Picrew.Me Kimono Avatar Creators Part 4

You guys really seem to enjoy these fun little posts, and I enjoy making them, so here’s a fresh batch of avatar creators from over on picrew.me that are either fully kimono-based or feature kimono options for you to play with! Life is hectic but good at the moment, California continues to be wonderful. My recent trip to Vegas was lovely and I hope to have a nice little post about Morimoto Las Vegas up soon, but in the meantime I hope you have a great time playing with these!

If you’re new here or need a quick reminder on how to use picrew.me and its Japanese interface options, there’s a detailed guide in the first of these posts, which you can check out right here!

https://picrew.me/image_maker/46139

This one has a nice selection of differently-patterned kimono and coordinating juban/haneri to play with, as well as a ton of fun non-kimono accessories
https://picrew.me/image_maker/1442555

This one is fantastic. It allows for customisation of every aspect of the kimono, obi, and accessories. There are a ton of colours and patterns available, as well as things like fur stoles, hakama, kappougi aprons, and other traditional "over top of kimono" items. It's probably my current favourite, because of all these options!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/1407953

There is only one kimono in this one, available in blue or pink, but it's still quite charming and fun to poke around with!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/41305

An elegant young lady creator, with a variety of kimono colours and a huge amount of avatar customisation! All the kimono have the same design, but oyu can add accessories and things to really make it your own.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/1446612

Only two kimono options here, but a ton of options for the base avatar and some very lovely art. I think it's actually a "demon maker" but you can totally avoid any demonic-looking features, if you prefer.


https://picrew.me/image_maker/1315158

Another cute one with limited kimono options but utterly adorable art. Look at that face!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/707090

This one is listed as a dangerous woman/villain maker, but as you can see you can make some very charming and not-nasty avatars too! Again, not a ton of variety in kimono in this one but still amusing to play around with.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/1272810

Only one not-entirely-accurate kimono in this one, with a few colour options.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/1472643

This one is technically a Genshin Impact avatar creator. I fully admit I have never played Genshin Impact but there's some fun kimono and kimono-adjacent options here so it's worth checking out!

https://picrew.me/image_maker/9971 

This one has a really nice variety of kimono outfits, including a shiromuku wedding ensemble and this adorable hakama and kofurisode. There's no customisation for the outfits, but the variety and detail in them makes up for it!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/602958

A sweet little princess maker. This one is fun because the top, bottom, and sleeves are all separate so you can make a reasonably accurate kimono with or without hakama, or you can go a very kimono-hime or wa-lolita route by adding a fluffy skirt, sheer sleeves, or other fun variations!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/610761

A very steampunk-feeling literall "doll" maker. There's no pure accurate kimono options but there are some very clearly kimono and wa-lolita inspired combinations you can make, and the end results are really lovely.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/84797/

This one is technically an "angel maker", with only one kimono you can't change the colours or design of, but the end results are just so pretty I thought it made a good way to end this post!

As always, if you have fun with any of these I would really love to see your end product. You can comment here, or over on Facebook!

Review – The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House (Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san)

I have already made a post about Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san, back when it was released as an anime. I loved the manga and I loved the anime, so I had very high hopes for this live-action adaptation.

I am glad to say I was not disappointed. I binged through this show in two days and I’m already debating watching it again. There’s something so incredibly wholesome and comforting about it; the food, the love and support the characters share, and the quiet and understated tone of the whole thing. There is so much tension in the world right now; we need more cozy shows like this!

This is ostensibly a story of two girls, Kiyo and Sumire, who move from Aomori to Kyoto to become maiko. Sumire blossoms during training but Kiyo stumbles out of training and into the job of makanai, who is essentially the cook for the house where they live, along with their adoptive geiko mothers and maiko sisters. This is where it’s Kiyo’s turn to shine, as she pours all her enthusiasm and support of Sumire and her sisters into her food.

The manga and anime pretty much stopped there, presented in short vignettes followed by recipes or food trivia. Where this show differs is that there’s less focus on the food and more focus on the interpersonal relationships and development of all the background characters, something we hadn’t seen until now. It never veers into the mawkish or melodramatic tone you might expect of a house full of girls competing in an incredibly tough field. Instead the girls encourage and support each other, and what little tension there is eventually becomes a great source of charming comedy or personal introspection. (Yoshino, I am looking at you)

Another lovely thing about this show is how accurate it is. It was filmed partially on-location in the geisha districts of Kyoto, and you can tell they worked very hard to keep things close to the tradition-focused and rarified air that the whole city exudes. There are cameos from real working geiko, there are many mentions of the traditional seasonality of geisha life, the kimono are stunning, and while there will invariably be the occasional slip-up when it comes to minute details or accessories, it’s very clear that all of the traditional elements of the show were done with a huge amount of respect and research, and love.

