Zen Garden Candy Kit

I’m home from California for now, so I’ll be back to posting pure unadulterated kimono content very soon! However, the night before I left Keith and I had fun with this adorable little kit where you make a zen garden out of candy and I thought I’d share it with you all.

Kansai_Gal sent us the kit (along with a candy bonsai kit which I left there and we’ll probably do next time I’m in California), and since I had to fly out the next day we decided to have a quiet night inside and I thought it would be a fun thing to do after dinner, and I was right.

The kit came with everything needed, even the little tray. I admit I was a bit sad the tray was cardboard and not actual wood, but it probably saved on weight and product cost so I understand. The fish were printed on the bottom of the tray, and you make a neat little jelly candy in the included mold that fits over the top to make the “pond” effect. Next step is to spread out the candy “sand”, which reminded me of Pixi Stix and tastes like Ramune soda. The realistic little rocks are actually candy-covered chocolate, and were surprisingly delicious.

It even came with an adorable little rake to make designs in the sand, but they honestly weren’t very visible.

I wasn’t expecting this to taste very good, frankly, but we ended up demolishing the whole thing within minutes. I highly suggest cutting off a little piece of jelly “pond” and dipping it in the “sand”, they balance each other out very well.

Overall this was a lot of fun! If you come across these kits I highly recommend getting one, just for the novelty of it. I’ve tried to find places selling it online and everyone is sold out, but maybe you’ll luck out.

Katsura Ningyo – Japanese Doll with Six Wigs

I’m still in California, which means still no access to my kimono, but I do have something utterly charming to share with you today! I have wanted one of these Japanese Dolls with Six Wigs for as long as I can remember, having stumbled across one on eBay years ago. Unfortunately, they’re slightly awkward to ship due to the wooden box and often in very bad shape due to years of play and/or neglect. They were created primarily for the post-occupation tourist market, as little souvenirs to bring home for your sweetheart or daughter. Most often the doll’s name was Hanako, but I have also seen Fukiyo. There was also a Noh-theatre style male doll who is much harder to find.

I recently found out that Goodwill auctions off items online and when I saw this one that would ship here to California. Her box was in rough shape, broken in places and missing a lid. I also suspect it’s been repaired at some point in the past, as I’ve never seen one in this arrangement of six wigs on one side and the doll on the other – the doll is almost always in the middle of the box with three wigs on either side. However, the box is really secondary here – the doll herself and most importantly the wigs looked to be in quite reasonable condition, especially for the under ten dollars the bidding was at. The wigs are the most frequently damaged pieces, as they’re so small and delicate. I threw out a bid and left it to chance, and somehow nobody else bid. I guess Goodwill isn’t quite as well-established for the Japanese art and history community as eBay is! They even included this lovely folded furoshiki gift box. I haven’t had the heart to unfold it yet, it’s just so cute as it is.

The first step was cleaning up the doll and creating some sort of a display base for her. Her face was very dirty and I’m not sure if she ever had a stand of any sort, but she definitely is not built to hold herself up. Her body is made of stiff paper that’s crumpled over the years, and her hands and feet are held on with very thin wire that won’t support her weight. Cleanup was thankfully very easy, I simply ran a moist cotton swab very gently over her face and it brought her from a dingy grey to a lovely bright white. Unfortunately the gofun over her face is cracked on one side, but I still find her adorable. The base was made out of a decorative wood plaque and a chopstick, of all things! I simply drilled through the plaque, glued the chopstick in at the correct height, and then cut the end off. It tucks up into her kimono and holds her quite solidly, but she’s very easy to remove. Repairing the box was easy – a bit of wood glue, some tape to hold things together as the glue set, and voila. The wigs themselves needed hardly any attention, I just smoothed out some errant hairs with my finger tips.

I will fully admit that katsura (traditional-type wigs) and traditional hairstyles in general are not something I’m particularly knowledgeable about. If anyone can tell me what wig or hairstyle these are meant to represent, I would be forever grateful. I’m fairly certain the one with the yellow front is meant to replicate a male chonmage style, like a performer would wear for playing a male role, and the one with the blue comb seems to be a sort of tsubushi shimada, but I may very well be wrong!  Here are some close-ups and detail photos of each of the wigs.

I am so happy I finally got my hands on this little darling and can’t wait to introduce her to my other rescued vintage dolls back home.

Delightful dolls, delayed

Hina-matsuri (雛祭り, doll’s day) was this past Thursday. In the past, I’ve made my own dolls for display but this year I just didn’t have the time to do much of anything, since I work all week now. However, I did want to do a little something, even if it’s technically too late.

I knew I wanted to use this ningyo obi, despite the type of doll not being the typical dolls used for this festival. One day I will find a piece with proper hina dolls on it and I will use that, but until that happens this is what I’ve got.

