Nugoo Tenugui – A stylish and affordable alternative to han-eri

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Most folks who collect and love kimono already know the merits of a good han-eri, or decorative under-collar. Not only do they protect the collar of your juban from dirt, sweat, and makeup, they’re a fantastic way to add a bit more detail and individuality to most outfits. While very formal outfits such as a full mofuku ensemble or a kurotomesode ensemble require plain white han-eri, more youthful or casual coordinations can have all manner of fun ones. Typically, they’re silk or polyester

One thing you may not be aware of, though, is that tenugui (traditional Japanese cotton towels) can make excellent han-eri that are bold, fun, breathable, and washable! Today I’m working Nugoo Japan to show you how well some of their all-over motif cotton tenugui work with traditional kimono ensembles.

They were kind enough to send me three different examples, I let them choose ones that would be a good representation of their products and they’re all really gorgeous and work so well!

They sent me three different motifs that work perfectly for this particular usage, since the patterns are bold and evenly distributed across the whole tenugui. First, the small blue asanoha. Asanoha, or hemp leaf, is one of my favourite geometric designs, and this one will definitely be getting a ton of use. The next one they sent was a beautiful traditional indigo suisen or narcissus. This one is big and bold and adds a ton of drama to a casual outfit. Sadly, the particular tonbo motif they sent me has been discontinued, but there are some lovely alternatives. I can’t wait to pair this one with my tonbo summer kimono.

First, we have a plain white collar; not only is it boring, it’s a little discoloured with age and use. Not stylish at all! Then we have the tenugui carefully folded over the juban collar, and you can see how much more fun and distinctive the coordinations become with this one small change!

The only warning or caveat I have is that these are hand-dyed using traditional dyes, and when you first get them they may not be entirely colourfast. The indigo suisen one stained my nails slightly as I was arranging it, so I imagine after a long hot day of wear the pigment could absolutely transfer onto your kimono or juban. If you plan to use one of Nugoo Japan’s beautiful indigo tenugui (or any naturally dyed fabric) as han-eri, I would absolutely suggest washing them a few times first!

Please check out Nugoo Japan on their website, facebook, and instagram. Along with traditional tenugui they also have lots of lovely items and home goods made from them, such as coin purses and bento products.

 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. 

Review – Nozomi Project jewellery

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I have something really special to share with you all today. Nozomi Project is a company with a mission that produces absolutely beautiful and unique jewellery. Started after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, they work to bring sustainable income to women in Ishinomaki who lost their livelihoods. Evoking the principles of mottainai, they upcycle broken pottery and ceramics into stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces. Nozomi means hope, and I can’t think of a better name.

They were kind enough to send me one item for review (the Rumi necklace), and I bought another (the Sara earrings) for me to wear, review, and share with you all.

They are fantastically well-made. The hardware is silver, and sets off the delicate tones of the ceramics perfectly. Each piece is very well-polished, making sure there are smooth rounded edges everywhere. This ensures that they’re very comfortable to wear. The earrings are also made with particularly light and delicate pottery, so they’re not overly heavy. The necklace piece is a little more substantial, but still feels very airy. There is something very comforting in the way it sits against the skin.

My aunt is visiting and was kind enough to model these beautiful pieces for me!

Another beautiful touch is that the card each piece comes mounted has the name of the artisan who made it. This is such a thoughtful addition that really helps you to feel connected with the whole process!

Overall, I cannot recommend these enough. The pieces are gorgeous and eclectic and will grab attention and start conversations wherever you go, and the thoughts and messages behind the company only add to the appeal. Whether you’re looking for a gift for someone special or splurging on yourself, anything from Nozomi Project would be absolutely perfect.

You can follow them on social media.
Nozomi Project website | Nozomi Project on Facebook | Nozomi Project on Instagram

 I received this item from the retailer or manufacturer for honest review purposes.I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

Review – Tsunami Art Obi-style Spinner Ring

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Today for you I have something that I think is really cool. I came across this sterling silver spinner ring that looks like a wave-motif obi, complete with obijime! I’ve mentioned it in passing here before, but for those who aren’t aware, I suffer from anxiety and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’ve been a fidgeter and a worrier most of my life. So when I found something that not only could help me deal with those issues but looked as beautiful as this, I was thrilled!

