Belated Birthday Ikebana

Last Thursday, my cousin sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my birthday. I enjoyed them as-is for a week, but like all flowers, they eventually started looking a little limp. Some of them, however, were still great and fresh so I thought I would try to give them a bit of a second life, since I’m not quite ready to part with them yet.

There were some freshly opened lilies and beautiful lisianthus in shades of purple that were still looking quite lovely. I used the same lucky bamboo from the really architectural-style arrangement I made a few months back to add structure to the soft-stemmed lisianthus and anchored the whole arrangement with the pale pink lilies. I chose a green vessel so it would kind of fade into the background.

Overall I really like how this one turned out, but I’ve come to realise that I am definitely falling into a rut. I’ve been doing an awfully large amount of sparse upright arrangements featuring purple flower of some sort or another. I need to start diversifying, working on more modern shapes, and more low wide natural-feeling ones. Unfortunately now that winter’s nipping at our heels I don’t have as much access to interesting flowers. However, I know I will be splurging a couple of times and doing something for Christmas and something for New Year’s, at the very least.

Birthday Pastels

Today is my birthday! I’m now officially closer to 40 than I am to 30. Ack! My initial plan for today was to dress myself in the blue Cinderella furisode and take pictures, but this week has been a very long and exhausting one and I knew when I woke up I was not going to have the energy to do it. I might try on the weekend, but until then I decided I would at least redo the mannequin.

This obi was an entirely unexpected surprise; I was discussing my collection with a customer at work and she told me she had one of those “belt table runner things” and she’d bring it to show me one day. Imagine my shock when she showed up with this stunning springy green fukuro obi with flowers and foliage all over it and insisted I keep it. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s also got a really nice sage green fabric with gold pinstripes on the reverse, and I’m looking forward to using that side of it sometime soon. It felt like the ideal thing to do a birthday outfit with. It pairs so perfectly with the pink takara houmongi that Naomi’s husband Arian got for me years ago. They feel so classic and elegant together, and subtle pastel accessories finish things off. The obiage is kind of a mess but let’s all ignore that and focus on the beautiful kimono and obi instead.

I’m still holding out hope that I can put the furisode on this weekend but if that doesn’t happen at least I did something productive today!

Birthday dinner at Sakura

My birthday is on this coming Tuesday, but I hate having long, relaxing dinners (especially ones with alcohol involved) during the work-week, so I invited a few friends and my folks to come dinner at a restaurant I’d been wanting to try, Sakura on de la Montagne. I read that the waitresses and staff wore kimono, so I figured I would not stand out too much if I wore one too. What I was not anticipating is that the entire restaurant staff would be Japanese and dressed in simple komon and relatively informal obi. Enter one gigantic white person in a rather dressy kimono and even dressier obi, and hilarity ensues.

I chose to wear an outfit comprised of nothing but gifts, and I still cannot believe how perfectly everything worked out. I paired the pink Takara houmongi from Arian with the Stations of the Tokaido obi from Suara, and finished it off with a beautiful haneri from Naomi and obiage and obijime from my dear friend Jeff. Even the shawl was a gift – my grandmother crocheted it.

The restaurant was absolutely lovely. The decor was decidedly Japanese and we sat in a tatami room, but it was subtle and tasteful – not a cheesy theme restaurant, which unfortunately are the norm around here. The owner, Ishii Noriko-san, was incredibly kind and fussed over my outfit repeatedly. She’s offered to contact a Japanese tutor for me, and insisted I come back again in kimono. The food was delicious and the wait staff were all very kind. They allowed me to order off the “other” menu – the one intended for the Japanese clientele, and I had unadon. They also found out the dinner was for my birthday, and brought the table some delicious green tea ice cream (mine had a sparkler in it!) as well as a special box of yokan for me. I was incredibly touched.

My mother took a photo of Noriko-san and I. Doesn’t she look stylish? I loved her obi so much! This photo also does a great job of illustrating why clothing made for the average Japanese woman is so difficult for me to wear.

Uchikake in the front receiving room

Delicious courses of dinner – shrimp gyoza, salad, sushi, dessert.

Delicious unadon. This wasn’t on the regular menu, I had to special-order it from the “Japanese people” menu XD. I love me some grilled eel. Next time though, I think I will try the katsudon!

I was incredibly surprised and touched when Noriko-san came in with my special birthday yokan.

I also received some incredibly sweet gifts, Andy got me a DVD of a spy series I know he is very fond of, The Sandbaggers, and Leslie gave me two beautiful antique woodblock prints by Kunisada that she purchased in Japan quite a while ago. I was so touched. The whole evening was wonderful.

Birthday splurging.

Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to go visit my dearest friend in Boulder, Colorado. Aside from being a beautiful city with a firm grip on my soul, Boulder is also home to a rather unexpected Vintage Kimono Showroom. Janine, the lovely owner, was kind enough to give me an early start on her holiday sale, since I was only going to be in town for a week. I went on my birthday, of all days, since my friend was stuck at work.

I managed to snag some really awesome pieces. I did my best to not go overboard, buying only things that I found really special. One piece in particular was so special that it’s going to get its own entry soon, I am just waiting on an obi to coordinate it with. In the meantime, here are the other things I picked up, behind the cut!

First up, a great little vintage yabane komon.

Based on the colours and sleeve length, I’d guesstimate it at early Showa. The sleeves are lined in red, but just by a few inches, I think someone may have added it in on their own. The fabric on this one is quite odd, it feels almost like a cotton-silk blend. It’s nice and airy, despite being fully lined, and I feel as though I could almost wear it year-round.

I also snagged two gorgeous haori, including my first-ever vintage one. The modern one is lovely, a thick black silk with karabana (fantasy flowers) in soft pastels. The way it’s dyed gives it a great artsy feel.

I actually wore this out to my birthday dinner, along with a green cowl-neck sweater and jeans, as well as the lovely pearl necklace I got from my friend. No photos of the outfit, but feel free to enjoy a blurry shot of my ugly mug enjoying a stuffed scallop!

The other haori is amazing. It’s a lush, crisp taffeta silk in a great teal, red, black and white stripe. The sleeves are deliciously long, it’s nice to finally have a haori I can wear with my vintage kimono.

The other great thing about vintage haori is the lining fabric they used to use. Often times they were much more vivid and crazy than the haori themselves.

My last addition were two obijime.

A cute, straightforward two-sided red and black casual obijime

And an adorable vivid fluorescent red-orange obijime with pastel hakata detail. I’m really loving these hakata obiage I keep finding. Another great thing about this one is that I can wear obidome with it 😀

Overall, I’m really happy with everything I got, and I am looking forward to sharing the other special piece soon!