Nugoo Tenugui – A stylish and affordable alternative to han-eri

Most folks who collect and love kimono already know the merits of a good han-eri, or decorative under-collar. Not only do they protect the collar of your juban from dirt, sweat, and makeup, they’re a fantastic way to add a bit more detail and individuality to most outfits. While very formal outfits such as a full mofuku ensemble or a kurotomesode ensemble require plain white han-eri, more youthful or casual coordinations can have all manner of fun ones. Typically, they’re silk or polyester

One thing you may not be aware of, though, is that tenugui (traditional Japanese cotton towels) can make excellent han-eri that are bold, fun, breathable, and washable! Today I’m working Nugoo Japan to show you how well some of their all-over motif cotton tenugui work with traditional kimono ensembles.

They were kind enough to send me three different examples, I let them choose ones that would be a good representation of their products and they’re all really gorgeous and work so well!

They sent me three different motifs that work perfectly for this particular usage, since the patterns are bold and evenly distributed across the whole tenugui. First, the small blue asanoha. Asanoha, or hemp leaf, is one of my favourite geometric designs, and this one will definitely be getting a ton of use. The next one they sent was a beautiful traditional indigo suisen or narcissus. This one is big and bold and adds a ton of drama to a casual outfit. Sadly, the particular tonbo motif they sent me has been discontinued, but there are some lovely alternatives. I can’t wait to pair this one with my tonbo summer kimono.

First, we have a plain white collar; not only is it boring, it’s a little discoloured with age and use. Not stylish at all! Then we have the tenugui carefully folded over the juban collar, and you can see how much more fun and distinctive the coordinations become with this one small change!

The only warning or caveat I have is that these are hand-dyed using traditional dyes, and when you first get them they may not be entirely colourfast. The indigo suisen one stained my nails slightly as I was arranging it, so I imagine after a long hot day of wear the pigment could absolutely transfer onto your kimono or juban. If you plan to use one of Nugoo Japan’s beautiful indigo tenugui (or any naturally dyed fabric) as han-eri, I would absolutely suggest washing them a few times first!

Please check out Nugoo Japan on their website, facebook, and instagram. Along with traditional tenugui they also have lots of lovely items and home goods made from them, such as coin purses and bento products.

 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. 

A Prayer for the Amazon

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Amazon is burning. This is an unprecedented tragedy of incomprehensible proportions. Indigenous peoples and native animal species are dying, and what is essentially the lungs of our planet is shrinking dramatically every day.

I know it doesn’t make a lick of difference, but kitsuke makes me feel better in overwhelming times like this. I’ve done it when people I’ve admired have passed away, and I did it when Notre Dame burnt and that didn’t have nearly the global significance these fires are having.

Green would have been the obvious choice, and my initial instinct; but then I thought of the lush, gorgeous foliage on my basho-leaf houmongi. I went with more bright pinks and then a green-leaning turquoise because it feels joyous and hopeful, something we all desperately need right now.

If, like me, you’re feeling scared and helpless and looking for a way to help, I urge you to consider donating to one of the charities working on the ground in the Amazon. After some research and checking with the Charity Navigator, I feel comfortable suggesting any of the following groups. If you know of any other reliable charities, or have information that these may not be ideal to donate to, please leave a comment.

Items used in this coordination

Harajuku Fashion Show at Otakuthon 2019

Photos courtesy of Buddy Photography

Last weekend I had the amazing privilege of styling the kimono segment in the Harajuku Fashion Show at Otakuthon, a local anime and Japanese culture convention. The main focus on the show was modern and funky Japanese street styles, so I wanted to make sure a variety of modern fashions using kimono were featured.

By the end of it, I was a hideously sweaty exhausted mess but man, seeing all these beautiful ladies together was incredibly rewarding! The models all did such an incredible job, and I love how cohesive the outfits all look together! For some fantastic individual shots by Buddy Photography and Phunkey, as well as details about each outfit, please read on.

