Book Review – Kyoto Shoin, Yuzen edition

Yuzen Dyeing
by Nobuhiko Maruyama
Language: Japanese and English
ISBN-10: 4763670409
Amazon.com listing

This was a risky impulse purchase off eBay. The listing did not give the title, did not give dimensions, and only had a few murky photos of the interior. However, it was a very good price so I figured I’d throw caution to the wind and go for it. I’m very glad I did, because when it arrived in the mail I was shocked to find one of the out-of-print and generally very pricey Kyoto Shoin ‘s Art Library of Japanese Textiles books, specifically the one about yuzen which is one of my favourite techniques.

The book is one of a series, and my only regret about buying it is that now I very much want more of the books out of the series. I’d heard that they were great resources, but never having seen one for myself  I didn’t really know what I was missing.

The book is filled with gorgeous full-colour plates of vintage kimono, often pairing up a full garment shot with a detail. The text is sparse, but concise. It doesn’t go into huge amounts of depth, but does not leave me desperate for more information. The majority of the book is devoted to photos, but there is also a basic explanation of the techniques involved in yuzen dyeing in the back. It is by no means a full tutorial, but it helps the reader to understand the process and effort involved in making these beautiful garments.

I would recommend this book for:


-People interested in traditional dyeing techniques.
-People looking for pictures of beautiful vintage kimono.

I would not recommend this book for:


-People looking for in-depth tutorials or lessons on yuzen dyeing.

 

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Black Hanamaru Furisode

Black Hanamaru Kofurisode

This is a piece I’ve already shown you, I wore it the first day it arrived, but it also needs a decent catalogue entry, so please bear with me.

Yamatoku was having a sale over the summer of graduation kofurisode overstock. Kofurisode are shorter-sleeved furisode, typically worn with hakama. Girls often wear them during high school and college graduation, so about a month after graduation season, kimono retailers will typically have a large number of modern, synthetic, mass-produced kimono available for good prices.

I don’t usually like modern kimono, and furisode even less, so I honestly wasn’t expecting to pick one of these up. However, when I found this one I had to cave in. It’s komon-style (all over pattern), so it doesn’t scream “furisode” to me. If anything, between the sleeve length and the bright all-over pattern, it looks more like a vintage everyday kimono than a modern graduation outfit. Because it’s modern, it’s nice and large and actually fits me nicely. It was also a steal at $19.95. How could I say no?

The patterns are hanamaru, which are decorative balls of flowers. They’re primarily fall and winter flowers; ume and kiku. There’s also some sort of berries or tiny flowers, I have no idea what these represent. If you know, please comment and help me out! There’s also some subtle trellis designs which add a nice geometric element and keep it from feeling too twee or girly.

The hakkake is a deep yellow, and there is a matching built-in kasane-eri. I hate those damned things, but it does add a nice vibrant touch of colour up by my face, and helps to break up the black, so I’ll probably leave it in there.

From the Archives – retro-style wool komon coordination

Okay, this is kind of a cheat. This is an outfit I wore quite some time ago, but I quite liked how it turned out. It’s murderously hot out, so I thought maybe an outfit for the fall would remind me of the lovely crisp weather in early spring, and cool everyone down.

It’s all over the place formality-wise, and not really correct with the gloves and boots, but I was going for an overall look, feel and style here, not perfect Sodo kimono regulations. I was aiming for a sort of subdued 20s style, and I think I kind of pulled it off. I’d love to wear some sort of little cloche hat with this, but I look like a total doofus in any sort of hat so let us never speak of that again.

I paired up my great black, white, and red wool komon with my red tsuke-obi and red synthetic haori. A green kasane-eri, green shibori obiage, and round green obijime hold everything together and add a bit of pop. See what I mean about mixing formality? For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rules, I’ve put cocktail-level formal accessories with a “running grubby errands” kimono. And then, if that wasn’t enough, I’m wearing high-heeled black leather boots and black opera gloves! The scandal!

Fukuro obi catalogue

For dressier kimono or more formal events, sometimes you need a dressier obi. Something with a lot of bling, something you can tie a big ornate musubi with. Fukuro obi are generally blank on one side and patterned on the entire other side, or they may have a large blank area that gets wrapped around the waist to save on bulk and budget. They typically have bold, celebratory motifs and a lot of gold or silver embroidery or woven threads.

Gold pattern and kamon fukuro

This is a great obi to pair with kurotomesode, it’s a little mature and subdued, and the gold is warm and soft – not brassy or tacky looking.

Champagne and pastel fukuro

Another shiny obi, it’s soft and easy to tie and looks nice with furisode. It’s got rippling rivers and pockets of soft pastel flowers. Not typically to my tastes, but practical to have in any varied wardrobe.

Orange fukuro with gold grasses

I’m not going to lie – I bought this primarily because it reminded me of a creamsicle. It worked out well though – the peachy orange is a perfect match for the ume on my kurotomesode, and some of the tachibana on my indigo taisho houmongi. It screams Showa era, but it’s cute and fun and I still kind of love it.

Black, red, and gold celebratory fukuro

Another one that screams Showa Wonderful. These obis are incredibly typical of the late seventies through early nineties, and are still being produced, though not in quite as much volume. This one has red kiku and gold and silver cranes, and kikko (tortoishell). It’s a very loud, very auspicious obi.

Gunmetal paving stones fukuro

I’m not quite sure how to describe this one. It’s blue, it’s green, it’s purple. It’s irridescent and reminds me of oil on hot asphalt in the heat of summer. Because of the strange chameleon-like quality, it’s amazingly versatile and goes with a lot of things. It came bundled with a kimono, I bid on the kimono and go the obi as a bonus, and oddly enough I’ve worn the obi several times, and not yet worn the kimono once!

Red and black faux-shibori fukuro

I love this one so much. It originally belonged to my friend Amelie, and I coveted it. When she told me she was selling some items, I jumped on it. Why, then, have I not found anything to wear it with yet?! It’s separated into roughly thirds, with two thirds being bright tomato red with a dyed faux-shibori pattern, and the remaining third in black with a stylized chain of wisteria. I will wear it one day, I just need to find the right kimono to do it justice.

Red Kiku Tsukesage

I originally bought this kimono to go with a specific obi, my Stations of the Tokaido Hakata obi. It’s a warm, rich brick red that really screams fall, which goes very well with the delicate kiku motif saraga nui embroidery around the hem.

It’s a much more mature kimono than my tastes usually veer to, but I think sometimes it’s nice to have simple, classic things to fall back on. It’s also great for dressing people who may be older, or may not be comfortable with really crazy vivid vintage kimono designs.

The embroidery is very delicate. I’ve come to notice that between this and my shifuku houmongi, I’m starting to amass a collection of really intricate french knot embroidered kimono. Perhaps I can use this as an excuse to buy more!

I’ve only had the chance to wear it once, when I went out to visit Amelie, but hopefully I’ll have more appropriate and seasonal opportunities to wear it in the future.