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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Picrew.Me Kimono Avatar Creators part 2

I know things have been rather quiet here, and I do apologise. I’ve been doing a lot of back-end work, stuff that keeps the site running efficiently, but I realise that while it’s necessary it’s also not very interesting for you guys!

One of the things I did was update last summer’s Picrew Kimono Avatars post so it was responsive and worked on mobile devices. While doing that, I realised it’s one of my most popular and most frequently revisited posts, so I thought maybe it was time to do another one! I promise, there are actual kimono coordinations and some book reviews coming up, but in the meantime I hope you have fun with this. If you’re new to Picrew.me and aren’t sure how the interface works since it’s all in Japanese, there’s an explanation and tutorial in the previous post.

Female Avatars

https://picrew.me/image_maker/5215

This one is utterly adorable! There are lots of customisation options, different kimono and haori, and the watercolour style is so unique. It was also one of the only ones where I was able to give myself some semblance of a buzz cut, and since I like my avatars to look like me it gets extra points for that.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/110764/

A very pretty vintage-looking avatar maker. Both the style of the art and the style of the kimono give this a feeling of timeless nostalgia. There aren't too many options for the kimono; the whole ensemble (kimono, haneri, obi, accessories) are all connected so it's a bit constrained, but there's lots of customisation for the avatar itself.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/185483/

This one feels like a sort of "create your anime girlfriend" thing, to be honest. Something about the art style and expressions just gives me that impression! There are only a couple of kimono options, and you can't change their colours or accessories, but I thought it was charming enough to include it. Also I totally want a frappucino now!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/146912/

Historical-style avatars to be found here! I love the soft, demure art style of this one. There are lots of assorted Heian-style robes, junihitoe, priest's robes, etc. The layering options sometimes conflict with each other but it's worth a bit of fussing with to make something lovely.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/14538/

Another one with only a few kimono options, but the colour combos available and the art style felt unique enough to me that it was worth including it. I feel like avatars created with this one would do the "Ohohoho" noblewoman laugh in an anime XD
https://picrew.me/image_maker/268253/

This isn't a kimono-specific one but I really liked the anime style of it and there are enough kimono options to warrant including it!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/167775/

This is another one that's not kimono-specific, but it's cute! I'm starting to sound like a broken record here. But I wanted to be as thorough as possible for you guys! The face is nice and customiseable, with lots of hair colours and styles too.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/133067/

This one had to be included for the sheer number of awesome oiran and tayuu hairstyle options. There's lots of colour options for the kimono as well, but the hair's really the main draw here.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/252138/

This is just a lovely, elegant lady with a variety of kimono to choose from. The base is relatively customiseable and there are lots of fun traditional accessories too.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/165093

This is a really sweet vintage-feeling full-body creator. I love that there are a bunch of options to combine kimono, obi, and hakama with western-style clothing. There are even belt and corset style options for the obi, if that's the mood you're in! Even the backgrounds have a soft, Taisho feel to them.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/4607/

This is more of a Kitsune maker and only has a few kimono-specific options, but it's so cute I had to share it. You don't need to make a Kitsune, the ears and tails are totally optional, but I couldn't resist!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/262931

Another full-body option, but this time in a much cuter and more modern style. The customisation in this one is pretty great, you can layer three different types of patterns and motifs to create a really individual kimono. Be sure to explore the "colour" options here, as each one changes the pattern, not just the colour!

