Sock it to me!

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As with everything else when it comes to kimono, “normal” accessories just aren’t good enough. 😉 Due to the thong-like nature of traditional zori shoes, a sock with a separated toe area is necessary. These socks are referred to as tabi, and are very much like conventional toe-socks but with the smaller toes all connected. Another apt comparison would be mittens for your feet.

Typical standard tabi are solid white. For formal events white tabi are a necessity, and there isn’t much room for experimentation. However, when it comes to more modern or casual ensembles, a pair of fun coloured tabi can make all the difference, much like coloured haneri. I have several pairs of white tabi in varying levels of formality, from stretch cotton to solid thick ones with the hooks up the back (known as kohaze), but really – white socks are white socks, right? It’s the fun ones that are worth sharing!

Formal black tabi with daschunds
Daschund tabi
Yet again, my friend Kansai_gal’s loss was my gain. She got these but they turned out to be too big for her so she sent them to me. They are perfectly at home on my freakishly large feet. They’re also a bit of an oddity in that they’re clearly goofy casual tabi, but they’re seamed hard cotton with four kohaze up the ankle, which is typical construction of formal white tabi.

Stretch tabi with multiple florals
Patterned stretch tabi
These are some adorable stretchy tabi with tons of flowers (fuji, kiku, tachibana). These are also nice and versatile, since the colours are so neutral.

Stretch tabi in solid colours with insert panels
Stretch tabi with inserts
These are some of my favourite tabi. I have a green pair *somewhere* but I have no idea where they are currently. I may just cave in and buy a new pair XD They go with almost everything, and I love how subtle they are. They work really well with very busy kimono, since they coordinate but don’t compete. I also apologize for the high volume of cat hair in this photo – these have a slightly brushed texture that attracts lint and hair like a magnet!

Pink lace stretch tabi
Pink lace tabi
These are sheer lace and they go great with my navy ro kimono with the pink flowers, but they’re also very useful for layering over top of the solid tabi posted above, for adding an extra soft girly touch. I did this when I wore my furisode recently.

I know I said earlier that I was going to focus more on special, rare items but I think I may have to splurge on some more tabi in the near future 😉

Art Gallery – Flower and butterfly kakemono

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Many of my beloved friends and family members appreciate and encourage my kimono addiction, but when it comes to giving me gifts they openly admit they’re not comfortable buying kimono for me – either they’re unsure of where to start, they’re not familiar with sizing structures, or are just not familiar enough with my tastes or the specifics of what I want/need. This has led to a wonderful trend of people giving me gifts of artwork that are related, either directly or indirectly, to my passion for Japanese aesthetics.

I love all these pieces, and while I can’t really carry them around outside to share with the world like I do when I wear kimono out, I realized there’s nothing stopping me from sharing them with my wonderful readers who would probably appreciate them as much as I do.

This one is a gorgeous kakemono or kakejiku, a painted wall-scroll attached to a fabric backing, usually for hanging in an alcove in a traditional Japanese room. It was a gift from a dear family friend – I’m not entirely sure where he got it, I think it was found in a box while he was cleaning out his mother’s house. Wherever it’s from, it’s really lovely. The painting itself is a cascade of pink flowers and a tiny stylized butterfly. I often find depictions of butterflies a bit twee and frilly in Japanese art, but this one is sort of geometric and absolutely original, and fits perfectly with the stylized flowers.

I’m not sure if the painting itself is Japanese or Chinese in origin (a lot of these are also made for the Chinese export industry), but here is a close-up of the calligraphy on it – if anyone has any ideas what it might say I’d love to know.

I hope you enjoyed this odd little venture outside the specific realm of kimono, because there will be at least a few more of these to come in the near future!

Black synthetic multi-season flower komon

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I know one of my kimono resolutions was not to buy things just because they were affordable and kind of cute, but I technically bid on this at the end of 2010, so I’m safe, right? Also, it’s exceptionally adorable and I did indeed get it for a steal. I’ve also resolved to wear kimono out of the house more frequently, so casual washable kimono are always a good thing to have.

When I bid on this I only noticed the big spider kiku and the sakura. I’m not generally a huge fan of sakura (strange, I know, considering my love for kimono and how frequent a motif they are) but I love spider kiku with a fierce passion – two of my favourite pieces of my collection feature them prominently. They’re what drew me to this kimono in the first place.

