Man Vs. Kitsuke – Yakuza Style

Despite not being part of the lolita fashion scene, I watch a few lolita youtubers. Recently Tyler Willis/ScarfingScarves (of Last Week Lolita News) did a fun little video entitled “Man Vs. Kawaii” where she got her cameraman/partner to coordinate an outfit. It was a charming video and the end result was pretty amazing!

Now, I don’t have a lolita wardrobe, and I don’t have a cameraman/partner who can physically explore my collection. I do, however, have an incredibly tolerant and patient dude in my life who puts up with my long-distance shenanigans and kindly accepted my request for him to pull something together for me to put on the mannequin. Red and black is kind of his thing, so I wasn’t remotely surprised when he chose this colour palette to work from.

He told me he was going for a sort of a pinstripe suit/Yakuza style and I think it totally works. This kimono is wool and has a slightly nubbly texture, very much like a tweed suit would. I also love the obi with it. Whether it was his intention or not, I feel like it’s a great callback to Yakuza tattoos. I admit, my instinct would have been to go with a brighter colour for the accessories, maybe yellow, but I actually think the black works well, since it almost vanishes. I was also worried the Erstwilder geisha brooch/obidome would disappear against the obi, but it’s bright enough that it’s visible without being overly distracting. The only thing I had trouble with was the fan – I love that he included it but it’s hard to make it work on the mannequin. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it to stay in her hand. So tucked into the obi it is, I guess.  😆

I think he did a great job, especially for someone whose only knowledge of kimono and kitsuke is what he’s picked up from my ramblings! He actually put together another ensemble too, so keep an eye out for that some time in the future.

Items used in this coordination

Review – Abokichi Miso Soup Bases & Okazu Condiments

You guys know I love bringing you modern, accessible products that make it easy to incorporate a bit of Japan into your daily lives. Abokichi is a Canadian company run by life- and business-partners Jess and Fumi, and is a true fusion of East and West.

Abokichi means “Fortunate Avocado,” a coinage from “abogado”, a South American fruit which has found a place in cuisines all over the world, and “kichi” which means fortunate in Japanese, to express the blessing of the diversity of different cultures in the world.

With the world still half-closed and social distancing still in effect, we’re all eating at home way more often, and it’s easy to fall into a rut when cooking. But these are a great way to stir things up without having to rely on overseas shipping or products laden with preservatives.

Currently Abokichi have two offerings, both available in multiple flavours. There’s the instant miso, which comes in regular, chili, and black pepper; and their Okazu condiment, a blend of miso, sesame oil, and flavourings, which comes in curry, chili, and spicy chili. If you want to try them all out, I suggest the Tasting Set, which has one of everything at a discounted price.

I loved everything I’ve tried so far, and I highly encourage you to check them out for yourself if you’re interested in quick and easy Japanese-inspired flavours. However, I’d like to share my thoughts and feelings about each product.

  • Original Instant Miso – A classic, with a familiar but deep miso flavour. If you’ve ever had miso soup, you’ll find comfort with this one.
  • Black Pepper Instant Miso – The same comforting taste of the original miso with the added punch of plenty of black pepper. My favourite of the three, which is saying a lot because I’m not generally a huge fan of black pepper.
  • Chili Instant Miso – The added warmth of chili brings a new angle to miso in this one. It’s definitely got some heat, but the creaminess of the miso balances it out perfectly.
  • Chili Okazu – A blend of miso, sesame oil, and chili that brings a really rich and complex umami edge to whatever you put it on. Layers of flavour that all balance well together, with a bit of tingly warmth that isn’t overpowering.
  • Curry Okazu – If you like Japanese curry rice, this is the Okazu for you! A little hot, a little sweet, and utterly delicious, this one is my personal fave.
  • Spicy Chili Okazu – Fan of heat? Try out the spicy sister to the original chili Okazu. Out of the jar, this one was almost too spicy for me but mixed with food it’s perfect for anyone who likes a bit of a kick.

Overall, I liked every single product I tried. The black pepper miso and curry Okazu were my personal stand-outs, but I feel confident recommending any of them. It all comes down to your own tastes and preferences.

If you’re looking for recipes or inspiration on how to use Abokichi’s products, here are a few things I’ve whipped up this week!

Black Pepper Miso Soup with Vegetables

This one couldn’t be easier, and it was an absolutely delicious and filling weeknight dinner. I used fresh corn and green beans because it’s what I already had cooked and lying around but I imagine it would work with other cooked veggies too.

  • One full pouch Abokichi Black Pepper instant miso soup
  • One box low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • One ear (roughly 1 cup) of cooked fresh corn
  • One cup chopped green beans
  • Three spring onions, separated into white and green parts
  • Furikake (optional)

Bring the broth and miso to a boil together and whisk thoroughly to make sure the miso is smooth and well-incorporated, and then turn the heat down. Add in your chopped corn and beans, as well as the white parts of the spring onions and simmer until everything is heated through.

Serve it topped with the greens from the spring onions and a sprinkle of furikake if you like. Personally, I think it brings another layer of lightness and texture to the soup.

This would also be delicious with tofu, fish, or chicken for added protein but with the miso it’s quite filling already!

