Fukiyose (吹き寄せ) is an autumn motif comprised of wind-blown foliage, pine needles, and other vegetal vestiges. From the very beginning of my ikebana journey, I’ve known I wanted to attempt an arrangement based on fukiyose. Unfortunately, Japanese maples are exclusively a prized and well-guarded ornamental plant here, so it’s not as though I had easy access to one, and it felt vital to the composition.
However, my aunt now has one in her garden and was kind enough to allow me to liberate a small branch. Once I had that in hand, getting the other bits was much easier. The neighbourhood where I live has planted ornamental ginkgo trees in a lot of public areas, and I’ve been assured in the past that so long as I’m careful and respectful of the plants I’m welcome to harvest a branch or two. So I grabbed a couple of those on the way home, and then used some of the pine boughs from a tree in our yard.
I have to admit, arranging branches in a way that looks natural but still intentional and aesthetically pleasing is more difficult than I’d anticipated! It’s hard finding that perfect space between “unruly and messy” and “overly forced”, and I’m honestly not sure I accomplished it as well as I’d like. But I’d been dying to do this arrangement for so long, and didn’t have easy access to different maple branches, that I wasn’t going to give up. A few leaves fell while I was arranging them but I think it adds to the wind-blown feel so I left them there, and it helped with the balance. There’s a good circular fluid motion to the whole composition, so it feels finished and cohesive to me, at the very least.
This may not be my favourite ikebana ever but I persevered and got it done, and I am proud of that. I do know that lately I haven’t been posting as many ikebana arrangements as I used to, but unfortunately my access to blooms from the great outdoors is over for the season, and I’m in a situation where my budget for things like fresh-cut flowers is basically zero for now. But there will be more whenever I can splurge a little!
The Kitsune is quite possibly the most well-known Yokai. Not only are foxes representative of tricksters in so many cultures and traditions around the world, the kitsune figure appears in so much Japanese media that nearly everyone has, at the very least, a passing familiarity with them.
Kitsune are neither inherently good nor evil – there are so many stories and so many variations. There are helpful ones, vengeful ones, playful ones, and ones who punish the wicked, to name a few. I didn’t have one particular variant in mind when I decided to feature this particular yokai, because it’s impossible to choose. I’d like to think she’s more friendly and playful than outright malicious though.
Since kitsune are so varied, I knew I had a lot of creative liberty for this particular outfit. I decided to go with the first kimono and obi I ever purchased, because this particular kimono feels so quintessentially Japanese to me. The bright red colour and iconic white chrysanthemums pop, and the kitsune mask I painted plays off them so well. The finishing touches were a lovely furry tail and ears. Initially I wanted to put the tail at the hem of the kimono but it’s not very large and got a little bit lost, so I put it below the obi instead, and think it looks very cute there.
And just because I’m really proud of how it turned out, especially considering I freehand painted the whole thing, here’s a close-up of the mask.
Halloween season is upon us! If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know that I like to pick a theme and run with it every October. While I stress heavily that a kimono and in of itself is not a costume, I do think that there are plenty of ways to build a costume or even a series of costumes using kimono as a base.
This year, I thought I would pay tribute to some of the spookiest or most famous female yokai in Japanese folklore. There are so many to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down to a reasonable number. To start, I decided to go with Yuki Onna, one of the most iconic and well-known women of the spirit world.
Yuki-Onna (雪女, snow woman) is a beautiful maiden with snow-white skin and black hair, typically depicted in white kimono. She is freezing to the touch, thrives in blizzards, and may melt if exposed to fire or hot bath water. I knew I wanted to start with my shiromuku, giving me a clean white base and the drama of long sleeves and a trailing skirt. My beloved Kanbara obi was the perfect focal point. I could absolutely see Yuki-Onna in this landscape! I anchored the outfit with a black skirt underneath and echoed it with a black obiage and obijime. Initially I was going to use this white haneri with snowflakes on it, but it contrasted oddly with the ivory of the kimono and felt a bit too cute and cartoon-like. Instead, I used the solid black reverse side of the other one and accented it with a few glittery snowflake stickers. I love the way they catch the light and sparkle like the sun on snow and ice. A rhinestone and pearl brooch reminiscent of a snowflake completes the ensemble.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Angela of Everyday Expertise. We discussed the ins and outs of collecting kimono, from how I got started to why I still do it. I admit, it was a little awkward watching myself; my voice sounds so different in my head! But it was a lovely experience, and I’d be so happy if you gave it a watch!
Feel like playing with kimono coordinations, but aren’t sure where to start? Use this to generate ideas, and use as few or as many as you like! I made it to keep myself from going bonkers at work earlier today, and figured it would be fun to share it.
It will generate two sets of data. Traditional will give you a few simple options to work from, and Adventurous may result in some really out-there looks. You don’t have to use everything it suggests, but it would be fun to try getting them all into one coordination! If this results in any really cool (or really ridiculous) combinations and you put them together, I’d love to see them.
(Best viewed on a full screen, parts may overflow or be cut off on mobile apps)