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The Ocean is Calling Ikebana

I am feeling pulled towards the ocean right now. The wet sand between my toes, the crackle and crash of the waves breaking on the shore. Floating away from everything that’s wrong with the world.

Sadly, that’s completely impossible right now. What isn’t impossible, however, is making an ikebana composition that helps evoke that feeling. Using tropical-looking flowers and a shell instead of a traditional vessel and kenzan was the perfect solution.

This conch shell was brought back from the Bahamas when my folks went there on their honeymoon, 41 years ago. While it wasn’t intentional I also used the same sort of lilies my mum had in her bouquet! The small button mums remind me of seafoam, and were chosen for no other real reason than that.

For the actual arrangement I was aiming for an intersection of diagonal lines. The lilies form one axis and the button mums form the other, anchored by the conch and the palm frond. I feel like this brings a lot of dynamic energy to the whole composition, and I’m very happy with it.

Picrew.me Kimono Avatar Creators

If you’ve spent any time on any large social media platform lately, odds are you’ve seen avatars made using the Picrew.me site. It’s an enormous repository of avatar creators that started in Japan but has since spread worldwide. No matter what kind of avatar you want to create, you can find something for it.

However, it is quite large and a bit overwhelming to browse, especially since the interface and a lot of the creators are all in Japanese. Fear not though, I’ve gone through and found all of the best kimono-themed ones for you to play with, and a few little extras at the bottom!

How to use Picrew.me

If you’re new to Picrew and feeling overwhelmed by all the Japanese text and buttons, don’t fret! The interface is very straightforward, and here’s a little mini-tutorial that will hopefully help you out.

  • 1. Confirm/begin your avatar
  • 2. Scroll through here to see all the options to customise
  • 3. Choose item colour (if applicable – this one isn’t always available)
  • 4. Choose item style
  • 5. Save/complete your avatar
  • 6. Randomise – The first pink button randomises all features, the second pink button randomises the feature you’ve currently selected. The grey button at the bottom cancels all randomisation, the yellow button at the top confirms them.

For organisational purposes, I’ve separated these into female avatars, male avatars, and other things. I realise this gendering isn’t ideal, but the list got overwhelming without it. However, I do encourage you to use whichever avatar creator you like best!

Female Avatars


https://picrew.me/image_maker/15599
This is the most popular one, and for good reason. There's a huge number of customisation options for every single layer. You can change the girl's appearance colours and patterns, add ruffles and textures, insert accesories, you name it. I could easily spend hours playing with this one. Sadly, only "natural" hair colours here, plus one shade of pinkish strawberry-blonde, but there's so many other options that it doesn't bother me too much.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/84345/
This little cutie may not have many character customisations (two skin tones, two hair colours, a couple of eye styles) but the awesome number of kimono and hakama combinations you can do makes her a worthwhile addition to this list. From super traditional to modern and sexy, you can layer different tops, bottoms, and accessories to get a ton of unique styles.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/9889
This particular doll isn't kimono-specific, but there are enough options for me to include her. There's a ton of customisation for the face and hair, multiple kimono you can change the colours of, different hand poses, and other assorted cuteness!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/46794/
A really elegant manga-style avatar. In true manga style there's no colour to this one, only shades of grey, but plenty of face, hair, and kimono options that more than make up for the monochrome aspect. This one is listed as a "monster" maker and so has horns, fangs, etc, but as you can see you can also totally make a human girl.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/35860
Create your own oiran avatar! Sexy and elegant, this one's got a few kimono options, both in a more normal high-collar style and the low, draped collar of the oiran showed here. Creating a unique hairstyle might be the most appealing part of this one.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/16001/
A very simple but very charming little avatar that includes a variety of obi options and haori. The base offers a fair bit of customisation, which is nice. The kimono options aren't super varied, but adding in a haori gives you more opportunities for coordination.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/15557
This Taisho-inspired beauty might be one of my favourites. I love this style of artwork, and the kimono options are fantastic for a vintage fan. Pretty much everything you can come up with using this generator ends up looking like a lovely 1920s advertising poster!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/29910
Here's another one that offers some very Taisho-feeling kimono, but with a more modern art style. The really neat thing about this particular avatar creator is that it uses photos of actual textiles to make the kimono, obi, and haori. It's a really cool feature.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/18630/
This one's a little simpler than some of the previous ones, but super cute. There are options for haneri, kimono, and a few different types of coats.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/20990/
Have you ever wanted to experiment with the many layers of juunihitoe, but didn't want to deal with the expense or hassle? Have no fear, this avatar maker is out to help! There aren't a huge number of options here, but the real draw is playing with all the layered collar combinations you can make.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/48855/
Another elegant one with a kind of vintage vibe. You can't change the hair or eye colour on this one, but you can change the hair style and there are a few options for eye makeup. The main draw, however, is definitely the outfits. Lots of choices for kimono, and separate options for haneri, obi, obiage, obijime, and obidome, mean that you can make tons of different outfits.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/11253/
This one only has a few colour and style options for each section, but it was too cute not to include! There are kimono with and without hakama, as well as some slightly more fantastical and historical options.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/68061
There's no customisation available at all for the base, not even the hairstyle, but there are plenty of cute vintage-style kimono, obi, and haori to layer and play with here. There's also some alternative options for undergarments, like a blouse instead of a juban.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/20934
Bride generator! There isn't much in the way of colour and pattern here; everything is white, red, or black. However there are lots of facial expressions, so you can make your bride anything from sweet and innocent to legitimately monstrous (horns and blood splatter included)!

