Kosode no Te – Yokai Halloween 2018

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It’s finally Halloween! I hope you’ve been enjoying this month of yokai coordinations as much as I have! I knew for the finale I needed something bold, and since I’d already used my hikizuri for Iso-onna, I decided to feature the drama of a kurotomesode. And really, what’s more appropriate to finish off this project than an actual haunted kimono spirit? Kosode no Te literally means short-sleeved kimono with hands, and is typically a deceased courtesan’s kimono, or the kimono of someone with unresolved issues. Spectral hands reach out of the sleeves of the kimono and assault the person trying to wear it, or the person who may have wronged the previous owner.

The motif on this particular kimono is called Tagasode, or “Whose Sleeves?” and it’s literally a bunch of kimono airing out on racks. It’s absolutely perfect for this particular yokai, don’t you think? I paired it up with a vintage obi in similar desaturated vintage tones. The obi has a design of thread bobbins, further emphasising the clothing and textile motif. I decided to go with bright red accessories for a punch of almost violent colour to tie it all together.

I’ve had such a wonderful time doing this project, I think it was my favourite Halloween theme I’ve done so far. But I am looking forward to some more “normal” coordinations, not to mention my birthday coming up in November!

Items used in this coordination

Iso-Onna – Yokai Halloween 2018

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Nearly every culture has some form of vampire mythos, and Japan is no different. Iso-Onna, the Coast Woman, is described as a beautiful woman who hunts along the shores of Western Japan. She lures fishermen, sailors, and travellers to her and then drags them into the water and uses her hair to suck their blood. Somehow that seems even more horrible than using teeth!

For this coordination, I knew I needed to evoke the coastline, Of course, I had to use my hikizuri with the crashing waves on it, paired with this gorgeous pente ship obi. I brought in some pops of red to represent blood, and couldn’t resist finally featuring the awesome rhinestone octopus a friend sent me.

I love the drama that the trailing hem brings to this particular outfit. It reminds me of seawater spilling across the shoreline which is absolutely perfect for the theme. It also still feels wearable, despite using relatively theatrical pieces. I’ve worked hard making sure all of these coordinations don’t feel overly “costumey” and I’m glad I’ve been able to stick it out.

Only one more to go! Come back on October 31st to see the final yokai!

Items used in this coordination

Okiku – Yokai Halloween 2018

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Okiku‘s story is one of the most tragic and, despite being hundreds of years old, still incredibly relevant today. She was a beautiful young woman who was a servant and dishwasher at Himeji castle. A retainer named Aoyama wanted her for his lover but she refused. Eventually he framed her for losing a prized plate and said he would not report it to their master if she agreed to be with him. Still, she refused. He resorted to beating her and repeatedly dunking her in the will and yet she still refused. Eventually his rage and fury took over and he stabbed her with his sword and dropped her body into the well.

Her vengeful ghost haunted the castle, looking for the missing dish, and tormented Aoyama until the lord called a priest to the palace to deal with the situation. He pretended to have found the missing dish and Okiku’s ghost was finally able to rest.

Okiku is a woman’s name derived from Kiku, or Chrysanthemum, so I chose this kimono both for its subtle vintage feel and the kiku motif repeated on it. Same for the haneri. I wanted a sort of dusty, ethereal feel for the coordination. Initially I had another obi in mind, but I found this one at the bazaar over the weekend and fell head-over-heels for it and was determined to feature it sometime soon. The motif on it is technically mirrors, but you have to admit that they look very much like fancy plates, which tied in perfectly with Okiku’s story. At first I was worried it would be too bold against the muted kimono but I think it adds just the right amount of drama. It also helps to bring out the teal-green foliage accents among the flowers.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes bonus of Vinnie, since he hasn’t made a guest appearance here in a while.

Items used in this coordination

Jorogumo – Yokai Halloween 2018

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I’m fairly certain that to most people, Jorogumo is the creepiest of the alluring yokai I’ve chosen to feature in this project. A spider who can shape-shift into a beautiful woman to ensnare young men and feed off them is pretty terrifying, even if you’re not arachnophobic.

I have several friends who have done some absolutely stunning and very creepy Jorogumo outfits, complete with terrifyingly detailed makeup. I wanted to come at this with a more “normal” and ultimately wearable kitsuke that evoked things in a more subtle way.

Of course, I had to start with my spider obi. I’ve mentioned this before but I have such a love/hate relationship with this obi. It was the first piece I bought here in Montreal, and it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. I love the rough, textured feel of it, and of course the spiders. But it’s SUCH a pain to tie. The spiders are in locations that make it difficult to tie while keeping them visible both on the tare and the tesaki, and the texture makes it grip to itself in a way that makes it virtually impossible to adjust once I’ve wrapped it. But man, it’s so worth the effort!

The kimono is one of the pieces I bought at the bazaar over the weekend; it’s technically a motif of branches and fall foliage, but it feels like a spider-web, and the leaves are a nice callback to the leaves caught in the webs on the obi. It’s in rough shape, but it was easy enough to work with on the mannequin. I’ll repair it sooner or later. I attached a single spider patch to the front and I actually think this was quite effective. It blends in well with the kimono pattern and feels very natural.

Of course, I had to use my spider haneri, and some olive-green accessories tied everything together. I used a fun little spider ring as an obi-kazari because there’s never too many spiders.

Items used in this coordination

 

Kitsune – Yokai Halloween 2018

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The Kitsune is quite possibly the most well-known Yokai. Not only are foxes representative of tricksters in so many cultures and traditions around the world, the kitsune figure appears in so much Japanese media that nearly everyone has, at the very least, a passing familiarity with them.

Kitsune are neither inherently good nor evil – there are so many stories and so many variations. There are helpful ones, vengeful ones, playful ones, and ones who punish the wicked, to name a few. I didn’t have one particular variant in mind when I decided to feature this particular yokai, because it’s impossible to choose. I’d like to think she’s more friendly and playful than outright malicious though.

Since kitsune are so varied, I knew I had a lot of creative liberty for this particular outfit. I decided to go with the first kimono and obi I ever purchased, because this particular kimono feels so quintessentially Japanese to me. The bright red colour and iconic white chrysanthemums pop, and the kitsune mask I painted plays off them so well. The finishing touches were a lovely furry tail and ears. Initially I wanted to put the tail at the hem of the kimono but it’s not very large and got a little bit lost, so I put it below the obi instead, and think it looks very cute there.

And just because I’m really proud of how it turned out, especially considering I freehand painted the whole thing, here’s a close-up of the mask.

Items used in this coordination