Shah Mosque Houmongi

I don’t know if anyone remembers that I made a resolution only to buy really special pieces. Unfortunately, my complete and utter lack of dedication has pretty much thrown that to the wayside, but I am trying to keep an eye out for particularly spectacular items. I blame BikaBika for this, she posted the link to the auction on the Immortal Geisha forums and I knew then and there that I needed to have this item. Thankfully Naomi was there to help me get it through YJA. It finally arrived in the box of stuff I mentioned last Friday, and I was so excited to finally get it so I could see it in person and write about it.

I’ve always been fascinated by architectural motifs on kimono, but I’d never seen one with a mosque on it. In particular, the blue dome and heavy Moorish ornamentation would suggest that this is the Shah Mosque in Iran. The yuzen dye work is absolutely stunning, the whole piece looks like a soft painting but the details up close are breathtaking. The silk is incredibly lush as well, it’s got an interesting nubby texture, almost like shibori but it’s woven into wave-like stripes and not part of the actual visual pattern.

Shah Mosque Kimono

Shah Mosque Kimono

I have several coordinations in mind for this particular kimono, including one using the gorgeous Moorish Arches obi I received as a mystery gift, but also a more subdued modern look. Hopefully I will find the time for one or both of them in the near future.

Tea Time – Cha Guan Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearl

Cha Guan is a beautiful shop and tea room in the Monkland Village area of Montreal. The atmosphere is serene and beautiful, and the teas are sumptuous and delicious. This store is small, but a complete gem. All the teas I smelled were rich, complex, and deliciously perfumed. Their selection of teapots, gaiwan, and normal cups were beautiful works of art, and the store itself has a wonderful relaxing atmosphere. It’s definitely worth a trip if you appreciate traditional Chinese teas and are in the area.

I caved in and bought some of their Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearl green tea after falling in love with the smell of it in the shop. The Dragon Pearl tea is small, tightly-wrapped balls, or “pearls” of young green tea leaves. The smell is clean, soft, and slightly flowery without being overpowering. It’s a wonderful relaxing tea to have with dinner or unwinding in the evening.

The flavour is subtle and smooth. If brewed properly (Cha Guan will give you specific brewing and steeping instructions for each tea when you purchase it), it has no trace of bitterness that some green teas can have, and no soapy feel from the flowers. It’s definitely a tea best enjoyed with no additions, but a tiny bit of honey might complement it well if you absolutely need a touch of sweetness.

You can purchase it online here: Cha Guan Online Tea Shop, and please rest assured I receive no remuneration nor am I affiliated with this shop (or any other tea I may review in the future). I am just sharing things I enjoy with you all.

A Thousand Paper Cranes

I have mentioned the tradition of Senbazuru, or the act of making one thousand paper cranes to grant a wish before, and mentioned that I had an outfit in mind for that obi, but I was waiting for something. That something was a gigantic box of awesome from my dear darling Naomi and today that box arrived. I am going to be a busy blogger for the next few days, but here’s a little teaser.

One of the things from this box I was most eager for was the black haori with the orizuru (origami cranes) motif. My origami skills are lacklustre, to say the least, but I wanted to put together an outfit as a show of solidarity and hope for Japan. I will be taking better photos of the jacket soon but I was so excited to put the whole outfit together that I decided to do it today. There were a lot of modern dressing aids in the box too, and I thought they would save me a huge amount of time and effort. Boy, was I wrong! I think actually making a thousand paper cranes would have been less stressful and exhausting than the harrowing experience that was getting dressed today. In the end I broke down and did everything the old-fashioned way, and it worked out eventually. It may have been a hassle but I really like the way it turned out.

Vintage Irotomesode-komon hybrid

When I saw the listing for this item, I fell hard and fast in love. The late Meiji/Early Taisho style designs around the hem looked so soft and gorgeous, the varied-width stripe rinzu silk was awesome, and I found the small scattered pattern combined with the hem design really unique. I was expecting people to fight for it, but somehow it slipped under the radar and I got it for a great price.

It’s quite small, but I expected that. I will be able to wear it for photos but I don’t think I’ll be comfortable wearing it out of the house, sadly. However, as a conversation piece it’s pretty priceless. Nowadays kimono fall staunchly into very specific categories ranging from informal komon with all-over patterns to very formal tomesode with designs only below the knees, usually with a crest. This one somehow manages to be both. Before World War II, kimono were worn much more frequently and it was more common to see ones that blurred or outright crossed these formality lines, but I’d never seen one that was a combination of such blatantly different designs.

Another interesting aspect of it is that the motifs (peony, narcissus, and nandina) are very Spring season-specific. It’s a formal crested kimono, generally these tend to have more celebratory or all-season motifs, to prevent the need from owning too many. Anyone who could afford to have a formal, crested kimono that could only be worn for a month (possibly two) out of the year clearly had an appreciation for the finer things in life, and the finances to back that up.

The auction listing showed this as a standard indigo blue, so I was more than a little confused when I opened the package and a purple kimono fell out. I saw the rinzu stripes and the little leaves and knew it was the right item, but it’s a completely different colour. I don’t mind at all though – I’ve wanted a dark purple kimono for a very long time but they usually go for much higher prices. The yuzen work on the hem is also even more soft and delicate than the auction pictures had led me to believe. It’s a gorgeous piece, and my only complaint is that I like it even more than I thought I would so I am sad that it doesn’t fit me very well.

Irotomeosode-Komon Hybrid

Irotomeosode-Komon Hybrid

Two Black Pente Haori

I found the two of these as Buy It Now listings from the same seller, waffled between the two for a bit, and finally figured I could save on shipping by getting both. I did not realize from the listings that they were pente (a form of painting on the silk, usually with acrylic), I thought they were modern heat-transferred synthetic. I’m really happy though – I like it when things turn out better than I anticipated.

The first one has a bold design of maple-shaped inserts on geometric designs, and the second one is a more subtle but beautifully painted series of multi-seasonal flowers, and it also has a crossed hawk-feather crest. They both have soft white linings and pretty white and gold himo. They will be great versatile dressy haori, and much more appropriate for dressing older people than most of the ones I currently own. XD

Black graphic haori

Black graphic haori

Black flower haori

Black flower haori detail