Introduction to Types of Obi
Obi is the belt that is worn over a kimono or yukata. There are many types and fabrics, however the most common way to categorize them is into the following three groups: hanhaba, fukuro, nagoya. There are many different ways to tie it, some more formal and some less so. When tying it, one side, the shorter side, is usually folded in half and the other side, the longer side, is either folded or or opened. The shorter side is called tezaki, and the longer side is called tare.
Hanhaba is a thinner, lighter type. It is usually used with yukata because it is a casual type, but occasionally also with komon kimono if it is made of a more formal fabric and being worn for a more casual occasion. Similarly to yukata, hanhaba is usually made from a more easily washable fabric, as opposed to other, more formal types.
Fukuro is a wider, usually heavier type. It is more formal than hanhaba and can be worn with any type of kimono. The simplest way to tie fukuro is in a style called otaiko, which features a smooth, rounded bump and a “tail” underneath formed by the end of the tare side. Otaiko is often used with komon kimono because it is more basic and less ornamental. For most other types of kimono, the obi will be tied in a different, more ornamental, thus more formal, manner.
Nagoya is named so because it was conceived in Nagoya, a province in Japan. It is similar to fukuro in that it is wider and usually heavier than hanhaba, however the tare end is usually sewn or tapers in from the tezaki side to make it easier to maintain the fold while tying the obi. Nagoya can also be tied in otaiko, but the process differs slightly from the process of tying fukuro in otaiko.
Heko was originally used on babies and children because it has fewer rules with regards to tying. Now it is used as a more decorative type of obi that can be worn on its own or as embellishment in addition to another.
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