At its core, this is a show about the many forms of love. The passion an artist has for their craft, the connection of family (both genetic and found), and the unbreakable bond between two best friends. Whether you’re a fan of food, geisha, or just want something incredibly warm and soothing to watch, I can’t recommend this show enough. You can catch it on Netflix in the original Japanese with subtitles as well as dubbed into a multitude of languages. If you have Netflix and have any interest in geisha, food, Japanese culture, or just love warm uplifting television, I urge you to check it out!

Zen Garden Candy Kit

I’m home from California for now, so I’ll be back to posting pure unadulterated kimono content very soon! However, the night before I left Keith and I had fun with this adorable little kit where you make a zen garden out of candy and I thought I’d share it with you all.

Kansai_Gal sent us the kit (along with a candy bonsai kit which I left there and we’ll probably do next time I’m in California), and since I had to fly out the next day we decided to have a quiet night inside and I thought it would be a fun thing to do after dinner, and I was right.

The kit came with everything needed, even the little tray. I admit I was a bit sad the tray was cardboard and not actual wood, but it probably saved on weight and product cost so I understand. The fish were printed on the bottom of the tray, and you make a neat little jelly candy in the included mold that fits over the top to make the “pond” effect. Next step is to spread out the candy “sand”, which reminded me of Pixi Stix and tastes like Ramune soda. The realistic little rocks are actually candy-covered chocolate, and were surprisingly delicious.

It even came with an adorable little rake to make designs in the sand, but they honestly weren’t very visible.

I wasn’t expecting this to taste very good, frankly, but we ended up demolishing the whole thing within minutes. I highly suggest cutting off a little piece of jelly “pond” and dipping it in the “sand”, they balance each other out very well.

Overall this was a lot of fun! If you come across these kits I highly recommend getting one, just for the novelty of it. I’ve tried to find places selling it online and everyone is sold out, but maybe you’ll luck out.

Review – Sakuraco Japanese Candy & Snack Box

Sakura season is here! There’s no better time than to share with you the Sakuraco snack subscription box. Sakuraco were kind enough to send me this box for free but all opinions are my own. I’d been wanting to try this box for a while now, because the idea of a more traditional snack box really appealed to me. There are several others out there but they tend to focus more on modern junk food and otaku-type theming. Sakuraco stands out by offering a variety of very classic tastes and textures, and working directly with small Japanese businesses that have been producing these products for decades, if not longer. It felt like the perfect fit for a blog focusing on more traditional arts and cultures.

I received the April box, themed all around Sakura Festival. Nearly everything in the box has a sakura flavour, with a few complementary items with apple flavour and a few savoury/spicy items to help balance out the flavour profile of the box. This was a great idea to break things up a bit, as sakura can be a bit cloying on its own.

My first thought is that this box is beautifully presented. The mailing box itself is wrapped in protective packing material but once you remove that the box is beautiful. I intend to keep mine for storage, and this would also make them fantastic for gifting purposes. Once open, the box is inviting and piques your interest with a beautiful art card and a glossy magazine explaining all the products inside. This magazine is beautifully laid-out and photographed, and especially helpful as a lot of the items only have Japanese writing on them.

Once inside, I was amazed at the sheer variety and quantity of products they were able to include in a relatively small box.

I decided to create a little “sample plate” for myself, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to try everything at once. My father also helped me try out a few of the products, which I’m sure was a very arduous task for him 😉 I tried to aim for a variety of products, from sweet jellies to classic mochi to spicy and crunchy crackers. I’m reviewing the box concept as a whole but I thought I’d share my feelings on a few of these items anyway, to give you a better idea of what you might receive should you choose to sign up.

