A “Love Letter” from Kimono-Sensei

My February Blog Challenge has finally wrapped up, with 18 out of the 20 posts actually published in February! Honestly, those are better odds than I was expecting, so I feel rather accomplished… but the challenge was also more stressful than imagined. I definitely could not post something every Monday-through-Friday for an entire year, especially with a full-time job. Plus, after-school extracurriculars like 2-hour jiu-jitusu lessons and Japanese classes eat up my after-work blogging time.

Aside from that, there is one thing that I haven’t shared because of the blog challenge:

At the very beginning of February, during a normal Thursday afternoon kimono class, my Kimono-sensei spoke the very first English words that I’ve ever heard her utter. She sang to me, “Karen-chan! Love letter!” and waved around a huge envelope with a knowing smile.

I’d advanced from the regional Kanto competition in November to the All-Japan Kimono Competition, taking place in Tokyo in April! 

Honest confession time: I nearly declined. For rather silly reasons. You see, these competitions are quite expensive (hair, make-up, hotels, meals — all of which I had to select from their choices — plus transportation and a fee to even enter)… the cost was weighing on me, especially since J and I had JUST booked a major international trip the weekend before this “love letter” arrived. Also, I was just… tired. Twice-a-day kimono practices, such as what S-chan and I had done for the entire summer and autumn before the Kanto competition, sounded exhausting in that moment. Did I really want to do this all over again? I told Kimono-sensei that I would confirm participating in a few days.

Eventually, I realized how silly I was being. The money isn’t that bad — especially because I’m one of the lucky ducks who don’t need a flight or a Shinkansen for Tokyo — and really, when else would I ever have the opportunity to compete in an All-Japan Kimono Competition? I can muster up the energy for a few more weeks of practices. Plus, how long has Kimono-sensei been working with me on this? For her sake, and for mine, how could I throw this away?

So I accepted. I’ve sent in the money. Kimono-sensei has brought out her stopwatch again during lessons. We’re back in the game.

My parents were ecstatic. So ecstatic that they booked plane tickets just to see me compete (aren’t they sweet?). Although secretly I think they just wanted another excuse to visit Japan…. conveniently,  right on time for cherry blossom season!

So, my life in kimono is not over yet! The competition is April 9th. がんばります!


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