Bit of a break

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in several weeks, and this will probably be my last post for a while yet. I was diagnosed with strep throat a while back and have been taking it easy, and earlier today was diagnosed with Post-infectious glomerulonephritis which isn’t as scary as it sounds, but still makes me really worn-out and groggy. I’m definitely not up to dressing in kimono for a little while 🙁

I’ll be back soon, I hope.

Montreal Japanese Language Centre Spring Matsuri

Today I went to the Montreal Japanese Language Centre Spring Matsuri. Of course, I used the opportunity to wear kimono. I decided to pair up my new dusty pink iromuji with a gorgeous burnt-orange obi with irridescent pastel flowers Naomi gave me. The flowers feel like tulips to me, so it seemed appropriately spring-like. I know they’re probably something else, but shush! It was a little too warm for a haori, but too chilly for nothing, so I borrowed a cute shawl from my mother. I think I look like a dope in these, and a little rumpled, but they’re the only full shots of my outfit, so there you go.

I told my friend Nick, who I mentioned in this entry about it, and he came to meet me there along with several other friends. He wore his yukata again, and looked snazzy as always.

While there, I ran into Akane, a lovely young woman I met last summer at the O-Bon Matsuri. She’s always wearing beautiful, feminine outfits and always looks elegant and effortless. She actually remembered meeting me before, and I was quite chuffed about that! Isn’t she photogenic? Also, check out those great red high-top Chucks in the corner!

Here’s the photos of her from last summer – they were taken before I started this blog.

I also met a lovely woman named Serene and we chatted kimono for a bit. She had on a lovely komon and had a great personal style. She made her own obi, and it was adorable applique-work and I wish I’d thought to take a photo of it!

The festival itself was more like a garage sale than anything! Lots of tables with cute little things for sale. Sadly, no kimono or related items, but I did pick up a little fiction book with no relation to anything Japanese and a little handmade bag with a fish on it that I’ll probably wear with a kimono later. I also had a delicious hamburger bento, some umeboshi onigiri, and the most delicious strawberry mochi I’ve ever had, with half a fresh strawberry inside it!

Aside from the vendors, there was a great performance by Arashi Daiko and demonstrations of Aikido and Nunjutsu.

I tried to capture a video of the performance, but my phone is miserable. Watch at your own risk!

And a few photos.

New kimono and obi

It’s difficult to get everything I own catalogued when I keep buying new things! Nothing terribly exciting to see here, just posting reference photos of some of the new komon and hakata obi I’ve acquired recently. I also got a new iromuji not long ago, but since I haven’t catalogued my other iromuji yet, I plan to just do them all together.

Taisho Pink Ume Komon


This is a gorgeous vintage piece. It’s covered in thick ume branches and sweet flowers, a few of which are outlined in gold and silver. I snagged this for an amazing price, due to a few unfortunate water spots on the front. They’re not terribly visible, and I’m going to look into removing them eventually.

Purple Lamé Komon


This is the kimono I wore here, so yes, if you’re a regular reader (thank you!) you’ve seen it before. It’s a bit of a weird thing, being heavy lined synthetic, but covered in high-summer motifs. If you can’t be warm, at least you can think warm!

Striped Mauve Komon


This is the kimono I wore here. It’s a nice, big, synthetic piece that has an old feel to it. Cute multi-season designs of kiku (chrysanthemum), sakura (cherry blossom), and yukiwa (snow crystal design).

Pink and White Hakata Obi


A sweet pale pink and white hakata fukuro obi that I got for a steal, due to a few spots of rust discolouration on the ends. I figure so long as it’s tied in something other than otaiko musubi, it won’t ever be visible. Haven’t worn it yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

Reversible Red and White Hakata



Two, two, two obi in one! One side is a gorgeous, dramatic white-on-red hakata, and the other is a great versatile bright red with gold, silver, and white diamonds and various designs. I’m shocked this didn’t sell for more, and thrilled that I won it.

Purple Net Tsukesage/Komon – a.k.a The Town Bicycle.

Courtesy of UrbanDictionary (link potentially not safe for work, do not click if in public, or easily offended)

A girl that is like a bike that belongs to the town – everybody gets a ride

You’re probably wondering what that quote could possibly have to do with kimono. I promise, I have not gone off the deep end. I use the term to refer to a kimono or obi that goes with nearly everything. Sort of a surefire go-to piece when you’ve got a particularly busy or awkward item you want to wear. It gets a lot of use, but never complains, never gets worn out, and is always up to the task. When it comes to kimono, my “town bicycle” has to be my purple tsukesage-komon with the woven fishnet pattern.

