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Photo Credits:
Cheryl Carvalho
SAYURI NITTA: Fan Dance Kimono
Memoirs of a Geisha

I read the book, Memoirs of a Geisha, several years ago and absolutely adored it; not only did I love the story, but I enjoyed reading the vivid descriptions of the beautiful kimono that Sayuri, Mameha, and Hatsumono wore and imagining what they looked like. The resulting costume is my version of the kimono Sayuri wears when fan dancing at the teahouse as a maiko in the 1930s. It combines the movie version's color scheme with the book's descriptions, which are more accurate to the time period.

Construction Notes:
I always wanted to have an authentic vintage Japanese kimono and this was the perfect opportunity. Online I found a pale yellow silk furisode which was made about ten years prior to World War II - the same time period during which Sayuri would have been performing her fan dance. It is embroidered with traditional fans in orange, gold, red, purple, and blue, and has metallic looking thread in parts. The under-kimono, or nagajuban, is red as per the maiko tradition. The obi is orange with gold embroidery; I have yet to successfully tie it in the proper Maiko knot but Iím working on it. The wig is a theatrical quality maiko wig which was used in a production of The Mikado and was sold online after the run ended. It came with all the accessories, including porcelain combs and decorations. The parasol was actually my grandmothers and was given to her as a gift from a relative who bought it in Japan while stationed there during World War II. Finally, the sandals are those of a regular geisha and not maiko as those are ridiculously expensive; I hope to upgrade them someday. I love this costume but I need a lot more practice in order to wear it properly.

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