The Costume Museum Kyoto Japan Costume History in Japan
The Edo Period  
160 - A typotical fashion of city dwellers' wife knotting her sash on her belly.
The Costume Museum Kyoto JapanThe Costume Museum Kyoto Japan

1 neri-bohshi
2 kosode
3 mae-obi
4 tabi
Since a "obi" belt is originally the string for putting clothes together, it is quite a natural act to tie a "obi" belt in front. In the case of the "haniwa", the clay figure, in the period of Kofun, the ancient burial mounds, or the "hirao (=flat string)" for the ornamental sword for the formal costume in the Heian era, both are tied in front and they hang down. On the necessity for having clothes on, even if a "obi" band was tied on the sides first, it was eventually tied on the back for glorifying the figure on the back. As a result to which the width of a "obi" band became large, the advantage of action by doing so would also be one of reasons. In the beginning in the middle of the Edo era, the Meireki period and the Banji [1655-1660] or later, when the width of a belt became large, as we can see in the picture of Nishikawa Hironobu, the style of "mae-obi (=front belt)" was used. The feeling of it is handed down by the costume of the prostitutes of Shimabara, the horehouse zones of Kyoto, to this day. After the young women who love brightness, and the court nobles or the samurai who respect forms, started to tie "obi" bands on the back, the old fashion probably remained in their costume since the housewives of common town considered being reserved to be virtue. In the book titled "Kabuki-kotohajime (=Beginning of Kabuki)" which was published in the 12th year of Hohreki periodm1762n, Segawa Kikunojoh, the author, wrote as follows; "When a lady has a "obi" band on in the "mae-obi (=front band)" style, her figure looks old," or "Since the sex appeal is important for a lady, she should tie the "obi" band at the back position." In addition, the book titled "Miyako-fuzoku-kesho-den (=Capital City's Custom, Makeup Intermediary)", which was published in the 10th year of Bunka period m1813], writes as follows; "Although the "mae-obi" style is chiefly the style for indoor, it is a great informality ." and "This picture shows the most popular style of the ladies to tie the "obi" band." Namely, around the time of Bunka period, generally it is the full dress of housewife who was older than the middle age, and was commonly referred to as "kohshitsu (= room behind a house) obi" band. In some districts, such as Edo, the frequency of using the "mae-obi (=front band)" style was low; in Kansai (=Osaka & Kyoto) area, it was used widely, however; The style has attained even to the first year of Taisho Era. A commemorative photo taken when my mother held a marriage ceremony in the second year of Taisho era shows that my parents' mothers were in the style of "agebohshi" hoods and "mae-obi" bands. The figure in the photo is in the style of a middle-aged housewife of Kyoto at the time of going out in Bunka period. She wears a "neri-bohshi" hood, and a "kosode", kimono with short sleeves, which is made of the fabrics of the "chirimen (=silk crape)" of light-brown in color and has the crests of the pattern of a wistaria, with the wadded clothes in the skirt, and a "mae-obi (=front band)"; the kimono is tucked up in the position of the waist.