This kimono may have seemed like an odd choice, but if you look closely there’s bright red accents in the beautiful embroidery. They actually coordinate quite well, I think. Also I think the pink, pastels, and adorable bunny are all ideal for a holiday that celebrates girls.

It’s been a long time since I’ve used my beloved blue and red shibori obiage or my mint and reddish-orange obijime so I was thrilled to have an excuse to pull them out again. A pretty floral haneri in shades of pink with turquoise foliage was a nice finishing touch. As well as featuring dolls, this outfit feels like a great bridge from winter to spring, perfect for early March.

Hina-Matsuri 2021

Typically for Hina-Matsuri I do a somewhat thematic coordination or DIY a set of dolls. This year, however, my motivation hasn’t been where it should be, and I was worried I’d let the day go by without anything. But then I remembered that somehow last year I managed to get not one, not two, but three separate sets of Obina & Mebina dolls! I’ve posted some of them on Instagram previously but this seemed like the perfect time to share better photos and details.

First, I have this lovely traditional hakata ceramic set. These were totally unexpected – I found the Emperor on a shelf mixed in with the other “decorative clutter” at the local Goodwill-owned thrift store. I nearly didn’t take him, since he was alone, but then it occurred to me the Empress was likely somewhere nearby so I went hunting. I found her a few shelves over and I’m so happy I was able to reunite them and give them a home where they can be appreciated and treasured. Unbelievably, they were only $1.50 each! I don’t think they’re particularly old or “valuable”, but they’re incredibly charming and were such a treasure to find.

Next up is this cute (and slightly ridiculous) cat set by Decole Concombre. They’re quite tiny and made of resin, so they’re nothing fancy and not particularly elegant, but they are adorable and I love them to bits. Like all of Concombre’s figures, they look a bit like they only have one brain cell to share between them, which only adds to their charm, I think. I also have a kimono-clad bride and groom set that are very similar, and I think if I were ever to get married, they’d make a hilarious cake-topper.

Last, but certainly not least, my favourite anime power-couple, Haruka & Michiru (Sailor Uranus & Sailor Neptune). I actually ordered these quite a long time ago and had them shipped to Keith’s, so I was finally able to get them when I went a few months back! They were absolutely worth the wait; they are too cute for words. It’s my first time seeing a lesbian couple as Emperor and Empress, but it totally works with these two! Their outfits are accurate to typical hina dolls, but include references to their characters and Sailor Senshi powers which is a really nice touch. I also love that they also came with the little raised dais and byobu screen backdrop.

I know you guys want more kimono coords, and I promise I’ll have one sometime later this week!

Mini-Review – Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san (Kiyo in Kyoto) Anime

If there are three things I love in my media, it’s slice-of-life, food, and kimono. I got a good dose of all those while watching Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi and then all three of them with bonus drama while watching Watadou, and now there’s a new anime out to fill that niche even better! Only one episode is out so far, so this won’t be any sort of an in-depth review, but I’ve been anticipating this anime ever since I found out the manga (which I love) was being adapted.

Kiyo preparing a huge lunch for the maiko – All images courtesy of NHK

Known in Japanese as Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san and in English as Kiyo in Kyoto, this is the story of Kiyo, a teenager who moves to Kyoto and becomes the live-in cook for an Okiya (maiko residence) where her friend Sumire is in training to become a maiko. One of the things that makes their dynamic, and the whole show really, so wholesome is how supportive of Sumire Kiyo is. Initially they were training together, but it’s explained that Kiyo was too clumsy and not graceful enough, so she is taken on as the cook. Rather than be jealous that her good friend is en-route to become a very popular geisha, Kiyo is her biggest cheerleader. It’s sweet and charming and we need more positivity and happiness like this right now.’

Sumire and Kiyo in the kitchen – All images courtesy of NHK

The girls all dressed up for work – All images courtesy of NHK

There’s a broad range of kimono in just this one episode, from the day-wear of the maiko while they’re out running errands to the more elegant outfits of the Matron and dance Sensei. And of course, there are the elaborate, colourful outfits of the maiko which we see only briefly but I’m sure will become more of a central visual element as the show continues.

Squid Mince, an Aomori comfort food – All images courtesy of NHK

A cute segment is where Kiyo and Sumire discuss their “dish of the day”, a dish or food tradition mentioned in the show. There were several in this episode, and they do feel a bit filler-ish and repetitive, but they’re still informative and interesting so I don’t mind them yet. That might change after multiple episodes though XD. I’ll likely be doing a follow-up on this series (and a few others I’ve been meaning to share) in an Anime with Kimono Eye-Candy entry sometime soon.

You can watch the first episode of Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san/Kiyo in Kyoto in Japanese with English subtitles and occasional English narration explaining culture and traditions of the geisha district on NHK World right here!