Blue embroidered irotomesode.

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So recently I was informed that there are a couple of sellers on Yahoo Japan who ship internationally, and accept PayPal, rather than necessitating a deputy service. Needless to say, this was a pretty dangerous bit of information. I set to browsing and found a few pieces I was going to make an attempt on.

I stumbled across this beauty and was instantly charmed by the rich blue colour and the incredibly detailed embroidery. It’s fairly rare to find such lush hand-done embroidery on a modern piece, which this most definitely is. I tossed out a relatively extravagant bid and figured I’d lose it anyway, due to the level of work gone into it and the size (a reasonably long 167cm!). I was pretty astounded when the auction ended at 1100 yen (just under $15 USD currently). I wondered if I’d somehow missed a pertinent fact in the auction like a huge stain or a significant tear, but no. I was just incredibly lucky.

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I cannot begin to explain how amazing the embroidery is – it’s textured but still smooth, lush, and has a wonderful sheen to it without being tacky.

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I love that the red on the crane’s head is done in sagara (french knot) embroidery to give it a different texture than the rest of his feathers.
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I also love how derpy and charming the tortoise looks. He’s goofy and adorable.
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All in all, it’s a stunning piece with wonderfully auspicious motifs, and I can’t wait to find a suitable coordination and event to wear it.

Punk yukata at the Astoria Street Fair

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So you may have noticed that there’s been a bit of a dearth of updates lately, and I sincerely apologize for that. I spent last weekend in lovely New York City, meeting up with some friends. Some I’d not seen in years, and some I’d never met before. We all knew each other from an online community. It was a wonderful experience, everyone was incredibly awesome and we all had a blast. Knowing my obsession with kimono and Japanese culture, Jamie (who lives in NYC) was kind enough to arrange a trip to Kiteya SOHO and to the Japanese street fair in Astoria. I bought a lovely komon at Kiteya that I will be sharing with you during the week, but I thought that I would at least post a few photos of the outift I wore to the street fair.

I’d been dying to wear the punk yukata Arian got me so I figured this would be a great time to bust it out. I decided to tone it down a bit with a green hakata hanhaba rather than the pink obi it came with. Unfortunately, it was murderously hot and we spent the morning on public transit and brunch at a lovely restaurant before getting to the fair, so I look a bit melted and rumpled. I’d like to take a moment to give enormous thanks to my friend Ben for taking these photos, carrying my crap, and fanning me when I got overheated.

Can I just say how much I love my new glasses with this outfit? XD And a super-cute minion! I didn’t win him, just posed with him.

I also won an adorable tsukesage-komon at the fair, and will be sharing that soon too! If you would like to see more photos of the day, they are available in my Facebook album.

Not so fun in the sun – my parasol collection

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Parasols are one of those things that look adorable with kimono and yukata, and are also very practical with western clothing, especially if you are as unlucky as I am to be as pale as bread soaked in milk, and ridiculously prone to heat stroke. In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of catalogue-style entries lately because it is just too hot for me to get dressed in kimono! They’re great for taking a stroll to the park or attending outdoor festivals. Some of them can even help keep you dry in a light sprinkle of rain (though I would not suggest subjecting them to anything more severe than a drizzle).

Red plastic parasol hanaguruma (flower carts)
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Parasol

This is definitely my favourite parasol, and I found it at a children’s book store, of all the odd places! It’s red plasticized fabric, so it’s quite durable and can put up with a fair bit of abuse, and I really like the pattern. I hate goshoguruma, the typical Heian-style carts that carried people, but I’m pretty fond of hanaguruma, the flower-carrying carts. It looks like fabric you’d find on a furisode or something. I also really love how bright and fun it is. It’s actually a child’s parasol so it’s a little smaller in diameter than the next two, but it’s more than sufficient to shade my head and shoulders.

Paper parasol with painted dragons
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Parasol

I picked this up at a matsuri years back, and while it was most likely made in China for tourist export, I’m still quite fond of it. Dragons, when cheaply mass-produced, can tend to look a bit dopey, but this little guy is surprisingly intelligent-looking.

Paper parasol with painted butterflies
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Parasol

This came from the same vendor as the previous one, and again, it’s nothing fancy but the pattern is cute and sweet, and it works well when I’m in the mood for something girly but subdued.

Why being my friend is dangerous, the sequel!

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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.

From one Tokaido lover to another

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

Station 1, Shinagawa
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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.