Sakura Jelly – Absolutely beautiful, very refreshing, but very mild in taste. Very soft jelly, and a slightly ephemeral experience due to the light texture and flavour.
Sakura Kuzumochi – Smaller, slightly denser, and a lot more flavourful than the larger pink sakura jelly, and my favourite of the two.
Sakura Daifuku – A delightful little sakura mochi filled with anko paste. Comforting and reliable if you like mochi. I won’t lie, these look a bit like tiny little butt-holes with the way they were folded together, and that just made me love them even more.
Sakura Kanten – A little gummy square, a bit like a french pate de fruits if you’re familiar with those. This one was wrapped in oblaat, which is an edible starch paper. It can be an odd experience if you’ve never had food wrapped in one, because it almost feels like you’re eating plastic, but it melted away quite quickly and the candy itself was delicious.
Sakura Manju – A soft, chewy dough-based manju bun filled with pickled sakura paste. I absolutely loved this one and want to eat twelve more right away!
Ume Arare – We’re reaching the more savoury side of the box now – these crackers are flavoured with salted ume, so there’s still a hint of sweetness, but tempered with sour and salty. These were sharp and unique and very enjoyable.
Chili Arare – A delightfully crunchy little ball with a kick of chili at the end. There were only two of these and frankly I regret giving the second one to my father because I want to eat more of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything I ate, and have high hopes for the rest of the items that I haven’t tried yet. It’s clear that every item in this box was selected carefully and thoughtfully. They all fit the theme and balance very well together.

The last item in the box was this absolutely beautiful little ceramic dish. There were three different designs available and I really lucked out and got the one I’d been hoping for! Of course I had to use it right away for my snack sampler!

The only negatives when it come to the Sakuraco subscription box, if I can consider them that, are that since you have no real control over which items you receive, if you have a lot of food allergies or intolerances this might not be ideal. I have a mild dairy allergy but it only causes minor histamine reactions in me, nothing serious or dangerous, so I’m fine if I monitor my consumption, but it definitely did make me stop and think about this. The beautiful little magazine clearly enumerates all potential allergens in every item, but if you have one to a common ingredient (wheat, eggs, milk, soy, etc) then it will definitely impede your enjoyment of this box. However, this is true for any food-based subscription or surprise box, and only you can decide what’s best for you.

The other issue is that one of the items in this box was very delicate and did not survive overseas transport. It’s a shame, because I was very much looking forward to this adorable boat-shaped senbei wafer filled with flavoured crackers. I still ate them all and enjoyed it very much, but the visual appeal of the whole experience was lost, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Pros:

  • Amazing selection of sweet and savoury goods from all over Japan
  • More traditional than a lot of other Japanese snack subscriptions
  • Beautiful packaging
  • Excellent value for the price
  • Fast shipping

Cons:

  • Some items may not transport well (see the poor mangled Senbei Boat)
  • May not be ideal for people with food sensitivities or allergies

In the end, only you can decide whether or not a box like this is worth it for you personally but I can say I wholeheartedly recommend it for any fan of more traditional Japanese flavours and textures! If you’d like to check out Sakuraco for yourself, please consider using my referral link by clicking here. Thank you!

 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.This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site. 

Review – Matcha Set from Tangpin Tea

Today I am sharing with you this lovely matcha set from Tangpin Tea on Etsy. I have been on the hunt for a more complete matcha set including a whisk and when I saw this one I fell in love with the green drip glaze and reached out to the seller.

This set is comprised of a chawan (茶碗, tea bowl), a chashaku  (茶杓, tea scoop), a chasen (茶筅,  tea whisk), and a naoshi (直し, whisk stand). Essentially, the very basic elements needed to properly prepare a bowl of matcha. For actual tea ceremony there are many more pieces needed, but if what you’re looking for is a pretty, affordable set to make your own comforting bowl of matcha, it’s perfect!

Now, please bear in mind that this review is coming from the perspective of someone who has not studied tea ceremony – I am just someone who enjoys matcha and little soothing rituals!

Appearance-wise, this set appeals to me greatly. As I’ve mentioned, I absolutely loved the glaze – it’s hard to capture in photos but it almost has a cyan-to-celadon gradient to it, it’s got much more depth in person. I also like that it’s subtle, not a huge contrast against the white. It’s also available in a pinkish red and a light brown drip, all on the same white base, but I can’t speak to the depth or variation in those. I only have one other chawan and it’s got a much heavier, almost “earthy” feel to it, whereas this one feels delicate without feeling flimsy or fragile. It feels spring-like! Perfect for looking forward to the upcoming change of seasons.

The chashaku and chasen are quite standard-looking and made of bamboo, but they have a good comfortable feel to them. The whisk is well-made and I don’t anticipate it deforming or losing bits any time soon and there are no signs of splitting or warping on the scoop.

This set is mass-produced, and while it’s certainly not on par with artisan-made individual pieces, I think for the price it’s absolutely lovely! It’s great for everyday use and I wouldn’t feel terrified of using it regularly.

 I purchased this item at a discounted price for honest review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.