The one that started it all…

Have you ever bought something on somewhat of an impulse that you both cherish and regret? I sure as hell have! I love this piece to bits and I’m so proud I snagged it before I knew what I was doing, but my wallet still holds it partially responsible for this habit hobby.

Back in 2003, I’d toyed with the idea of buying a kimono for some time, due most likely to my paternal grandmother’s appreciation of Asian antiques and textiles. She’s not been with us for a very long time, but I’m sure she would heartily encourage this silly hobby. But I digress..

As I mentioned, I’d waffled with the idea but did essentially no research. A smart person would have probably started with a yukata or something, but I honestly had no idea of types, formality, eras, motifs, etc. I just saw this beast and fell head over heels. I had to have it.

It’s a gorgeous early-Showa era houmongi. The silk is thick and rich and delicious, and the design is sweeping streams of spider-style kiku in white with faint black and gold accents. The dramatic, graphic contrast is what drew me to it in the first place. The sleeves are long, not quite Taisho-era, but still elegant and draping, and the lining is a vivid red.


I love the subtle black to grey yuzen dyeing on the leaves so much.

I’ve paired it up with a black, red, and gold formal obi, but I’d like to try it with a softer, more vintage style at some point. Though, I have to say I love how it looks with the contrast of black, and how the red makes my skin and hair look. Is that conceited? XD

Silk scarves and soft ropes.. Obiage & Obijime

Oh my, the title of this sounds so much more exciting than it actually is! However, in my mind obiage and obijime can be very sexy, a vivid obijime can add a bright punch of colour to a subdued outfit, and an obiage peeping out above the obi almost reminds me of elegant silk lingerie.

My collection is admittedly sort of unbalanced, since I lucked out and found a bundled lot of a large number of obijime, and don’t have enough obiage to match XD I will fix that eventually though!

Plum rinzu obiage and round obijime

These were actually purchased on separate occasions, and just happen to be an insanely ridiculous match. The obiage has a subtle pattern of stripes and kiku.

Mofuku (funeral wear) obiage and obijime

Simple and versatile. Technically to be worn to a funeral, but they “ground” an otherwise busy and colourful outfit.

Apple-green shibori obiage and round obijime

A vivid, youthful pair. Also not technically a set, they were acquired at separate times and just happen to match perfectly.

Icy obiage and olive flat obijime

I received this lovely subdued formal set as a gift from a dear friend and a terrible enabler, the same one who gave me the blackbird obi and the koinobori obi. The obiage is a very pale icy blue that looks green in some lights, and has a subtle leafy print on it. The obijime is gold on one side and olive on the other.

Lilac chirimen obiage and flat obijime

Simple solid purple obiage. The obijime has a few cute areas woven with a sort of olive colour and yellow. These actually did not come together, they were bought separately but just happened to look perfect together.

Lemon shibori obiage and hakata obijime

One of my favourite sets – the obiage is a bright vivid yellow with round shibori designs, it reminds me of lemon slices.

The obiage is flat and has delicate hakata weaving in gold.

Pink ro shell obiage and lace obijime

I love this set and wish it weren’t ro, so I could wear it more often. The obiage has adorable little dyed shells all over it, and the obijime has a kind of chevron pattern woven into it with shiny, multicoloured threads.

White obiage with red shibori clouds

Simple white rinzu with cute bright red clouds. It’s youthful, but not totally covered with shibori, which is nice and versatile.

Pink geometric shibori obiage

The work in this sort of shibori never ceases to amaze me. It’s so detailed, and the geometric bits are so perfect and straight.

Raspberry red shibori obiage

I’m not sure what to call this colour – I cannot accurately capture it on camera. It looks rich tomato red in some light, hot pink in others, but usually sort of a dark red-pink. Pretty!

Orange shibori obiage

Nice rich orange. Not much else to say about it XD

Khaki flowered shibori obiage

This is a bit of an oddity, it’s such a drab, muted colour but the amount of shibori on it makes it feel young and formal. Poor conflicted thing! It’s beautiful though, the designs are bamboo leaves and flowers.

Red and aqua vintage shibori obiage

I love this one. It’s got such great vibrant contrast. It’s relatively old, compared to some of my others, and feels a bit thin and fragile, but still great and wearable.

Black and red polka-dot “obiage”

I say “obiage” in quotations because this is actually a scarf I picked up at the mall recently, it just happens to have the exact weight and dimensions of a real obiage, so why not use it?

Fancy brown and gold obijime

A formal obijime, good for furisode. It’s fun to play with, either braiding the three small strands, or making small fancy knots with them.

Fancy pink and gold obijime

Also good for furisode, with lovely gold accents and rainbow tassels.

Navy and ice-blue obijime

A nice smooth versatile obijime in a relatively neutral navy blue with a hit of pale blue.

