GeekFest Montreal, in kimono

Yesterday, I attended the first GeekFest MTL with my friends Dave and Sophie. It was a lot of fun. There were definitely some growing pains that will hopefully be dealt with before next year, but overall it was a worthwhile experience. There were people in all sorts of cosplay, Japanese fashion, LARP outfits, and whatnot, so I figured it would be a great time to bust out a kimono.

I’d actually planned to wear this outfit to a convention last year but I ended up injuring myself and being unable to wear it, so when this opportunity presented itself I decided to get it out of the cabinet. I wore my synthetic mauve komon with one of the amazing vintage obi I got in a bundle last year, and blue and red accessories. I also got to wear the adorable moon and flower obidome Kansai_gal gave me and the amazing kimono cape my grandmother knit. I will be taking better photos of these things during the week, but for now you can see them on me!

The photographer at the convention was kind enough to let me use his drape and lighting setup while he wasn’t using this, so I got my friend Sophie to take this nice studio-style portrait of me! The little guy hanging off my obi is a stuffed octopus with a bandaid on his head. I saw him in the dealer room and had to buy one! My grandmother knit me this amazing cape, to wear with kimono. It’s comfortable, and warm, and I love how it looks. I can’t wait for her to see me wearing it.

This obi was virtually impossible to tie – the tesaki was so short I could barely wrap it around myself twice, let alone save enough to actually tie to the taresaki. I ended up having to remove the hardware from a tsuke-obi, use a bulldog clip and two extra himo, and pray to the gods of kitsuke that it would hold. Thankfully, it not only survived four car trips and five hours at the convention, it also survived dinner and dessert, and a rather inelegant exit out of a two-door Hyundai while I was being sick to my stomach. I was quite proud of myself.

There are many other pictures available in this album on my Facebook account. However, in some of them I am holding a large foam sword that looks alarmingly and realistically like male genitalia, so please be aware of this before clicking.

Anime with kimono eye-candy

Recently, I shared a couple of cute movies with kimono eye candy, and I thought it would be fun to share a few anime as well.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m watching far less anime than I used to but every so often a little gem comes along, and sometimes these have some great kimono ensembles. Certainly, there are scenes in nearly every long-run anime that involve one or more characters wearing a yukata to a summer festival, or a kimono on a holiday, but the ones I am sharing here have regular appearances, different outfits, and lots to ogle!

Kuragehime
Kuragehime (Jellyfish Princess) is an adorable recent anime about a group of young female otaku living in a boarding house together. The primary story is about the protagonist, Tsukimi, coming into her own and standing up for herself while the girls in the house band together to protect it from the Big Bad Real Estate Developers.

For me, however, one of the main draws was the character of Chieko, whose obsession is with all things traditionally Japanese. In each episode, she wears a different kimono ensemble, and they’re all really cute and inspiring. She also dresses Tsukimi up in kimono at one point, with lovely results. One of my favourite moments of the show is when the “stylish” Kurako gives all the girls makeovers, but changes virtually nothing on Chieko because she looks like “a celebrity who wears kimono because she’s rich” once she’s framed by all the other girls in their stylish new looks. How fab is that?!

Kuragehime on IMDB
Kuragehime on Wikipedia


Taishou Yakyuu Musume (Taisho Baseball Girls)
I’ve just started watching this, despite it being a few years old, and it’s absolutely adorable. Set in the Taisho era, there’s an interesting juxtaposition of traditional Japanese clothing and modern western-inspired wear. The main character, Koume, dreams of wearing a sailor-style fuku uniform, but her parents insist that the Meiji-style kimono and hakama are much more suitable for her. Several of her other classmates also wear the traditional outfits. The outfits don’t seem to change from episode to episode, but they’re still nice to look at.

Taishou Yakyuu Musume on IMDB
Taishou Yakyuu Musume on Wikipedia


Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to make it clear that I have not yet seen this anime. It’s on my list of “things to watch when I have free time”, but the main reason it’s even on that list is due to the kimono. Not only does the main (male!) character always wear kimono and hakama, they vary from episode to episode and are seasonally and formally appropriate for the weather and events. For a kimono dork like myself, this sounds really fun and exciting.

Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei on IMDB
Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei on Wikipedia


Ikoku Meiro no Croisée
This is the beautiful story of a young Japanese girl named Yune who finds herself in Victorian-era Paris. It’s mostly a slice of life show about Yune’s adaptation and confusion, and there is no particular over-arching story or dramatic climax, which makes it absolutely lovely to just watch an episode or two and enjoy the combination of late Taisho and fluffy Victorian aesthetics, combined with lovely Art Nouveau designs and architecture.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée on IMDB
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée on Wikipedia

 

These shows should all be available for purchase by this point.

