Birthday dinner at Sakura

My birthday is on this coming Tuesday, but I hate having long, relaxing dinners (especially ones with alcohol involved) during the work-week, so I invited a few friends and my folks to come dinner at a restaurant I’d been wanting to try, Sakura on de la Montagne. I read that the waitresses and staff wore kimono, so I figured I would not stand out too much if I wore one too. What I was not anticipating is that the entire restaurant staff would be Japanese and dressed in simple komon and relatively informal obi. Enter one gigantic white person in a rather dressy kimono and even dressier obi, and hilarity ensues.

I chose to wear an outfit comprised of nothing but gifts, and I still cannot believe how perfectly everything worked out. I paired the pink Takara houmongi from Arian with the Stations of the Tokaido obi from Suara, and finished it off with a beautiful haneri from Naomi and obiage and obijime from my dear friend Jeff. Even the shawl was a gift – my grandmother crocheted it.

The restaurant was absolutely lovely. The decor was decidedly Japanese and we sat in a tatami room, but it was subtle and tasteful – not a cheesy theme restaurant, which unfortunately are the norm around here. The owner, Ishii Noriko-san, was incredibly kind and fussed over my outfit repeatedly. She’s offered to contact a Japanese tutor for me, and insisted I come back again in kimono. The food was delicious and the wait staff were all very kind. They allowed me to order off the “other” menu – the one intended for the Japanese clientele, and I had unadon. They also found out the dinner was for my birthday, and brought the table some delicious green tea ice cream (mine had a sparkler in it!) as well as a special box of yokan for me. I was incredibly touched.

My mother took a photo of Noriko-san and I. Doesn’t she look stylish? I loved her obi so much! This photo also does a great job of illustrating why clothing made for the average Japanese woman is so difficult for me to wear.

Uchikake in the front receiving room

Delicious courses of dinner – shrimp gyoza, salad, sushi, dessert.

Delicious unadon. This wasn’t on the regular menu, I had to special-order it from the “Japanese people” menu XD. I love me some grilled eel. Next time though, I think I will try the katsudon!

I was incredibly surprised and touched when Noriko-san came in with my special birthday yokan.

I also received some incredibly sweet gifts, Andy got me a DVD of a spy series I know he is very fond of, The Sandbaggers, and Leslie gave me two beautiful antique woodblock prints by Kunisada that she purchased in Japan quite a while ago. I was so touched. The whole evening was wonderful.

This is Hallowe’en, everybody make a scene!

I was invited to a party on October 30th this year, and I figured it was high time I broke out my Gothic Landscape houmongi. I’d originally wanted to wear it with my crow obi but I still haven’t had the opportunity to repair it. Oops! I figured in the spirit of all things Creepy and Spooky, I’d see about pairing it up with my spider obi instead. I’ve been hesitant about this combo since the kimono and the obi are so close in colour, but my salvation arrived in the mail on the Thursday before the party, in a boxful of shigoki obi. A splash of red was the perfect way to visually separate the two pieces as well as tie in the leaves on the obi. It also helped that one of the shigoki had tassels in the exact same shade as the glorious spiderweb haneri from Naomi.

I decided to further emphasize the spooky theme of the ensemble with accessories – I made myself a cute little hairband with black feathers, a raggedy purple “veil” and a sparkly little spider. I used some of the same tulle from the veil to make a big puffy bow to stick in my obi. Unfortunately, I spent nearly two hours in the car before I was able to get these photos, so my obi musubi has gotten sort of squished and lopsided 🙁

Having fun (after a few drinks) with some of the awesome decorations.

A close up of the amazing spider haneri

I even did my nails to suit the theme. Orange with black spiders and rhinestones! Again, I had fun wit the decorations for this pic

The party was a huge blast. Unfortunately, I had to get out of the kimono around 2 in the morning. I’d been drinking and going to the bathroom was starting to become a challenge! It also started snowing pretty profusely that night and I was worried about ruining my kimono on the way home.

Montreal ToyCon October 2010

So as some of you may know, I work in just about the coolest toy store in the universe and twice a year we organze a toy convention. I usually use it as an excuse to wear kimono, and this year was no exception. I’ve been wanting to wear all these pieces for a long time now, and I’m so glad everything came together so well. The kimono is way too small so I could not swing an ohashori, but it’s a casual enough outfit that I think it’s sort of irrelevant.

I decided to pair up the purple yabane I bought last year in Boulder with the meisen haori I bought this year. I paired them up with black and yellow accessories; a black obi with yellow, purple, and orange karabana, the same yellow shibori obiage and hakata obijime I wear with pretty much everything lately, a pretty black haneri from Naomi, crazy black weiner dog tabi from Kansai_Gal, and my new moon-shaped obidome. I feel like this is a very cohesive outfit, every colour is echoed on at least one other item, so it all ties together well.

