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Review: Kimono backpacks by Štěpán Hanzlík

Especially now that I can’t wear kimono on the regular, I’m always on the lookout for ways to inject a bit of wa, or essence of Japanese culture, into my regular wardrobe. I’ll do things like wear haori over western clothing or buy items and accessories in Japanese textiles. So when my friend Štěpán put up some backpacks he’d made with kimono fabric for sale, I jumped at the chance to own one.

These bags are incredibly well-made. I’ve had similar backpack-style drawstring bags in the past (most notably a Sailormoon one that I carried until it quite literally fell apart on me one day), and I’ve never had one as nicely finished as this. Typically, they’re made from one layer of fabric and a string. However, due to the delicate nature of kimono silk, Štěpán has smartly chosen to both line his bags with a heavy twill fabric and reinforce the bottom with coordinating vinyl. This means that the bags are very durable, putting almost no strain on the actual kimono fabric. The drawstrings are anchored through metal grommets that are inserted into the vinyl section, adding further stability and reinforcement.

There is a divider inside the liner, splitting the bag into two very practical pockets. There are also two tiny pockets made from more kimono silk, and they’re perfect for carrying small, frequently-used items like a phone and keys, so you don’t need to go digging around in the bottom of the bag. We’ve all missed a call or two because we couldn’t find a phone in the depths of an over-stuffed bag, right? ;) I have been using this one for a week now, and while it’s definitely more of an “event” bag than an everyday bag, it absolutely holds up to modern life. I am hoping to buy more of these when I have the budget.

Currently available bags can be found on Štěpán’s facebook page.

I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. If you have a kimono-related craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

Lily Furisode

It’s been literally several years since I bought a kimono. I still have ones I haven’t worn, ones that don’t fit, ones that I am too old for. I’d promised myself no more buying kimono.

And then Jess went and put this one up on the market. I have coveted this kimono for as long as she’s had it. I love the rich, dark green colour and the beautiful, delicate lilies. She needed money, I needed this kimono. Clearly, it was meant to be.

It arrived today, and it’s everything I’d been hoping for and more. I can’t wait to dress Tsukiko in it!

The body is a gorgeous rich deep green, intersected with a sort of ribbon-like fluid design and lilies. The hem is navy blue, which I did not realise in the photos!

Lily Furisode Detail

Lily Furisode Hem Detail Lily Furisode Sleeve Detail

A couple of new ro

With summer rapidly (and hotly) approaching, I figured it was high time I invest in a few more ro pieces. I managed to snag these two for a great price, and since they were from the same seller and summer sheer weave is very light, the shipping was very affordable too. When all was said and done, I paid just over $20 for the two of them, shipping included.

Grey-blue ro tsukesage with flowers
Blue-grey ro tsukesage
Blue-grey ro tsukesage
I love how soft and painterly this looks – like an impressionist watercolour. It’s definitely got a cool, breezy feel to it and I really can’t wait to wear it. I think it will look lovely with my white sha hakata and pink accessories.

Cream komon with suzu
Ro komon with suzu
Ro komon with suzu

From a distance, this doesn’t look like much – just beige with yellow dots, but up close you can see that the “dots” are actually adorable little round bells, printed in a sort of faux-bingata style. It’s absolutely adorable! Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly narrow, so I need to get off my wider-than-average butt and widen the side seams.

Fun With Kimono Dolls, part 2!

I had so much fun making the first Fun With Kimono Dolls post, I decided it might be good to do it again! Here are a few more reasonably accurate kimono dress-up games for you to play with when you’re bored :) Have fun!

Elouai's Candybar Dollmaker - This is NOT specifically a kimono dollmaker, there is an enormous selection of clothing, accessories, backgrounds, facial expressions, hair, etc. Sadly, no options for skin tone though. I had this doll as my avatar on the sidebar of this blog for a very long time!
Mega Yukata Creator - Lots of options for traditional-style and modern sexy style yukata here. Great selection of hair, eyes, and skintones. Sleeves and kimono construction are not totally accurate, but it's still fun. :)
Folk Fashion Kimono - Nice doll with a few hairstyles, and a large selection of accurate kimono and obi.
Kokeshi Maker - Not exactly kimono, but totally adorable! Make your own kokeshi by selecting base skintone, hairstyle, and outfit.
Kimono Girl - Cute dress-up game with lots of hikizuri and fun accessories. Doll base (skin, face, etc) is not customiseable.

The Outfit IG Built

So as most of you know, I am a moderator over at the Immortal Geisha webforums. I do this as a labour of love, not expecting anything in return. However, every so often, the kind and wonderful community of forum members there will flabbergast me with beautiful gifts. This year marks the incredible ten-year anniversary of the forum, and in thanks, Naomi and the members secretly arranged for the moderators to get incredibly generous gift certificates with which to buy kimono.

I’d been eyeing this particular synthetic komon for a while, mainly because I thought it would coordinate perfectly with my moorish arches nagoya obi, which, until now, I’d been unable to wear. That obi was also a gift from a forum member, so it seems incredibly fitting that not only did I get to wear them together, but they look absolutely perfect together. The kimono itself is quite a strange colour; the sale photos looked grey, in indoor lighting it looks navy blue, and in sunlight it looks almost purple. Thankfully, all three of those permutations happen to look fantastic with the brick-rust colour of the obi, and the cyan accents are a near-perfect match. The lining of the kimono is even a similar rusty colour to the obi.

I paired it up with my well-loved orange and blue shibori obiage and coordinating hakata obijime, and an awesome spade obidome from ChidoriyaWorld. I thought the spade shape mirrored the arches on the obi quite nicely. My father and I headed off to the park near my house to take pictures, and we were treated to perfect weather.

We also had company in the form of this silly little squirrel, who was carrying around a napkin. Not kimono-related, but too cute not to share!
Squirrel with a napkin

And, just for reference, photos of the kimono by herself:

  • In light of the string of devastating earthquakes affecting Japan and many other places surrounding the Pacific ocean, please consider making a donation to Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross