F is for Fudangi

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Fudangi, 不断着, home wear/casual clothes/ordinary dress

That’s a delightfully vague definition. Much like the infernal “office casual” it’s a term that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. So what exactly is fudangi? The general consensus for kitsuke is that it comprises anything from wool or cotton kimono that you’d wear around the house to komon and obi without metallic accents that you’d wear to run errands or meet up with friends for lunch. Often it’s much looser and more relaxed when it comes to the rules, but you still want to avoid anything overly formal. Obi should be hanhaba or casual nagoya, obijime should be thin, fancier textiles like shibori or yuzen-dyed silk should be used sparingly if at all. Think of rough-woven and rustic textiles like wool, meisen weave, etc. Fun accessories like haneri and obidome are always a good way to inject some personality in.

To give a better idea, I’ve collected some of my favourite coordinations from last year, where I made an effort to put together an outfit that exemplified fudangi at least once per month. As you can see, there’s plenty of room for variation, all while staying relaxed and comfortable.

As much as I love really gorgeous formal furisode and kurotomesode, there’s a lot to be said for casual, cool, comfortable outfits like these.

E is for Ebi

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Ebi, 海老 , shrimp, lobster, or other long-tailed crustacean

Quite possibly one of my favourite motifs! I love all sea-creature motifs, but I seem to have a soft spot for the goofy-looking rock lobsters often found on wafuku. I had several choices to work with for today’s coordination (you can see them all below) but in the end this pente lobster tsuke-obi won out. I just love it so much.

I paired it with this gorgeous soft brown Taisho-era houmongi. I love how the black pops against the muted brown, and the beige clouds on the kimono echo the shells on the back of the obi. Red accessories draw further attention to the ebi itself and anchor the red sleeve lining. The finishing touch was a brown obijime tied in a way to faintly evoke a lobster trap or net.

As much as I love this obi I tend to forget how long it’s pre-tied in the back. It would suit a taller person (like me, hello!) much better than the mannequin, I think. I don’t mind though, I still love the finished outfit to bits.

So far these are all the items I have with ebi motif in one form or another, but I’ll never say no to more!

Items used in this coordination

D is for Daruma

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Daruma, 達磨, lucky doll representing Bodhidharma

Daruma are those rounded, roly-poly little dolls (usually red, but other colours exist) with a grumpy-looking face. Often one or both eyes are left blank. They’re said to represent the bearded face of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Nowadays, they’re used to set goals and encourage perseverance. When you set a goal, you paint in the right eye in. When you accomplish the goal, you fill in the left. At the end of the year it’s common to return the daruma to the temple where it was purchased, for it to be thanked and set ablaze. You would then buy a new one to set a new goal for the upcoming year.

As I mentioned, the traditional colour for daruma is red, but it’s becoming more common to see a whole host of colours used to represent different goals. There are varying opinions as to which colour represents what, but some of the most common meanings are as follows:

Red – Luck & fortune
White – Marriage & harmony
Gold or yellow – Finance
Green – Health
Blue – Success
Pink – Love

If you’d like to make your own daruma, keep reading! However, this one is not made of fragile papier maché and should absolutely not be burnt!

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C is for Chidori

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Chidori, 千鳥, plover

Since today’s feature is about everyone’s favourite goofy little bird motif, chidori, I had two obvious choices for this entry. My bold, high-contrast irotomesode with nami-chidori (plovers on waves) around the hem, or the quieter but more unusual kurotomesode with tiny chidori over stylised matsu (pines).

The subtle, small chidori won out in the end though. I really love this kimono so much, for several reasons. It was purchased in Boulder, Colorado, which is a place that means a lot to me, and it’s also a rarity since there was only a brief period where it was acceptable and stylish for kurotomesode to have a small amount of motif on the back of one sleeve. As much as I love the showier irotomesode, this piece below will always have my heart.

I paired it with a tsuke-obi that also has pine motifs and went for accessories all in the same sort of warm green/brown colour scheme. It’s a very subdued and harmonious outfit, which appeals to me more and more as I get older.

Since “chidori” is also the term used for herringbone patterns, I debated using this obidome as well. You can see where the name came from, the little interlocking shapes do indeed look like the stylised shape used to represent the birds. But it felt too modern and casual for the rest of the outfit, and didn’t fit over the obijime I’d chosen, so I’ll save it for another time 🙂

Items used in this coordination

B is for Bento

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Bento (弁当), organised packed lunch, typically with rice

It seems a bit silly to pack a boxed lunch at a time when nobody’s supposed to be leaving the house! But nothing’s stopping me from eating it here at home.

I’ve never assembled a proper bento before, it always seemed too daunting and I’m usually in a rush on work days and rarely have the foresight to prepare it the night before. But now that I’ve got all the free time in the world, it seemed like a good opportunity to use this cute bento box that Kansai Gal sent me a while back. And yes, those are indeed Darth Vader Lightsaber chopsticks, because why not?

One container has rice, furikake, and poached chicken. The other has a nice selection of fresh veggies; tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and baby spinach underneath it all. I tried to cut the radishes into roses and the carrots into sakura, but I’m not sure how well I succeeded. The awkward vegetable cutting aside, it was way easier and more fun to assemble than I’d expected, if I’m being honest.

Would I do this again, once I’m back at work when all this craziness is over? Definitely. Will I bother trying to be cutesy and cut my vegetables into wonky flowers? Probably not.