Gold and red obijime

This is actually a decorative silk cord, but it’s stiff enough and pretty enough to use.

Raspberry obijime

Simple, easy to match with anything.

Baby pink obijime

Tassels on this one are kind of a mess, but it’s a cute soft colour.

Pink and red saganishiki obijime

Beautiful and detailed, and great for obidome. I’d like more of this style eventually.

Pink and silver obijime

I’ve not yet worn this, but I hope to soon. I think it’s really pretty.

Teal and red wide flat obijime

I love this one, it’s very wide and the colour choice is really unexpected. It feels quite vintage to me, but I’m not sure. I can’t wait to have an outfit it works well with.

Blue and gold “rubber duck” obijime

The colours and design on this totally reminds me of a shower curtain with little rubber ducks or something. I love this one.

Chocolate and lime tiny obijime

This one’s small and discreet, but so awesome up close. It’s the colour of milk chocolate with hits of a rich true lime green and silver.

Mint green and neon red obijime

I love this one, and wear it far too often. The mint is so calm and cool, and the punches of fluorescent red are so fun. I love the gigantic fluffy tassels too.

Blue and white striped obijime

A cute, nautical-feeling one.

Flat pink obijime

Another simple and easily wearable one. Works with a lot of outfits.

Bright orange flat obijime

This is a sort of violent shade of orange, but it’s simple otherwise so not too overboard. Not my favourite though, it came bundled with some others.

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth geta

Pardon the cheesy title.  I seem to have a fondness for them! While browsing evilBay yesterday I realized I need to take some time and focus on the “lacking” spots in my kimono wardrobe, and started making a list. That quickly spiralled downhill into a wishlist of sorts, which I figured I would share, despite not expecting any of it as actual gifts XD. Consider this a “to buy” list for my own personal reference.

Relatively neutral, non-shibori obiage.
For some reason, I have a huge lack of these. Nearly all my obiage are either very vivid in colour, or covered in ornate shibori, or both. This makes casual outfits a bit of a challenge, especially things like wool komon. The biggest obstacle for me here is that obiage tend to be bundled with obijime, which I absolutely do not need. I bought a huge mixed lot and am set for a while. I also bought a mixed lot of shibori obiage, but for some reason have had no luck with simpler ones.

Cute juban that actually fit.
Being the gigantic hulking glamazon that I am, finding kimono that fit can be a challenge. However, kimono are made to be overly long and adjusted at the waist, so generally I can make do. Juban (the traditional middle layer of clothing, a form of underrobe that are usually partially visible), however, are not meant to be folded at the waist, and so should be as long as the measurement from shoulder to ankle. That measurement, on me, is the entire height of a typical Japanese woman, from what I can tell based on sizes. Unfortunately, this means that juban tend to be waaay too short on me. I have some that are two pieces, and so the skirt can be tied low on my hips, and that helps. I also have one that is actually a converted unlined kimono, and it works. However, I would like more variety, since the hems and sleeves of these pieces do show quite a bit, and should add some oomph to an outfit. If anyone ever sees juban over 55″/140cm, please let me know!

More 53 Stations of the Tokaido motifs.
If you’re reading this blog you’re probably already aware, but my collection has a sub-collection. I am slowly amassing kimono items that have motifs based on Hiroshige’s 53 Stations of the Tokaido series of prints. I am going to do an entire entry on this in the future, to catalogue the pieces I have and explain a bit of the history behind the theme as well as try to pin-point what it is about this series I find so captivating, but that’s for a later date. For the time being, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for any related items, particularly ones that have stations I do not already own. Any items here would be awesome; so far I only have three obi and one folding dance fan. Eventually, I hope to have an entire outfit, no matter how tacky and clashing it may end up.

More lobsters, and sea creatures in general!
For some reason, I find the spiny lobster motif absolutely hilarious and adorable. I recently finally managed to snag myself an obi with one on it, but this has not satiated my need for ridiculous lobster, much to my dismay. Now would be a good time to bring my dream motif, large-scale cephalopods. However, in all my years of collecting, the only time I’ve come across anything remotely related to this was  a man’s haori with Hokusai’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (note, that link is not safe for work if your work is strict) print inside the lining. Not exactly what I am looking for!

Vintage, wide vertical striped kimono.
I love the look of wide, bright contrasting stripes. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find any that fit me and are within my budget. This is sort of low on my priority list because I have a ton of kimono I’ve not worn out yet.

Hakata, hakata, hakata!
Another of my lustmotifs. Hakata is a form of weaving traditional to a specific region of Japan, and is typically used for obi.  I have several already, but I’m always on the lookout for more, especially in unusual or interesting colourways.

A girl can never have too many shoes or purses!

