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.

Slaying my White Whale

I mentioned my “white whale” komon in this entry, and earlier this week the obi I’d purchased specifically with it in mind arrived. Today the weather was nice and I finally had some time to pull together an outfit, and I am thrilled with how it all came together.

I combined the busy arabesque komon with a nearly-solid obi with a bit of simple kinkoma embroidery in gold, tabi in a similar shade of eggplant, a goldish yellow haneri, and a yellow shibori obiage and matching yellow obiage with hakata details. As a final touch, I added one of my precious treasures, an obidome that was awarded to the Aikoku Fujinkai (patriotic women’s association) sometime before WWII. I will be writing an entry about this item itself in the future, when I’ve collected more information.

I look like a doofus here, but a happy doofus:

Close-up detail of my obidome:

Detail of the obi:

Have A Hanhaba!

In the continuing process of cataloguing everything, I present to you my meagre collection of hanhaba obi!

I have noticed that my predilection for hakata in all forms seems even more obvious when it comes to hanaba – for the time being, they’re all I’ve got!

Red striped hakata
I love the texture of this. It’s so lush up close, and the thin stripes are in some very unexpected colours, like a rich eggplant purple and soft sage green.

Two-sided taupe hakata
This is a lovely, subdued neutral hakata. It reminds me a bit of old crown molding. It’s almost white on one side, and a dark rich mushroomy taupe on the other.


Refined cream hakata
This is probably my favourite hanhaba obi. From a distance it’s a smooth, soft warm cream colour with thin stripes. It’s really up close where it shines. It’s a very delicate hakata in shades of white, a bright fresh blue, and a soft brick red. It’s also deliciously long and a pleasure to tie.

Blue and white hakata
This obi was actually bundled with a tiny synthetic kimono. I had no real interest in the kimono (and have since turned it into a juban) but wanted the obi pretty intensely. I was thrilled to bits when I got both pieces for $0.99! It just reminded me so much of Greek textiles, I had to have it.

Komon Kollection

As this blog develops, I plan to catalogue everything I have. Some pieces, like my vintage furisode deserve their own entries, but for more simple or casual pieces, I figured it would be more straightforward to include them in larger group entries.

When I first started collecting, I was decidedly against the allover-patterned casual kimono known as komon. I thought the patterns I was finding were drab, distracting, and old-lady-ish. Small flowers, little geometrics, nothing with punch. And so, I staunchly avoided them, preferring to stick to the drama of houmongi, furisode, and the like.

Eventually my eyes were opened to the world of large-scale pattern, and a whole new avenue was open to me! Since then I have come to amass a fair number of bold geometrics and big “loud” patterns for casual wear.

Plaid komon
Maybe it’s my Scottish ancestry, but when I saw this weirdo I had to have it. I’ve seen plaid kimono before, but never in such a “typical” tartan-like colour scheme. The kimono itself is stiff and crisp and lush, but too smooth to be tsumugi. It’s a wonderful winter kimono with a vaguely holiday feel to it.

Green swirl komon with red flowers
This was a bit of a shock when it arrived. The auction photos made it look very rich and bright, but in person it’s very soft and muted. That being said, I still love the cool, watery feel of it and the contrast of the soft brick chrysanthemums against the pale dusty green. The silk itself is ridiculously buttery, far too rich-feeling for such a casual piece. Not that I mind!

Bingata-style navy komon with long sleeves
This was a gift from Naomi, a dear dear friend and terrible enabler. ;P I was bemoaning my lack of anything bingata and wham! I was the proud owner of this gorgeous piece that fits really well! Unfortunately, I can’t wear it yet. The sleeves are a lovely but awkward length – too long by modern juban standards, too short by vintage ones, so I am going to have to improvise. Thankfully it’s got a lot of different seasonal motifs, so I’ve got pretty decent leeway for wearing it.

Swirl/arabesque Komon
Up until recently I referred to this as my White Whale kimono. The kimono itself was an easy and impulsive acquisition. Too bad I never thought about pairing it with anything! I was convinced I would never, ever find an obi to coordinate with it, and it became a bit of a mania with me, hunting down the perfect piece XD. I’d pretty much given up on it when I stumbled across a gorgeous rich plum nagoya obi with gold embroidery on the drum end on ebay, and picked it up for a steal. No pictures yet, sadly, as it’s still in the mail. ;)

This piece never ceases to amaze me when I look at it. There are so many delicate and intricate patterns in each wave/curl/stripe/whatever. Flowers, geometrics, you name it. All carefully highlighted in gold.

Red Asanoha and Ume Komon
Considering my earlier statement about not liking small, “drab” patterns on komon, this one may come as a bit of a surprise. However, I love me some asanoha (geometric hemp-leaf/star pattern) and was totally captivated by the size shift in the ume that, from a distance, make the kimono look like it’s covered in clouds. It’s so subtle, it’s almost like magic. This is also another piece whose silk is so supple and rich and buttery that I can’t stop petting it when I have it on.

Red and white yabane
Yabane is one of those traditional patterns I have always wanted to have in my collection, but I always seemed to miss out. As luck would have it, Ame had one that was far too big for her and was looking for a good home. It fits me amazingly well, and I love the contrast of the red and white.

Black, white, and red wool
Wool is one of those other things I was unsure of, I imagined them to be bulky, itchy, heavy, and uncomfortable. I picked one up on sale for a few dollars (because I am a goon and cannot resist a bargain) and realized my preconceived notions were entirely incorrect. They are breezy, warm but not overly hot, and very very easy to wear. When I saw the listing for this one, my inner mallgoth cried out in dark, dark glee and I had to have it XD

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Brick wool komon
This was my first wool kimono, I purchased it mainly because it was on sale. However, I love the cool hits of icy blue and green through the warm background. This is a great fall kimono.

Synthetic ro komon with hydrangea
This came in a mixed lot and my first though was “Oh, no! Now I need to buy ro accessories!”. My immediate second thought was “Yay! Now I have to buy ro accessories!” Such is the life of a kimono addict! I love this kimono because it is ridiculously long and easy for me to dress in. I admit synthetic ro is not quite as breezy as silk ro, but it’s still comfortable even in the muggy Montreal heat.

Thus concludes my ramblings about my current komon. Until I get more!

Kimono Meetup with Amelie

After months of discussing, planning, and failing on my part, Ame and I finally got to spend the day together yesterday :D She is super sweet, as is her fiance, and her cats. It is really nice to find a friend nearby to practice kitsuke with, go to kimono events, and of course loan and swap items. Not only that, but we have many other obscure interests in common.

Of course, we had to share kimono and get dressed up and go to dinner.

I wore my new red tsukesage with french-knot embroidery and my red and cream Stations of the Tokaido hakata obi, Ame wore my green iromuji (which looks and fits waaay better on her than it does on me, it pains me to say) with an adorable cream tsuke-obi.

I apologize for my appearance in these pics – My hair was being really poofy and weird and I wasn’t able to put on any makeup because idiot cat bit me in the eye early in the morning. Yes, my cat is an asshole.

We decided to go out for sushi and her fiance put on yukata :D

And this is one we’re all familiar with; post-kimono aftermath!

More pics in my flickr