From the Archives – retro-style wool komon coordination

572{icon} {views}

Okay, this is kind of a cheat. This is an outfit I wore quite some time ago, but I quite liked how it turned out. It’s murderously hot out, so I thought maybe an outfit for the fall would remind me of the lovely crisp weather in early spring, and cool everyone down.

It’s all over the place formality-wise, and not really correct with the gloves and boots, but I was going for an overall look, feel and style here, not perfect Sodo kimono regulations. I was aiming for a sort of subdued 20s style, and I think I kind of pulled it off. I’d love to wear some sort of little cloche hat with this, but I look like a total doofus in any sort of hat so let us never speak of that again.

I paired up my great black, white, and red wool komon with my red tsuke-obi and red synthetic haori. A green kasane-eri, green shibori obiage, and round green obijime hold everything together and add a bit of pop. See what I mean about mixing formality? For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rules, I’ve put cocktail-level formal accessories with a “running grubby errands” kimono. And then, if that wasn’t enough, I’m wearing high-heeled black leather boots and black opera gloves! The scandal!

Fukuro obi catalogue

356{icon} {views}

For dressier kimono or more formal events, sometimes you need a dressier obi. Something with a lot of bling, something you can tie a big ornate musubi with. Fukuro obi are generally blank on one side and patterned on the entire other side, or they may have a large blank area that gets wrapped around the waist to save on bulk and budget. They typically have bold, celebratory motifs and a lot of gold or silver embroidery or woven threads.

Gold pattern and kamon fukuro

This is a great obi to pair with kurotomesode, it’s a little mature and subdued, and the gold is warm and soft – not brassy or tacky looking.

Champagne and pastel fukuro

Another shiny obi, it’s soft and easy to tie and looks nice with furisode. It’s got rippling rivers and pockets of soft pastel flowers. Not typically to my tastes, but practical to have in any varied wardrobe.

Orange fukuro with gold grasses

I’m not going to lie – I bought this primarily because it reminded me of a creamsicle. It worked out well though – the peachy orange is a perfect match for the ume on my kurotomesode, and some of the tachibana on my indigo taisho houmongi. It screams Showa era, but it’s cute and fun and I still kind of love it.

Black, red, and gold celebratory fukuro

Another one that screams Showa Wonderful. These obis are incredibly typical of the late seventies through early nineties, and are still being produced, though not in quite as much volume. This one has red kiku and gold and silver cranes, and kikko (tortoishell). It’s a very loud, very auspicious obi.

Gunmetal paving stones fukuro

I’m not quite sure how to describe this one. It’s blue, it’s green, it’s purple. It’s irridescent and reminds me of oil on hot asphalt in the heat of summer. Because of the strange chameleon-like quality, it’s amazingly versatile and goes with a lot of things. It came bundled with a kimono, I bid on the kimono and go the obi as a bonus, and oddly enough I’ve worn the obi several times, and not yet worn the kimono once!

Red and black faux-shibori fukuro

I love this one so much. It originally belonged to my friend Amelie, and I coveted it. When she told me she was selling some items, I jumped on it. Why, then, have I not found anything to wear it with yet?! It’s separated into roughly thirds, with two thirds being bright tomato red with a dyed faux-shibori pattern, and the remaining third in black with a stylized chain of wisteria. I will wear it one day, I just need to find the right kimono to do it justice.

Red Kiku Tsukesage

511{icon} {views}

I originally bought this kimono to go with a specific obi, my Stations of the Tokaido Hakata obi. It’s a warm, rich brick red that really screams fall, which goes very well with the delicate kiku motif saraga nui embroidery around the hem.

It’s a much more mature kimono than my tastes usually veer to, but I think sometimes it’s nice to have simple, classic things to fall back on. It’s also great for dressing people who may be older, or may not be comfortable with really crazy vivid vintage kimono designs.

The embroidery is very delicate. I’ve come to notice that between this and my shifuku houmongi, I’m starting to amass a collection of really intricate french knot embroidered kimono. Perhaps I can use this as an excuse to buy more!

I’ve only had the chance to wear it once, when I went out to visit Amelie, but hopefully I’ll have more appropriate and seasonal opportunities to wear it in the future.

Traveling down the Tokaido Road

729{icon} {views}

This is an entry that’s been a long time in coming. It may get a bit verbose, and I apologize. If you’re not interested in personal ramblings and art-related discussion, feel free to skip it.