When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised – there are tons of flowers for all the awase (lined kimono) seasons – kiku, ume, and sakura, as well as the wavy stripes being bordered by decorative cords which are a lucky/auspicious motif. I thought they were just lines, based on the auction photos. This is much cooler!

Black multi-season komon

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Kimono Resolutions for 2011

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Good afternoon! Sorry for the lack of updates last week, things are still kind of hectic around here. Good news is that my eye is totally healed, so I am no longer a Kimono Pirate. I did keep the eyepatch though, it was too cool to throw out 😉

I haven’t had time to dress up or do much since last Monday, but earlier in the month I made a series of resolutions for 2011 relating to kimono and kitsuke and I’ve decided to post them here so I can keep track of them and then come back and review this post to see how I did. I’ve also added a few items and notes to my original list.

Kimono Resolutions for 2011

  • Finish more of my DIY projects. No more cutting things up unless I actually have the motivation to sew them!
  • Lose 15 lbs because my older kimono have gotten snug around the hips.
  • Wear kimono out more often. Stop looking for “reasons” and just wear one because I love them.
  • Stop buying things just because they’re “pretty cute” and “a good price” and focus more on buying things that are truly special and amazing.
  • Refinish the beautiful Art-Deco armoire I’m getting and use it for storage.
  • Catalogue and detail items as soon as I get them, rather than letting things pile up and then getting overwhelmed by having “too much to do!”

So far I have lost five pounds (thank you stomach flu?), gotten all the pieces I need to turn an old, damaged obi into a shiny new pre-tied one, and purchased one incredibly epic and special kimono that was absolutely worth the investment. It’s not in my grubby little hands yet, but you can rest assured that as soon as I get it, I will be posting about it. In the meantime, here’s a small teaser to tide you over.

So have you made any resolutions about kimono, or any other hobbies you may have? Do you think you will stick to them?

Late Bloomer

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So today is Seijin no Hi (成人の日), or Coming of Age Day in Japan. Traditionally, it’s a day for young adults who have acheived the age of maturity, twenty, to celebrate. It’s traditional for young women to wear their brightest, most fun furisode (long-sleeved kimono), sort of as a way of saying goodbye to childish things. Once women get older and marry, they no longer wear this type of kimono, so for a lot of girls it’s the last “appropriate” time they’ll have to wear one.

This year, I will be turning thirty – not twenty. However, I also currently live with my folks (who are incredibly awesome people, and I will get to that again shortly), I work in a toy store, and aside from kimono I collect toys and comic books. It would not be a stretch to say that mentally, I have not really reached any reasonable level of maturity XD. So I figured I may as well bust out one of my furisode, since I rarely have the opportunity to wear them anyway. I chose to wear my mauve peony and bamboo furisode, since it’s beautiful and has special meaning to me – I bought it the first time I went to visit my best friend. I paired it up with my irridescent blue-green paving stone obi, and hot pink accessories. Oh, and an eyepatch. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I managed to use my mad coordination skills a week ago to scratch my cornea with a fork. Yes, you did read that right. And yes, it was as painful as you’d imagine. Thankfully it is getting better!

Botan Furisode

“Arrrrrr!”
Botan Furisode

Now, to one of the many reasons I have awesome parents. I really wanted to try doing a furisode-appropriate musubi with this outfit, but I don’t own any tools to tie them on myself. My amazing dad offered to help me out, and using his magical engineer brain figured out how to tie a fukura suzume (chubby sparrow) knot in a few mere minutes. Unfortunately, this obi has no core and is incredibly floppy. The bow looked great as long as I stood perfectly still. As soon as I moved, it would just sort of collapse in on itself and look like it had melted. He tried several times, but through no fault of his it just wasn’t going to work. This obi is just too soft. In the end I decided to work with the floppiness and make a sort of a poofy bunko/chou-chou bow-style knot. I think all things considered, it turned out quite well.
Botan Furisode

Botan Furisode

I also decided to go a bit nuts with my footwear and layered some pinky-ivory lace tabi over some dark purple tabi. I really like how this looks.
Botan Furisode