I was delighted that two other members of the wonderful Immortal Geisha internet forum http://www.immortalgeisha.com/ig_bb/index.php could attend - shigatsuhana (left) and rubyminky (right). They brought kimono and changed in less than ideal conditions (the kitchen & the ladies loo!) They both wore hanhaba obi in red and white (nice celebration touch there) with wool kimono (shigatsuhana) and silk komon (rubyminky). This photo was taken towards the end of the afternoon, so we look a bit tired. Shigatsuhana has some better photos on her flickr pages http://www.flickr.com/photos/shigatsuhana/
I went with the shaded blue wool kimono, with a silk tsumugi obi tied in the otaiko style (finally taught myself to tie it behind my back yesterday afternoon, so I could get the bow nice and tight). The obijime and obiage are a newish set, with a pale blue shaded obijime cord and a light grey obiage with little cherry blossoms on it - slightly early I know, but the colour just looked right with the obi. The obijime has a nice stretch to it, just like hand braided ones, although it must be machine made.
The matching light purple kimono above are just two of a set, mentioned here - www.immortalgeisha.com/ig_bb/viewtopic.php?t=6679&highlight=hikizuri+ship Mine and shigatsuhana's were probably the two that were the best buys at online auction - mine via Yahoo! Japan Auctions and shigatsuhana's on eBay. Some of the other kimono in the set are onsale up to $600 USD. I think there are around 8 of these worldwide?
It was really interesting to be able to see shigatsuhana's ship hiki and mine side by side. There is a difference in the purple background - mine is reddish, shigatsuhana's is slightly bluish purple - which I hadn't realised from the photos I'd seen. Also mine has "extra" fabric added across the back and front, although it is the same rinzu weave as the main kimono and lengthwise both hiki are about the same - shigatsuhana's doesn't have an extra panel for length. I think a hiki detail comparison might be on the cards for these kimono.
We would love to know what they were originally made for - presumably an ensemble dance performance? Perhaps the black ships festival in shimoda, as suggested on IG? If you know, please send me a message!