New green cotton blend hakata hanhaba

With an apology to my neighbours! Somehow this ended up at the right numeric address, but on the wrong street. They were kind enough to bring it over to me.

As I've mentioned before, I am a sucker for all things hakata, especially in uncommon colour combinations.  This is not technically true hakata, rather than being a tightly woven silk it's a rough slubbed cotton-silk blend with the “hakata” pattern loosely woven on top, but I still love the pattern. The colours in the auction photos made the item out to be a soft, dusty sage green. I was pretty shocked when I opened up the package and found a vivid apple green colour instead, but also really happy. It's a great colour, and will go very well with a lot of my things. The best part, however, of this obi, has to be the price. I got it for one penny!

Green hakata hanhaba

Green hakata hanhaba

I already have a few coordinations in mind, I just need time and weather to cooperate.

A difficult but worthwhile resource – Yahoo! Japan Auctions

Aside from the places I mentioned in this entry, there is one amazing resource for kimono auctions online. In Japan, Yahoo! runs an auction site called Yahoo! Japan Auctions (YJA), similar to eBay. There is one major issue/caveat with this though – the site will not allow bidders living outside of Japan. Why do I even mention it, then? Because there are people who realize that some of us want things off there, so they cash in on our desperate depravity buy setting up deputy services. How these sites work is that you create an account with them and put a sum of money into a deposit in your account. After this point, you can browse the YJA site through the deputy service, and they will bid on items for you. You will have to pay the full price of the auction plus a percentage or fee to the deputy service, as well as shipping from the seller to the deputy and then from the deputy to your home outside of Japan. The prices on YJA are sometimes very affordable, but you will still have to factor in these extraneous fees when snagging that “amazing bargain.” However, it can still be very worthwhile since there's more stock to be had, as well as rarer or more hard to find items.

There are a couple of deputy services out there, but the two most commonly used ones are JAUCE (Japan Auction Centre) and Noppin – formerly known as Crescent Shop. These two are both well-established and helpful and have plenty of experience dealing with the Western markets. Their systems and methods are slightly different, so rather than writing a “how to use” tutorial, I'm going to suggest that you read through their terms of use and instructions and choose whichever service suits your needs better.

You can use the deputy services to browse YJA in English, but often times it will miss items, if they're labeled oddly or have certain keywords missing from their descriptors. I've amassed a list of popular search terms that may come in handy while browsing the site in Japanese. You can always browse directly through Yahoo and copy the auction ID to enter into your deputy service of choice. The auction ID can be found at the end of the URL of the item you are looking at. For example, in the address http://page2.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/##########, the hashmarks will be the ID.

A good place to start browsing is the category leaf for kimono/clothing. It is entirely in Japanese, but if you are using FireFox, there is a wonderful extention called RikaiChan that does inline Japanese translation, so all you hav to do is hover over a term and it will pop up with the English (or whatever language you choose) equivalent. It makes navigating the site much easier.

If you've never been brave enough to venture out into the world of Yahoo! Japan Auctions, I recommend at least browsing around a bit. You'll be amazed at what you can find!

Grey poppy houmongi

Yesterday was quite an exciting mail day! On top of the obi I posted about, I received a couple of books I'd been waiting for and this beauty. The obi yesterday was so special and so heartwarming that I wanted to make sure it had its own entry, so here's the other item I received!

Since I started collecting kimono, one of the things on my life's want list has been a kimono with poppies on it. They're not a particularly common motif, so it's been a long and arduous hunt. I wanted poppies for several reasons. Firstly, my mother's name is Poppy (okay, it's technically Καλλιόπη but she goes by Poppy now for obvious reasons). Secondly, as a Canadian with family members who have served in the military for generations, the significance of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance is very important to me.

When I finally found this particular piece, I decided I would fight for it. Thankfully, due to a few hidden spots and a seller who a few people are having problems with lately, it didn't go for as much as I was anticipating, which was nice. It's a gorgeous dove-grey chirimen with really unique, vaguely psychedelic poppies. There's also some strange batik/bokashi hybrid designs on the background, I've never seen anything like them. At first it looked like dirt and stains, but on closer inspection they're definitely intentional.

Poppy houmongi

The flowers themselves have a very unique and sort of funky style, but are definitely and absolutely poppies – the seed pods and leaves are a dead giveaway.
Poppy houmongi

Poppy houmongi

Poppy houmongi

Another awsome thing about this kimono is that it's signed. There's a signature on the inside okumi panel that would be hidden when worn, but it makes it a little more special to me.
Poppy houmongi

There will be kitsuke photos of this particular piece soon, but I won't be wearing it ;)

Moorish arches nagoya obi

Recently, I won a kimono from Yahoo Japan with a mosque around the hem. It hasn't arrived yet, so I don't have photos, but it's absolutely unique and stunning. When I posted about it on the Immortal Geisha forums I got a lot of questions and suggestions about coordination. Several people actually found the same obi on eBay, a deep rusty reddish orange with blue archways on it that had similar Middle-eastern style ornamentation on them. Technically it's a little casual for the kimono but thematically it would have been perfect. Unfortunately, I'd pretty much blown my budget for a while on the kimono itself, so I had to pass it up.

I should also mention that around the 2010 Holiday season, I organized a gift swap on the forums. Since I was the one arranging it, I wasn't technically able to participate. In the end I did get a lovely gift from one of the members, due to my own disorganization – I'd accidentally left her out of the swap so I sent her things from my own collection and she graciously sent me a package of lovely handmade things in return.

Fast forward to this morning, when my father informs me that I got “a ton of mail”. I am expecting a few things so I wasn't terribly perplexed, but when I started opening the package I had no idea what it was. I was worried maybe one of the sellers had mixed up my order, until a note fell out of the package.

Moony, thank you for the work you put into the ImmortalGeisha forums, especially the Winter Swap. You didn't participate, but here is your surprise gift!

There was no name and no signature, and since several people brought the obi to my attention I really have no idea who sent it! I did make a post on the forums thanking whoever it was and explaining that in the end I did get a package though. ~.~;; In any case, it's stunning and very appreciated, and will be cherished. I can't wait for the kimono to arrive so I can put them on together.

Moorish arch nagoya obi

Moorish arch nagoya obi

Moorish arch nagoya obi

Kasuri wool komon and haori set

A few months back, Amelie wore this set when we went out for shabu-shabu and I commented on how much I loved it and how I'd been wanting one of these matched sets for a while, but never found one that would fit me. Because Amelie is a total sweetheart and a very generous person, she offered the set to me as a late birthday/Christmas present. I couldn't say no!

I love wool kimono for their versatility, ease of wear, and comfort. They're wool so they can be nice and warm, but they're unlined and relatively breezy so they're comfortable in warmer months too. They're also typically woven with bold geometric motifs, so they're seasonless. They're a great casual addition to any kimono wardrobe.

This one also appeals to my inner ex-goth (if you're curious to see how I dressed when going out when I was younger, click here or here) due to the black and red colour scheme. What can I say, I'm easily amused.

Kimono and haori together
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Kimono alone
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Haori alone
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Fabric detail
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Not only is it adorable, it's also more than big enough for me, which really shocked me considering how tiny Amelie is XD. I can't wait to wear it!