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 😉

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A Prayer for the Amazon

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Amazon is burning. This is an unprecedented tragedy of incomprehensible proportions. Indigenous peoples and native animal species are dying, and what is essentially the lungs of our planet is shrinking dramatically every day.

I know it doesn’t make a lick of difference, but kitsuke makes me feel better in overwhelming times like this. I’ve done it when people I’ve admired have passed away, and I did it when Notre Dame burnt and that didn’t have nearly the global significance these fires are having.

Green would have been the obvious choice, and my initial instinct; but then I thought of the lush, gorgeous foliage on my basho-leaf houmongi. I went with more bright pinks and then a green-leaning turquoise because it feels joyous and hopeful, something we all desperately need right now.

If, like me, you’re feeling scared and helpless and looking for a way to help, I urge you to consider donating to one of the charities working on the ground in the Amazon. After some research and checking with the Charity Navigator, I feel comfortable suggesting any of the following groups. If you know of any other reliable charities, or have information that these may not be ideal to donate to, please leave a comment.

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A Questionable Success

Sometimes being really obstinately determined to accomplish something is the worst way to go about it. I’d been wanting to do something with the flowers from the trees in the park near my house since the forsythia started blooming about a week ago. However, the timing just never seemed to work out.

Last night, I was insistent. I’m still not feeling great and I’d had a long, painful, irritating day at work, but still I was convinced that stopping in the park and getting some branches was absolutely necessary. The forsythia are just beyond their prime and the crab-apples are about to burst open, so it was really the last time I’d be able to pick both of them and have them be workable at the same time.

As you can see though, I was not in the right state (either physically or emotionally) to try to do a decent arrangement. The branches fought me every step of the way and rather than pull back and take a moment to rethink my concept, I just pushed forward and made the best of a less-than-ideal situation. Not the best mindset to do ikebana in, really.

In the end I got an arrangement that feels balanced, at least, and I don’t hate it. But it certainly doesn’t feel as harmonious as it should, and I think honestly I’d have been better off just waiting it out and focusing on some other type of flowers when I was feeling better. Let this be a lesson to you all; sometimes pushing forward and forcing yourself is good but sometimes it’s the world’s way of telling you to take a break.

Taisho Turquoise, Take Two

How’s that for some terrible alliteration? I know the last coordination I posted was with this kimono, but I just love it so much I couldn’t bear to take it off the mannequin yet. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I also had plans for a more subtle coordination with it, and since I’m feeling a little under the weather (this allergy season has been horrendous) simply changing up the accessories rather than re-dressing her from the ground up seemed like a good idea for today.

While the first outfit I did focused on bright contrast, this one is much more soft and harmonious. The white and silver obi echoes the white parts on the hem of the kimono, and I got to use the pink and turquoise obijime that matches so perfectly. Isn’t it interesting how changing up the obi and accessories can give such a drastically different mood to the same kimono?

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Let’s Celebrate the New Era of Reiwa!

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new era in Japan. Emperor Akihito abidcated the throne at the end of April, paving the way for his son Naruhito to ascend to the throne. This ushered in the end of the Heisei era and the beginning of the Reiwa era. There will be a week of celebrations of all sorts, but when I saw that they had announced a special colour palette for the event, I knew I had to do a coordination to celebrate. The three celebratory colours are ume (plum), sumire (violet), and sakura (pink).  They  were  chosen  because  they  are  all  traditional  spring  flowers,  and  also because  they  are  mentioned  in  the  Manyoshu,  Japan’s  oldest  recorded  poetry  that  served  as  inspiration  for  the  new era’s  name.

I knew right away that my beloved peony furisode would be absolutely perfect for this outfit, since it features all three colours already. A white-based obi with delicate pink accents gave the outfit a bit of visual rest, since the kimono itself is quite busy and bold. I chose more pink and purple accessories to reinforce the theme and went with a classically feminine but modern styling.

To me, this outfit is the perfect way to usher in what will hopefully be a new era of peace, cooperation, equality, and prosperity for Japan.

Items used in this coordination