Coat-ed in silk.

One of the questions I often get asked from people not into kimono is “What do you do when it’s cold?”. It’s a perfectly valid question – can you imagine stuffing those sleeves or a big fat obi musubi into, say, a wool pea coat? It would look profoundly silly, not to mention how rumpled you’d be when you got to your destination!

Thankfully, it does also get cold, wet, and snowy in Japan, so there is a solution. Haori are a form of jacket available in multiple thicknessess for all times of year, and michiyuki are longer coats, typically for cooler weather and precipitation. Not only are they practical, they’re also a great way to “finish” an outfit.

Purple “meisen” haori


I love the vibrant colours and vintage feel of this piece. I refer to it as “meisen” because I’m honestly not sure whether it’s true meisen that got wet and bled slightly, or it’s dyed to look like meisen. The edges aren’t quite sharp enough to have been woven. I got this one for a steal because of the water spot on the back. While it’s pretty apparent in the photos (due to the flash), it’s nearly invisible in person.

Black haori with yuzen flowers


A very nice, simple black haori with nice red kiku on the back. It’s probably the dressiest-looking haori I’ve got.

“Wrought Iron” batik haori


I love this haori. So much. From a distance, it looks like a black wrought iron fence, covered with spiderwebs. Up close, it’s dappled with vivid colour. It goes with so much stuff.

Celadon green “Tale of Genji” haori


Love it or hate it, The Tale of Genji is one of the most enduring and well-known stories ever, and motifs inspired by the stories within it are relatively common. This is a fun haori, I find weird new things on it every time I look at it.

Synthetic red haori with white flecks

Pretty straightforward. It’s red. It has white dots. It’s spot-washable. Yay!

Bamboo cluster ivory haori


I probably paid way more for this than I should have, but I couldn’t resist. It was at a booth at a matsuri this summer, and I just fell stupid in love with it. The silk is so amazingly buttery soft and rich, and although it’s hard to see in the photos, the bamboo leaves all have tiny patterns in them. They’re in many different shades of green, gold and bronze, and one of the greens perfectly matches my mint-green iromuji.

Red and black graphic michiyuki


Amelie‘s loss was my gain in this case. She purchased this michiyuki, and it was too long for her. I am nearly six feet tall, and it’s very rare that anything fits me properly, let alone being too long, so imagine my shock when I tried this on and it covered me nearly to my ankles! The fact that it’s red and black only made it even more awesome to me.

Chidori-ble! Chidori irotomesode.

Yes, that title was an attempt at a play on chidori and adorable. Sometimes my witticisms just kind of.. fail. Please accept it.

This is another one of those sort of beginner fluke things. I’ve always loved the chidori, or plover, motif. I think they are pudgy and adorable and quirky. When I saw this, I was struck by how cute and graphic it is, but didn’t really think more into it than that.

It is an iro-tomesode, a formal short-sleeved kimono primarily for older women. Usually they are far more subdued, and have simple soft floral type motifs, they’re worn for weddings and whatnot. It’s rare to see one with such a vibrant, graphic design, especially one that comes up so high. It does allow a great view of the goofy little birds though!

It was Erica who first suggested it may have been a stage item. It had never occurred to me because it is actual silk, not synthetic, and it’s fairly short, obviously not meant to be worn trailing. However, it may have been intended for a woman in a stronger or more manly role, I don’t know. One thing that does support this theory is that the kamon on it, a form of stylized tachibana, are apparently the kamon of a dance school in Kyoto. If anyone has more information about this, I’d love to know!

As for wearing this piece, I’ve done something a little different. At first, I wore it “normally”, pairing it up with a pale cream tsuke-obi and my awesome wrought-iron haori. Please forgive how I look in these photos, I’d just spent 20 minutes chasing a hornet out of the living room before I took them!

Items used in this coordination

Quite some time later, however, I decided to see if I could live up to the stage-y nature of the piece, and dressed in an intentionally boyish style. Padded my tummy, tied my obi low on my hips, the whole nine yards. The obi is actually a hakata hanhaba obi folded in half to emulate the look of a man’s kaku obi. I had way too much fun styling myself for this one.

Ladies, lock up your daughters!

Items used in this coordination

The one that started it all…

Have you ever bought something on somewhat of an impulse that you both cherish and regret? I sure as hell have! I love this piece to bits and I’m so proud I snagged it before I knew what I was doing, but my wallet still holds it partially responsible for this habit hobby.