Karaage-style chicken With Okazu Dipping Sauces

This one’s a bit more time-consuming than the soup, but definitely worth the effort. With the accompaniment of the rice, this is a filling meal for four people.

For the chicken
  • Four boneless skinless chicken breasts or eight boneless skinless thighs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped (to taste)
  • ~1 tsp grated fresh ginger (to taste)
  • Dash of sake (optional)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup katakuriko (or potato starch)
For the dipping sauce

*If you don’t have Kewpie mayo, try half a cup of mayo and roughly 1.5 tsp each of sugar and mirin

Start by mixing the ingredients for the dipping sauces, so they have time to meld together.

Chop the chicken breasts or thighs into large chunks. Mix all ingredients for the marinade, toss in the chicken. Let the chicken sit in the marinade for a minimum of two hours.

Place a grilling rack onto a baking sheet and put into a 175°F/80°C oven (this is just to keep the cooked chicken warm). Heat enough canola or corn oil to barely submerge the chicken pieces.

Once the oil is hot, take a few pieces of marinated chicken at a time. Toss in the flour-katakuriko mixture until they’re coated but not clumpy, and gently drop into the oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. Fry until golden-brown, about five minutes for breasts or seven minutes for thighs, flipping if needed to ensure even cooking. Once cooked, place on the rack in the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all chicken is cooked.

I served the chicken with white rice topped with Okazu so I could taste them in the pure unadulterated forms, and it made a perfect complement to the chicken. I also had a bit of the dipping sauces left after the meal and used them on ham sandwiches the following day, which turned out delicious.

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into my kitchen, and if you try any of these products or recipes I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

Tintype Vintage Feeling

I recently got this really pretty lace collar from a friend, and it has a wonderful sweet vintage style to it. I decided to build a whole outfit around it. I wanted to stick to the vintage feeling by using soft browns and muted colours, and natural motifs. I am also more than ready for autumn, and wanted to see if I could evoke that without shouting “ORANGE! RED! FOLIAGE!” from the metaphorical rooftops. I do think that I managed to grasp it, as well as emulate the look and feel of an old tintype photograph. All the browns and beiges work so well together.

The obi I bought as part of my final Ichiroya purchase ( 😥 ) was perfect – more matching than contrasting, which suits the soft and subtle aesthetic I was aiming for. In lieu of an obiage I used some beautiful creamy crocheted lace to echo the collar. My initial plan was also to add some at the cuffs, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough.

Despite being relatively busy, the obi felt like something was missing. The ivory phoenix obidome brings in more soft cream tones as well as more birds, and is the perfect finishing touch. Unfortunately this obidome has somehow escaped my cataloguing escapades so no close-up photo of it for now, but I will fix that later.

I am thrilled with how this outfit feels almost monochrome but not quite, with the unexpected accents of pale blue and an almost salmon pink shade popping up in both the obi and the kimono. They’re the sorts of details that only make themselves known up close, and one of the things I love about kimono.

Items used in this coordination

Winter Hikizuri in Late Summer

Recently the naughty voice in my head told me to browse eBay, despite having no job and no storage space. I figured browsing hikizuri would keep me safe as they tend to be out of my price range anyway. Unfortunately, I listened to the naughty voice, found a gorgeous ume piece with multiple extra layers that happened to be a huge size, and now this stunner is now all mine! I’m fairly certain it will fit, but right now it’s just way too hot to wear something with so many layers and so much padding. I am looking forward to putting it on eventually, but in the meantime I couldn’t wait to put it on the mannequin instead.

It was listed as a geisha’s hikizuri on eBay, but the overall boldness and huge padded hems make it feel more like some kind of stage or dance piece. Either way, it’s absolutely stunning and it’s already a treasured part of my collection. I chose metallic, heavily textured accessories to balance out the rich black and smooth yuzen. The green shibori obiage isn’t technically appropriate but I really love how it draws attention to the green accents in the kimono that almost disappear otherwise. I think next time (maybe whenever I actually wear it) I might go with a white-and-silver obi instead of the primarily gold one, since most of the metallic accents on the piece are silver, but I think the gold works just fine. I tied the musubi on a bit of an angle to make it feel a bit more chic and I quite like how that looks.

This also happens to be the 100th kimono I own, if you count men’s items, uchikake, and yukata. A piece worthy of the milestone, in my opinion.

The catalogue photo here is from the seller; this piece is just too damn big for me to photograph with my usual set-up. I’ll get a proper one soon.

Items used in this coordination

DIY Kokeshi Dolls featuring The Washi Tape Shop

Washi tape comes in so many beautiful and versatile designs, and is an important part of any Japanophile crafter’s arsenal. While most often used for journaling, scrapbooking, and wrapping gifts, there are so many other ways you can feature the gorgeous designs of traditional washi tape.

Today I’ve teamed up with The Washi Tape Shop to bring you a quick, affordable, and fun DIY project. If you’re stuck inside the house (aren’t we all nowadays?) this is a great way to spend an afternoon, and is easy and safe for kids to do as well! Many of the designs available at the Washi Tape Shop are clearly influenced by traditional Japanese textiles and patterns, so I figured what better way to feature them than to make your own kokeshi dolls?

Keep reading for detailed instructions!

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