着物着ます – Gofuku no Hi 2016

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Today is 着物着ます (Gofuku no Hi), a worldwide day to wear kimono and share love of kimono. Last year, I cheated a bit by dressing my mannequin. This year, I decided I had to go big or go home. And big is the operative word. I dug out the widest kimono I own, which happens to be the lily furisode I got from Jess last year. The wingspan on it is fantastic, but it was still a bit narrow in the hips, so I dug out my favourite lifesaver, my hakama. I really need to invest in a few more. The obi is actually the reverse of the adorable whale obi I got last week, the pink side happened to perfectly echo the pink of the flowers on the furisode. I had basted a soft cream haneri with flowers on it onto my collar, but in the process of wrestling with everything to get dressed I popped the stitches and it got all wrinkled, so I just removed it and stuck with the white.

I know that look a little rumpled and a little out of practice, but this is the first time I’ve worn kimono since September of 2013, and size issues aside, it felt fantastic. I’m so happy I fought through things and got out there. It’s encouraging to know I can still do this. I’m not going to buy anything else until I invest in another hakama or two, since they help enable me to wear kimono right now. There are a few on eBay I’ve got my eye on. I also made a friend at the park! His name is Luka and he loves to roll around in the grass.

Did you dress for gofuku no hi? If you did, I’d love to see photos! 😀

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Review: Mai-Star Card Game

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Something a little different for today – a card game! Mai-Star is billed as a game of “Beauty and guile in the floating world“. It’s a beautiful, quick little card game that focuses on geisha entertaining clients and earning points to win the round. There are six geisha to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The game was designed by renowned game designer Seiji Kanai, after he’d been asked why none of his games to date were based on Japanese culture.

I invited a few friends over to test the game out. They’re familiar with card and board games, not so much with the world of maiko and geiko. I thought getting their perspectives would be interesting.

The first thing I noticed about Mai-Star is how absolutely gorgeous the artwork is. The geisha are all beautiful and unique, and while the artists have taken some creative liberties with things like hairstyle and accessories it’s clear that all the artwork is grounded in reality and accuracy. The game is set in an ephemeral time and location, which does result in a few stylistic choices that made me raise an eyebrow (the Okaasan card wearing Heian-era court noble robes, for example) but since it’s a fantasy game I don’t find that this detracts at all from the entertainment value. I also very much appreciate that these women are not some westernised, inaccurate stereotype of geisha. The characters in this game are beautiful, educated entertainers and at no point in the course of the game is it ever suggested they are anything else. The relatively unique subject matter is treated with utmost respect.

In the words of Kanai:

I believe foreigners have a lot of different images of Japan, but the classic trio is always “Samurai, Geisha, Ninja”. Games with samurai and ninjas were already all over the place, so I decided to go with geishas. Not even Japanese see much of real life geishas today, but shortly put they’re extremely educated party hostesses and professional entertainers, and I figured nothing bad could come out from spreading this piece of Japanese culture a bit more. (source)

 

It took us a few turns to get the hang of the game, but it’s quite straightforward and once we all got into it, the rounds went by quite quickly. The objective is to raise your geisha’s reputation (stats – performance, service, and intelligence) in order to attract high-paying clients. The geisha who earns the most after each festival (round) wins. It sounds very simple, but requires a lot of thought and planning. You can either choose to focus on boosting your own stats, or you can be crafty and attempt to sabotage the other players. The game doesn’t favour one playing type over another, making it fun and accessible for a wide range of players.

As you can see, we didn’t shuffle the cards as well as we should have, but it was still a lot of fun! You can purchase a copy of Mai-Star from Alderac Games on Amazon. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a beautiful, fun little card game.

I received this item from the retailer or manufacturer for honest review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site.

Whale, whale, whale…

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What have we here?*

I found this obi online several months ago, and kept coming back to look at it. The whales are just so adorably goofy and charming, and I fell completely in love. Eventually I found myself with a bit of cash to spare on something special for myself, and after being enabled by pretty much every single one of my online friends, I went for it. I bought it from Murata, a store based in Vancouver, BC, here in Canada. It only took a few days to get here, and believe me, after over a decade of ordering almost exclusively from Japan that speed made me giddy. Kazue and Fumie were also both an absolutely pleasure to deal with, and I look forward to ordering from them again in the future.

I felt that this obi is so fun and special that it had to be the focus of the outfit, so I went the vaguely monochrome route again. I thought this modern poly komon had a bit of a watery feel to it, and I love how it matches the obi but still manages to fade into the background, making sure all eyes are on the whales! This obi is also incredibly long, to the point where I had to wrap it around the mannequin three times, rather than the usual two. This means I’ll be able to wear it myself, and be able to tie all sorts of fun musubi with it. I can’t wait!

*(I would apologise for that terrible title, but I am not remotely sorry!)

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DIY Doll Makeover

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I found this precious little gal at the thrift store a few weeks ago. She’s not particularly old or valuable, but something about her spoke to me. Her previous owners had slathered her in acrylic craft paint, and it was doing her no justice. I knew I wanted to make her look a bit like a Hakata doll, I just wasn’t sure how I’d go about that. It took a bit of experimentation, but I’m really happy with the end result.

Here she is exactly as I brought her home. Thick, streaky acrylic craft paint hid most of the details of her sweet little face, and the colours on her just weren’t to my taste.

So I stripped her down to bare porcelain with some 100% acetone, and gave her two very thin coats of matte white primer. She could have looked absolutely gorgeous all in white, but parts of her were in rough shape, no matter how much sanding and spraying I did, so I went ahead with my initial plan of colouring her. I tried several different types of paint (fine acrylics, watercolours, etc) but nothing was setting properly. Then I gave my alcohol-based markers a shot, and knew I’d found my solution.

 

The markers did a lovely job of covering her without making her feel heavy. The black marker I used on her hair has a brush tip, and I love the texture it gave her. I also used metallic paint pens to add a bit of depth and texture to her obi and the little flowers that were sculpted in relief on the kimono. I left her eyes closed, I think it gives her a pensive, focused expression. A young lady caught up in her dance.

She may not be perfect, but she’s entirely mine and I’m completely in love with her!