Back in 2003, I’d toyed with the idea of buying a kimono for some time, due most likely to my paternal grandmother’s appreciation of Asian antiques and textiles. She’s not been with us for a very long time, but I’m sure she would heartily encourage this silly hobby. But I digress..

As I mentioned, I’d waffled with the idea but did essentially no research. A smart person would have probably started with a yukata or something, but I honestly had no idea of types, formality, eras, motifs, etc. I just saw this beast and fell head over heels. I had to have it.

It’s a gorgeous early-Showa era houmongi. The silk is thick and rich and delicious, and the design is sweeping streams of spider-style kiku in white with faint black and gold accents. The dramatic, graphic contrast is what drew me to it in the first place. The sleeves are long, not quite Taisho-era, but still elegant and draping, and the lining is a vivid red. I love the subtle black to grey yuzen dyeing on the leaves so much.

I’ve paired it up with a black, red, and gold formal obi, but I’d like to try it with a softer, more vintage style at some point. Though, I have to say I love how it looks with the contrast of black, and how the red makes my skin and hair look. Is that conceited? XD

Items used in this coordination

Silk scarves and soft ropes.. Obiage & Obijime

Oh my, the title of this sounds so much more exciting than it actually is! However, in my mind obiage and obijime can be very sexy, a vivid obijime can add a bright punch of colour to a subdued outfit, and an obiage peeping out above the obi almost reminds me of elegant silk lingerie.

My collection is admittedly sort of unbalanced, since I lucked out and found a bundled lot of a large number of obijime, and don’t have enough obiage to match XD I will fix that eventually though!

Plum rinzu obiage and round obijime

These were actually purchased on separate occasions, and just happen to be an insanely ridiculous match. The obiage has a subtle pattern of stripes and kiku.

Mofuku (funeral wear) obiage and obijime

Simple and versatile. Technically to be worn to a funeral, but they “ground” an otherwise busy and colourful outfit.

Apple-green shibori obiage and round obijime

A vivid, youthful pair. Also not technically a set, they were acquired at separate times and just happen to match perfectly.

Icy obiage and olive flat obijime

I received this lovely subdued formal set as a gift from a dear friend and a terrible enabler, the same one who gave me the blackbird obi and the koinobori obi. The obiage is a very pale icy blue that looks green in some lights, and has a subtle leafy print on it. The obijime is gold on one side and olive on the other.

Lilac chirimen obiage and flat obijime

Simple solid purple obiage. The obijime has a few cute areas woven with a sort of olive colour and yellow. These actually did not come together, they were bought separately but just happened to look perfect together.

Lemon shibori obiage and hakata obijime

One of my favourite sets – the obiage is a bright vivid yellow with round shibori designs, it reminds me of lemon slices.

The obiage is flat and has delicate hakata weaving in gold.

Pink ro shell obiage and lace obijime

I love this set and wish it weren’t ro, so I could wear it more often. The obiage has adorable little dyed shells all over it, and the obijime has a kind of chevron pattern woven into it with shiny, multicoloured threads.

White obiage with red shibori clouds

Simple white rinzu with cute bright red clouds. It’s youthful, but not totally covered with shibori, which is nice and versatile.

Pink geometric shibori obiage

The work in this sort of shibori never ceases to amaze me. It’s so detailed, and the geometric bits are so perfect and straight.

Raspberry red shibori obiage

I’m not sure what to call this colour – I cannot accurately capture it on camera. It looks rich tomato red in some light, hot pink in others, but usually sort of a dark red-pink. Pretty!

Orange shibori obiage

Nice rich orange. Not much else to say about it XD

Khaki flowered shibori obiage

This is a bit of an oddity, it’s such a drab, muted colour but the amount of shibori on it makes it feel young and formal. Poor conflicted thing! It’s beautiful though, the designs are bamboo leaves and flowers.

Red and aqua vintage shibori obiage

I love this one. It’s got such great vibrant contrast. It’s relatively old, compared to some of my others, and feels a bit thin and fragile, but still great and wearable.

Black and red polka-dot “obiage”

I say “obiage” in quotations because this is actually a scarf I picked up at the mall recently, it just happens to have the exact weight and dimensions of a real obiage, so why not use it?

Fancy brown and gold obijime

A formal obijime, good for furisode. It’s fun to play with, either braiding the three small strands, or making small fancy knots with them.

Fancy pink and gold obijime

Also good for furisode, with lovely gold accents and rainbow tassels.

Navy and ice-blue obijime

A nice smooth versatile obijime in a relatively neutral navy blue with a hit of pale blue.

Gold and red obijime

This is actually a decorative silk cord, but it’s stiff enough and pretty enough to use.

