On Thu, 26 Sep 2002, Lloyd, Eddie wrote:
> I got my first Hakama last night, and I was curious...how did they manage to
> keep the folds in it for very long? Are the folds all that important? I know
> what the folds represent, but how seriously did they take all that? I just
> can't imagine a Ronin being able to take care of them in such a way, with
> all the travelling and such.
Actually, the folds didn't really represent anything special in period
that I've come across--does the zipper of your pants or cuffs of your
sleeves represent anything special? I would like to do more research into
it, but I believe the whole 'meaning of the folds' comes from the Edo
period when they seemed to want to add law and meaning to every aspect of
life. It may have been earlier, but I doubt many people worried about it.
Regardless, different hakama had different pleats--the size, the number,
etc. all seem to vary with the different hakama.
The folds don't really stay in because they are supposed to balloon out,
as far as I can tell (there appear to be some ritual and other formal
garments that they kept pleated, but it doesn't appear to be the rule).
I don't worry about keeping the folds in any of my hakama or sashinuki
except when I'm folding it. Then it is only because it folds up much
nicer if I make sure those pleats are there. Still, certain fabrics keep
pleats much better than others. Starch can also help, I would bet.
If you are really concerned about the pleats, as I am with my modern kendo
hakama, then you will want to do more, however. Pinning it down--or even
loosely sewing the pleats down--and then taking an iron to them is
probably the best advice to begin with. Then you have to lay it out and
press each fold carefully whenever it starts to lose its crispness.
The actual folding process is hard to describe without showing, but if you
make sure it pleats as you lay it down on a firm, clean surface, then fold
it up from there, every time you finish using them, then they should last