Heh, you should have left it in the package if you didn't know how to fold it!
Here's how I do it:
1. Grasp the top by the corners of the back flap, more or less (holding front and back) and shake it out.
2. Holding it by the top, lay it out face-down. Don't worry about lining anything up, that comes later -- just try to keep the front and back of the top centered.
3. Fold the box pleats, beginning with the innermost one. These pleats are all close to the inside of the legs. If you trace them up to the top of the hakama, it should be obvious which goes under which. When you are done, you want to have the outside seams right at the edge of the fabric (you may need to tug it a bit to get it like this) and the box pleats neatly folded and overlapping.
4. Grasp the top (front and back) in one hand and the bottom (front in back, holding the bottoms of the box pleats in place) in the other. Lift the hakama and switch ends so that the hakama is now face up. Do NOT let go until you've got it laid out. Don't worry if the front side goes all floppy -- if you've folded the box pleats properly and gripped it properly prior to turning it over, the box pleats will stay in place.
5. Carefully, without pulling out the box pleats, tug the outside seams into place (you want the outside edge to be right on the seam).
6. Beginning with the innermost pleats, fold the pleats as you did with the box pleat. Generally, you will be bringing the fabric in toward the middle, if that makes any sense. When you are done, all pleats should be neatly folded and vertical, the hakama should be flat, and the seams aligned with the edges.
7. Fold the outside seams to the center. You now have a narrow rectangle.
8. Crease the material of the hakama short-ways, more or less halfway up its length. Fold the bottom edge up to the top of the fabric.
9. Crease the folded hakama as in step 8, only in thirds this time. Again, fold up from bottom to top. You should now have a small square of fabric.
Folding and tying the ties is a whole 'nother subject -- for now, I'd just fold them flat and not worry about it, just get someone to show you how to do this after class.
It'll probably be pretty frustrating at first (especially after the first time you wash it), but practice makes perfect, or at least good enough.
Thank you. I've folded the Sensei's a few time (with her or his assistance) and I'm good at origami so I should be able to figure it out.
And I still had to take it out of the package- there were strings holding the thing together that I had to cut out (like when you get a new skirt or suit coat).
Sorry, I just was excited. As I've said before, I'm not terribly serious and this is fun for me. The new hakama amused my ADHD for this morning.
(I don't really have ADHD but people think I do. I just get excited easily about new things. I love change!)