My interest in kimono stemmed from an interest in traditional Japanese aesthetic in general, which I believe I inherited from my grandmother. I have always been fond of traditional woodblock prints; landscapes in particular.

The Tokaido Road is a highway connecting the New Capital, Edo (tokyo), with the Old Capital, Kyoto. There are 53 famous way-stations along this road, plus the start and end points. Edo-era artist Hiroshige Ando became so enamored of the views of these stations that he produced several series of prints, known as the “Stations of the Tokaido“. There are four editions of these, each from slightly different vantage points and during different times of year. The most famous, however, is the Hoeido Edition, and is the one I will most often be referencing here.

About a year ago, I found an obi on Ichiroya of a snow-covered cabin in the mountains. As soon as I saw it, I felt an immense pull and a desperate desire to have it. As I’ve mentioned before, my best friend lives in Colorado, and I often go visit him (sometimes buying kimono while I’m there), and I initially chalked the nostalgia the obi made me feel to my love of the mountains there. Naomi‘s darling husband Arian took pity on me and my obsessive infatuation, and bought me the obi as a gift.

The more I thought about it though, the more visually and emotionally familiar it felt. It took me a while, and a great bit of help from Erica, it finally hit me. It was a creative interpretation of Station 15, Kambara, with the people removed.

This discovery, unfortunately, created a torrent I’ve since been unable to stop. I dove headfirst into more detailed research of the Stations of the Tokaido, mostly on the internet, but in my own bookshelves as well. I’d actually purchased books about Hiroshige years before, and one that’s always come in handy is Hiroshige In Tokyo, by Julian Bicknell. Armed with a new wealth of information and a new obsesson, I dove in. I made the unfortunate discovery that these prints are a fairly popular motif for kimono and related items – obi in particular. With that knowledge in hand, I have begun to amass a “collection within a collection,” if you will.

Since that first obi, I have acquired several more, and a decorative dance fan. My ambition is to eventually have items with all the stations on them, but that is a long-term goal for when I have much more expendable income!

I am not sure, but I believe this is an interpretation of Station 14, Yoshiwara. As always, if you have further information or can read the text on it, by all means let me know.

This one is also very special to me – I have mentioned before my love of hakata, so when I found an obi that was both hakata weave and several stations, I knew I had to have it. I saved up, and the day I was ready to purchase it, someone I know online bought it for herself. I’m not going to lie, I was devastated. Through her own kindness, and the helpfulness of Yuka at Ichiroya, the obi found its way to me. I love it to bits. It contains stations Kuwana, Mariko, and Hakone.

The last obi is another one of Hakone. I already had the hakata one at this point, but I loved the soft pastel colours on this one and it was a bargain, so I couldn’t pass it up.

The last item I currently own is not an obi, but rather a nice, solid dance fan. It has the starting point (or station 0 if you will), Nihonbashi Bridge.

I am, in fact, so obsessed with this that I am currently coveting a particular nail polish – NARS Tokaido Express. Those of you who know me well are aware that I also have a passion for doing my nails and ferreting away a huge collection of nail polishes (I have over 200 at this point). When I found this polish, I knew I had to have it! The fact that it’s a gorgeous rich espresso brown with purple and gold shimmer doesn’t help! Unfortunately, it’s an expensive designer brand and actually more expensive than several of my cheaper kimono! I will have it eventually though! Probably much sooner than the kimono-related goal.

If you would like to learn more about Hiroshige or purchase prints of his work, please check out the Utagawa Hiroshige page on Artsy.

Hanamaru Kofurisode; in which I am a moron

485{icon} {views}

It’s 32 degrees out (90 F). So what do I do, as soon as I come home and find my brand new lined synthetic kofurisode in the mail? Lovingly admire it and fold it away for cooler weather, like a sane person would? Of course not! I decided to coordinate an outfit and put it on ASAP.

I decided to pair it up with my pink and white hakata obi. This thing is like cardboard! It was a huge pain in the posterior to tie, but once I got it, it totally stayed put, which was awesome. I used my hellow shibori obiage and hakata obijime, to go with the yellow kasane-eri that was already built into the kimono. Some purple tabi tied in well with the flowers. My Aikoku Fujinkai obidome was the perfect finishing touch, it almost looks like it was made for the kimono.

And of course, my big orange lug insisted on making an appearance.

I really love how the whole outfit turned out, and I will definitely wear it out, possibly on my birthday in November when the lining and the motifs all make more sense with the weather!