Scaling Down, Valuables

When getting ready to show your house, it is important to remove all items of value.

  • Kleptomaniacs – Small items of value may be pockets by people with compulsive kleptomania.
  • Methodical Thieves – Although the problem is not common, you might get a professional thief who tours your house on the pretense of being interested in buying it, but who actually uses the tour as a convenient way to assess the harvest potential of the larger items in the house.

As for small items, we don’t have many and they were easily collected and moved to storage.

Picture of Imari Plate in Shipping Box

Boxing Up the Imari Plate

In terms of larger items, my ragged and unfashionable clothing doesn’t have much value, but we have some beautiful items from Japan. In particular, we treasure a certain large, antique Imari serving plate that we received as a wedding present. This beautiful plate was one of the nicest wedding presents we received and we have used it over and over for serving sushi to guests. The plate has moved all over the world with us and early on I made a special plywood shipping case for it. We retrieved the shipping case from the attic, packed up the plate and took it to storage.

The other category of valuables involved Tomoko’s Kimonos and all the accessories that go with them.

People unfamiliar with the intricacies of a Kimono will look at one and thing: “How nice. It’s a dress.” …and those people will be wildly underestimating the sophistication and complexity of the garment. There are two main pieces of the Kimono:

  1. Kimono – First there is the Kimono itself, a piece of the finest imaginable silk approximately the size of a single bed sheet, intricately hand-dyed with exquisite patterns. “Cheapo, fake import” versions start in the high hundreds of dollars. A nice normal, Kimono will be several thousand dollars. A high-end Kimono for a master of Tea Ceremony can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
  2. Obi – The sash that binds the Kimono at the waist is a necktie on steroids. It is perhaps twenty inches wide and fifteen feet long. Again, it is a dense, multi-layer, assembly of the finest, hand-dyed silk, covered with elaborate embroidery. The Obi should match and complement the Kimomo, both in pattern and design, and also in quality level. The budget for an Obi will be about equal to the Kimono it matches.

OK, so we have a budget for a respectable “entry-level” Kimono/Obi starting around five thousand dollars and the budget of the Kimono/Obi for a national Tea Ceremony master running into many ten thousands of dollars. Phew! That was expensive!

Opps! We’re not done yet! Did we forget to mention that the Kimono requires an astounding variety of special purpose accessories?

  1. Zori – the special slippers. Better budget a few hundred dollars for these.
  2. Tabi – the socks aren’t too bad. Perhaps fifty dollars.
  3. Undergament – you don’t just toss on your Jockey boxer briefs. The slip for a Kimono is custom fitted from another several layers of special silk. Add several hundred more dollars.
  4. Ropes – the Kimono has no snaps, zippers, or buttons. Instead, it is tied in position…with a special silk rope. Add another few hundred dollars for an adequate set of silk ropes.
  5. Purse – you won’t want to show up with a reusable grocery bag from Whole Foods. A special Kimono purse is required…several hundred dollars up to the-sky-is-the-limit…

And so on. On and on. The Kimono is a clothing system designed to stress the wallet of even the wealthiest geisha sponsor.

Picture of Tomoko's Special Kimono Box

Putting Away the Kimonos


Before we got married, I encouraged Tomoko to invest in a few Kimonos and the requisite accessories. Tomoko had just profited handsomely from a hot tip on the Tokyo Stock Market. Buying these was quite an entertaining project – I learned a lot from the process. We also purchased a special Kimono storage chest made from Japanese Paulownia wood [Japanese: kiri (桐)]. This wood is light and strong and the Japanese say that this wood will swell under humidity (or in the case of water being poured on a house to put out a fire) and protect the Kimono inside. Traditionally in Japan, fathers planted a Paulowina tree when a daughter was born so that the wood would be available to make her Kimono chest by the time she was ready to marry.

Although these beautiful garments have been a pleasure to own, they have actually been less than practical. In twenty-seven years, Tomoko has only been able to wear the Kimonos a handful of times. Somehow, Kimonos just aren’t very practical for attending rodeos and rattle-snake roundups here in Texas…

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