So as I mentioned in my last post, I was going to be visiting Naomi. One of the things we’d planned to do was a full geisha henshin, something I lacked both the know-how and wardrobe to do. I knew she had a lovely purple hikizuri with ferns on it and we’d decided to use that. HOWEVER… about a month ago, a gorgeous hikizuri in shades of purple with indigo ariso (curled up jumping carp) showed up on eBay. I wanted it desperately, but with my trip coming up I couldn’t justify bidding too much, so it slipped out of my grasp. Imagine my shock when Naomi was handing me things to look at and said “oh, and I have this old thing, you can keep it”, and I saw that very hiki when I unfolded it. I was in a bit of a tired, emotional state to begin with and I totally lost it and started crying, I was so touched. It turns out she and Erica had conspired to get it for me as a “very very early birthday/Christmas present”. For the record, my birthday is in November.
So anyway, when we did the henshin today, of course I had to wear my new hiki. I have to say, it still feels weird to say that. My new hiki. Mine!. But I digress. It was a super fun experience, and we took waaaaay too many pictures. I’ve uploaded my favourites to Flickr, and plugged in a gallery below, but here are some of the best. And, just because it’s hilarious – geisha henshin with a mohawk.
Updates will be a little sparse for the next few weeks – tomorrow morning I fly out to San Jose to attend Fanime and then spend some quality time with Naomi!! We’ve got lots of kimono shenanigans planned, so hopefully I will have lots of great photos for you when I get back!
My aunt and I have a particular bond in my family. First, I should mention that my mother and my aunt are identical twins, so growing up my relationship with my aunt (and conversely, my cousins’ relationship with my mother) may have been somewhat different from a normal aunt-niece dynamic. I honestly have no way of knowing for certain since I have no other point of comparison, but sometimes it felt more like having two mothers and several sisters.
We also seem to share certain things that nobody else in the family does to such an extent – my aunt is a civil engineer and interior designer, and while I am certainly nowhere near as capable or qualified, I’ve always loved decorating, the artistic aspects of interior design, and had I had more of a brain for math I probably would have tried to be an architect. We’re also both more prone to health problems than most of the other people in the family, who mostly seem to be fit as the proverbial horses.
I guess what I am trying to say is even though I don’t see her as often as I did when I was little, we connect on some level, and she always seems to have a knack for finding things I would appreciate. When I was younger she often gave me art supplies to try to encourage my artistic side (which I shamefully admit I have been horrible and neglected since then). For Christmas this year I asked for a very strange and specific camera lens adapter and it was decided it would be better if I went to buy it myself, so I could make sure I was getting the right model. My aunt, however, was not comfortable with the idea of me having nothing to open, so she gave me this gorgeous set of four prints of Kumadori, or Kabuki stage makeup. They are absolutely stunning. Naomi has brought to my attention that they seem to be inspired by the tradition of oshiguma:
There is a delightful custom associated with the use of kumadori, that of oshiguma. The actor takes a silk cloth to make a “print” of the make-up on his face with after the play has concluded. This is considered a souvenir of the very essence of the performance and is highly prized as a collector’s item.
After the “yay opening presents!” hubbub subsided, I managed to catch my aunt aside and ask where on Earth she’d gotten them, because I’ve never seen anything like them. She looked at me sheepishly and confessed that a friend of hers had received them as a thank-you gift while contracting with a Japanese company, had passed them on to her, and she in turn had passed them on to me. I was so touched. Now some of you may think ill of re-gifting, but to me this wasn’t so much a re-gift as the passing forward of a really beautiful treasure, ensuring they finally found a home with someone who would appreciate them. The previous owners were simply fostering them until they found their forever home!
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.
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.
I received these two gorgeous handmade hair accessories, or kanzashi, from Kornelia and I really encourage you to visit her Etsy shop.
Card Suits Hairband
As I’ve said many times before, I am a sucker for card suit motifs. I cannot wait to wear this with my card suit geta, spade obidome and a haneri I haven’t shown off yet. This is adorable, and I have to say I have never seen card suit motifs done using this method before. It’s so charming! I also really love that it’s on a hairband, so I can wear it no matter how short my hair might be.
Pastel pink ume clip
This is a much more traditional-looking kanzashi, but I don’t find it any less beautiful or charming. It’s such a delicate colour, but it’s a nice substantial size, so it doesn’t feel too twee or childish for someone of my age and height. The alligator clip needs a little more hair to grip than I currently have, but I’ll be growing it out a little bit again for the fall so I’ll be able to wear it during the winter, when it’s in season.