Back to School, Meiji-Style!

I have always loved the look of the traditional Meiji/Taisho era schoolgirl outfits; the youthfulness of the hakama, the timeless feel of the yagasuri kimono, the modern and almost masculine touches of little leather ankle boots. When I splurged on this teal hakama a few months back, I’d imagined pairing it with my red and white yagasuri komon. What I hadn’t thought of was including this vintage taffeta haori I love to death, but as soon as I saw the three pieces sitting together in a pile I knew I’d found the perfect finishing touch to this outfit and with lots of schools starting this week, it seemed like an ideal time to pull it all together.

I knew I wanted to use a black obi to help anchor everything, but I don’t actually own a black hanhaba obi. Thankfully, because I was just dressing the mannequin, I could fudge things a little. I used the waist part of a two-piece tsuke-obi and a big obi-makura in the back to give the hakama something to anchor to. The plum motif of the haneri might not be totally seasonally appropriate for a “back to school” outfit, but the colours felt so right I had to run with it.

Aside from the haori (which is incredibly narrow, even by vintage standards), these pieces are all quite large which means I can totally fit into them. The hakama especially makes it easier and more comfortable for me, so expect to see this coordination on yours truly at some point in the near future. A cute pair of ankle boots would make things easy and still be appropriate to the ensemble. I just need to invest in a proper black hanhaba obi and then find somewhere to go and hope that the cooperates!

Tokai-Dos and Tokai-Don’ts

I’ve had this 53 Stations of the Tokaido tsukesage for a long time now. I’ve never worn it myself, but I did put it on my friend Frances one day. The obi, by comparison, was an absolute impulse purchase a few weeks ago – I was buying another item from the seller and this was only $10 so I couldn’t say no! Especially since it’s a lovely stylisation of Station 49 – Saka-no-shita, which is a station I don’t have on any items in my collection yet. For the price, its absolutely gorgeous. The bulk of the design is woven in, and then touches are pulled out with beautifully lush embroidery to add depth and texture. It’s a bit slippery to tie, but definitely not the most challenging obi I’ve had to work with.

Generally the rules of kitsuke say not to match the motif on your kimono to the motif on your obi, and to contrast the colour of one against the other. However, when I saw these two pieces next to each other, my mind drifted back to my first experiment in very monochrome and matchy outfits, and I wanted to give it another shot. Rules are an excellent starting point, but sometimes breaking them with forethought and intention can produce some amazing results.

I’ve always loved the peachy pink sunset accents on the kimono and decided to make them pop with the accessories. I feel like this resulted in an overall very calm and serene outfit with a bit of punch, and I love it!

I do apologise for the quality of the photos today; my camera was being difficult so I used my mobile phone camera. It worked, but it’s not ideal. However, I make no apologies for the utterly terrible word-play in the title.

Washitsu Games!

As I’ve mentioned recently I love miniatures, and you guys know how much I love silly dress-up games. Somehow though, I never thought to combine the two until recently. I know there are things like Animal Crossing and Second Life that allow you to customise your own spaces, but those require a fair bit of investment of time and effort. I was looking for more casual alternatives so I went searching for online games to decorate traditional Japanese-style rooms and I was not disappointed!

