Tea Time! A new feature

I’ve decided to add a new feature to this blog – I hope you enjoy it! In my mind, tea culture and kimono culture are entwined quite strongly together, so I figured that I could share my love of tea and related items in here on occasion. While I have not ever studied traditional Japanese tea ceremony but I find the preparation and consumption of teas an enjoyable, aesthetic, and relaxing experience.

In this new feature I will be sharing my favourite teapots, teacups, and of course teas. For my first entry, I thought I would show you what is probably my favourite teacup currently in my possession, one that came to me through the kindness of Naomi. If you know me, you know my fondness and fascination for all things cephalopod. When I saw this teacup with its textured tentacle handle and beautiful blue hand-painting, I yearned for it. I coveted it. I neeeeeeded it. Thankfully, Naomi agreed, and managed to procure one and bundle it up in enough bubblewrap to protect it on a cross-continental journey.

It’s even prettier and more amazing in person than I’d anticipated. It’s much larger, it holds a very comforting and hearty serving of tea, coffee, or cocoa. The painting of the ship is incredibly delicate, the handle is amazing to hold, and the body of the cup fits perfectly in my two hands. It’s just a truly wonderful cup.

Anthropologie “From The Deep” cup & saucer

Shabu-shabu with Ame and Mischie!

Tonight I met up with a few of the awesome girls from the Immortal Geisha forums for a warming dinner of shabu-shabu. It’s cold and damp and snowy and icy here, so I decided to wear my black, white, and red wool kimono and hike it up a bit with some boots. I figured it would be a great time to wear my new red-orange Tokaido obi, and had a bit of fun accessorizing with a sandy beige and red keffiyeh (shemagh).

Shabu Shabu

Ame went along the same lines and wore an adorable black wool ensemble, but mischie was very brave and wore a gorgeous black silk houmongi with ume. It was entirely accidental, but we were all wearing black, white, and red outfits!

Shabu Shabu Shabu Shabu
Shabu Shabu

The food was delicious. We went to Kagayaki Shabu-Shabu in Montreal’s Chinatown. It was warming and flavourful and perfect for the weather.

Shabu Shabu
Shabu Shabu

After we finished dinner, we went to a fancy hotel nearby to take photos over their gorgeous koi pond and to relax and have a drink. As usual, I could not resist being a giant ham. Look! Fishies!
Shabu Shabu

Ame with her Pink Lady
Shabu Shabu

Mischie with a cappucino (in a super pretty cup!)
Shabu Shabu

And me being a jackass with a Bloody Cesar. Hey baby, come here often?
Shabu Shabu

I had a great time, and can’t wait to have another kimono meetup. Maybe not until it warms up a little though!

Red Tokaido Nagoya

If you’re anything of a regular reader, you’ll know of my fondness for items with the 53 Stations of the Tokaido motif. I also love the colour red. So when I saw this online, I clearly had to go for it!

I like it because it’s simple and vibrant, and also has two stations I did not have yet on obi. I had Nihonbashi on a fan, but I like having them on wearable pieces better. I also find it interesting that the other station, Kanagawa, is from Aritaya, one of the “other” editions of the prints (the standard one used for this sort of thing being the Hoeido edition).

Red Tokaido hakata obi

Start point, Nihonbashi Bridge
Red Tokaido hakata obi

Station 4, Kanagawa (Aritaya edition)
Red Tokaido hakata obi



Geisha-inspired Meta-kimono outfit

I was so smitten with the kimono that arrived yesterday that I decided to put it on today, despite not having anywhere to go. Sometimes it’s nice to wear kimono just for the sake of wearing kimono – especially delicate vintage pieces.

There’s still a bit of ambiguity about what this piece actually is, but the general consensus on the Immortal Geisha forums is that it’s likely a vintage hikizuri. Because of that, I decided to go with a geisha-inspired outfit. Not a full on costume, but proper kimono with a bit of “flair”, if you will. I paired the kimono up with a red juban, a black and white hakata obi, and used a red shigoki obi in lieu of a momi (the red cloth geisha wear wrapped around their torso under the obi). I am really pleased with how this pulled together, and took far more photos than I usually do. Sorry about that!

