Hina-Matsuri 2021

Typically for Hina-Matsuri I do a somewhat thematic coordination or DIY a set of dolls. This year, however, my motivation hasn’t been where it should be, and I was worried I’d let the day go by without anything. But then I remembered that somehow last year I managed to get not one, not two, but three separate sets of Obina & Mebina dolls! I’ve posted some of them on Instagram previously but this seemed like the perfect time to share better photos and details.

First, I have this lovely traditional hakata ceramic set. These were totally unexpected – I found the Emperor on a shelf mixed in with the other “decorative clutter” at the local Goodwill-owned thrift store. I nearly didn’t take him, since he was alone, but then it occurred to me the Empress was likely somewhere nearby so I went hunting. I found her a few shelves over and I’m so happy I was able to reunite them and give them a home where they can be appreciated and treasured. Unbelievably, they were only $1.50 each! I don’t think they’re particularly old or “valuable”, but they’re incredibly charming and were such a treasure to find.

Next up is this cute (and slightly ridiculous) cat set by Decole Concombre. They’re quite tiny and made of resin, so they’re nothing fancy and not particularly elegant, but they are adorable and I love them to bits. Like all of Concombre’s figures, they look a bit like they only have one brain cell to share between them, which only adds to their charm, I think. I also have a kimono-clad bride and groom set that are very similar, and I think if I were ever to get married, they’d make a hilarious cake-topper.

Last, but certainly not least, my favourite anime power-couple, Haruka & Michiru (Sailor Uranus & Sailor Neptune). I actually ordered these quite a long time ago and had them shipped to Keith’s, so I was finally able to get them when I went a few months back! They were absolutely worth the wait; they are too cute for words. It’s my first time seeing a lesbian couple as Emperor and Empress, but it totally works with these two! Their outfits are accurate to typical hina dolls, but include references to their characters and Sailor Senshi powers which is a really nice touch. I also love that they also came with the little raised dais and byobu screen backdrop.

I know you guys want more kimono coords, and I promise I’ll have one sometime later this week!

Mini-Review – Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san (Kiyo in Kyoto) Anime

If there are three things I love in my media, it’s slice-of-life, food, and kimono. I got a good dose of all those while watching Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi and then all three of them with bonus drama while watching Watadou, and now there’s a new anime out to fill that niche even better! Only one episode is out so far, so this won’t be any sort of an in-depth review, but I’ve been anticipating this anime ever since I found out the manga (which I love) was being adapted.

Kiyo preparing a huge lunch for the maiko – All images courtesy of NHK

Known in Japanese as Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san and in English as Kiyo in Kyoto, this is the story of Kiyo, a teenager who moves to Kyoto and becomes the live-in cook for an Okiya (maiko residence) where her friend Sumire is in training to become a maiko. One of the things that makes their dynamic, and the whole show really, so wholesome is how supportive of Sumire Kiyo is. Initially they were training together, but it’s explained that Kiyo was too clumsy and not graceful enough, so she is taken on as the cook. Rather than be jealous that her good friend is en-route to become a very popular geisha, Kiyo is her biggest cheerleader. It’s sweet and charming and we need more positivity and happiness like this right now.’

Sumire and Kiyo in the kitchen – All images courtesy of NHK

The girls all dressed up for work – All images courtesy of NHK

There’s a broad range of kimono in just this one episode, from the day-wear of the maiko while they’re out running errands to the more elegant outfits of the Matron and dance Sensei. And of course, there are the elaborate, colourful outfits of the maiko which we see only briefly but I’m sure will become more of a central visual element as the show continues.

Squid Mince, an Aomori comfort food – All images courtesy of NHK

A cute segment is where Kiyo and Sumire discuss their “dish of the day”, a dish or food tradition mentioned in the show. There were several in this episode, and they do feel a bit filler-ish and repetitive, but they’re still informative and interesting so I don’t mind them yet. That might change after multiple episodes though XD. I’ll likely be doing a follow-up on this series (and a few others I’ve been meaning to share) in an Anime with Kimono Eye-Candy entry sometime soon.

You can watch the first episode of Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san/Kiyo in Kyoto in Japanese with English subtitles and occasional English narration explaining culture and traditions of the geisha district on NHK World right here!

 

Blushing Valentine Bride

I absolutely intended to do this yesterday, but the universe clearly had other plans. It’s never too late for a little bit of winter romance though, so here we are! For February and Valentine’s Day, I decided to do a bit of a non-traditional wedding coordination. Generally, wedding outfits will be either all white (or white with metallic accents) or boldly coloured, depending on the time, location, and whether it’s for the ceremony or reception. This time though, I decided to go white with one bright accent colour; what could be more romantic than rosy pink?

I used a pink iromuji as the under-layer, since the colour was a perfect match, and I’m glad I went for it. I love the solid colours but play of texture – the kimono has a subtle sayagata rinzu, the iromuji is much more heavily textured, there’s the nubbly shibori of the obiage, the smooth flat surface of the obi, and even the shiny bumpy quality of the beaded obiage. Everything plays against everything else to create an outfit that despite being only two colours still remains visually very interesting.

Typically, a bigger musubi like tateya or something fancy created by a bridal studio would be used with a wedding ensemble. However, this obi has no stiffener and is very floppy, which really reduces the ways it can be tied without looking sad and anaemic, so I went with a very timeless soft bunko musubi. This also seemed like the perfect time to use the heart obijime knot (tutorial here). Since beaded obijime tend to be a bit slippery and often shorter than usual I wasn’t able to do it perfectly, but it’s still quite cute I think!

