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!

Review: Mai-Star Card Game

maistar-header

Something a little different for today – a card game! Mai-Star is billed as a game of “Beauty and guile in the floating world“. It’s a beautiful, quick little card game that focuses on geisha entertaining clients and earning points to win the round. There are six geisha to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The game was designed by renowned game designer Seiji Kanai, after he’d been asked why none of his games to date were based on Japanese culture.

I invited a few friends over to test the game out. They’re familiar with card and board games, not so much with the world of maiko and geiko. I thought getting their perspectives would be interesting.

The first thing I noticed about Mai-Star is how absolutely gorgeous the artwork is. The geisha are all beautiful and unique, and while the artists have taken some creative liberties with things like hairstyle and accessories it’s clear that all the artwork is grounded in reality and accuracy. The game is set in an ephemeral time and location, which does result in a few stylistic choices that made me raise an eyebrow (the Okaasan card wearing Heian-era court noble robes, for example) but since it’s a fantasy game I don’t find that this detracts at all from the entertainment value. I also very much appreciate that these women are not some westernised, inaccurate stereotype of geisha. The characters in this game are beautiful, educated entertainers and at no point in the course of the game is it ever suggested they are anything else. The relatively unique subject matter is treated with utmost respect.

In the words of Kanai:

I believe foreigners have a lot of different images of Japan, but the classic trio is always “Samurai, Geisha, Ninja”. Games with samurai and ninjas were already all over the place, so I decided to go with geishas. Not even Japanese see much of real life geishas today, but shortly put they’re extremely educated party hostesses and professional entertainers, and I figured nothing bad could come out from spreading this piece of Japanese culture a bit more. (source)

 

It took us a few turns to get the hang of the game, but it’s quite straightforward and once we all got into it, the rounds went by quite quickly. The objective is to raise your geisha’s reputation (stats – performance, service, and intelligence) in order to attract high-paying clients. The geisha who earns the most after each festival (round) wins. It sounds very simple, but requires a lot of thought and planning. You can either choose to focus on boosting your own stats, or you can be crafty and attempt to sabotage the other players. The game doesn’t favour one playing type over another, making it fun and accessible for a wide range of players.

As you can see, we didn’t shuffle the cards as well as we should have, but it was still a lot of fun! You can purchase a copy of Mai-Star from Alderac Games on Amazon. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a beautiful, fun little card game.

I received this item from the manufacturer for review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site.

Happy Hina-matsuri!

Today is 雛祭り or Hina-matsuri! Literally translated as doll festival, it’s also referred to as Dolls Day or Girls Day. Dolls representing the Emperor and Empress (and, should you have the space and budget, also members of the court) are set out on a display and people pray for the happiness and health of any girls in the household.

Originally, I had planned to do a coordination on Tsukiko, something girly and pastel and princessy, but that idea got a bit derailed today. I might give it a shot tomorrow.

Instead, I remembered I had a new kimono doll post in the works, and figured what better day to finish it up and post it than today? These kimono dolls posts continue to be some of the most popular features on this blog if my back-end statistics are to be believed. I’m glad people enjoy them as much as I do. Especially with my health issues, and living in a country where it can go from -40 to +40 in the span of a few months, these dolls give me a way to enjoy coordinating and experimenting with kimono in a way nothing else can. Kimono and wafuku continue to grow in popularity and their presence is becoming more and more mainstream, which means lots of fun new dolls to play with! Here are a few recent ones I’ve found and particularly enjoyed.

cde-seikoSeiko Dressup - A very cute, chibi-style doll with lots of wardrobe options. She's got a selection of traditional and hime-style outfits, and the option to mix and match top and bottom halves. There are accessories to play with and you can change her makeup, but the doll base is fixed.
cherry bloom girlCherry Bloom Girl - A fairly decent selection of kimono, obi, accessories, and hairstyles. However, not all accessories fit with all hairstyles, and not all obi fit with all kimono. Still quite pretty and fun to play with though.
coupleRoyal Couple - Cute graphics, and lots of pretty options for the Empress, but I feel like the Emperor was an afterthought. He's got way less options, and most of his outfits feel more like yukata than courtly wardrobe, so there's a bit of a disconnect when the two are together.
japanese girlJapanese Girl - Despite the name, the doll in this game doesn't strike me as very Japanese-looking. She's pretty though. There are a few hairstyles to choose from, and ten kimono. However, the kimono and obi are connected, so there's not a huge amount of mix-and-matching here.
kitcuteKit the Kimono Designer - This is one of the best new kimono dress-up/creator games I've seen in a long time. It's got a very sweet hand-drawn art style and a ton of customisation! You can customise all aspects of the doll base and then create hundreds of possible kimono variations by mixing a huge selection of colours and patterns. Be careful with this one; it would be very easy to lose track of time while playing with it!

I also made my own origami Obina (emperor) and Mebina (empress) origami dolls. You may have seen them already if you follow me on Instagram, but here is a better photo.

hina

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.

ねこあつめ – Neko Atsume!

Ok, so this post is only very loosely related to kimono, but I thought it was worth sharing! You may have heard of the mobile app called ねこあつめ (Neko Atsume), as it’s gone a bit viral recently. It’s very adorable, and very easy. All you have to do is make sure your kitties have food and toys, and they will come visit your garden, sometimes leaving you little trinkets or currency. You only have to check it a couple of times a day, and it’s more of a cute diversion than an actual game.

The main reason I’m posting, though, is that a few of the rare kitties available wear kimono!

neko_samurai_cropThis guy's name is Osamurai-san. You can try to coax him into your garden by putting out the Sakura Zabuton or the High Quality Log.
maroThis is Maromayu-san, and he wears traditional Heian era garb. He'll come visit if you put out the Mari Ball item, and sashimi for food.

And once you’ve expanded your garden, you can also buy a very pretty little Japanese garden theme for it:

Neko Atsume garden

You can download Neko Atsume for free for iOS here and Android here. There is a great English-language tutorial available here, and another handy guide here on MeoWoof!