Tokai-Dos and Tokai-Don’ts

I’ve had this 53 Stations of the Tokaido tsukesage for a long time now. I’ve never worn it myself, but I did put it on my friend Frances one day. The obi, by comparison, was an absolute impulse purchase a few weeks ago – I was buying another item from the seller and this was only $10 so I couldn’t say no! Especially since it’s a lovely stylisation of Station 49 – Saka-no-shita, which is a station I don’t have on any items in my collection yet. For the price, its absolutely gorgeous. The bulk of the design is woven in, and then touches are pulled out with beautifully lush embroidery to add depth and texture. It’s a bit slippery to tie, but definitely not the most challenging obi I’ve had to work with.

Generally the rules of kitsuke say not to match the motif on your kimono to the motif on your obi, and to contrast the colour of one against the other. However, when I saw these two pieces next to each other, my mind drifted back to my first experiment in very monochrome and matchy outfits, and I wanted to give it another shot. Rules are an excellent starting point, but sometimes breaking them with forethought and intention can produce some amazing results.

I’ve always loved the peachy pink sunset accents on the kimono and decided to make them pop with the accessories. I feel like this resulted in an overall very calm and serene outfit with a bit of punch, and I love it!

I do apologise for the quality of the photos today; my camera was being difficult so I used my mobile phone camera. It worked, but it’s not ideal. However, I make no apologies for the utterly terrible word-play in the title.

Tokaido hanhaba obi

A while back I found a Stations of the Tokaido hanhaba obi on eBay that was quite similar to this one, but it was a bit expensive for a hanhaba, in my opinion. I let it slide, but honestly I regretted it after the auction was over.

Fast-forward approximately a year and this little baby shows up on eBay for a starting bid of one penny. Not only was it in a much more affordable price range, it also had much nicer contrast – the stations and reverse are a lovely golden yellow colour. On the first one I’d seen, they were a deeper red than the obi’s base, so they were pretty indistinguishable.

Tokaido hanhaba

The front side is a lovely brick red with simplified interpretations of the start point of Nihonbashi Bridge, the end point of the Bridge to Kyoto, and Station2 – Kawasaki. The reverse is a nice versatile warm gold asanoha weave design.

Tokaido hanhaba

Tokaido hanhaba

Tokaido hanhaba

Tokaido hanhaba

Art Gallery – Hiroshige’s Stations of the Tokaido

I often mention my love for the series of prints known as the 53 Stations of the Tokaido, and my passion for collecting kimono items with the stations as a motif. When I saw this adorable box of the Hoeido edition of prints come up for auction, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy them. They’re a lovely portable size, just about the size of playing cards, and not only are they very well-printed and well-presented, they make a wonderful quick reference for my collection. The full set is there, all 53 Stations as well as the start and end points. Unfortunately, due to the way they are printed, the scans end up slightly pointillized. In person, however, they are absolutely beautiful. The box is also very charming.

Feel free to click on the thumbnails to view individual pieces or open one and use the arrow keys to navigate through the gallery.

Red Tokaido Nagoya

If you’re anything of a regular reader, you’ll know of my fondness for items with the 53 Stations of the Tokaido motif. I also love the colour red. So when I saw this online, I clearly had to go for it!

I like it because it’s simple and vibrant, and also has two stations I did not have yet on obi. I had Nihonbashi on a fan, but I like having them on wearable pieces better. I also find it interesting that the other station, Kanagawa, is from Aritaya, one of the “other” editions of the prints (the standard one used for this sort of thing being the Hoeido edition).

Red Tokaido hakata obi

Start point, Nihonbashi Bridge
Red Tokaido hakata obi

Station 4, Kanagawa (Aritaya edition)
Red Tokaido hakata obi



Tokaido Fukuro Obi, through the kindness of another

Every once in a while, someone does something amazingly kind that you absolutely don’t deserve, and it reminds you that there are still some truly kind and exceptional people out there. Suara, one of the members of the Immortal Geisha forums, is one of those people.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love anything with the Tokaido 53 Stations motif, and there was a gorgeous obi on eBay that I had my heart set on. Several friends and family members all offered up some cash to help me get it, and I put in a ridiculously high maximum bid. Things went perfectly until the very last second, when I was sniped. I was devastated. I posted a rather angry and expletive-laced rant on the forums, and did my best to move on.

A few days later, another beautiful obi with the same motif but different stations got posted, and I was determined to get it. Unfortunately, I’d suffered the violent death of my backup hard-drive and had to re-prioritize my finances. I bid what I could, got outbid, and yet again posted on the forums, expressing my frustrations.

Fast-forward a few weeks, after a rather long and stressful few days, when I come home to this in my inbox:

Dear Moony,

The last obi for over $170,– made you so sad and I know how much you like this series of Obis. That is why I bid and fought for this obi as a small present to you. A present to say thank you for your kind help, not only to me but also as a mod for many many people here at IG. I tryed to let this obi send to you directly, but I did not have your name and address, nor you Ebay name, and I think, the seller did not realy know what I wanted. So instead of taking any risk, that a wrong person gets it, it is on its way to me, and if you would be so kind to send me your name and address, I will send it right to you ok?

I think that you are a wonderful person, so please except this small gift to show my apreciation.

Kind regards from Germany,

Suara

I was at a total loss for words – in fact, I started crying. While the entire forum is a close-knit community, I’d never dealt directly and personally with Suara, never had any interactions that I’d have imagined would have made such an impression. I was, and still am, beyond touched.

I made a promise to wear the obi and photograph it as soon as possible – unfortunately when it arrived this morning it was too hot for boxers and a tank top, let alone a kimono suitable for this amazing piece. However, I did think that the situation deserved at least catalogue photos, because it’s too beautiful not to share.

The obi base is a soft neutral with a slight shimmer – not quite gold, and not quite cream. The three stations on it are Ishiyakushi, Ohtsu, and Odawara. They’re woven in with great detail in a mix of warm browns and beiges and cool blue and green. The obi is lush and gorgeous, and will make an amazing complement to my strange chidori houmongi/kurotomesode hybrid, as well as several other kimono.

Station 9, Odawara

Station 44, Ishiyakushi

Station 53, Ohtsu

*A quick note on my station numbering – some people may have noticed that it doesn’t always correspond with the numbering used on all websites. The problem is that some places start the road with Nihonbashi being 0 while some consider it station 1. I stick with the numbering system the first reference I used, which starts at 0.