Male Avatars

https://picrew.me/image_maker/225108/

This avatar creator has a bit of a spirit/fantasy vibe, but subtle. Lots of options, but the end result always feels a bit ethereal and mysterious, which is never a bad thing!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/5135/

Not sure why I made this poor guy look so sad! Maybe it's because he only has two kimono options to choose from... I just really loved the art style and the level of detail in those two available outfits so I thought it was worthwhile to include.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/51747

Oh look, another one that's not kimono-specific! But the poor dudes really don't have anywhere near as many options as the feminine avatars, so I'm including any ones I find that have even one or two kimono.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/150536/

Again, one kimono with a few colour options. However, this one's got some androgynous features and more feminine hairstyles, so if you're looking for something that feels less strictly gendered than the above male and female options, it might be a good choice for you!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/249679

Again, just one kimono, but lots of solid colour options. This one really stands out in the amount of facial customisation; there are options for shading lines around the eyes and under the mouth, different combinations of nose and nostril shapes, etc.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/80783/

This guy's got a bit of a hard-boiled detective vibe. There's a decent selection of kimono, haori, and loosely-tied yukata to play with, as well as a lot of facial customisation.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/280380

I'm including this one because I thought it might be fun for people to create an avatar and then colour/paint it digitally, allowing for basically infinite customisation!

I hope that this table setup works better on mobile devices for you, and that you have lots of fun playing with these avatars while we’re all stuck inside our homes!

N is for Ningyo

Ningyo (also ningyou), 人形, dolls

I had to feature this obi today, didn’t I? I love it so much! I wanted to pair it with a kimono that didn’t compete with it but also didn’t get lost in the background, and I think this was the perfect choice.

The red of the obi is repeated in the gorgeous red of the poppies on the kimono, and while it might not be super obvious, a lot of the colours in the doll herself are echoed in other parts of the outfit. The olive accent shows up in the haneri, the obiage, and the hem of the kimono. The lilac of the obijime isn’t an exact match for the grey background of the kimono but I feel like the soft, desaturated colours complement each other very well.

Items used in this coordination

M is for Maneki Neko

Maneki Neko, 招き猫, Beckoning Cat (Lucky Cat)

Sometimes, spontaneous things work out better than the things you’ve planned out. My initial goal for today’s entry was to do an ikebana involving matsu (pine), but the weather’s been pretty miserable and I’m not feeling great (nothing worrisome, just that time of the month) so I didn’t much feel like tromping around in the yard looking for the perfect branch to work with. Thankfully, this utterly adorable Lego Maneki Neko kit arrived yesterday, and saved me from failure! I realised it was the perfect inspiration point for a fun little knowledge post.

Maneki neko is one of Japan’s most enduring cute little traditions. They’re immediately recognisable and found all over the world. Traditionally made of ceramic or carved wood, they can now be found made of plastic, metal, eraser, food, vinyl, and yes, even Lego!

The name maneki neko means “beckoning cat.” What it’s supposed to bring to you depends on which paw is up and beckoning, and occasionally the colour of the cat itself or the character on its bib. Typically the left paw up is said to be for bringing in customers, and the right paw up is for bringing in wealth. It’s common to see the left-paw style in restaurants and businesses. While they were all originally white or calico-patterned, much like the daruma they now also come in different colours to represent different aspirations such as red for health, pink for love, or gold for wealth.

One day I would like to get a tattoo of a maneki neko to bring me health and luck wherever I go! Until then I will have to satisfy myself with figurines and statuettes.

D is for Daruma

Daruma, 達磨, lucky doll representing Bodhidharma

Daruma are those rounded, roly-poly little dolls (usually red, but other colours exist) with a grumpy-looking face. Often one or both eyes are left blank. They’re said to represent the bearded face of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Nowadays, they’re used to set goals and encourage perseverance. When you set a goal, you paint in the right eye in. When you accomplish the goal, you fill in the left. At the end of the year it’s common to return the daruma to the temple where it was purchased, for it to be thanked and set ablaze. You would then buy a new one to set a new goal for the upcoming year.

As I mentioned, the traditional colour for daruma is red, but it’s becoming more common to see a whole host of colours used to represent different goals. There are varying opinions as to which colour represents what, but some of the most common meanings are as follows:

Red – Luck & fortune
White – Marriage & harmony
Gold or yellow – Finance
Green – Health
Blue – Success
Pink – Love

If you’d like to make your own daruma, keep reading! However, this one is not made of fragile papier maché and should absolutely not be burnt!

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