Obi and Geta

In Attire
Relationship: Im/migrant
Obi and Geta

These Obi (sashes for a Japanese kimono) have been in my family for four generations and were given to me when I turned 20, as a coming-of-age gift. My great-great grandmother wore the Obi for celebratory family occasions and personal milestones. The Obi are silk, handmade and reversible. The different colors and patterns correlate to specific reasons for celebrations which shift according to the season. The black and gold Obi are for weddings. Since the sashes came into the family nearly 80 years ago, they have experienced the passage of time through family weddings—including my mother and grandmothers. When I was a child playing dress-up with the Obi that would wrap my little body several times over, I'd pretend that they would speak to me, sharing embarrassing stories of my relatives getting carried away at weddings. My small geta (a traditional Japanese sandal) in the bottom corner was given to me when I was a three by my grandmother for Sichi-Go-San, a rite-of-passage celebrated among children at the ages of 7, 5 and 3. My Obi and Geta are placed together in the same chest to represent the strength and stories of my foremothers which I have the responsibility of carrying forward. My mother immigrated to the United States in 1988, and I am the first person from her family to grow up between Japan and the U.S. These family heirlooms have grounded me in my roots while showing me that there is room to integrate my own experiences in the diaspora as a multicultural individual. I hope that those who come after me can find comfort and strength in these items.

Place(s): Nigata
Year: 1988

– Akane

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant