Field Trip! “From the Lands of Asia” at Pointe-à-Callière Museum, Montreal

Yesterday, I finally made my way to the From the Lands of Asia exhibit at Pointe-à-Callière Museum here in Montreal. The exhibit has been going on since mid-November and I kept procrastinating. Earlier this week I found out it ends this weekend, so I knew I had to get my butt in gear and go!

I would have liked to wear kimono, but we had a terrible blizzard earlier this week and I knew I wouldn’t be able to trudge through the aftermath and spend several hours in a museum in comfort, so I decided to go subtle and wear a haori and kanzashi hairpin over a cute dress. The fact that I ended up wearing a ton of green on St. Patrick’s Day was an unintentional but nice bonus. But enough about me!

The exhibit was absolutely gorgeous. It featured over four hundred items from the private collection of one couple, Sam and Myrna Myers. It started out with ancient Chinese jades, followed by Buddhist artwork and artifacts through multiple Asian cultures, and ended with what was of course the highlight for me, a feature all on kimono! It was fascinating to see so clearly how kimono and Japanese art in general was so strongly influenced by ancient Chinese art and textiles before it. Watching the progression of how something you love so much comes to be can be intensely rewarding.

The kimono featured were primarily stage pieces and late Edo or early Meiji clothing, and they were all absolutely lush and gorgeous. It’s clear that the Myers were a couple of discerning tastes. I took over 150 photos, but I’ve chosen some of the best and most relevant ones to share here, but if you’re curious to see the rest there is a public album available on Facebook here.

Kimono fun at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Several weeks ago, the Montreal-based members of the Immortal Geisha forums decided to have a little meetup at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. We had a blast and took a ton of photos. I would have posted them sooner, but I was admitted to the Montreal Neurological Institute on fairly short notice for a decompressive craniectomy to attempt to correct my Chiari malformation. It’s only recently that I’ve felt well enough to edit and upload the photos. Hopefully once I am fully recovered I will have a lot more energy, lose a fair bit of retained water-weight, and be much more inclined to wear kimono frequently!

Entirely unintentionally, we ended up dressing in three very different styles. Mischie wore a lovely houmongi and fukuro obi with a coordinating haori in a very elegant traditional style, Ame wore an adorable yukata dressed as kimono, in a sweet modern style, and I (due to a combination of weight-gain and a need to be more comfortable), wore a modern poly kimono hiked up to mini-dress hime style, with leggings underneath. I think we did a fantastic job of showing a variety and diversity of kimono fashion.

I took so many photos, I’ve set up a mini-gallery rather than make this page enormous. :) Feel free to browse!

Bowling and shenanigans in Kimono

Ever since seeing this photo of a maiko bowling in full regalia, I have been dying to go bowling in kimono myself. It looks adorable, and I wanted to prove that there’s no reason you need to be stuffy and “fixed”, especially in casual kimono. After the devastating Tohoku Quake, the Montreal Japanese Cultural Center has been arranging a lot of fundraisers and they announced there’d be a bowling event with proceeds going to the Red Cross. I figured it would be the perfect opportunity.

Amelie and I arranged to meet there, but unfortunately due to ridiculous road work she was a bit late, so I went in and played around a bit. The reactions to my kimono were all really positive and encouraging, lots of “sutekii!” and “sugoiii!”. It made me feel a lot less self-conscious about being there by myself. A lot of women asked where I’d learned to dress myself, and seemed very shocked when I explained it was all self-taught. A few of them sort of seemed wistful that they didn’t know themselves, but I encouraged them to check out some books and websites. I really hope they consider it!

A few lovely women were running an origami table and they taught me how to make a crane and a heart. They were so sweet! I have a LOT of photos to share here, so I’m inserting smaller ones than usual. Please click on them to see the larger versions :)
Bowling in Kimono

Amelie arrived while I was with them and we finished up and went to the part you’re all waiting for… the bowling! And no, these pics are not a setup. We really truly did play a full ten-round set to completion, entirely in kimono. I wore my black and red wool outfit that Amelie gave me along with a red hanhaba and my car obidome. I knew I’d be wearing bowling shoes, so I wore ridiculous red and black striped socks. Amelie wore a really pretty komon and orange hakata, and also had fun with rainbow striped socks. We didn’t plan it, I swear!

