wa”. One of the most important traits for everyone to live peacefully in such a small country is to make sure that you don’t cause conflict or stand out too much. But I’m learning that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get your way, or you have to give in to people. It just means that you have to figure out way to get what you want without being confrontational. I learned about one useful technique to accomplish this at my kimono-wearing lesson this past weekend.
I had bought a beautiful antique obi (the thing that you tie around yourself at the waist) to go with my yellow kimono several months ago, but when I was finally ready to start practicing with it this weekend, my teacher discovered that it was a little too short. She suggested that I go to a kimono shop that she knows to get it lengthened, which you can do by adding other material to the parts that will be hidden when you tie it into an elaborate bow.
After she gave me all the information about what I should ask them to do, she had one last piece of advice for me. She said to me, “They are very fair at the shop, and they won’t try to cheat you, but they are running a business, so they’re going to try and sell you other stuff. Don’t buy anything else. Just tell them that you already have a lot of kimonos and accessories that were passed down from your mother.”
She then quoted a Japanese saying that essentially meant “sometimes it’s necessary to lie.” It gives white lies a whole new meaning.