Montreal Kimono Bazaar Haul!

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve done a big haul show-off. I’ve been buying items one at a time and featuring them in outfits rather than writing up big posts. But yesterday I went to the Montreal JCCC‘s autumn kimono bazaar and made out like a bandit. I found some really gorgeous pieces at some fantastic prices. A few of them will likely end up being used in some of the Yokai Halloween entries, which makes me very happy!

Without further ado, here are my spoils of war.

A modern furisode, in an interesting coral-pink colour. It's funny, I don't particularly like gosho-guruma (Heian noble carts) as a motif, but something about this piece called to me. The fact that it's quite long and wide and was only $30 made it impossible to pass up. It's also got red juban sleeves sewn in place which will make dressing with it really quick and easy. I didn't even notice those until I got it home!
A beautiful, relatively modern ivory houmongi with bamboo on it. I've always wanted something with really graphic bamboo design like this, so when I saw it I snatched it up. The fact that it was my friend Sasa selling it helped too. It has a few tiny stains but not enough to make it unwearable.
This is an absolutely beautiful summer-weight komon that feels like Taisho or early Showa era to me. It's a gorgeous purple and I love the very stylised crane design on it. It's so vintage but so modern at the same time. Sadly, I'm pretty sure that no matter how much weight I tried to lose I'd never fit into this piece, but I couldn't resist giving it a good home. I can't wait to put it on the mannequin or even on a petite friend at some point.
This komon is, sadly, in pretty rough shape. The left sleeve is pulled almost entirely off the body and there's a hole on it that looks like it might be a cigarette burn. However, it was being sold as scrap fabric and an incredibly good price and I have plans in mind for it.
A super charming wool haori! The base of this is a really interesting indigo colour - in some lights it looks almost royal blue, in others it's definitely purple. And the flower motif is so sweet! I plan to wear this over a red dress at some point, as well as coordinating it with kimono.
I fell head-over-heels for the this obi before even seeing the motif. The colour is just too gorgeous. I can't even capture it properly in a photo, it's a nearly electric teal in person. The metallic mirror motifs are lovely too, so that worked out well, but for me it's all about THAT COLOUR!
Ningyo obi! I know I've been overusing the word charming in this post but ugggh, how charming is this obi? I really don't need any more red-toned nagoya obi but I couldn't resist this chubby little matryoshka-inspired doll! I think this obi will also look ridiculously cute with the wool haori I got.
Kitty hanhaba obi. Do I really need to elaborate? 😻😻😻
I was nearly positive I had a round red obijime, but after cataloguing everything I own it never turned up. So when I saw this pretty one for five bucks, it went into my haul. I love that it's got a bit more interest than just one solid red rope. Simple, but definitely fills a hole in my collection.
Last but most certainly not least is this gorgeous embroidered haneri. I have several pink ones already but I love how big and bold the design on this one is. It's modern, but it has a very vintage feel to it.

As my collection grows bigger and bigger, I am trying to be more selective when I buy things. I know at first glance that doesn’t seem particularly evident with this entry, but there were so many more beautiful things there that I loved but chose to leave behind.

Batman Day!

Today is Batman Day, a day set by DC Comics to celebrate all things Dark Knight. Ever since I watched Batman Ninja, I knew I wanted to do some Batman-themed coordinates but kept putting it off in favour of other things. I’m glad I waited, because today is the perfect day to start!

I went with the classic black and yellow colour combination, since it feels timeless. Batman’s costume has veered from blue and grey to entirely black, but keeps coming around to black with pops of yellow. The obidome is an antique menuki and feels like the perfect way to tie everything together. The motif on the kimono is fans, but from a distance it feels like it could be a swarm of bats taking off. I added some black enamel pyramid studs to a yellow haneri to add a bit of weapon-like edge and sharpness to the coordination. I would have loved to use more items with an actual bat motif, but they tend to be snatched up very quickly and cost a pretty penny, alas. Still though, I think I did a decent job of conveying a feeling without being too literal.

Stay tuned for more outfits inspired by beloved (and not so beloved) Batman characters!

Items used in this coordination

Quick & Easy Obijime Tassel Storage Solution

Finding a practical storage solution for obijime is one of the great conundrums of kimono collecting. They get tangled, the tassels get ratty and frayed, and most of the storage options I’ve come across involve wrapping the tassels in paper which gets tedious and wasteful if you use them frequently and have to redo the wrappings every time.

I wanted to find a quicker and more practical way to store them that would also be affordable and easily accessible. After a couple of experiments, I think I’ve found the perfect solution and wanted to share it with you all – bubble tea straws! You can also find them listed as milkshake or smoothie straws, you just want to make sure they’re a wider width than typical drink straws. They’re available on Amazon as well as at nearly any grocery store, they’re very inexpensive, and they’re much more durable than paper.

To begin with, I steamed. combed, and trimmed the tassels on my obijime. For a really great and thorough tutorial on cleaning, steaming, and maintaining obijime tassels, please check out Naomi’s “Project Obijime” blog post. It’s really thorough and clear, and a great place to start.

After all your tassels are tidied up, what you need to do is cut a piece of the straw slightly longer than your tassel and then slit it up one side. Insert the body of the obijime in through the slit and then slide it down to protect the tassel. Then just store however works for you – mine are simply folded in half and then in half again and put into divided boxes by formality and shape. The great thing about using straws like this instead of paper or something else is that you can pull it off and slide it back on as many times as you’d like! No need to take the time to re-wrap them, and no waste.

The only time this feels like a less-than-perfect solution is with very wide and flat obijime, which are more common in vintage collections. Just be careful to make sure that you’ve pulled the straw down completely onto the tassel so it’s not causing the obijime itself to curl because they will stay that way and need steaming again to flatten out.

