Last night we shot a few arrows in kyudo class, but about an hour in, we were FINALLY able to get fitted for our kyudo gear. We tried on hakama (we are getting the skirt kind, though it depends on the dojo because some girls wear hakama that are split into pants at the knee) and tabi socks and gloves.
The process of getting in and out of the skirts took a while because we had to have our sensei put them on for us. After a while, she showed us how to tie them so that next time, when we have to put them on ourselves, we can. It looks simple enough, but there are a lot of different strings and the placement for them is different every time, so it’s still confusing.
The top part of our uniforms are really similar (pretty much exactly the same) as what I wore in Taekwondo. Kyudo uniforms are really cool looking because they are white on top and black on the bottom. Also, during competitions, archers are allowed to wear elaborate kimono. In Taekwondo, you can easily recognize a person’s rank, but in kyudo, we don’t wear anything that gives it away, so it’s nice and subtle.
After trying on our uniforms, we slipped on tabi socks, which are traditional white socks that separate the big toe and the other toes. Thankfully, my big American feet were able to find their size. They look cool but aren’t the most comfortable things in the world. Maybe it’s just something I will get used to.
Next up were gloves. Our gloves are worn on our right hand, the hand we pull the bowstring back with. They look like this:
The guy from the store brought 5 bucket full of gloves, and told us to start trying them on. Every glove was a little different in terms of length and tightness, so we had to pick which one best fit our hand. It was more difficult than I thought. The glove I have been using for my class has been a grey one that is way too loose around my thumb. I had a lot of problems pulling with it, so I was ready to have my own. I tried on a few sized 4 and 5, but eventually had to find a size 6 since my hand is bigger than most Japanese people’s. I don’t like brown, so I tried on all the black gloves I could find. Eventually, one was a good fit. My glove is the black one shown above. It smells really nice, and is made from deerskin. We are able to use our gloves for 30 or so years, so we aren’t really expected to need a new one. They are quite expensive but it’s a once in a lifetime purchase. I felt as though I were trying out a wand at Ollivander’s. When my glove spoke to me and I got it approved as a good fit by the salesman, he had me write my name on a piece of paper and attached it to my glove. He will have to attach the string (purple) to the glove so that I can tie it around my wrist.
We all expected to buy our hakama and our gloves, but the salesman also brought sets of arrows and quivers for us to look at. Our sensei told us to go ahead and buy a set of arrows. They come in sets of 6 and are supposed to last us about 2 years. Arrows get knocked around pretty badly, especially by us beginners. I showed my sensei the large dent in one of the arrows I had been borrowing, and he tried to get it out by bending the arrow the other way. Bad idea. The top of the arrow snapped in half. Maybe it’s a good thing I bought a set. I bought a set of silver arrows with yellow tips, and a yellow quiver to put them in. We also got bowstring holders, even though we won’t buy a bow for a while.
So we ordered all of it and it should be in on Friday in time for class and our graduation ceremony on Sunday. Our arrows will be engraved with our names, and we might even get our names on our uniforms.
I’m pretty excited.