Bowling in Kimono Bowling in Kimono

Bowling in Kimono Bowling in Kimono

Even the ugly bowling shoes look better when they’re paired with kimono and fun socks!
Bowling in Kimono

After our bowling game, we were feeling really hungry so we headed out for dinner. While walking to the car, we walked by Kazu Izakaya, a restaurant with Japanese-style pub food, and I remembered I’d heard really amazing reviews but hadn’t managed to go because the restaurant is always totally full and there’s always a huuuuuge lineup. We passed by just before it was getting to open, so we seized the opportunity. The food was amazing. I know I don’t normally go into detail about the restaurants I eat at, but I cannot say enough good things about the food here. The gyoza were deliciously flavourful with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The tofu was made in-store and creamy, soft, and delicious. The okonomiyaki was crispy and moist at the same time, the sauces were perfect. Even the simple dessert of ice cream with earl grey tea powder was rich and tasty. I cannot say enough good things about this place! The food was as beautiful as it was delicious, and the staff were all incredibly friendly. We sat at the counter and watched the chefs, and it was definitely the right place to sit!

Bowling in Kimono Bowling in Kimono

Bowling in Kimono Bowling in Kimono

After all that food, we were feeling a little bloated and tired, so we headed back to my place. We headed to the park near me in the hopes of taking pictures on the swings, inspired by Naomi’s awesome photoset. I was quite dismayed to find out that they’d removed the swings for the winter, but that didn’t stop us from horsing around on the other park equipment!
Bowling in Kimono Bowling in Kimono

We also managed to take some mildly respectable-looking photos. Shock and awe!
Bowling in Kimono Bowling in Kimono

There are a bunch more photos in my Flickr Account.

GeekFest Montreal, in kimono

Yesterday, I attended the first GeekFest MTL with my friends Dave and Sophie. It was a lot of fun. There were definitely some growing pains that will hopefully be dealt with before next year, but overall it was a worthwhile experience. There were people in all sorts of cosplay, Japanese fashion, LARP outfits, and whatnot, so I figured it would be a great time to bust out a kimono.

I’d actually planned to wear this outfit to a convention last year but I ended up injuring myself and being unable to wear it, so when this opportunity presented itself I decided to get it out of the cabinet. I wore my synthetic mauve komon with one of the amazing vintage obi I got in a bundle last year, and blue and red accessories. I also got to wear the adorable moon and flower obidome Kansai_gal gave me and the amazing kimono cape my grandmother knit. I will be taking better photos of these things during the week, but for now you can see them on me!

The photographer at the convention was kind enough to let me use his drape and lighting setup while he wasn’t using this, so I got my friend Sophie to take this nice studio-style portrait of me! The little guy hanging off my obi is a stuffed octopus with a bandaid on his head. I saw him in the dealer room and had to buy one! My grandmother knit me this amazing cape, to wear with kimono. It’s comfortable, and warm, and I love how it looks. I can’t wait for her to see me wearing it.

This obi was virtually impossible to tie – the tesaki was so short I could barely wrap it around myself twice, let alone save enough to actually tie to the taresaki. I ended up having to remove the hardware from a tsuke-obi, use a bulldog clip and two extra himo, and pray to the gods of kitsuke that it would hold. Thankfully, it not only survived four car trips and five hours at the convention, it also survived dinner and dessert, and a rather inelegant exit out of a two-door Hyundai while I was being sick to my stomach. I was quite proud of myself.

There are many other pictures available in this album on my Facebook account. However, in some of them I am holding a large foam sword that looks alarmingly and realistically like male genitalia, so please be aware of this before clicking.

Sushi dinner with Amelie

Last night, I met up with Amelie and we dressed up and went for delicious sushi near her place. I decided to wear my new black komon with a cream hanhaba obi and haori, and Amelie wore her beautiful new pastel bingata-ish komon with a pretty blue nagoya obi.

Sushi avec Amelie

I got a bit matchy-moo and even busted out a coordinating purse. I do love how the whole outfit came together.
Sushi avec Amelie

I also tried karuta musubi for the first time and I am totally in love. It’s super easy to tie, and incredibly comfortable if you’re going for a car ride or going to be sitting western-style in a chair for long periods of time. I also think it looks like a cute little bow.
Sushi avec Amelie

I really love how the blue of Amelie’s obi picked up on the pale blue in her kimono.
Sushi avec Amelie

And if anyone wonders how one keeps warm in kimono in sub-zero temperatures, the answer is lots of layers and lots of accessories. I wore footless tights under my kimono and tabi and was quite toasty.
Sushi avec Amelie

Sushi avec Amelie

Of course, the star of the night was the sushi. We ordered waaaay too much food, but that’s okay. It was delicious!
Sushi avec Amelie

Sushi avec Amelie

And a bonus, here we are laughing like idiots!
Sushi avec Amelie

What were we laughing at? The discovery of what happens when you eat way too much sushi in kimono
Sushi avec Amelie
(Don’t worry, I am going to fix it for her)

Omake – we came across this really awesome light fixture in a store near the restaurant. It was a branch covered in acrylic Sakura flowers with LEDs that slowly changed colour. It was so pretty!
Sushi avec Amelie
Sushi avec Amelie Sushi avec Amelie