Okiku‘s story is one of the most tragic and, despite being hundreds of years old, still incredibly relevant today. She was a beautiful young woman who was a servant and dishwasher at Himeji castle. A retainer named Aoyama wanted her for his lover but she refused. Eventually he framed her for losing a prized plate and said he would not report it to their master if she agreed to be with him. Still, she refused. He resorted to beating her and repeatedly dunking her in the will and yet she still refused. Eventually his rage and fury took over and he stabbed her with his sword and dropped her body into the well.
Her vengeful ghost haunted the castle, looking for the missing dish, and tormented Aoyama until the lord called a priest to the palace to deal with the situation. He pretended to have found the missing dish and Okiku’s ghost was finally able to rest.
Okiku is a woman’s name derived from Kiku, or Chrysanthemum, so I chose this kimono both for its subtle vintage feel and the kiku motif repeated on it. Same for the haneri. I wanted a sort of dusty, ethereal feel for the coordination. Initially I had another obi in mind, but I found this one at the bazaar over the weekend and fell head-over-heels for it and was determined to feature it sometime soon. The motif on it is technically mirrors, but you have to admit that they look very much like fancy plates, which tied in perfectly with Okiku’s story. At first I was worried it would be too bold against the muted kimono but I think it adds just the right amount of drama. It also helps to bring out the teal-green foliage accents among the flowers.
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes bonus of Vinnie, since he hasn’t made a guest appearance here in a while.
Items used in this coordination
Teal with Mirrors
Reversible embroidery (side a)
Dusty Pink Round
I found this beauty on eBay, and was initially drawn to it because of its length – a whopping 69 inches or 175 centimetres. At my height, finding long kimono is always exciting. The thumbnail makes it look quite odd – almost unfinished, like there are just big white blobs on a blue surface, and I think this worked in my favour, because nobody else bid on it.
Up close, however, the white “blobs” are incredibly soft, delicate botan with gentle pearly grey shading and gold centres, and then these interesting solid white kiku. They are definitely hand-painted with white and grey dye, not unfinished. The contrast, though, gives the kimono a very bold, modern look while still being soft and girly.
I absolutely can’t wait to wear this, I am thinking of pairing it up with the gold and white obi from this bundle. It will be nice to have both a kimono and an obi that fit me very well and don’t require fussing and fidgeting all evening 😉
Blue with White Floral
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.
A beautifully subdued komon in shades of sage green and beige. Dusty pink-red kiku blossoms float across a watery background. The silk of this piece is incredibly butter soft and it’s an absolute pleasure to wear, it’s just too quiet for my tastes nowadays.
Age: Heisei Era
Please note that while my collection is kept in a clean, enclosed space at the far side of my house, there are three cats and cigarette smoke in the other end of the building on a different floor. The kimono are stored carefully and with cedar packets but if you are very sensitive or have allergies, do keep this in mind.