Because of the formality, the styling choices, and the age of the kimono, this is not an outfit I’d feel particularly comfortable wearing out of the house, but I think it turned out well and I felt very pretty in it.

It’s not enough. We have to go deeper.

Why yes, that was indeed a reference to Inception as today’s subject line. Not only is it one of my favourite movies of the year (and possibly of all time), it is entirely relevant to the kimono I received this morning. If you’re familiar with Inception, the concept of a “dream within a dream” will be very familiar to you. So imagine someone like me, who dreams of kimono regularly, finding “kimono within kimono.”

When I first saw it on eBay I was completely smitten. It is a kurotomesode (short sleeved, five-crested black formal kimono), which is definitely something I don’t need more of. However, rather than the relatively typical celebratory designs of cranes, flowers, carts, fans, etc, the pattern on this kimono is… kimono! All around the inside and outside hem of this kimono are wooden racks with kimono out to dry, as well as bowls and tools for washing. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I knew I had to have it. It ended up going for a bit more than I’d hoped to spend, but was still well worth the investment.

Both the age and the usage of this kimono are a bit of a mystery. The design is very avante-garde and non-standard for a normal woman, and the hem is slightly padded, which weigh in the favour of it being a hikizuri of some sort. The length of the kimono is also longer than average for its apparent age, but not quite long enough to be proper hikizuri. It may have been made for a particularly short geisha, or possibly just a very stylish woman. It’s hard to say. The sleeves are lined in red, which is a typical element of Taisho and early Showa era kimono, but they are slightly shorter than average for that era. The body is also lined in white, not red, but that may have been replaced at some point during its lifespan.

Update, April 22, 2012 – Naomi recently discovered the existence of a motif known as tagasode, or “whose sleeves?”

Literally, “whose sleeves?.” Painting theme depicting beautiful kimono 着物 draped across a wooden rack, ikou 依桁. The subject was usually painted on folding screens *byoubu 屏風 and became popular in the late Momoyama and early Edo periods (16c and early 17c). Although the subject is highly decorative, the word tagasode has deep literary connotations and probably originated from a line in KOKIN WAKASHUU 古今和歌集 (905): “Iro yorimo/ka koso aware to /omohoyure/tagasode fureshi/yado no ume zomo 色よりも/香こそあはれと/おもほゆれ/誰が袖ふれし/宿の梅ぞも”. Tagasode often implies a beautiful woman whose absence is missed, since beautiful sleeves are thought to evoke the image of an elegant woman and the fragrance arising from her kimono.
In early examples, typical objects belonging to a room in the pleasure quarters or even a beautiful woman herself were depicted; a screen in the Burke Collection, New York (early 17c), includes a musical instrument, koto 琴, while two young women are painted on early 17c screens in the Nezu 根津 Museum, Tokyo. Variations on the tagasode theme became more removed from literary associations, and finally the kimono and stand remains as the only motifs depicted against gold foil background. There are many examples from the Edo period, often by unknown genre artists.

 

source – JAANUS, tagasode

Outside view
Meta-Kimono

Inside view
Meta-Kimono

Outer details
Meta-Kimono

Meta-Kimono

Meta-Kimono

Inner details
Meta-Kimono

Meta-Kimono

It’s absolutely beautiful up close – everything is covered in tiny and delicate patterns, from the kimono to the racks holding them up. The kimono are all outlined in gold couching thread which is in impeccable condition, no drooping or detached threads anywhere that I can find.

I seem to have a knack for finding kimono that are technically kurotomesode but have characteristics that may throw them off. My chidori and matsu hybrid kimono is another prime example. As for this piece, it may be an oddity, and I may not know who wore it or when, but I love it nonetheless.