Tea Time – Tenmoku Tea Cup

Tenmoku (天目, also commonly referred to as Jian Zhan 建盏 in Chinese) is a stunning style of ceramic ware, created using high temperatures and glaze with a very high iron content. The end result is a variety of incredibly rich, deep, and iridescent finishes.

I received this beautiful “Jellyfish” teacup from Tenmokus.com, who provide a wide array of beautiful tenmoku cups and teapots. I was expecting it to be pretty, but nothing prepared me for how stunning it was in person. The glaze is so luxurious and layered, the shimmering rings peering through layers of translucent blues. This cup was undoubtedly named after the moon jelly, which just happens to be one of my favourite sea creatures ever.

It also feels perfect to hold. I have large hands (to go with the large rest of me, hah) and often small Asian tea cups are too small and I end up feeling clumsy and awkward holding them. This one is still delicate, but just large enough that it feels great to hold. It’s also a bit thick, which will also make it very comfortable when holding very hot tea, thicker walls mean less heat transfer.

Their cups are shipped in absolutely gorgeous presentation boxes that serve dual purpose; not only are they perfect for gifting but they’re so thick and well-padded that the cup was very well-protected during shipping.

My only “concern” with this cup, if you can even call it that, is that it’s so impossibly gorgeous that I almost don’t want to use it. But somehow just leaving it in the box or even on display feels disrespectful. This is a cup that cries out to be used and appreciated.

I highly recommend checking out Tenmokus.com if you’re in the market for a unique, stunning cup either for yourself or for a very special and unique gift.

 I purchased this item at a discounted price for honest review purposes. 

Sea Day by Emi Nishizuka – Life Imitating Art

Before we get to the entry today, I have to speak out on what's happening in the United States (and really, around the world) right now. I've always aimed to keep this blog positive and apolitical, but it's reached a point where saying nothing is complicit with the racists. Black lives matter. Here in Canada we also need to acknowledge that Indigenous lives matter. As a white person, I need to use my voice to amplify and uplift the voices that are being silenced at a terrifying rate. Things need to change. The police need to stop killing black people indiscriminately for perceived offences while privileged white folk walk free after documented atrocities. If you're at a loss for ways to help and can't attend rallies or protests, please visit Black Lives Matter for information and resources, and consider donating to the NAACP or the ACLU. Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you feel the need to argue this, tell me it was unnecessary, or tell me that "all lives matter", please unsubscribe and unfollow.

Way back before the flood in my room, COVID-19, and my life (and the whole world, really) going sideways, I found this beautiful little drawing entitled 海の日, Umi no Hi, or Sea Day by Emi Nishizuka and realised I had quite similar pieces, especially my beloved octopus obi. Right away I knew I wanted to try to do the first entry in a new featurette here on the blog, where I plan to reproduce kimono ensembles from artwork. Now that I’m back into the swing of things, I figured it was time for me to give it a shot.

The pieces aren’t exact; the water on the kimono is from a different perspective and less saturated, the obi is purple instead of black, but as a whole I think I did a good job of emulating the mood and feel of the coordination quite well. Also, I’d somehow never noticed before but this kimono is a five-crested houmongi. All my other houmongi are either uncrested or have only one crest. I wonder what sort of event it was intended for.

Doing this coord was a lot of fun, and I look forward to doing more of them. I won’t make any promises or stick to time frames, because I know that’s a surefire way to turn me off from something, but keep an eye out for more of these in the future!

One final note; I have officially lost my job for good. I worked at the same small specialised toy store for almost thirteen years, but unfortunately it has become a casualty of the economy and the coronavirus shut-down and will not be reopening. So for the time being, you will be seeing a lot of older, familiar pieces being reused in new and hopefully interesting ways. My budget is a little tighter than usual so I can’t run around buying new pieces.

Back to Basics

I’ve been doing a lot of fancy and non-traditional kitsuke lately, and was itching to get back to kimono basics, if you will. Just an elegant, simple coordination. No fuss, no muss. I also realised I’ve been sticking to more Western colour coordinations, doing things that look “right” in my head and not necessarily keeping kimono colour rules in mind.

With that at the forefront of my mind, I decided it was high time I coordinate this beautiful pale pink nagoya obi I got earlier this summer. My original instinct was to stick with pastels, but I pushed through and paired it with this rich blue houmongi instead. I love the contrast, and the soft genteel obi pairs so well with the very delicate shading on the botan of the kimono. Red and blue accessories helped pull it all together cohesively.

My next thought for this obi is a black-based kimono. I really love how it pops against darker, richer colours. It’s technically not formal enough for kurotomesode, but because it’s got a metallic pearly-silver sheen to it, I think I can make it work! Maybe I should do that next week. Less folding to do if I use the same obi two outfits in a row 😉

Items used in this coordination

Perfectly Harmonious Pairing

I’m back! Sort of! Still not feeling 100% better, but definitely improving. I’ve got a few low-stress things in the works for the next week or two.

For today, a coordination I’ve been itching to put together since I bought this obi. About a month ago I went to a rummage sale at the Montreal JCCC and while I had no real intention of buying anything, I found this amazing cream-coloured obi with Arabic script on it and knew it had to come live with my mosque kimono. I honestly can’t tell if the writing on the obi actually says anything or is just sort of an artistic interpretation, so if anyone can tell me what it says, I’d very much appreciate it!

I cannot get over how perfectly these pieces pair together. The background colour of the obi echoes the yellow-gold clouds on the kimono and the green script and design elements bring out the palm trees around the hem of the kimono. I also used that colour as inspiration for the accessories, a gorgeous olive-green obiage and obijime that also weren’t a set but happen to match almost perfectly. I chose a very simple haneri with just some white and gold sakura. I wanted all the focus to be on the beautiful pairing of the kimono and obi.

Items used in this coordination

Pastel Pearl-fection!

I bought this pearl ribbon thing a while back with the intention of using it in kitsuke and somehow never got around to it. When I was looking for an inspirational jumping-off point for today’s outfit I remembered I still had them and decided to work off that.

Pearls, to me, needed a really sweet and feminine outfit, so it was time to bust out this gorgeous blue furisode with pink accents again.  I went with the solid deep rose side of my sakura chuuya obi, and decided to use the pearls as something between an obijime and a pattern itself. I really like how this looks! I also covered up a pink embroidered haneri with more pearls because sometimes more is more. The obi provides a bit of visual weight to an otherwise very light and airy kimono. Previously, all the coordinations I’ve done with this piece have been with white or silver based obi, and it’s pretty cool to see how different it feels with something richer and more colourful.

I also had fun improvising the obi musubi, it sort of looks like a cross between a fukura suzume and a han-darari. It feels very sweet and youthful, and took advantage of this soft, floppy obi well I think. A few more rose and white accessories just pulled the whole thing into a really pretty, girly, cohesive outfit.

Items used in this coordination