I hope you found this helpful! It’s such a simple little thing, but personally I think it makes a huge difference when it comes to storage and tidiness!

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Review – Modern Sakura Kanzashi

Modern Sakura is a fairly new US-based kanzashi brand. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while now, and when I saw they had created a Kickstarter crowdfunding camp aign to get established, I knew I wanted to back them. The campaign was understandably successful and I chose the purple and blue Summer Breeze kanzashi.

I received mine yesterday, and I’m very impressed. The first thing I noticed was the custom mailer boxes. It’s a really nice little touch that makes receiving the product feel very special. Inside the customised box was two adorable printed glassine bags, another sweet little detail that while entirely unnecessary adds a level of thoughtfulness to the finished product.

There were two pieces in the box, which I was not expecting! The tiny blue flower clip is so adorable and subtle, and will be great for everyday wear. As far as I know, these are exclusive to folks who backed the Kickstarter.

The pièce de résistance though was the Summer Breeze kanzashi. This piece has a unique combination of ume blossoms, a charming little fan, and flower and bell dangles. Admittedly, this style is quite juvenile for someone of my age, especially with the little bells, but when has that ever stopped me before? The piece is very well-finished, even the back is smoothly covered with fabric to ensure quality and durability. There is a small metal alligator clip on the back, which was an excellent choice in my opinion, as it tends to grip even fine hair like mine. It also makes the piece suitable for a wide variety of hairstyles – kanzashi mounted on traditional wire pins are really only going to work with fairly voluminous updos but this style of clip means the piece can be worn on long, loose hair as well.

If this is a sign of things to come, I expect to see and hear a lot about Modern Sakura in the future. If you’re interested in some affordable, modern kanzashi that will work as well with kimono as they will with western-style clothing, check them out!

You can find Modern Sakura on their website, as well as their Facebook page and Instagram.

I received this item as a backer perk for a project or product that was crowd-funded (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc)

Under where?! Nagajuban and undergarments.

One of the most frequently misunderstood garments in a kimono wardrobe is the nagajuban (長襦袢, long juban, also referred to as nagajyuban, or sometimes simply juban). They are often so lovely and well-decorated that people might mistake them for proper kimono, which can be embarrassing and incorrect. It’s not uncommon to see attendees at anime conventions flaunting their “amazing kawaii new kimono” actually running around in these in-between garments. I have seen them worn as over-jackets (Angel Adoree does this quite often), and with proper styling choices this can be a fun look, but if you’re aiming for accuracy it’s quite awkward to be caught out and about in one with nothing over it.

They’re not quite “underwear” as we’d think of them in Western terms. When wearing a kimono, you typically start with either a kimono bra (that helps to flatten and smooth the bust line) and comfortable panties or a traditional wrapping cloth known as sarashi. On top of that layer, there is another fairly plain layer known as hadajuban (肌襦袢), though I admit – in very hot or muggy weather I often forgo the hadajuban and just wear my nagajuban over my bra and shorts. The nagajuban goes over these layers, but they are not proper outer garments either. They’re meant to be seen in very minute amounts – at the collar, at the sleeve edges, and occasionally at the hem while walking. Anything more would be kind of indecent. They also add shape and structure to the kimono, to help achieve that ideal columnar figure. Between these layers, there are often towels or small pads used to help smooth out the body line. It always gives me a good chuckle when people imagine a woman undressing and simply slipping the kimono off her shoulders and being essentially naked underneath. The reality is far less sexy, and is illustrated spectacularly in this comic by @nyorozo on Twitter. Fantasy on the left, reality on the right!

There are a few giveaways that can help you differentiate between a kimono and a juban. Kimono for women are meant to be worn with an ohashori (fold at the waist) and so are typically quite long. Nagajuban are typically much shorter, since they’re not meant to be folded. They also often have a white or contrasting collar over which a decorative haneri can be attached. Lastly, they also tend to be more narrow, without the diagonal okumi panel attached between the front and collar pieces.

There is also a variant called hanjuban (半襦袢, half juban) that is much shorter, and typically paired with a wrap-style skirt know as susoyoke (裾除け). These are easier to adjust to your height, tend to be much more convenient to wear. Many modern ones are available in a combination of breathable cotton and washable polyester. Together, they are sometimes referred to as nibushiki (separated) nagajuban.

Vintage undergarments were often red or other vivid colours, back when kimono in general were much bolder and more vibrant, and people wore them more often and could justify getting ones that coordinated with specific kimono. Naomi no Kimono Asobi has a lot of very amazing examples of brightly-coloured vintage undergarments. These bold patterns an vivid reds are also a throwback to the sumptuary laws of the Tokugawa shogunate, which prevented the merchant class from wearing fabrics that were showier than the samurai and aristocrats. To get around this, they would often hide flashy designs and bright colours on their undergarments, a trend which continued on even long after the sumptuary laws were rendered defunct.

Nowadays, nagajuban tend to be white or pale pastels, since those are much more neutral and versatile. When you don’t wear kimono every day it’s not really worthwhile to invest in a large collection of undergarments; it makes much more sense to buy one or two that you can wear with everything.

That being said, my collection is a combination of versatile modern pieces, vibrant vintage nagajuban, and a few home-made or modified items. Because I’m so tall, I often have to rely on the two-piece variants and even then sometimes have to lengthen the skirt portion. If it’s cool enough, I might also wear a full juban with susuyoke, but that can begin to get quite thick around my already not-insubstantial waistline. Another handy aspect of a two-piece is that if you’ve got broader hips and the front hem of your kimono flaps open sometimes, you can tie the susuyoke so the split is in the back. This way if your kimono hem spreads too wide, you’re assured of the under-skirt keeping you decent.

Hopefully this will help alleviate some of the confusion about what these garments are and how they’re traditionally worn!