Hope for the New Year

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To say that 2018 has been a wreck would be a bit of an understatement. Ecological, financial, moral and political instability across the globe. And on a smaller, more personal scale, the loss of more beautiful lives than I wish to tally up. The one that hit me the hardest, by far, happened only yesterday and is still painful and raw.

A friend and bright shining light in the lives of so many people lost their life to incredibly aggressive cancer yesterday. The diagnosis was less than a month ago, and now only a few days before Christmas they’ve left behind a husband and two children. It happened way too fast, to someone way too young and vibrant.

Of course, I did my best to deal with it the way I usually do, by distracting myself with kitsuke. I thought it would be a good time to throw myself into something somewhat productive and decided to make a new year’s inspired outfit because I am more than ready for 2019 to get here and wash away all the pain 2018 brought with it.

This kimono was only the second or third I ever bought, and I don’t bring it out often enough. My initial plan was to do a proper kurotome-style kitsuke, featuring only white and metallic, but you all know I can’t leave well enough alone. I remembered this silver and white obi has tiny pink-peach accents that echo the peachy ume in the hem design, so I ran with it. Eagle-eyed readers might notice I’m using the exact same haneri and obiage as the last coordination, but they worked so perfectly I couldn’t resist. I do love that this has such wintery motifs of ume and pine, and despite clearly being a wedding rental piece it works quite well for the season. In retrospect, I should have found a way to include some bamboo so I would have the sho-chiku-bai (three friends of winter) motif often used at New Year’s. Oh well.

As the year comes to a close, I’d just like to take a moment to wish you all the best possible upcoming new year. And remind you that life is short and precious and beautiful, so please be sure to tell someone you love them and hug them tightly today because you may not get another chance. ❤️

Items used in this coordination

Araiso Geisha Hikizuri

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If anyone needed further proof that I am spoiled far beyond anything I might possibly deserve, this is it. Friends and loved ones in the hobby are constantly sending me lavish gifts, but I think this one takes the cake. It’s a gorgeous lavender hikizuri that appears to have belonged to a geisha, with a motif of araiso, or carp and crashing waves, dyed in white and indigo. When I saw it on eBay, I fell hard in love with it. Unfortunately, I’d just splurged on a trip so my friend Keith and myself could go to California together and I could spend some time with Naomi. I did bid on it, but I knew once it hit a certain point, I couldn’t keep fighting, and had to bow out. I was upset, but I figured it was worth it – I was going to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Fast forward to the trip itself. Keith has gone home and I’m settling in at Naomi’s place, and she’s (inevitably) dumping kimono in my lap. The two haori I posted about recently were some of the items I ended up with. At one point, she hands me a folded up purple-grey kimono, telling me it’s “some old thing [she] had lying around” and that I might like it. I do like lavender, and I thought it was an iromuji, so you can bet when I opened it up and figured out what the heck it was, I nearly had a heart attack. I have a history of cardiac issues and don’t take well to surprises XD I wasn’t sure whether to faint or cry. Thankfully I ended up crying, because fainting would have been a nuisance. Naomi confessed to me that she and Erica conspired together to get this for me, after seeing how sad I was that I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I really don’t deserve these friends! I’m not this good a person, I swear!

The kimono is just so incredibly breathtaking in person – photos do not do it justice. The gradient is so skillfully done, it is a perfect fade from a desaturated grey-lilac to a richer purple, and the yuzen work of the crashing waves and jumping carp on the hem is very thin and very detailed. The addition of the indigo really makes the carp pop out, and then some of them are lightly outlined in gold leaf. It’s a stunning piece, exactly the sort of thing I would expect on a slightly older, subdued geisha, someone who lets her art speak for itself but still makes sure her wardrobe will not be forgotten.

Araiso hikizuri

Araiso hikizuri Araiso hikizuri

Araiso hikizuri

I treasure this piece, and it’s really one of the gems of my collection. I will never part with it.