Raspberry obijime

Simple, easy to match with anything.

Baby pink obijime

Tassels on this one are kind of a mess, but it’s a cute soft colour.

Pink and red saganishiki obijime

Beautiful and detailed, and great for obidome. I’d like more of this style eventually.

Pink and silver obijime

I’ve not yet worn this, but I hope to soon. I think it’s really pretty.

Teal and red wide flat obijime

I love this one, it’s very wide and the colour choice is really unexpected. It feels quite vintage to me, but I’m not sure. I can’t wait to have an outfit it works well with.

Blue and gold “rubber duck” obijime

The colours and design on this totally reminds me of a shower curtain with little rubber ducks or something. I love this one.

Chocolate and lime tiny obijime

This one’s small and discreet, but so awesome up close. It’s the colour of milk chocolate with hits of a rich true lime green and silver.

Mint green and neon red obijime

I love this one, and wear it far too often. The mint is so calm and cool, and the punches of fluorescent red are so fun. I love the gigantic fluffy tassels too.

Blue and white striped obijime

A cute, nautical-feeling one.

Flat pink obijime

Another simple and easily wearable one. Works with a lot of outfits.

Bright orange flat obijime

This is a sort of violent shade of orange, but it’s simple otherwise so not too overboard. Not my favourite though, it came bundled with some others.

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth geta

Pardon the cheesy title.  I seem to have a fondness for them! While browsing evilBay yesterday I realized I need to take some time and focus on the “lacking” spots in my kimono wardrobe, and started making a list. That quickly spiralled downhill into a wishlist of sorts, which I figured I would share, despite not expecting any of it as actual gifts XD. Consider this a “to buy” list for my own personal reference.

Relatively neutral, non-shibori obiage.
For some reason, I have a huge lack of these. Nearly all my obiage are either very vivid in colour, or covered in ornate shibori, or both. This makes casual outfits a bit of a challenge, especially things like wool komon. The biggest obstacle for me here is that obiage tend to be bundled with obijime, which I absolutely do not need. I bought a huge mixed lot and am set for a while. I also bought a mixed lot of shibori obiage, but for some reason have had no luck with simpler ones.

Cute juban that actually fit.
Being the gigantic hulking glamazon that I am, finding kimono that fit can be a challenge. However, kimono are made to be overly long and adjusted at the waist, so generally I can make do. Juban (the traditional middle layer of clothing, a form of underrobe that are usually partially visible), however, are not meant to be folded at the waist, and so should be as long as the measurement from shoulder to ankle. That measurement, on me, is the entire height of a typical Japanese woman, from what I can tell based on sizes. Unfortunately, this means that juban tend to be waaay too short on me. I have some that are two pieces, and so the skirt can be tied low on my hips, and that helps. I also have one that is actually a converted unlined kimono, and it works. However, I would like more variety, since the hems and sleeves of these pieces do show quite a bit, and should add some oomph to an outfit. If anyone ever sees juban over 55″/140cm, please let me know!

More 53 Stations of the Tokaido motifs.
If you’re reading this blog you’re probably already aware, but my collection has a sub-collection. I am slowly amassing kimono items that have motifs based on Hiroshige’s 53 Stations of the Tokaido series of prints. I am going to do an entire entry on this in the future, to catalogue the pieces I have and explain a bit of the history behind the theme as well as try to pin-point what it is about this series I find so captivating, but that’s for a later date. For the time being, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for any related items, particularly ones that have stations I do not already own. Any items here would be awesome; so far I only have three obi and one folding dance fan. Eventually, I hope to have an entire outfit, no matter how tacky and clashing it may end up.

More lobsters, and sea creatures in general!
For some reason, I find the spiny lobster motif absolutely hilarious and adorable. I recently finally managed to snag myself an obi with one on it, but this has not satiated my need for ridiculous lobster, much to my dismay. Now would be a good time to bring my dream motif, large-scale cephalopods. However, in all my years of collecting, the only time I’ve come across anything remotely related to this was  a man’s haori with Hokusai’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (note, that link is not safe for work if your work is strict) print inside the lining. Not exactly what I am looking for!

Vintage, wide vertical striped kimono.
I love the look of wide, bright contrasting stripes. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find any that fit me and are within my budget. This is sort of low on my priority list because I have a ton of kimono I’ve not worn out yet.

Hakata, hakata, hakata!
Another of my lustmotifs. Hakata is a form of weaving traditional to a specific region of Japan, and is typically used for obi.  I have several already, but I’m always on the lookout for more, especially in unusual or interesting colourways.