And a close-up of the best tabi ever:

If anyone needs further evidence that my job is indeed incredibly awesome, one of the cosplayers at the con allowed me to wear his handmade Ghostbusters Proton Pack and take a few photos. It was surprisingly comfy, even with the obi!

In the dealer’s room, I found an awesome little bit of nostalgia – the original Crystal Swift Wind, She-Ra’s mangical flying unicorn/pegasus. I had one of these when I was a little girl, but the plastic was thin and brittle, and someone (most likely me) stepped on her at some point and she shattered. Unfortunately, she was way out of my budget for the day, especially for a used toy, so I had to say my goodbyes. But not before getting a picture of me pouting with her.

Thanks for looking! If you’d like to see pictures of the convention itself, there is an album on my Facebook that is viewable by following that link.

Montreal Matsuri Japon 2010

I went to the annual Matsuri Japon last year and really enjoyed it, so when I found out it was happening again this year I was eager to head out. I wore my black ume yukata and blue and white hanhaba hakata obi to work all day, and after my work day was over my mother joined me and we drove down together. Since there are so many photos here, I’ve put smaller versions than usual in the post, please click on them to see bigger versions 🙂

Unfortunately, the festival had changed locations this time around, and it was in a much more cramped location in the middle of the busiest and most tourist-filled area of the Old Port of Montreal. The traffic flow was not ideal and the stage where the taiko drummers were was virtually impossible to get to. I was a bit let down. However, there were plenty of lovely yukata to see and photograph, and a few great bargains to be had.

At first I didn’t realize that the festival had moved, so I tracked down a guide and asked them where to go. This lovely gentleman then came up to me and asked me where to go, he was as confused as I was! After posing for a photo at my mother’s insistence, we headed off to the new area together.

At the gate, I saw the always-radiant Akane, who I generally run into at these sorts of events. She’s such a sweetheart.

And in the long-standing tradition of goofy photos of me with food in my mouth (if you have me on Facebook you’ve probably seen some others) I found some takoyaki! It was yummy.

This lovely young woman had the most luscious raspberry-red yukata with great shibori all over it, and a really pretty obi with some urushi-like flowers on them, she looked great!

Another beautiful young woman who was doing custom calligraphy.

She made me a very nice interpretation of Tsuki and Hana (moon and flower), on some beautiful Japanese paper.

Three little dolls looked absolutely adorable in their yukata and heko obi! Love the hats, too.

A beautiful family! The young boy on his daddy’s shoulders had the cutest “Chip & Dale” jimbei!

There was not much in the way of kimono to purchase, thankfully. However, I did manage to find some very cute obijime for a steal, $5 each!

And I couldn’t pass up this adorable origami crab jewelry! I will probably turn the pendant into some sort of obi-kazari, as I always wear one of my pearl necklaces, but I couldn’t pass it up!

There are plenty more pictures in my Flickr Account, if you’d like to see! I’d also like to give a huge thank-you to my mom for taking a lot of these photos!

Montreal Japanese Language Centre Spring Matsuri

Today I went to the Montreal Japanese Language Centre Spring Matsuri. Of course, I used the opportunity to wear kimono. I decided to pair up my new dusty pink iromuji with a gorgeous burnt-orange obi with irridescent pastel flowers Naomi gave me. The flowers feel like tulips to me, so it seemed appropriately spring-like. I know they’re probably something else, but shush! It was a little too warm for a haori, but too chilly for nothing, so I borrowed a cute shawl from my mother. I think I look like a dope in these, and a little rumpled, but they’re the only full shots of my outfit, so there you go.

I told my friend Nick, who I mentioned in this entry about it, and he came to meet me there along with several other friends. He wore his yukata again, and looked snazzy as always.

While there, I ran into Akane, a lovely young woman I met last summer at the O-Bon Matsuri. She’s always wearing beautiful, feminine outfits and always looks elegant and effortless. She actually remembered meeting me before, and I was quite chuffed about that! Isn’t she photogenic? Also, check out those great red high-top Chucks in the corner!

Here’s the photos of her from last summer – they were taken before I started this blog.

I also met a lovely woman named Serene and we chatted kimono for a bit. She had on a lovely komon and had a great personal style. She made her own obi, and it was adorable applique-work and I wish I’d thought to take a photo of it!

The festival itself was more like a garage sale than anything! Lots of tables with cute little things for sale. Sadly, no kimono or related items, but I did pick up a little fiction book with no relation to anything Japanese and a little handmade bag with a fish on it that I’ll probably wear with a kimono later. I also had a delicious hamburger bento, some umeboshi onigiri, and the most delicious strawberry mochi I’ve ever had, with half a fresh strawberry inside it!

Aside from the vendors, there was a great performance by Arashi Daiko and demonstrations of Aikido and Nunjutsu.

I tried to capture a video of the performance, but my phone is miserable. Watch at your own risk!

And a few photos.