I know I look beautiful, but…

I love my tea ceremony teacher. I came to our New Year’s tea gathering wearing the kimono version of a jacket that I’d recently bought:


Anyone else I know would’ve told me how beautiful it was and fussed over how I’m wearing a kimono. But what does Sensei say?

“That’s beautiful! Does it have some kind of picture on the back or anything? No? Well, for celebrations like today, black isn’t really the best color. In particular, you want something pretty on the back or sleeves, too. Tell you what, I’ll let you borrow one of mine next time.”

(Well, it does have a pattern, but nothing colorful, like she wants:)


Anyone who’s never had anything to do with kimono would be shocked by how many tiny regulations there are. There are more rules about kimono-wearing than there are about politeness in their language. The Sumptuary Laws of Renaissance England have nothing on Japanese clothing customs.

So, while it looks like a backhanded compliment or unnecessary criticism to some, it’s welcome honesty to me. How else would I learn these things? In my experience, no one but Sensei actually tells me when I screw something up unless they didn’t even understand me.

Being honest, I do love all the fussing. Sensei has a wonderful way of fussing over me, then telling me how many things I’m screwing up, which is the perfect balance.