Kimono Karen


RUDE Girl was an exchange student to Japan for 12 months from 1975 until 1976.  It was a wonderful experience for a teenager, and long before it was trendy to travel to Japan.  And also long before the Japanese cultural invasion of Australia.


Tea Ceremony at the house of my first host family the Handa’s.  We had lessons once a week.  Mary Jane Hendrie [13.9.57 – 31.8.83  RIP] in the red kimono was from Sault Ste. Marie, Canada and Liz in yellow was from the US.  My daughter Rebecca has been gifted my apricot floral kimono.


My year in Japan as a Rotary Exchange Student 1975-1976.  My daughter Rebecca has been gifted the green formal silk kimono, that was gifted to me by the Handa family.  Bottom photo:  With Jenny Jarry [left] August 1975 at a festival in Kumagaiya

Most of what I absorbed in Japan was buried deep inside me on my return home. I went back to school and then on to various careers.  My time in Japan was rarely spoken about, not just by me but my family too, and my year away became but a distant memory. 

There were many times when I was treated like an outcast because I came back changed, into a routine that had remained much the same.   For the Rude Record significant adults, Japan did not mess with my mind, and I coped very well in a foreign country.  The young student that decided to venture out on her own at 17 years of age, has always been independent and confident.

These days, I do have the time to remember, and bring forth some of my experiences and influences, related to my second country.  I guess sharing is easier these days, with  Japanese culture more well known and embraced. And also with many Japanese calling Australia home.

It was wonderful to meet Miwako, a Japanese woman a little while back, who lives over my side of town.  And also Taco, my daughter-in-laws’ brother’s partner.  At both these meetings it was incredibly therapeutic to relive some of my time in Kita Urawa shi, Saitama ken.   And also, for the first time ever, I have made contact with a Mr McDonald, a member of Rotary, who is tracking down past exchange students from the year I was in Japan.

Refer video below:  When I spotted this casual summer kimono [yukata] at the TIP SHOP, I was aghast but also elated!  It was my lucky day.  I had found an abandoned, stained, and dirty hand stitched  yukata, and only I realised its value.  I felt a bit smug, but really very privileged to be rescuing it.  The yukata was free, as it was destined for the TIP SHOP’S rubbish bin and landfill.

Beat The Man by Turning Japanese, and daring to be different!


6 thoughts on “Kimono Karen

  1. Lovely post Karen. I think you were just so lucky to get such an opportunity at such a young age. What a very interesting culture they have. The pictures are delightful.

    I think that stain will come out with a NappySan type product. ALDI have a cheap one that is very good. Then you can keep it for emergencies. It took red wine out of my silk top.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always Jacqui, thank you for your heartfelt comments. Having this experience at such a young age was awesome. I actually had to compete [give a speech] and attend an interview or two, to be selected. Not like today where parents in conjunction with schools can send their children overseas for a short term cultural stay. I was originally selected to go to the Philippines but for some reason the country was changed. I have been overseas since, but if I never travelled again, I would be content. This is a direct result of living in Japan for 12 months.

      Thank you for the tip with the soaker product form ALDI. I did soak for a couple of days in white King tablets. It’s funny but to me, the yellow hue remaining actually looks like it’s part of the print, as it blends in with the pink hue and pink and yellow flowers!


      • Now, your comment sabout the stain looking like part of the pattern is interesting Karen. Why don’t you just sashiko around it in the shape of one of the flowers that are already part of the pattern on the fabric.
        I also had another idea, it would look much nicer with the wide cumabund type belt instead of that narrow belt you’ve on it there. I’m looking at your pictures from Japan and they have a wide belt (well I know it’s not a belt) that tones in with the fabric of the main garment. Of course it wouldn’t be the same but I would just look nicer with your nice slim body. Please do it.
        After writing all of the above I found the second half of you video. Sorry. However the finishe job is beautiful. I still think it needs a nice wide belt.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Jacqui, appreciate your suggestions but this project is finished. I love how it turned out, with a combination of machine and sashiko stitched flowers – very rude. The hint of yellow stain peeping out of the yellow appliqued flowers was artistically intentional.

        I had a giggle as Danny too suggested an obi, as in the photographs. I had to explain that wearing an obi on a summer dressing gown is not all that comfortable. This type of yukata usually has a thin belt in the same fabric. I hate anything around my waist, so the thin recycled fabric belt, in a different fabric, suits me fine.


    • Thank you Sue. I think you would love a trip to Japan in cherry blossom time. And such a beautiful and unique art journal you would create from a trip there. If you go into the ‘casual summer kimono’ hyperlink, in orange text, in the article, it explains yukata and kimono. xx


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