The Fruit of the Sea

I can’t look at this obi and not think about Bubba from Forrest Gump.

Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried…

You probably know I love goofy crustacean motifs, and when I saw this obi listed online (and on sale!) I jumped on it. I’ve actually had it for over a month now. 😳 Every time I find myself time to coordinate an outfit, something else grabs my attention. But yesterday I was determined to let this adorable obi shine. I waffled for quite a while looking for the perfect kimono and then it hit me; this tsukesage with a woven net-like design was it! Nets for catching shrimp, and the purple colour is just the right desaturated shade to go nicely with the burgundy of the obi itself.

Green accessories add a pinch of contrast, but since I used a similarly desaturated olive colour they’re still harmonious and balanced. This outfit is technically too casual for a date-eri to work, but I wanted just a pinch more of the warm/burgundy tones without adding more colour or pattern. I really wanted the shrimp on the obi to be the star here, with everything else almost fading away into the background. Do you think I succeeded? I do!

Also I’m sorry if these pictures seem dim or off slightly; my flash unit died yesterday and the replacement just arrived and I’m still getting the hang of it.

Items used in this coordination

Big Bold Bamboo

My finger has healed enough for me to do kitsuke, and while I did say I was looking forward to coordinating my new shrimp obi, this big bold bamboo piece from Ichiroya was calling my name. It took me a while to find the right obi for it but this one feels perfect. It’s pale so it brings light and contrast to the outfit, but the reds and yellows tie them together nicely.

I went for more stripes with the haneri, and think it blends in well but still feels distinct. A few hits of pale blue and bold red in the obiage and obijime helped bring some more brightness into an otherwise very muted coordination. I also think this is probably the nicest tsunodashi musubi I’ve ever tied, but honestly that’s not saying much. For some reason it’s always given me difficulty! It definitely feels easier for me to tie using a hakata obi like this one, so now I want to try it again with another hakata obi soon.

Items used in this coordination

Thank you, Ichiroya!

If you’re active in the kimono communities online, odds are high that you’ve already heard the devastating news that Ichiroya, one of the oldest and most well-established online kimono stores, is closing. I’ve spoken about them at length here on this blog, even devoting an entire entry on how wonderful they are and how to use their services. Everyone there is so kind and helpful, and they’ve always been the first place I suggest when people want to dip their toes into buying vintage kimono online. While I am very sad,t this feels like the end of an era, I wish the owners all the best for their upcoming retirement!

I also used this as an opportunity to treat myself to some items I’d been watching for a while. One of the pieces I splurged on was this beautiful vintage houmongi with genjiko motif on an utterly lush purple background. When it arrived, I realised that an obi I’d bought from Ichiroya quite some time ago was the perfect complement to the pink and green accents of the kimono, and it all fell into place.

I wanted the kimono (and to a lesser extent, the obi) to shine so I went with subtle brown and beige accessories that tied into the kimono motif without drawing attention to themselves. I can’t remember where most of the accessories came from, they’re not from Ichiroya, but they worked very well with the outfit. I love how the brown obiage almost looks like shiny gold due to the gradations on it. I hope I did these pieces justice, as I wanted to honour and thank Ichiroya for twenty years of amazing service.

I bought one other kimono and two gorgeous obi at the same time as this one, so be prepared for lots of new stuff soon!

Items used in this coordination

Sea Day by Emi Nishizuka – Life Imitating Art

Before we get to the entry today, I have to speak out on what's happening in the United States (and really, around the world) right now. I've always aimed to keep this blog positive and apolitical, but it's reached a point where saying nothing is complicit with the racists. Black lives matter. Here in Canada we also need to acknowledge that Indigenous lives matter. As a white person, I need to use my voice to amplify and uplift the voices that are being silenced at a terrifying rate. Things need to change. The police need to stop killing black people indiscriminately for perceived offences while privileged white folk walk free after documented atrocities. If you're at a loss for ways to help and can't attend rallies or protests, please visit Black Lives Matter for information and resources, and consider donating to the NAACP or the ACLU. Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you feel the need to argue this, tell me it was unnecessary, or tell me that "all lives matter", please unsubscribe and unfollow.

Way back before the flood in my room, COVID-19, and my life (and the whole world, really) going sideways, I found this beautiful little drawing entitled 海の日, Umi no Hi, or Sea Day by Emi Nishizuka and realised I had quite similar pieces, especially my beloved octopus obi. Right away I knew I wanted to try to do the first entry in a new featurette here on the blog, where I plan to reproduce kimono ensembles from artwork. Now that I’m back into the swing of things, I figured it was time for me to give it a shot.

The pieces aren’t exact; the water on the kimono is from a different perspective and less saturated, the obi is purple instead of black, but as a whole I think I did a good job of emulating the mood and feel of the coordination quite well. Also, I’d somehow never noticed before but this kimono is a five-crested houmongi. All my other houmongi are either uncrested or have only one crest. I wonder what sort of event it was intended for.

Doing this coord was a lot of fun, and I look forward to doing more of them. I won’t make any promises or stick to time frames, because I know that’s a surefire way to turn me off from something, but keep an eye out for more of these in the future!

One final note; I have officially lost my job for good. I worked at the same small specialised toy store for almost thirteen years, but unfortunately it has become a casualty of the economy and the coronavirus shut-down and will not be reopening. So for the time being, you will be seeing a lot of older, familiar pieces being reused in new and hopefully interesting ways. My budget is a little tighter than usual so I can’t run around buying new pieces.

Things Will Get Better

First of all, thank you for your patience. I haven’t posted in over a week now – the April A to Z challenge was apparently more exhausting than I’d realised! I’ve also been fighting off nasty allergies and a bout of pericarditis, and wasn’t really up to much. But things are tough for everyone right now, so I thought the least I could do was bring everyone a bit of brightness and hope.

Since the rainbow has become the symbol of hope and optimism in this time of overwhelming fear and confusion, I thought it might be fun to turn a few of my old monochrome coordinations into a kimono rainbow! I don’t have much in the way of pure orange kimono (orange is quite possibly my least favourite colour) but peach is pretty close, right? XD

I promise I’ll be back with new content soon. I’ve got outfits to put together, books to review, and crafts to make. But in the meantime, I hope this silly little rainbow brings a bit of colour and happiness to your life!

If you’d like to see close-up detail shots of each outfit, here you go!