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!

Tiny Doll, Tiny Makeover

Hello! Just a quick post today. A few weeks ago, I found this charming little doll at one of the thrift stores near me. I posted a photo of her (along with the rest of my haul) on my Instagram but now that she’s had a bit of a face-lift I felt like she needed her own post.

She’s nothing fancy – maybe 4″ tall and made primarily of plastic. I assume she was a cheap souvenir or something. But I was really charmed by her, and wanted to give her a new lease of life. I was inspired by my friend Naomi, who has been rescuing dolls from thrift stores for ages now, and my friend Vi who runs The Heirloom Smith, a small custom design and restoration business.

The biggest and most obvious problem was her head; her hair was a wreck and there was a flat circle of paper glued to the crown of her head, where a hat had likely fallen off. Thankfully, she had two other hats – one in each hand! I carefully pried the hats off and put them aside, and moistened her hair so I could brush it and try to tame it down somewhat. I then soaked her hands carefully in warm water to dissolve the leftover glue and paper. However, without her hats her pose definitely looked a bit funny, and the fact that her hands, feet, and face were made of cheap yellowed plastic was very apparent. I re-posed her slightly (thankfully, her body is a wire frame so she’s relatively flexible), covered over her yellowed bits with white chalk paint, gave her a cute little umbrella to dance with, and glued one of the salvaged hats onto her head. The last step was to give her slightly more subdued facial features with watercolours over the newly-painted surface of her face. She looks very at home in the cabinet with the ceramic doll I repainted a while back. I’m so happy Ito have given both these girls a new home. Their big sister is also in the works, I hope to be posting about her sometime soon.

I didn’t take too many photos during the process, and the ones I did take were done at my desk with my phone so they’re not fantastic, but it’s still nice to see how she progressed to the final result up at the top of the page.

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

Happy Hinamatsuri!

Just a quick post today, to wish you all a happy Hinamatsuri! One day I hope to own a full, proper set of hina dolls but until I have the space and the budget for it, I’ve started a little bit of a personal tradition. Last year I made an origami set and while I still love them I wanted to do something a little more complex for this year. When my friend Amanda posted her Perler bead hina doll set on Facebook, I knew I’d found my project. They were very fun and relaxing to make. I’d forgotten how fun Perler bead crafts are, and I’m happy to have been reminded. I can’t wait to make more stuff 🙂

If you’d like to try making a set of your own, here is the pattern for the Obina (男雛, Emperor) and here is the Mebina (女雛, Empress). I didn’t have the exact colours needed so I took a bit of creative liberty but I think they look absolutely adorable!

Washitsu Games!

As I’ve mentioned recently I love miniatures, and you guys know how much I love silly dress-up games. Somehow though, I never thought to combine the two until recently. I know there are things like Animal Crossing and Second Life that allow you to customise your own spaces, but those require a fair bit of investment of time and effort. I was looking for more casual alternatives so I went searching for online games to decorate traditional Japanese-style rooms and I was not disappointed!

sakuraSakura House Decoration Game - This is the most immersive of the ones I've found. You can decorate four rooms: living room, kitchen, bedroom, and an exterior courtyard. There's not a huge selection of furniture, but there's enough to make a cute little vignette in each room, or you can choose to do what I've done here and make a studio-style one-room house. There are also a few kimono-clad female figures you can put in the rooms, but their outfits are not particularly accurate and they don't interact with the room in any way. Personally, I think the empty rooms are much cuter.
tatamiJapanese Tatami Room - Pretty much what it says on the tin! There's one room with a fixed structural layout (door, window, cabinet nook, and tokonoma) and you can choose all the finishes and surfaces, and then add in accents of seating, tables, and accessories. Not a huge selection, but still fun and relaxing.
exterior-designer-japanese-gardenExterior Designer - Japanese Garden - This one actually an exterior-only game. You can choose from a set selection of backgrounds, middle-grounds, foregrounds, paths, and bridges to combine into a cohesive and beautiful garden. There's not a ton of options, but it's very relaxing to play with.
Home Sweet HomeHome Sweet Home by Big Blue Bubble - I debated whether or not to include this one, due to the difficulty installing and running it, but it's pretty enough that I decided to go for it. I mentioned popular sandbox/decor games like The Sims and Second Life already, but this game is a bit of a hidden gem. There's no social aspect, no interaction, it really is all about the decorating aspect. There's a thin semblance of plot, essentially you're a designer and have to renovate rooms for clients, meeting their needs and wants. For every success you have, you unlock items and rooms in your own house that you can decorate to your heart's desire. There's a wide selection of far east Asian-inspired items and essentially no rules. Unfortunately, this game is quite old, and can be finicky on newer machines. It's available for purchase in the above link, and can also be torrented. I don't usually condone that sort of thing, but the game is old, finicky to run, and no longer has any support system.

I do apologise for the lack of content lately – it’s just been so infernally hot here in Montreal that I haven’t had the energy to undress and redress the mannequin, or even to scan a few of the books I’ve got lined up for review. Things are finally starting to cool down and I’ve got a bunch of pretty new things to show you guys, so hopefully we’ll be back to normal soon!