It’s a Man’s World

Today, I finally got my grubby little paws on something I’ve wanted for a very long time. A full men’s formal kuromontsuki set! It seemed like every time I found one it was way beyond my budget. I’m glad I waited because this set showed up for an unbelievably low price and here in Canada to boot so I jumped on it. Originally it was just the kimono, haori, and hakama but the seller was kind enough to throw in an absolutely awesome juban too. All I had to do was find a suitable kaku-obi and I now have a full formal men’s set. I’d love to dress a bride and groom up for photos some day when the world is back to normal!

I cheated and used the same mannequin as usual, I just padded “her” with towels until her tummy protruded a bit more than her chest, and voila! Men’s kitsuke feels odd to me; it’s both very similar and very different from what I’m used to, and I’ll definitely need more practice but I think I did quite well for a first attempt. I do need to learn how to tie men’s haori-himo properly though. I watched a few tutorials and just could not get the hang of it! I’ll try again tomorrow.

Items used in this coordination

Terrific Texture

As much as it pained me to remove last week’s coordinate, it was time to change the mannequin. I thought for today I would focus on textures, an often-overlooked facet of kimono style and construction. This outfit may have no real variation in colour, and yet it’s anything but boring!

I paired my richly-textured mint iromuji with a tone-on-tone dusty pink hakata obi. Not only do these two pieces play well together texture-wise, the muted colour palettes complement each other perfectly. I emphasised the texture aspect even more with this haneri with a thick woven kiku design, a white shibori obiage (which is a bit too formal for this coord but it worked so well thematically) and a a white beaded obijime to introduce one last texture without adding more colour. I even arranged the obiage so the ruffled hem was visible, just to add one more layer of interest. Typically that edge is tucked away out of sight, but I thought it was a nice little touch.

I really like how this all came together. It’s very simple but also feels very luxurious, due to the nature of all the fabrics together. It’s even more effective in person, but you’ll just have to take my word on that!

Items used in this coordination

Lovely and Soothing

I’ve been feeling incredibly uninspired lately. Mental health, physical health, the state of the universe in general, they all weigh heavy on us right now, don’t they? In an attempt to get myself out of a rut I decided I would just reach blindly into my “tansu” (revamped armoire, really) and build an outfit around it.

I’m so glad I did, because I cannot get over how well these two pieces go together. They’re both the same lovely, dusty, desaturated palette and the flowers complement each other so well. I can’t believe I’ve never thought to pair these up before! I should do this impromptu coordination thing more often.

As much as I love the really bold and vivid pieces that came out of the Taisho era, there’s something to be said about these delicate, painterly ones. There’s just something incredibly soothing about outfits like this where everything just flows harmoniously from top to bottom and nothing really “jumps out” at you.

Items used in this coordination

Lavender Formal

Today’s entry is something a little more straightforward, formal, and traditional than I’ve done lately. I got this beautiful two-sided obi from Sasa. It’s white with gorgeous silver floral round designs with tiny lavender accents. The other side is a very pale lilac with an asanoha texture. I’m honestly not sure what to quantify it as, but since this side feels like a formal fukuro obi I thought it would work well with my kurotomesode with lavender and peach tones.

I tried to keep the kitsuke “correct” and traditional here; white-based formal obi, white haneri, gold and white obijime. However, being me, I did deviate a tiny bit by going with a peach obiage which is a spot-on perfect match for the ume flowers on the kimono. The obi is also incredibly easy to tie, which is always a good thing. I made one of the neatest and tidiest nijuudaiko musubi I’ve ever done, I think! I’m very much looking forward to coordinating this obi with other kimono, and maybe featuring the opposite, more casual side sometime soon.

Thankfully my life has calmed down a bit and some personal behind-the-scenes stuff that was causing me anxiety has been sorted out, so I can finally live up to the promise I keep making to be more active here. I’ve also got Patreon back up and running. While the blog will always be totally free, there are little perks you can get for helping support this passion of mine and enable me to keep sharing pictures, references, and information with you all. This hobby is not a cheap one!

Items used in this coordination

(The detail photo of the obi above is terrible, and will be replaced with a decent one as soon as I can set up my backdrop and stuff properly again!)

Bamboo for resilience, Paper cranes for hope

I try not to get too angry or too political on this blog, but there comes a point when keeping quiet is complicit with violence. I’ve devoted half my life to the study and appreciation of Japanese arts, and now more than ever I feel the need to speak up against the wave of racist violence being perpetrated against Asian-Americans of all cultures. While the most recent horrific attacks have been aimed at Korean and Chinese women, the types of people who commit these atrocities typically don’t know or don’t care about the difference.

Those of us who share a passion for one or more aspects of an eastern culture have a duty to help defend the beautiful, diverse people and cultures to whom we owe so much. So what can we do? Stand up. Speak up. Whether you witness something as egregious as a physical assault on an elderly woman, or people in power using racist terms like Kung Flu, or something as “minor” (and I say that sarcastically) as a relative lumping multiple Asian countries into some vague orientalist monoculture, step in and defend the peoples of those cultures you love and respect so much.

Of course, my way of channelling my frustration and anger usually involves the mannequin. I knew the best starting point would be my orizuru (paper crane) obi and haori, as hope for a more understanding and peaceful world. I paired them with this gorgeous Taisho-era bamboo komon, as bamboo is strong and resilient. It feels like an optimistic coordination in a dark time. I know in the grand scheme of things, this is a bit of an empty gesture, but it helps me to cope.

I wish I had a cute or pithy way to end this entry, but I just can’t find it in me today. Thank you for understanding.

Items used in this coordination