When I found it online, the photos were not the best. It looked like a solid, dove-grey kimono with an interesting design on the front okumi panel and the sleeves. I still thought it was lovely and versatile, so I bought it. Imagine my shock when I opened the package to find a beautiful ivory kimono with woven deep plum patterns, flecked with silver.

It’s much prettier in person than I ever would have guessed, but from a distance it still reads as a neutral, and a solid colour. This makes it amazingly versatile. It’s non-seasonal (though it’s lined, so not something I could pull off in the summer), has just enough sparkle and drama to be able to dress it up, but is simple enough to be dressed down too. It also makes a great “frame” for particularly special obi that I want to highlight.

Paired with my koinobori obi and mint-green accessories, at a toy convention organized by my work.

Paired with my spider obi and dark purple accessories.

On Being a Behemoth – Size challenges and how to work with what you’ve got

This article is part of a series on size challenges while collecting and dressing in kimono. Please read Part I

Part II – Tips and Tricks for Dressing

In the first entry of this series, I discussed the importance of buying what fits. However, when it comes to buying vintage, one-of-a-kind textiles, this is obviously not always an option. Sometimes a piece comes along that’s just so stunning that you have to have it, even if it’s not the best fit.

Thankfully, if you can’t make it, you can usually fake it. There are enough tools and tricks out there to help you achieve as smooth and clean a baseline as possible.

Problem 1 – Bosoms a’plenty
This is a problem I suffer from greatly, as do many of my kimono-wearing friends. They’re just not designed for someone with melons like these! The first, and most ideal solution for this is, is a kimono bra. They are available on sites like Rakuten or JShoppers. However, these are again made with smaller Japanese frames in mind, and if you’re as heavily-endowed as I am, it may be a challenge finding one that will fit.

Another solution is sarashi, a cotton binding cloth that is wrapped around the torso. These give a great smooth line from bust to hip while remaining breathable.

One suggestion I have heard of but not tried myself is a <url=”http://sites.google.com/site/binderreviews/resources”>Female-to-Male Transgender Binder Top. These are designed explicitly with the idea of flattening the bust as much as possible, for women making the transition to living as men. I imagine they would work well, as they are built for support and all-day comfort while supposedly remaining invisible. The only issue is that all the ones I have seen come up quite high in the back, which is counter-productive to having an elegantly low kimono collar. If anyone has tried this method, please let me know! I would love to hear from you!

The quickest method, and the one I used to use most often, is the rubber datejime/elastic brace method. This requires a fairly common kitsuke accessory, the rubberized “easy datejime”. I place one of these over my juban with a sports bra underneath. It serves to flatten and hold down my bust.

This solution works well enough, and here are a few outfits for comparison. The plaid ensemble on the left is using this easy method, whereas the flowered ensemble on the right is not – it’s ro, a sheer summer weave, and the fluorescent vivid green of my rubber datejime was way too visible! You can see how much smoother my bust is in the plaid outfit, compared to how it descends and curves over the front of the obi in the flowered one.

The main issue with this method is that the datejime can slip over the course of a long day. I’ve since replaced it with an elasticized velcro abdominal/back support, easily available at any medical supply. I simply wear it above the bust, and it functions almost exactly like sarashi, with the added benefit of extra back support.

Problem 2 – Baby Got Back
Thankfully I don’t have quite as much of a problem with this, but it’s still an issue. The kimono was not designed with hips or a bottom in mind. Once again, your best bet is to find one with a decent hip wrap. If that’s just not feasible, there is an easy and inexpensive way to make sure your kimono doesn’t flap wide open in the front, exposing you in a dramatic and embarrassing way. Simply take a kohrin(kohlin) belt and clip it to the outer flap of your nagajuban, wrap it around your knees, and clip it to the inner okumi panel of the kimono. If you don’t have a kohlin belt, a single suspender from the closet or the thrift store works just as well. Just be sure it’s got plastic grips on the teeth – metal ones might pull or tear vintage silk!

Problem 3 – Big Waist, Little Obi
Vintage obi. They’re beautiful, but they’re also almost always too short and too floppy to work with conveniently. Thankfully this is a problem that plagues the Japanese too, as pretty much everyone was smaller around the waist back then. There’s also the matter of kimono going out of fashion due to the difficulty of putting one on, which led to the development of plenty of tools to help dress.

One great such tool is the obidomekanagu, or obi clip. If you have an obi that’s too short to tie comfortably in a knot before tying your musubi, these are a tiny little pink godsend. Rather than tie the two ends together, you simply clip them together with this tool, nestled snugly in the small of your back, and tuck your obi-makura into the curve at the top. It holds everything into place, and gives you ten to fifteen centimetres of leeway.

Hopefully at least one tip here will help you be a little more comfortable and confident in your kimono! Please let me know what you’d like to see in the next entry of this series, or if you have any tips of your own.