Male Avatars

https://picrew.me/image_maker/10347/
A very cute, stylised little samurai or ronin guy. Mostly historically-influenced options for both his hairstyles and his outfits, but a fair level of customisation nonetheless.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/24195/
A handsome man in kimono! Need I say more? Tons of options for face and hair, customiseable kimono and accessories, The example I've made is pretty fantastical but you can make more normal-looking ones as well.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/18771
This is another one that's not kimono-specific, but there are lots of options, and something about the whole "Bad Boy" aesthetic that makes me laugh. The description of this one basically translates to "Make Your Own F**king B**tard", and the facial expressions really do evoke that feeling. It's too amusing not to share.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/8803
This is another historical-based one, which feels like a common theme for the male avatar creators. It's actually got more of an ancient Chinese feeling with some of the outfits and accessories, but as you can see it's also possible to make a kimono-style ensemble.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/26613
Another handsome historical-inspired dude. This one has a lot of fun accessories and options, even if the avatar and kimono themselves aren't super varied.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/15097
This one's actually rather androgynous, so it could easily work for any gender, but the styling of the kimono is more masculine. There's actually a little story implied in this one, parting with a loved one. With or without that in mind, it's fun to play with and makes some really lovely avatars.

Other

https://picrew.me/image_maker/42620
What's this? Not an avatar! This is a really sweet little Japanese scene/garden generator. There's houses, castles, and temples as well as plenty of scenery options. You can even choose which animal you want in your scene!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/51936
This is a very simple one to create your own Hinamatsuri set. There are a few different faces, and different colours for the kimono, headpieces, and backgrounds. Not much to play with but still quite charming.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/79981
Make your own adorable little kitsune companion with this generator! Plenty of options for colours, accessories, ears, tails, and markings. I actually got sucked into playing with this one for nearly half an hour solid while working on this entry!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/122741
Do you know Daruma dolls? Here you can make a custom one in a variety of colours. There are a bunch of different faces, including ones with no eyes, one eye, and both eyes, so you can choose the right face for whether you have made your wish come true or not. Too cute!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/64765/
Izekaya meal generator! This one is a surprising amount of fun. You can choose the contents of each dish as well as your drink.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/95777/
Make your own tamago gohan (egg and rice) bowl with this cute little maker. You can choose your table, bowl, and chopsticks as well as the rice and toppings.

I hope you had tons of fun playing with these amazing kimono avatar creators! I would love to see what you make with them. 💖