Ikebana Workshop at Kyoto Fleurs

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an ikebana workshop at Kyoto Fleurs, a charming local florist here in Montreal. I know that when I started this journey I said I would focus on self-driven learning and more casual forms because I didn’t have the resources to commit to proper lessons, but the great thing about these workshops is that they’re held once a month and you don’t need to attend regularly, you can just come to one whenever you’re free and have some money to spare. This setup is much more accessible to me than a more rigid once-a-week type schedule.

The workshop was taught by Satoko Ueno, who has twenty years of experience and teaches the Shogetsu school style. I’ve typically been learning free-form and Ikenobo-style through books and videos, and it was great to get help with a more strict and traditional form from another school. The workshop was broken up into two parts, the first part was a very rigid traditional arrangement using tulips, and the second part was a free-form arrangement of willow branches, pittosporum, and vibrant anemones.

First Satoko-san demonstrated each form, very clearly and kindly explaining as she went. We all watched intently as she showed us each step and broke down the stricter rules of the traditional ikebana as she assembled the arrangement.  She also provided us with printouts breaking down heights, proportions, and shapes to keep in mind. Of course, I forgot mine there as I was leaving. I’m not the most organised person on the planet sometimes…

The free-form arrangement was very different; we were all given the same materials and general guidelines but allowed to do whatever felt and looked right. It was fascinating to see all the difference in shapes and compositions we all came up with, despite starting with the same things. It also confirmed to me that I’m much more fond of the liberty the free-form style affords, but I really do need to focus on more traditional shapes and rules for a while, I think.

Here are my two final arrangements. I’m quite happy with both of them!

As much as I’ve been enjoying doing this on my own, this workshop showed me that I still have so much to learn! Being able to see a teacher’s work in person as well as receiving immediate feedback and constructive criticism as I went was an invaluable experience. I’m very much looking forward to attending more of these if I can arrange time off work.

If you’re local and interested in attending one of these awesome workshops, you can follow Kyoto Fleurs on Facebook. They’re typically going to be held the first Tuesday of each month, but dates are subject to change so follow them to get updates and information in advance!

Festival Yatai MTL! and yukata outing

 

 

What’s this? Another outing for yours truly?! It feels good getting back into the swing of things.

This weekend a friend was in town, and the first Yatai MTL! street food festival was happening, so we decided to go in yukata. Since she was visiting from a ways away, I lent her one of my yukata and obi, and I’m glad to see it getting some use.

One of the awesome things about Montreal is the sheer number of awesome events and festivals that happen during this summer. This year is no exception, because the city is celebrating her 375th birthday. This weekend alone, aside from the festival we went to, had the Formula E electric car races, Just For Laughs!, the International Fireworks competition, and quite possibly other small ones I’m not even aware of. Because of all this, all the public transit in the city was free. However, because of this, the public transit in the city was also the busiest I’ve ever seen it. We were delayed getting out, and the metro was a horrible swamp of humanity. However, we made it to our first stop without too much drama. We began the afternoon by fortifying ourselves with lovely microbrew beers from Dieu Du Ciel, an awesome local brewery. My friend’s brother came with us and was kind enough to act as photographer for the day.

Thus fortified, we headed to the festival on foot. It was a gorgeous day, and yukata were perfectly comfortable and breezy. The walk to the park where the festival was being held was short, and we got there uneventfully. That’s when things went sideways. This was the festival’s first year, and they were clearly massively unprepared for the volume of people attending. We got there less than an hour after opening, and the lineups for food were over two hours long, and they had already run out of several dishes. We worked in shifts, taking turns in the line, and eventually got our okonomiyaki, which was the only dish available at the kiosk we got to. It was absolutely delicious, I will give them that! I also found a vegan mocha popsicle, which warmed my shrivelled little dairy-intolerant heart. However, considering how long we’d been waiting it wasn’t nearly enough food, and none of us were willing to wait another two hours we decided to find a restaurant to fill us up.

After another quick jaunt on uncomfortably crowded public transit we found our way to Kurobuta Izekaya & Ramen-Ya, an awesome homey Japanese pub-style eatery. I got two of my standby favourites, agedashi tofu and takoyaki, and they were both delicious. My dinner companions both got ramen, and I tried a bit, it was delicious too. If you’re looking for a comfortable, entirely unpretentious Japanese eatery in the Mount Royal area of Montreal, I highly recommend a stop here.

The day may have been waaaaay longer than we’d anticipated, and there was an awful lot of frustrated, cramped, waiting around but in the end good food with good company in adorable outfits made it all worthwhile!

Montreal Kimono Club Meetup!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a group of other local kimono enthusiasts. I will admit, I was more than a little nervous since it’s been over five years since I’ve worn kimono out of the house. Initially, I’d wanted to wear this coordination but it’s been so hot and muggy here lately that I knew I needed to switch to a hitoe kimono. Once I’d decided to run with my bunny komon, I decided to go a bit overboard with adorable animals, finishing the outfit off with my ridiculous daschund tabi and bunny geta.

We met up at a metro station and helped a few folks who didn’t have items of their own get dressed. Of course, we attracted some curious attention, but it was primarily positive. From there we headed to Kimono Vintage Montreal. I’ve been wanting to check this store out since it opened, but I hadn’t had the opportunity yet. It was definitely worth the wait! The store is an amazing little gem, filled with gorgeous treasures. The women there were incredibly friendly and helpful, and seemed genuinely excited to see our ragtag little group. We spent a fair bit of time there, eyeing all the beautiful kimono and accessories on display. I’d not intended to buy anything, but of course I found one piece I absolutely loved and knew I had to have. There was a brief moment of sticker shock for someone who has been spoiled by buying things from online auctions, but the experience and the quality were more than worth it.

After we posed for a few photos and said goodbye to the lovely ladies of Kimono Vintage, we headed a few blocks away to a tiny gem of a tea shop, Cha Do Raku. Of course, we attracted attention from the few other patrons, but again, it was overwhelmingly positive!

There was a huge selection of tea available, and with the muggy weather I was happy to hear most of them could be served iced. The young woman working there was so sweet and helpful, and she served us our teas and snack with warmth and grace. The shop is quite small and intimate, and was a wonderful place to relax and cool down a little after our adventure.

Overall, it was an awesome day. I met lots of wonderful, like-minded people and it felt really excellent to get out and about in kimono again! I’m really looking forward to doing this again sometime soon.

If you’re in the Montreal area, please check out the following links:

Kimono Vintage Montreal Website | Kimono Vintage Montreal Facebook
Cha Do Raku 茶道楽 Website | Cha Do Raku Facebook
Montreal Kimono Club Facebook

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!