Lavender Formal

Today’s entry is something a little more straightforward, formal, and traditional than I’ve done lately. I got this beautiful two-sided obi from Sasa. It’s white with gorgeous silver floral round designs with tiny lavender accents. The other side is a very pale lilac with an asanoha texture. I’m honestly not sure what to quantify it as, but since this side feels like a formal fukuro obi I thought it would work well with my kurotomesode with lavender and peach tones.

I tried to keep the kitsuke “correct” and traditional here; white-based formal obi, white haneri, gold and white obijime. However, being me, I did deviate a tiny bit by going with a peach obiage which is a spot-on perfect match for the ume flowers on the kimono. The obi is also incredibly easy to tie, which is always a good thing. I made one of the neatest and tidiest nijuudaiko musubi I’ve ever done, I think! I’m very much looking forward to coordinating this obi with other kimono, and maybe featuring the opposite, more casual side sometime soon.

Thankfully my life has calmed down a bit and some personal behind-the-scenes stuff that was causing me anxiety has been sorted out, so I can finally live up to the promise I keep making to be more active here. I’ve also got Patreon back up and running. While the blog will always be totally free, there are little perks you can get for helping support this passion of mine and enable me to keep sharing pictures, references, and information with you all. This hobby is not a cheap one!

Items used in this coordination

(The detail photo of the obi above is terrible, and will be replaced with a decent one as soon as I can set up my backdrop and stuff properly again!)

Thank you, Ichiroya!

If you’re active in the kimono communities online, odds are high that you’ve already heard the devastating news that Ichiroya, one of the oldest and most well-established online kimono stores, is closing. I’ve spoken about them at length here on this blog, even devoting an entire entry on how wonderful they are and how to use their services. Everyone there is so kind and helpful, and they’ve always been the first place I suggest when people want to dip their toes into buying vintage kimono online. While I am very sad,t this feels like the end of an era, I wish the owners all the best for their upcoming retirement!

I also used this as an opportunity to treat myself to some items I’d been watching for a while. One of the pieces I splurged on was this beautiful vintage houmongi with genjiko motif on an utterly lush purple background. When it arrived, I realised that an obi I’d bought from Ichiroya quite some time ago was the perfect complement to the pink and green accents of the kimono, and it all fell into place.

I wanted the kimono (and to a lesser extent, the obi) to shine so I went with subtle brown and beige accessories that tied into the kimono motif without drawing attention to themselves. I can’t remember where most of the accessories came from, they’re not from Ichiroya, but they worked very well with the outfit. I love how the brown obiage almost looks like shiny gold due to the gradations on it. I hope I did these pieces justice, as I wanted to honour and thank Ichiroya for twenty years of amazing service.

I bought one other kimono and two gorgeous obi at the same time as this one, so be prepared for lots of new stuff soon!

Items used in this coordination

Sea Day by Emi Nishizuka – Life Imitating Art

Before we get to the entry today, I have to speak out on what's happening in the United States (and really, around the world) right now. I've always aimed to keep this blog positive and apolitical, but it's reached a point where saying nothing is complicit with the racists. Black lives matter. Here in Canada we also need to acknowledge that Indigenous lives matter. As a white person, I need to use my voice to amplify and uplift the voices that are being silenced at a terrifying rate. Things need to change. The police need to stop killing black people indiscriminately for perceived offences while privileged white folk walk free after documented atrocities. If you're at a loss for ways to help and can't attend rallies or protests, please visit Black Lives Matter for information and resources, and consider donating to the NAACP or the ACLU. Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you feel the need to argue this, tell me it was unnecessary, or tell me that "all lives matter", please unsubscribe and unfollow.

Way back before the flood in my room, COVID-19, and my life (and the whole world, really) going sideways, I found this beautiful little drawing entitled 海の日, Umi no Hi, or Sea Day by Emi Nishizuka and realised I had quite similar pieces, especially my beloved octopus obi. Right away I knew I wanted to try to do the first entry in a new featurette here on the blog, where I plan to reproduce kimono ensembles from artwork. Now that I’m back into the swing of things, I figured it was time for me to give it a shot.

The pieces aren’t exact; the water on the kimono is from a different perspective and less saturated, the obi is purple instead of black, but as a whole I think I did a good job of emulating the mood and feel of the coordination quite well. Also, I’d somehow never noticed before but this kimono is a five-crested houmongi. All my other houmongi are either uncrested or have only one crest. I wonder what sort of event it was intended for.

Doing this coord was a lot of fun, and I look forward to doing more of them. I won’t make any promises or stick to time frames, because I know that’s a surefire way to turn me off from something, but keep an eye out for more of these in the future!

One final note; I have officially lost my job for good. I worked at the same small specialised toy store for almost thirteen years, but unfortunately it has become a casualty of the economy and the coronavirus shut-down and will not be reopening. So for the time being, you will be seeing a lot of older, familiar pieces being reused in new and hopefully interesting ways. My budget is a little tighter than usual so I can’t run around buying new pieces.

Y is for Yabane

Yabane, 矢羽, Arrow fletching

Yabane (also yagasuri for the small, tightly-repeating variation) and hakata; two of my favourite things together! I love all depictions of yabane, but particularly these big, semi-random depictions that were so beloved in the Taisho and early Showa eras really get to me. I’ve loved this kimono ever since I first bought it back in Boulder, Colorado. It’s an odd fabric, it feels like a mix of silk and cotton. It’s very light and breezy, despite being lined, and is smoother than cotton but has a lovely grip that makes it a pleasure to put on. However, I still can’t believe I ever wore this comfortably though. It’s so tiny!

I’m glad I had an opportunity to use this dusty rose-pink hakata nagoya obi. It’s really subdued but the texture of it makes it feel so lush. I couldn’t resist using my spider haneri which is a near-perfect match to the obi. Also, you guys, I’m so proud of myself. I did an ensemble with yellow accents and didn’t use that lemon-yellow shibori obiage and hakata obijime I use all the time. Will wonders never cease? I did use a yellow obiage, but a much more subdued one. The obijime was a better choice in theory than in practice I think, but it’s not terrible. I just know I can do better next time. XD

Items used in this coordination

X is for X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot
Expression regarding the target on maps

Whoof, this was a challenge. Not only are there no Japanese words starting with X, there aren’t really many in English either! I certainly don’t have any items with a xylophone or a xerox machine… My friend suggested “x-rated” and I did debate doing a post on erotic woodblock prints for a hot minute, but I’d rather keep this blog family-friendly!

So what was I to do? I racked my brain until I remembered this kimono I have with a vaguely x-shaped meisen design. It’s lovely, and I don’t use it nearly often enough in coordinations, so I figured what better time to feature it than today’s post?

I kept the rest of the outfit fairly simple and desaturated. The obi is pale enough that it contrasts nicely against the kimono but is definitely not the focal point. All the attention stays on the kimono. I pulled out accessories in soft tones from the obi to keep things subdued. Today’s outfit might be a bit of a stretch, but I think I pulled it off in the end. I’m happy with how it looks, even if it does only barely relate to the challenge.

Items used in this coordination