New green cotton blend hakata hanhaba

With an apology to my neighbours! Somehow this ended up at the right numeric address, but on the wrong street. They were kind enough to bring it over to me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a sucker for all things hakata, especially in uncommon colour combinations.  This is not technically true hakata, rather than being a tightly woven silk it’s a rough slubbed cotton-silk blend with the “hakata” pattern loosely woven on top, but I still love the pattern. The colours in the auction photos made the item out to be a soft, dusty sage green. I was pretty shocked when I opened up the package and found a vivid apple green colour instead, but also really happy. It’s a great colour, and will go very well with a lot of my things. The best part, however, of this obi, has to be the price. I got it for one penny!

Green hakata hanhaba

Green hakata hanhaba

I already have a few coordinations in mind, I just need time and weather to cooperate.

A difficult but worthwhile resource – Yahoo! Japan Auctions

Aside from the places I mentioned in this entry, there is one amazing resource for kimono auctions online. In Japan, Yahoo! runs an auction site called Yahoo! Japan Auctions (YJA), similar to eBay. There is one major issue/caveat with this though – the site will not allow bidders living outside of Japan. Why do I even mention it, then? Because there are people who realize that some of us want things off there, so they cash in on our desperate depravity buy setting up deputy services. How these sites work is that you create an account with them and put a sum of money into a deposit in your account. After this point, you can browse the YJA site through the deputy service, and they will bid on items for you. You will have to pay the full price of the auction plus a percentage or fee to the deputy service, as well as shipping from the seller to the deputy and then from the deputy to your home outside of Japan. The prices on YJA are sometimes very affordable, but you will still have to factor in these extraneous fees when snagging that “amazing bargain.” However, it can still be very worthwhile since there’s more stock to be had, as well as rarer or more hard to find items.

There are a couple of deputy services out there, but the two most commonly used ones are JAUCE (Japan Auction Centre) and Noppin – formerly known as Crescent Shop. These two are both well-established and helpful and have plenty of experience dealing with the Western markets. Their systems and methods are slightly different, so rather than writing a “how to use” tutorial, I’m going to suggest that you read through their terms of use and instructions and choose whichever service suits your needs better.

You can use the deputy services to browse YJA in English, but often times it will miss items, if they’re labeled oddly or have certain keywords missing from their descriptors. I’ve amassed a list of popular search terms that may come in handy while browsing the site in Japanese. You can always browse directly through Yahoo and copy the auction ID to enter into your deputy service of choice. The auction ID can be found at the end of the URL of the item you are looking at. For example, in the address http://page2.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/##########, the hashmarks will be the ID.

A good place to start browsing is the category leaf for kimono/clothing. It is entirely in Japanese, but if you are using FireFox, there is a wonderful extention called RikaiChan that does inline Japanese translation, so all you hav to do is hover over a term and it will pop up with the English (or whatever language you choose) equivalent. It makes navigating the site much easier.

If you’ve never been brave enough to venture out into the world of Yahoo! Japan Auctions, I recommend at least browsing around a bit. You’ll be amazed at what you can find!

Grey poppy houmongi

Yesterday was quite an exciting mail day! On top of the obi I posted about, I received a couple of books I’d been waiting for and this beauty. The obi yesterday was so special and so heartwarming that I wanted to make sure it had its own entry, so here’s the other item I received!

Since I started collecting kimono, one of the things on my life’s want list has been a kimono with poppies on it. They’re not a particularly common motif, so it’s been a long and arduous hunt. I wanted poppies for several reasons. Firstly, my mother’s name is Poppy (okay, it’s technically Καλλιόπη but she goes by Poppy now for obvious reasons). Secondly, as a Canadian with family members who have served in the military for generations, the significance of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance is very important to me.

When I finally found this particular piece, I decided I would fight for it. Thankfully, due to a few hidden spots and a seller who a few people are having problems with lately, it didn’t go for as much as I was anticipating, which was nice. It’s a gorgeous dove-grey chirimen with really unique, vaguely psychedelic poppies. There’s also some strange batik/bokashi hybrid designs on the background, I’ve never seen anything like them. At first it looked like dirt and stains, but on closer inspection they’re definitely intentional.

Poppy houmongi

The flowers themselves have a very unique and sort of funky style, but are definitely and absolutely poppies – the seed pods and leaves are a dead giveaway.
Poppy houmongi

Poppy houmongi

Poppy houmongi

Another awsome thing about this kimono is that it’s signed. There’s a signature on the inside okumi panel that would be hidden when worn, but it makes it a little more special to me.
Poppy houmongi

There will be kitsuke photos of this particular piece soon, but I won’t be wearing it 😉