sakuraSakura House Decoration Game - This is the most immersive of the ones I've found. You can decorate four rooms: living room, kitchen, bedroom, and an exterior courtyard. There's not a huge selection of furniture, but there's enough to make a cute little vignette in each room, or you can choose to do what I've done here and make a studio-style one-room house. There are also a few kimono-clad female figures you can put in the rooms, but their outfits are not particularly accurate and they don't interact with the room in any way. Personally, I think the empty rooms are much cuter.
tatamiJapanese Tatami Room - Pretty much what it says on the tin! There's one room with a fixed structural layout (door, window, cabinet nook, and tokonoma) and you can choose all the finishes and surfaces, and then add in accents of seating, tables, and accessories. Not a huge selection, but still fun and relaxing.
exterior-designer-japanese-gardenExterior Designer - Japanese Garden - This one actually an exterior-only game. You can choose from a set selection of backgrounds, middle-grounds, foregrounds, paths, and bridges to combine into a cohesive and beautiful garden. There's not a ton of options, but it's very relaxing to play with.
Home Sweet HomeHome Sweet Home by Big Blue Bubble - I debated whether or not to include this one, due to the difficulty installing and running it, but it's pretty enough that I decided to go for it. I mentioned popular sandbox/decor games like The Sims and Second Life already, but this game is a bit of a hidden gem. There's no social aspect, no interaction, it really is all about the decorating aspect. There's a thin semblance of plot, essentially you're a designer and have to renovate rooms for clients, meeting their needs and wants. For every success you have, you unlock items and rooms in your own house that you can decorate to your heart's desire. There's a wide selection of far east Asian-inspired items and essentially no rules. Unfortunately, this game is quite old, and can be finicky on newer machines. It's available for purchase in the above link, and can also be torrented. I don't usually condone that sort of thing, but the game is old, finicky to run, and no longer has any support system.

I do apologise for the lack of content lately – it’s just been so infernally hot here in Montreal that I haven’t had the energy to undress and redress the mannequin, or even to scan a few of the books I’ve got lined up for review. Things are finally starting to cool down and I’ve got a bunch of pretty new things to show you guys, so hopefully we’ll be back to normal soon!

Here Comes the Bride

The bride is not me! Let me get that out of the way! But if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen this uchikake already. If you’re not following me on Instagram, now’s a great time to start.

I found this beautiful vintage uchikake on a local classified listings site, and contacted the seller right away. We managed to arrange a meeting, and I’m very glad. The gentleman selling it was lovely, very friendly. The uchikake was passed down in his family, originally belonging to his step-mother’s mother, and he seemed very keen to make sure it would go to someone who would really appreciate it for what it is. I hope I’m giving it a good home!

It’s a bit hard to age, but based on how it looks and feels in person combined with what he told me of its history, I’d put it somewhere in early Showa. The metallic bits are synthetic, but the lining and base fabric look and behave like silk. It’s a really interesting combination.

I knew I wanted to do a bridal-style kitsuke with it, and my Taisho-era kakeshita seemed like a good place to start. Even if they’re not the same era, they really work together. Unfortunately, I don’t have a proper set of bridal kitsuke accessories yet, so I had to make do using a normal furisode obiage and obijime, and a shigoki obi beneath the obi, along with a normal kimono wallet in lieu of the traditional decorative wallet known as hakoseko. Overall, though, I think it looks beautiful. Obviously, this is not something I’m ever going to wear personally (except for a lecture or display at some point, I suppose), but it’s so beautiful I have a feeling I’m going to be leaving it on the mannequin for longer than usual.

Book Review: Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto


Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto
by Robert van Koesveld
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-9944501-0-4
Buy Here

For this volume, van Koesveld was awarded the Photography Book of the Year (2015) by the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers, and it’s easy to see why. While the text is certainly interesting and well-written, the photographs are the heart and soul of this book. They are beautiful, and there are many of them. The book is full of gorgeous, crisp full-colour plates of geiko, maiko, live performances, as well as garments and accessories, and the skilled people who make them. It’s a fantastic glimpse into a world most of us will never get to see.

The book features interviews with maiko and geiko who live and work in Kyoto, as well as interviews and information about the artisans and craftspeople who support the community. It offers an unprecedented look into the Flower and Willow World, the mysterious and ethereal environment where these women live and work that most of us will never be able to experience. It is filled with information that anyone interested in modern geisha traditions and culture would love to have in their collection.

(The tinting and distortion in these sample pages is a result of my scanning process; the photos in the book are absolutely beautiful and these pictures do them no justice)

I would recommend this book for:


-People interested in the tradition and culture of geiko and maiko
-People looking for information about the artisans and tradespersons who support this culture
-Anyone who appreciates beautiful photography

I would not recommend this book for:


-People who have incorrect assumptions about geiko and no interest in learning
-People looking for instructions on how to dress maiko or geiko-style I received this item as a backer perk for a project or product that was crowd-funded (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc)