Restoration In Progress–Meiji Takarabune Uchikake

Or at least I think it’s an uchikake. I’m actually not fully sure. I rarely get to handle uchikake this old to begin with, and this will be the first that I own if that’s what it is. I know that older ones tend to be structurally different than the modern equivalents. But whoooo boy, am I just staring at this one waving my hands frantically.

Oh yeah, and an uchikake is the outermost garment of the bridal ensemble. I call lots of things “wedding” dresses. In traditional weddings, the bride would change her outfit a few times throughout the day. With the short sleeves and black colour, I think this is one of the last outfit changes of the day. But in truth, anything can be a wedding dress if you’re not a wuss about it. Get married in a car tarp. I’m not your mom.

Back on topic! I’ve also had a few people tell me that this is a Geisha’s hikizuri. I actually don’t think so, but I’m as far from an expert in Geisha items as they get. I can’t really say.

This is a domestic purchase that has gone over a lot differently than a lot of my more recent ones have. It was photographed fine, packaged well, and showed up in better shape than I thought it was. The gold couching is basically all completely intact and just glowing. I searched and searched for a popped stitch or a broken line. NOPE. Couching looks good. Fuck yeah.

Let’s talk about the theme! Yeah yeah, blah blah, tsuru (cranes), nami (waves), and matsu (pine). GUYS LOOK AT THE TAKARABUNE. AHHHHHHH.

Takarabune, for those of us who don’t snort this shit, is a treasure ship. In this context, it refers to the mythical ship that the Seven Lucky Gods ride around on. It’s an especially prominent symbol of New Year. I actually don’t remember seeing it often on kimonos! Aboard the ships, we don’t see the depictions of the gods themselves, but we see their goodies: kakuregasa (hat), orimono (rolls of silk), kanebukuro (a bag that is always full), kagi (keys to gods treasures), makimono (sacred scrolls of wisdom and life), kozuchi (magic mallet), kakuremino (magic rain coat), hagoromo (robe of feathers), nunobukuro (a bag of fortune). These, of course, are a very general description. This article isn’t about the Seven Lucky Gods and their treasures specifically, but if you want to learn about them, they’re pretty fun. You’ll recognize the laughing Buddha as one of them!

Now, let’s talk about the damage. There is work to be done here. Some of it I expected, and some I didn’t. First, we have the issues with the lining. The padded bottom of the kimono has significant wear including staining and shattering. This is pretty consistent with kimono of this age. Basically? We got holes.

Pictured: LOL hole.

The overall lining is in good condition, however. I may take the lining out and try to reverse it so that I can hide the damage in the inseams if the rest of it isn’t at risk for shattering. It feels sturdy enough at first inspection. I might just replace the lining altogether. I have a few ideas.

Pictured: Not as holes as advertised.

Next to address is a strange problem that I’ve had to address before. Meiji era kimono tend to have a layer of cotton batting between the outer silk shell and the inner lining. On this kimono, the cotton batting is poking out in areas and kind of just…matted about here and there. I had that issue with this kimono. I ended up having to shave it. We’ll see what I can do with this one, because it’s not as bad here.


Then there’s the staining. Of course, we have some patina here and there. That’ll happen. The stuff that stands out to me are these red marks that appear on a few of the cranes and on the kamon (crest) that as at the very back of the kimono. Legit, it looks like someone dropped a marker on it. I’ve handled that before, and I’m already clenching my molars. Hear that? It’s the sound of my dentist putting a down payment on a fucking yacht.

So I have some work to do here. Although considerably less than I thought there would be, so that’s nice. In the meantime, I have a lot of testing to do on my stain removal solutions. This is old, delicate fabric, so I’ll have to be extra careful with how I treat it. Remember, when in doubt: DO NOT.

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