Even when it comes to kimono! Typically, the only proper shoes to be worn are zori, a sort of platform sandal made of leather, vinyl, or brocade silk, or geta, a wooden sandal with fabric thong hanao (straps). Zori are dressier, geta are usually worn with yukata, though with a more vintage or experimental outfit, they can be worn with kimono. Handbags are usually clutch-style, small enough to fit in a hand. Sometimes they’ll have a small strap or chain, but not always. For dressier outfits, you can get matching sets, but like western wear, it’s not necessary to have your shoes and bag match, and in some cases can even seem old-fashioned.

I have large feet, even by North American standards, so finding footwear that fits is always a challenge. Thankfully, traditional Japanese footwear is worn with the heel hanging off the end of the shoe, so wearing them too small is not a huge issue, so long as they are comfortable. I’ve lucked out and found a few pairs I quite like, but I am keeping an eye out for more.

Pastel Saga-nishiki set

This a very dressy set, good for furisode or tomesode. The zori are a bit tight, but they’re not something I wear often, so I can deal with it.

Gold and orange Saga-nishiki set

Another dressy set, but the colours are a bit more subdued so these get a bit more exposure. There’s a cute little mirror in the bag, and when I got it it was stuffed with newspapers from the early 1950s, which I found awesome.

Gold vinyl zori

My largest pair, and one of my most versatile. The hanao and the heels have inserts of red and black with little gold sakura on them. They’re comfortable, and by kimono standards, neutral.

Silver vinyl zori

Another large, comfortable, versatile pair. I took a risk on these – the auction listing just said “Japanese sandals” and the picture was iffy. There was also no size listed. I’m quite shocked at how large they are!

Black zori with woven hanao

These poor babies get more use than the town bicycle. They’re comfortable and casual, and since there are so many colours in them they match so many outfits. If they ever fall apart I will be devastated.

Black ukon geta

A great little versatile pair of black geta. I’m planning on changing the hanao on these ones eventually, the green does not match anything I own XD

Blue modern geta

Slightly dressier geta (carved heel, gold accents on the hanao) that I sometimes wear in inclement weather, or with older kimono. They’re a little slippery, which makes them hard to wear with tabi, but a quick spritz of hairspray fixes that.

Casual Hello Kitty geta

Big, floppy, noisy, knockoff Hello Kitty geta. For yukata only, and even then only in a very casual situation!

Black arabesque clutch bag

I love this bag so much. I snagged it for $0.99, I cannot believe how lucky I was. It’s a lovely soft black silk with woven swirls, and a snowflake-like design in silver. The top is an awesome reddish tortoiseshell Bakelite and the leather handle can also be tucked into the purse and hidden.

Mauve handbag with black trim

Yet another $0.99 find. It’s a pretty dusty mauve rinzu silk with black leather trim and a celluloid and metal clasp. It’s also quite large, about 25cm long. There was a cute little mirror tucked into one pocket when I got it.

Leather bingata-style clutch

Another amazing $0.99 find. I seem to have a knack for snagging bags nobody else bid on. I’m not sure if it’s real leather or vinyl, but it’s soft and supple and has an awesome Bingata-style stencil print and metal hardware.

White and silver clutch

Strictly speaking, this is not a kimono bag at all. It’s actually a promotional makeup clutch from MAC cosmetics. XD However, it’s got a great little rococo feel and fits perfectly into the sleeve of a kimono. It was never used for cosmetics, and so is good and clean. It’s pretty casual, but cute.

Striped tsumugi wallet

Just a simple little jewel-toned flat pocket, good for holding cards and cash and tucking into the front of my obi, or washi paper for sweets during a Japanese-style event.

Koinobori, No boring!

So I have been slacking with the cataloguing. Today I am going to feature another favourite obi of mine. Interestingly, it was a gift from the same dear friend who got me the blackbird obi I mentioned in a previous entry.

This obi has another quirky, relatively unique motif, koinobori.

The motif is koinobori, or koi flags/banners.

From Wikipedia

Koinobori (鯉幟, Koi-nobori?), meaning “carp streamer” in Japanese, are carp-shaped wind socks traditionally flown in Japan to celebrate Tango no Sekku (端午の節句), a traditional calendrical event which is now designated a National holiday; Children’s Day[1].

The obi is technically very seasonal, because of this, and shouldn’t really be worn aside from the first week of May, when Children’s Day is.

Luckily, this year I went to my work’s toy convention on the first weekend of May earlier this year. It’s a day filled with superheroes and fantastic tales, a great place to celebrate Boy’s Day. I paired it up with a purple tsukesage and minty green and purple accessories.

I suspect this obi is quite old. It is very soft, the silk worn thin in a few places, and it’s very short. Unfortunately, because of this even with an obi-tying aid, I still get a relatively small otaiko from it. I still love it though.

And just for fun, a girl in a kimono kicking butt with a lightsaber. I do love my job.