A quick taste of things to come

Not a huge post today, I just wanted to give you guys a little sneak peek of a few things I’ve got in the works. I’ve recently received some really great books I’m going to be reviewing, and today I found a beautiful Fuji Musume doll at a second-hand shop, and I’m going to be taking better photos of her soon! I was just very eager to share. Sorry for the terrible phone camera shots.

Zen Koi

Since you guys seem to like posts that involve fun games that may not be specifically kimono-related but often reflect back on Japanese aesthetics, I’d love to tell you about Zen Koi by LandShark Games.

There are many variations on a legend about the koi fish that states that if it swims upstream and through perseverance and determination reaches the gate at the top of a waterfall, the gods will reward the koi by transforming it into a dragon. This app loosely follows that premise. You begin with a tiny koi hatched from an egg, and to progress in the game you eat specific types of prey. You grow, level up your koi, and expand your pond, until you reach the final level and ascend your fish, which then becomes a dragon.

The gameplay is incredibly soothing and non-challenging. Occasionally the prey can be a bit tricky to catch, but there are no penalties and no time limits. If you miss, you can just try again. It’s almost more like a guided meditation than an actual game. It has a very simple and fluid learning curve but never stops being rewarding, especially if you’re a completist like myself. I keep playing to try to get as many variations of koi and dragons as I can! If you’re looking for something with a lovely, quiet feel and a pretty Japanese-style aesthetic to keep you occupied on long bus commutes or in waiting rooms, I highly suggest you check it out!

The game is free to download and free to play. There is a form of premium currency called pearls which you can use to expand your number of fish and buy new fish, but you can earn pearls by exalting your koi and watching brief advertisements for other games. At no point is real currency necessary to progress. You can get Zen Koi on Google Play for Android, or Zen Koi on the iOS App Store for Apple devices.

Kimmidolls – A modern take on a Japanese classic

If you’re reading this blog, odds are high that you’ve got at least a passing familiarity with kokeshi dolls. They are one of the most easily recogniseable traditional Japanese art forms. The simple little dolls, with their smooth bodies and big round heads, are naive and charming, while maintaining that quintessential clean-lined aesthetic.

As you may already know, I work in a toy store and love hoarding collecting action figures and art vinyl toys. So imagine how thrilled to bits I was when I came across Kimmidolls. They are made in Australia, and remain true to the spirit and aesthetic of traditional kokeshi while also reflecting modern aesthetics and collecting. While they all have the same smooth body and blunt bob hairstyle, each doll has a unique facial expression and kimono. Rather than being carved of wood, they are made of a heavy and durable stone resin. They are all individually named, and each doll represents a positive emotion or personality trait. They are incredibly adorable and appeal to both my kimono fascination and my urge to collect things. There are four sizes, from the tiny key-chain models to the limited-edition extra-large ones, often decorated with Swarovski crystals.

My collection is small, but I only discovered these beauties late last year.



I’ve got a wishlist, and hope to keep my collection growing. They’re an affordable little indulgence, especially when I am too broke and too big to wear kimono as frequently as I’d like to.

Kimmidolls can be found frequently in Australia, Asia, and Europe, but may also be available in smaller art/collectibles shops in North America, and are easily available from online retailers such as Tokyo Otaku Mode, Chesterton Manor, City Lights Collectibles, and eBay. There is also the Kimmidoll International fanpage on Facebook, where they engage with fans and post about upcoming collections. And if you are lucky enough to find yourself at Walt Disney World, the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot has a huge selection. It’s where I got Airi and Chikako.

I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. I received this item as a gift.

明けましておめでとう! Akemashite omedetou! Happy New Year!

The new year is upon us! A time of renewal, change, and hope. I wish all of you the best for 2016 and beyond.

To celebrate the beginning of a new year, I pulled out one of my favourite kimono to coordinate. I bought this one the last time I visited Vintage Kimono in Boulder, Colorado. At first glance it looks like a relatively minimalist kurotomesode, with a sparse design of chidori and matsu (plover and pine). However, it’s also got a smattering of chidori on one sleeve. This was a brief trend for kurodomesode, which traditionally only have patterns on the hem. As western-style seating spread through Japan, kimono designers realised that a lot of the artwork and craftsmanship of these most formal kimono were getting lost, as women sat up with their feet tucked away. They started putting a small design somewhere that would be visible in theatre-style seating, usually on one shoulder or sleeve.

The trend has since fallen out of favour and kurotomesode have gone back to their hem-only design placement, but you can still occasionally find little oddities like this one. I’ve been told that at this point I can choose to wear it as a kurotomesode, or a very formal houmongi. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as how I’m 34 and still single.

I paired the kimono with a fairly typical white-and-gold obi with auspicious designs, tied in standard niijudaiko musubi, to hopefully double my good fortune for the coming year. However, I’d forgotten what a complete and utter beast this thing is to tie. It’s very long, even by modern fukuro standards, as well as being very slippery and floppy. It has a core, but it’s a very soft one. So unless I go in forearmed with a handful of extra himo and clips, it always slides around and loosens while tying it. Thankfully I had not only a bunch of tools but also a very helpful and cooperative father to hold bits and pieces while I tied other bits and pieces.

I’ve decided that this year, I am not going to make resolutions. They never work for me. I am, however, going to set goals. If I attain them, fantastic! If I don’t quite succeed, at least I tried and progressed. There’s no point in making myself feel bad for not achieving relatively arbitrary marker points.

Kimono-related goals I would like to set for 2016:

  • Lose enough weight to comfortably wear kimono again.
  • Consistently and regularly work through the backlog of book and tea reviews I’ve got half-done.
  • Coordinate more outfits on Tsukiko.
  • Write more. Blog entries, fiction, personal journal entries. Doesn’t matter what, so long as it’s words.

Do you have any kimono-related goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments.


Save Artisans – Bring Real Kimono to New York Fashion Week

This post is a little bit different. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already fairly interested in kimono, and active in the kimono-related communities on the internet, but just in case, I’m sharing this anyway.

Hiromi Asai is a professional kimono stylist who strives to share the artistry and history of kimono with the world. Kimono Artisan Kyoto is an association of traditional textile artisans. Together, they are trying to get a fashion show happening at New York Fashion Week that will showcase kimono fashion and share it with the world. Hiromi has created a Kickstarter to help fund this goal. Please check it out, and consider donating to help keep kimono culture alive and well. They are at over 80% of the goal with two weeks to go, so this project is absolutely viable, but still needs support!

“Kimono” is now a well known word around the world, yet in its native Japan the art of kimono creation is on the verge of crisis. Reduction of kimono market, aging of artisans, and lack of their successors are slowly fading the once vibrant art.

We hope to revive and revitalize the world of Kimono by presenting authentic hand crafted kimono designs on the runways at New York Fashion Week. If we succeed funding by Kickstarter, this is the world’s first crowdfunding-based fashion show on the standard venues at New York Fashion Week. We believe this project is for the future of kimono and kimono fashion.

In order to expand the kimono market to the world, kimono artisans come out from their workshops and plan to show their kimono designs on stage at New York Fashion Week in February 2016, produced by Hiromi Asai. This project is organized by two non-profit organization, Kimono Hiro Inc. and Kimono Artisan Kyoto, in US and Japan, respectively.

You can also follow the project on Facebook for status updates and new information.

Update, July 26, 2015: The initial funding goal has been met with a few days to go! If you were debating pledging and have not yet, there is still time. They’ve added several push goals, and more funding can only help out.