I’ve also gone ahead and reactivated my Patreon account. I know times are tough and money is tight for just about everyone, so I’m not expecting anything. But if you’ve got a few dollars to spare and enjoy the content I provide, please consider pledging! Every penny earned from there will go directly back into this blog, to cover new pieces, new reference materials, website hosting, and the like.

Items used in this coordination

Showa-ing Off

Sometimes it amazes me how small the online kimono enthusiast community can be. A while back I was browsing eBay and saw a bundle of some pieces I really liked for sale by a local seller. I reached out to them to ask if they’d be willing to offer local (but socially distanced!) pick-up and about an hour later I get a Facebook message from my friend Sasa, asking if the message was from me!  😆

One of the main reasons I wanted the bundle was this particular kimono; it reminds me very much of the first “big loss” I ever had on eBay, the first time I truly fell in love with a piece and was outbid in the last few seconds. It’s got a very distinct mid-late Showa era feel to it, the bold colours contrasting against a very soft background, the fantastical floral motifs that almost feel inspired by 60s psychedelia. I chose to pair it with this slightly older obi that echoes the teal-green foliage and has hints of a pale peachy pink that ties in to the kimono background.

I really love how well it all ties together. The obijime is an utterly perfect match for the kimono, and the red obiage provides just enough punch while echoing the bold red tones in the kimono designs. The soft kimono and bold obi contrast very well and the whole thing just feels very mid/late Showa era. I’m quite pleased!

Items used in this coordination

Picrew.Me Kimono Avatar Creators part 3

It’s that time again! I’ve gone through literally hundreds of avatar creators on Picrew.me to bring you ones with kimono! Sadly none of these are kimono-specific, but they all have kimono hidden within their depths, typically with options to customise styles and colours. You can, of course, also use them to make non-kimono avatar, but where’s the fun in that?

If you need instructions on how to use the interface, I have a detailed breakdown in my first Picrew post.

https://picrew.me/image_maker/112551

The yukata in this one is the veeeery last option available, but it's got a bunch of cute patterns! The base is also very customiseable, so it's great if you're like me and enjoy making avatars of yourself.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/296093

A modern art style that I really enjoy. I also appreciate that this particular Picrew was not made by a Japanese creator, but they included reasonably accurate wafuku nonetheless. It also has hanbok, cheong sam, and sari options!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/332867

Neko-musume (catgirl) maker! I like that this one has kimono and haori options, and the little cats paw kamon is just too cute.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/196270

I will say up front, there's only one kimono option with three colours here (this pattern, solid, and white) and the collar is a bit weird. But it makes really cute portraits so I decided to included.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/190588/

A fun androgynous maker! There's only a few patterns of kimono but there are options for wearing it one-shoulder and some over-layers and things that make it a lot more fun.

https://picrew.me/image_maker/28224

A soft almost watercolour style avatar creator. This one is very soothing and pretty, and has both solid and patterned kimono options. It also has kimono worn in a more masculine style, and you can create some fairly androgynous characters with it.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/137904

Another cute one with a wide variety of traditional Eastern clothing. Only a few kimono options, but it let me recreate my actual undercut hairstyle so I'm biased!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/186583

How adorable is this one?! There are only two options, white feminine style and black masculine style, but I couldn't resist including it because it's just so damn cute.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/395214

I cannot express how happy it makes me when I find a Picrew avatar maker that includes hearing aids! This one only has a few kimono options, but the inclusivity absolutely made it worth sharing. Also I really want boba now...
https://picrew.me/image_maker/549603

This one stands out because of the fun, vintage-feeling pixel art style. Again, there are sadly not many kimono options, but I felt that it was unique enough to include.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/579735

Aaaaa! Full body sitting chibi avatar! Cuuuute! In all seriousness though, this contains a variety of colour options for the kimono as well as a hakama ensemble with multiple colour options. And the faces are so expressive!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/1695

This one is listed as a "ninja maker". It's a very simplified little avatar with a very stylised kimonoish outfit. Just included this one because it made me smile.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/45252

This one is technically a "witch" maker, but nobody ever said witches can't wear kimono, right? Bonus points for the really pretty traditional-style background options too.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/177583

Another charming one with a bunch of traditional Eastern clothing options. There are several colour and pattern options for kimono already, and several blank slots so I imagine they're in the process of adding more.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/388945

The faces on this one just make me laugh! Not a lot of options for the kimono itself, but the avatars are really charming.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/399481

There's both casual and wedding kimono for both avatars in this creator and you can change the colours for all of them! It's the first one I've seen that allows for a couple in kimono. Technically it's male and female, but a lot of the options are androgynous enough that I think it would be possible to make a variety of couples.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/165901

This couple is more obviously two women based solely on the outfits. Unfortunately, there's also only these two options for the kimono, but there are plenty of other clothes so you could do yourself in wafuku and your girlfriend (or sister, or bestie) in yofuku, or even the two sides of your own wardrobe!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/166256

Make your own bento lunch! You can choose everything here, from the tabletop to the drink to the garnish on the rice. Playing with it made me incredibly hungry and now I am craving kara-age. Maybe don't check this one out if you're already hungry.

As always, I hope you have fun with these and I’d love to see what you create with them.  😀