Gardens of Light 2019

I don’t know if it’s the changing seasons or the general state of the world or what, but my motivation for new content hasn’t been fantastic lately. Also, I’m still unreasonably enamoured of the last outfit I put on the mannequin and don’t want to change it yet.

However, I don’t want to leave you guys hanging for too long! And I’ve been sitting on these photos trying to decide if they were relevant enough to share for a year. A year! I’m such a trash panda sometimes. That said, I figured I may as well get off my butt and share.

Every year, the Montreal Botanical Gardens holds a lantern festival called Gardens of Light. The reason I was hesitant to share this initially is that the bulk of the lanterns are in the Chinese Pavilion, and I try to avoid encouraging that “all far-east Asian cultures are analogous” mentality. But there are also displays in the Japanese Garden, as well as exhibits of Japanese items inside the smaller Japanese pavilion. Also they’re just beautiful lanterns and we all need some beauty right now.

Last year, I was lucky enough to finally meet Elsa of Elsa Eats after knowing her online for nearly fifteen years now. She and her sister were in town for a short period of time, so we hit up a food truck gathering, then the lantern festival, and then drinks and snacks over at Le Blossom Bar. We all had a lovely time, and one day when I find myself on her side of the pond we can do this again.

And without further ado, the photos! First up, of course, the lanterns.

The Lanterns

Japanese Pavilion

Blossom Bar

Man Vs. Kitsuke – Yakuza Style

Despite not being part of the lolita fashion scene, I watch a few lolita youtubers. Recently Tyler Willis/ScarfingScarves (of Last Week Lolita News) did a fun little video entitled “Man Vs. Kawaii” where she got her cameraman/partner to coordinate an outfit. It was a charming video and the end result was pretty amazing!

Now, I don’t have a lolita wardrobe, and I don’t have a cameraman/partner who can physically explore my collection. I do, however, have an incredibly tolerant and patient dude in my life who puts up with my long-distance shenanigans and kindly accepted my request for him to pull something together for me to put on the mannequin. Red and black is kind of his thing, so I wasn’t remotely surprised when he chose this colour palette to work from.

He told me he was going for a sort of a pinstripe suit/Yakuza style and I think it totally works. This kimono is wool and has a slightly nubbly texture, very much like a tweed suit would. I also love the obi with it. Whether it was his intention or not, I feel like it’s a great callback to Yakuza tattoos. I admit, my instinct would have been to go with a brighter colour for the accessories, maybe yellow, but I actually think the black works well, since it almost vanishes. I was also worried the Erstwilder geisha brooch/obidome would disappear against the obi, but it’s bright enough that it’s visible without being overly distracting. The only thing I had trouble with was the fan – I love that he included it but it’s hard to make it work on the mannequin. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it to stay in her hand. So tucked into the obi it is, I guess.  😆

I think he did a great job, especially for someone whose only knowledge of kimono and kitsuke is what he’s picked up from my ramblings! He actually put together another ensemble too, so keep an eye out for that some time in the future.

Items used in this coordination

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!

B is for Bento

Bento (弁当), organised packed lunch, typically with rice

It seems a bit silly to pack a boxed lunch at a time when nobody’s supposed to be leaving the house! But nothing’s stopping me from eating it here at home.

I’ve never assembled a proper bento before, it always seemed too daunting and I’m usually in a rush on work days and rarely have the foresight to prepare it the night before. But now that I’ve got all the free time in the world, it seemed like a good opportunity to use this cute bento box that Kansai Gal sent me a while back. And yes, those are indeed Darth Vader Lightsaber chopsticks, because why not?

One container has rice, furikake, and poached chicken. The other has a nice selection of fresh veggies; tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and baby spinach underneath it all. I tried to cut the radishes into roses and the carrots into sakura, but I’m not sure how well I succeeded. The awkward vegetable cutting aside, it was way easier and more fun to assemble than I’d expected, if I’m being honest.

Would I do this again, once I’m back at work when all this craziness is over? Definitely. Will I bother trying to be cutesy and cut my vegetables into wonky flowers? Probably not.

April A to Z Challenge!

A few days ago, I discovered the April A to Z Challenge. Essentially, it’s a daily challenge where you write a blog post each day in April (except Sundays, for a little break) focusing on a topic beginning with a letter of the alphabet. Unfortunately, I missed the official sign-ups but I can still have fun participating.

I know I’ve said I’m not going to do daily challenges here, but since this isn’t going to be a coordination every day and I have no other commitments all month (thank you social distancing!), it felt like a good way to keep my mind occupied. There will definitely be kitsuke posts but there will also be DIYs, knowledge posts, and other fun things. Hopefully this will give us all something to look forward every morning in this strange and unstable time. 🙂