Royal blue tsukesage/houmongi with kiku and botan

I found this beauty on eBay, and was initially drawn to it because of its length – a whopping 69 inches or 175 centimetres. At my height, finding long kimono is always exciting. The thumbnail makes it look quite odd – almost unfinished, like there are just big white blobs on a blue surface, and I think this worked in my favour, because nobody else bid on it.

Up close, however, the white “blobs” are incredibly soft, delicate botan with gentle pearly grey shading and gold centres, and then these interesting solid white kiku. They are definitely hand-painted with white and grey dye, not unfinished. The contrast, though, gives the kimono a very bold, modern look while still being soft and girly.

I absolutely can't wait to wear this, I am thinking of pairing it up with the gold and white obi from this bundle. It will be nice to have both a kimono and an obi that fit me very well and don't require fussing and fidgeting all evening ;)

Royal blue tsukesage with botan and kiku

Royal blue tsukesage with botan and kiku

Royal blue tsukesage with botan and kiku

Why being my friend is dangerous, the sequel!

My dear friend Elise (whom I have known since kindergarten!) was back in town and spent a few days at my house recently, and I forcibly subjected her to kitsuke, as I have done with other friends in the past. I asked if she had a preference for a particular kimono, and she told me she really liked the gothic landscape houmongi, so I decided to just pair it with the obi that it was bundled with when I bought it.

It's not the most adventurous outfit I've ever put together, but it works well and suits her, so I am happy. Her kitsuke is not fabulous, but for such a slim girl, she's surprisingly curvy (tiiiiny little waist!) and I didn't want to subject someone who had never worn kimono before to really tight himo and tons of padding, especially not in the murderous heat we've been dealing with lately. So everything is a little bit shifty, but since we weren't actually going anywhere I was not too concerned.

Elise in Gothic Houmongi

Elise in Gothic Houmongi

Elise in Gothic Houmongi

From one Tokaido lover to another

In which I am yet again treated far too kindly by my friends and family on the Immortal Geisha forums.

BikaBika is an awesome forum member with a great sense of personal style, and she is also an afficionado of the Stations of the Tokaido motif. We're generally careful not to step on each others' toes when we see items, which is just another sign of the sense of community the forum has in general.

Several people brought this particular kimono to my attention, but I've spent a lot more than I should lately, and I thought it was a bit narrow for my fatty hips. After a fair bit of deliberation I decided to let it go. Fast forward a few weeks and BikaBika has dropped hints that she's mailed something to me, but I honestly just assumed it was a little accessory or something. Unfortunately, Canada Post went on strike right around this time, so the package fell into a kind of dispatch limbo. While I didn't outright forget about it, I shunted it into the back of my mind so I wouldn't stress too much about it potentially getting lost. So I was pretty surprised and confused when the mailman brought me a package I wasn't really expecting yesterday morning.

Needless to say, when I got it out of the package I was stunned, and very touched. There was a note included that mentioned she'd gotten my address from Suara, who sent me the stunning Tokaido obi a while back, with strict orders to wear them together. I ran downstairs to thank BikaBika and to photograph it. Unfortunately it's too hot even for yukata right now, so there's no way I'll be able to dress in a full formal outfit for a while yet. Thankfully, nothing's stopping me from sharing photos of the stunning artistry of this piece though.

Grey Tokaido Houmongi

It's a soft dove-grey with three distinct stations repeated around the hem. It's sort of a strange merge of tsukesage, with the stations each being distinct and on a separate panel, and houmongi, since while the designs are discrete from a distance they form a continuous design around the bottom hem. There is also a single blue tsuta (ivy) crest, which helps merge the formality upwards from tsukesage to houmongi.

The front hem has one of the loveliest versions of Station 16, Yui, that I have seen so far. It's also the only station on the kimono that crosses over multiple panels.
Grey Tokaido Tsukesage-Houmongi

The other two stations are both repeated on the back hem and the sleeve, both in front and back.

Station 1, Shinagawa
Grey Tokaido Tsukesage-Houmongi

And this is the interesting one Bika helped me figure out, it's a loose artistic interpretation of Station 52, Otsu, but what threw me off is that while most of these pieces are done using the Hoeido edition, this particular variation is from the Kyoka edition, which is much less common.
Grey Tokaido Tsukesage-Houmongi

Yet again, I am flabbergasted at the kindness of others, and in awe of how it always seems to come when I need a pick-me-up.

Iran So Far

I'm sorry, that was a terrible title. I don't even like SNL that much but the title of that song got stuck in my head, so there you have it. I'd been itching to dress since I got back from my trip, but I've also been itching to wear my gorgeous mosque houmongi for a while now. I thought I'd try it out before the weather got too warm to wear awase (lined kimono), but clearly I mis-judged. I was SO HOT by the time I was finished getting dressed. I also want to apologize to the lovely kimono angel who anonymously sent me the moorish arches obi – I was totally going to wear it as well after I'd photographed it with the one here, but by the time I was done I was so insufferably hot and my cardiac issues were giving me grief, I was unable to. I promise though, I will wear them together at some point!

This kimono is so spectacular that I really wanted the focus all to remain on the hem. In that vein, I decided to go very subtle with all the accessories. I thought the gold obi brought out the desert tones in the hem really well, and I happened to have an obiage on hand that is virtually the exact same colour as the kimono. Finished it off with an off-white haneri with embroidery and a flat gold and green saga-nishiki obijime. I decided to emphasize the theme subtly by using my moon obidome, to honour the Islamic Crescent. I thought it was very appropriate without turning the outfit into an overly thematic costume.

Shah Mosque Houmongi

Shah Mosque Houmongi

Shah Mosque Houmongi

I also managed to tie one of the best nijuudaiko musubi I've ever tied. Unfortunately I somehow also managed to not take a single decent back photo of it XD Oops. I did get a few side views though.

Shah Mosque Houmongi

Shah Mosque Houmongi

Yes, that is a little bow in there – I tied the ends of the obijime in a bow to get them out of the way and thought it looked cute.

Shah Mosque Houmongi

I don't know if anyone remembers that I made a resolution only to buy really special pieces. Unfortunately, my complete and utter lack of dedication has pretty much thrown that to the wayside, but I am trying to keep an eye out for particularly spectacular items. I blame BikaBika for this, she posted the link to the auction on the Immortal Geisha forums and I knew then and there that I needed to have this item. Thankfully Naomi was there to help me get it through YJA. It finally arrived in the box of stuff I mentioned last Friday, and I was so excited to finally get it so I could see it in person and write about it.

I've always been fascinated by architectural motifs on kimono, but I'd never seen one with a mosque on it. In particular, the blue dome and heavy Moorish ornamentation would suggest that this is the Shah Mosque in Iran. The yuzen dye work is absolutely stunning, the whole piece looks like a soft painting but the details up close are breathtaking. The silk is incredibly lush as well, it's got an interesting nubby texture, almost like shibori but it's woven into wave-like stripes and not part of the actual visual pattern.

Shah Mosque Kimono

Shah Mosque Kimono

I have several coordinations in mind for this particular kimono, including one using the gorgeous Moorish Arches obi I received as a mystery gift, but also a more subdued modern look. Hopefully I will find the time for one or both of them in the near future.