The base design of the ring is clearly inspired by the beautiful Great Wave off Kanagawa, but reproduced in a beautifully fluid and slightly abstracted style. It wraps all around the band of the ring, ensuring it looks beautiful no matter how you put it it on. What truly makes this ring special though, is the spinner segment, two thin bands of sterling silver tied in a square knot and looking identical to an obijime tied over a beautiful obi. The gently rolled edges of the ring keep the spinner from falling off and help keep the ring incredibly comfortable both to wear and to fidget with.

I would also like to clarify that, no, this is not an engagement ring post or anything of that nature! I selected the ring size to fit on my index finger, ideal for a spinner/fidget ring, but since it’s so hot and humid here in Montreal my hands are swollen and it currently only fits on my left ring finger. Rather than delay this review for too long, I decided to run with it.

Even the packaging the ring came in is beautiful and thoughtful, and would make this a fantastic gift for any lover of kimono or traditional Japanese art.

You can browse Energy Stone’s beautiful selection on EnergyStone.Com and Etsy. This ring is the only one that looks specifically like an obi, but they have many other beautiful designs as well! If you’ve been looking for something to help with anxiety and help keep you grounded, or are just looking for some unique jewellery to wear with or without kimono, I highly recommend them.

Just for fun, here is a bonus photo of the ring in action with some raspberry-lemon vegan soft serve from Ca Lem, my favourite local creamery.

 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. 

Biku Designs Recycled Kimono Jewellery

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I’ve been admiring the jewellery from Biku Designs for quite a while now. Owned and created in Tokyo by a lovely woman named Victoria Close, all the beautiful items are made using recycled kimono fabric and representing the values of mottainai. Between gift shopping during the holidays and making more practical purchases like tatoushi and arms for the mannequin I didn’t have much of a budget for pretty fun things. However, to celebrate the new year they released a fukurobuko (福袋), or lucky bag. This a tradition where vendors will offer a bag or bundle with a surprise selection of products available for a really steep discount.

I snatched one up right away, knowing it would give me a lovely variety of items to wear and feature, and I’m so glad I did. The items arrived well-packaged in a lovely little custom bag, emphasising the fukubukuro aspect of the bundle, which was a lovely touch. Each item inside was separately wrapped in red tissue, which made unwrapping it feel like a special event.

I kind of wish I’d waited to open it so I could take better photos, but it arrived while I was at work and I was so excited and impatient I ended up tearing into it and only snapped a few photos on my phone. Today, though, I made sure to take better photos that really show off the beauty of each item.

First was a beautiful fabric cuff, tied in a knot that reminds me of an obijime. I love that there’s a chain on this, because I’ve got very broad wrists and a lot of times bracelets are snug on me. Making this so adjustable is a very thoughtful finishing detail.

Next are a beautiful pair of stud earrings with embedded kimono fabric. You can tell Victoria put a lot of care and attention into these, as the patterns are perfectly balanced. I don’t typically wear stud earrings but they’re all my mother wears and I know she’ll love these, so I’m happy to give them to her.

The third item is a brooch, and again the attention to detail is obvious. The underside is just as well-finished as the top is, and the pattern feels balanced. This will also work very well as an obidome, and I can’t wait to pair it with an outfit!

Last up are a pair of french wire earrings with blue and white fabric under resin cabochons. These are the sorts of earrings I love and wear quite frequently, and I know these will be a cherished part of my regular rotation.

Every single item is clearly made with an abundance of care and attention. There’s not a single messy or unfinished edge to be seen, and everything feels delicate while remaining solid and wearable. If you’re looking for accessories with a bit of wa flair to add to your everyday wardrobe, or a gift for someone who loves Japanese textiles, I definitely recommend checking out Biku Designs.

I love all the items included, and the colours feel very “me” – blues and greens, like my hair! I had been in contact with Victoria before, and included a link to this blog but I have no idea if she actually selected the items for each bag or if it was just a happy accident. Either way, I’m thrilled!

You can find Biku Designs on their website, facebook, instagram, and twitter. Unfortunately the lucky bags are sold out, but there will be plenty of new stock on the website in the near future.

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

Review – Modern Sakura Kanzashi

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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)