Yukata Obi: Simple Variations on the Butterfly Obi/Tie

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      This guide will show you many different ways to add contemporary twist to the traditional cho-cho musubi ("butterfly tie" -- for instructions on this method of tying an obi, please refer to my other eBay guide titled "How to Wear Yukata and Obi: A Beginner's Guide" with photos) to help you add more looks to your yukata wardrobe.  It is intended for young ladies who have learned to tie the butterfly obi since all the looks presented here are based on this particular style of tying.  All the variations use simple folding and twisting of the obi.  So once you master the traditional "butterfly obi", you can start playing with these techniques for fun, contemporary looks.



Variation 1


     This style is achieved by simply pulling down the inside layer that makes up the "bow" section of the obi to make it larger after tying a normal butterfly obi.


Variation 2

     This style is built on the Variation 1 shown above.  After tying the normal butterfly obi and pulling down the inside layer of obi in the bow section to show, fold the lower edges of the outer layer of the bow out and up to reveal the contrast color on the reverse side.  You can also do this folding on the upper edges as well.


Variation 3

     A pretty contrast version of butterfly obi.  When you make the "tri-fold" (the base for the "bow" part of the obi), twist the obi to reveal the contrast color side out, then proceed as you would normally for the rest of the tying process.


Variation 4

     This one has a combination of techniques.  First, during the making of the "tri-fold", make sure the outer section shows the contrast color of the reverse side.  At the same time, add another twist for the inside layer so that it shows the same color as the wrapped section of the obi.  Once the obi is tied in the butterfly obi, pull down the inside layer to show.  Then, fold down the upper edges of the outer layer of the bow, revealing the contrast color at the top.


Variation 5

     Tie the butterfly obi as you normally would, except for the final tucking in of the "te" or "tesaki" section.  When you wrap the "te" over the center pinch of the "bow", twist and fold the "te" so that the contrast color shows.  Tuck in the rest of the "te" under the layer of obi around the waist like normal.


Variation 6

     This one is built on the Variation 5 above.  After the butterfly obi is completed for Variation 5, fold down the upper edge of outer layer on one side (in the photo example, this is done on the left), then fold up the bottom edge of the outer layer on the other side (here, it's on the right) to reveal the contrast color on the reverse side AND the inner layer of the tri-fold.


Variation 7

     This style is achieved by combining the techniques used in Variations 3 and 5. You can also fold the upper, lower or both edges of the "bow" section for even more variations.


The next two variations will show you what you can do with the front section of your obi.

Variation 8

     Here, the butterfly obi was tied like normal.  After the complete obi was turned around, the top and bottom edges of the outer layer were folded to reveal the contrasting color.  You can play with the width of the fold -- from pin-stripe for a delicate look to wider lines for a bolder look.  You can also choose to fold only one edge -- top or bottom.


Variation 9

     When the "tare" was wrapped around the body for the second time, the obi was folded diagonally to reveal the reverse side for the contrast color.  The butterfly obi was tied like normal the rest of the way.  This technique brings a bold stroke of color to the front of your yukata.


     These are some of the simple techniques you can use alone or in any combinations to create many different styles for your yukata and obi.  As you can see in the photos, one set of yukata and obi can have many fun looks.   In recent years, yukata store displays and catalog photos in Japan have featured additional accessories such as large single silk flower corsages placed off center along the top edge of the obi in the front, a chain belt (with coins or beads) draped over the front of the obi, organza or lace heko obi tied over a butterfly tie (hanhaba obi) or even fancy heko obi (in subdued colors for teens and young adult women) tied simply in a bow in the back, replacing the traditional hanhaba obi altogether.  So even though yukata (and kimono in general) is a traditional clothing with its own rules (please refer to my other eBay guide "How to Wear Yukata and Obi: A Beginner's Guide" for more information on yukata customs and etiquettes), there's plenty of room for experimentation and play within the traditional framework.

     I had fun writing this guide.  I sincerely hope that reading this guide was fun and informative for those of you who love yukata and Japanese culture, and I hope maybe it sparked your creativity with new inspirations.  If you saw a new idea or other helpful hints on this guide, please take a moment to vote "yes" at the end of the article where they ask the question, "Was this guide helpful?"  It only takes a single click and you don't have to do anything else.  I'd appreciate your vote very much!  Thank you and enjoy your yukata and obi.

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