Orizuru Nagoya Obi

I actually received this on Monday but was hesitant to post it, not wanting to seem callous. I’ve permanently added the list of donation resources to the top of the page, and I also realized that one of the healthiest things for people to do, especially people like myself who are panicking needlessly, is to try to live a normal life. Furthermore, the motif of this particular piece seemed exceptionally timely. Paper cranes are often viewed as symbols of good luck and hope, and in Japan there is a tradition known as Senbazuru, or A Thousand Paper Cranes. The belief is that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will have a wish granted to them. They are often made to encourage long and happy weddings, or given to people suffering from illnesses and hoping for a cure. I cannot think of a more fitting motif to add to my collection right now.

I’ve wanted something with orizuru (which is the name for paper cranes, ori– folding, and tsuru– crane) for a very long time, and actually bid on an obi exactly like this a while back, but it skyrocketed out of my budget. When I saw another one come up for auction again I kept an eye on it but didn’t get my hopes up. However, the seller who’d put it up has been having some techincal/communication problems and I guess people were hesitant to bid, because I picked it up for a song.

It’s so nice in person, for synthetic it’s really thick and soft, not slippery like a lot of modern obi can be, and the areas with the cranes are edged in a thin line of gold thread, which really makes them pop.

Orizuru Nagoya Obi

Orizuru Nagoya Obi

Grey poppy houmongi

Yesterday was quite an exciting mail day! On top of the obi I posted about, I received a couple of books I’d been waiting for and this beauty. The obi yesterday was so special and so heartwarming that I wanted to make sure it had its own entry, so here’s the other item I received!

Since I started collecting kimono, one of the things on my life’s want list has been a kimono with poppies on it. They’re not a particularly common motif, so it’s been a long and arduous hunt. I wanted poppies for several reasons. Firstly, my mother’s name is Poppy (okay, it’s technically Καλλιόπη but she goes by Poppy now for obvious reasons). Secondly, as a Canadian with family members who have served in the military for generations, the significance of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance is very important to me.

When I finally found this particular piece, I decided I would fight for it. Thankfully, due to a few hidden spots and a seller who a few people are having problems with lately, it didn’t go for as much as I was anticipating, which was nice. It’s a gorgeous dove-grey chirimen with really unique, vaguely psychedelic poppies. There’s also some strange batik/bokashi hybrid designs on the background, I’ve never seen anything like them. At first it looked like dirt and stains, but on closer inspection they’re definitely intentional.

Poppy houmongi

The flowers themselves have a very unique and sort of funky style, but are definitely and absolutely poppies – the seed pods and leaves are a dead giveaway.
Poppy houmongi

Poppy houmongi

Poppy houmongi

Another awsome thing about this kimono is that it’s signed. There’s a signature on the inside okumi panel that would be hidden when worn, but it makes it a little more special to me.
Poppy houmongi

There will be kitsuke photos of this particular piece soon, but I won’t be wearing it 😉

Kasuri wool komon and haori set

A few months back, Amelie wore this set when we went out for shabu-shabu and I commented on how much I loved it and how I’d been wanting one of these matched sets for a while, but never found one that would fit me. Because Amelie is a total sweetheart and a very generous person, she offered the set to me as a late birthday/Christmas present. I couldn’t say no!

I love wool kimono for their versatility, ease of wear, and comfort. They’re wool so they can be nice and warm, but they’re unlined and relatively breezy so they’re comfortable in warmer months too. They’re also typically woven with bold geometric motifs, so they’re seasonless. They’re a great casual addition to any kimono wardrobe.

This one also appeals to my inner ex-goth (if you’re curious to see how I dressed when going out when I was younger, click here or here) due to the black and red colour scheme. What can I say, I’m easily amused.

Kimono and haori together
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Kimono alone
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Haori alone
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Fabric detail
Matched wool kimono & haori set

Not only is it adorable, it’s also more than big enough for me, which really shocked me considering how tiny Amelie is XD. I can’t wait to wear it!

Have a Very Hime New Year!

Right before Christmas, my sweet mother tried to help save my sanity at work by finding scans of a few volumes of Kimono-Hime and sending them to me to read. Clearly, this was a horrible mistake. When I got the adorable lobster tsuke-obi mentioned in the previous entry, I decided I’d do a really non-standard coordination inspired by the Kimono-Hime magazines. I decided to have some fun with layering, and rather than use a juban, I used my yabane komon and arranged it to be visible at the hem and sleeves as well as the collar. I hiked my hems up and used some of my favourite pumps and silver-and-black striped knee socks. While I certainly wouldn’t wear this outfit in any “normal” context, I’m actually really happy with how it came together. It feels more like a dress than kimono, and I sort of love that!

Kimono-hime inspired outfit with lobster obi Kimono-hime inspired outfit with lobster obi Kimono-hime inspired outfit with lobster obi

Kimono-hime inspired outfit with lobster obi

Kimono-hime inspired outfit with lobster obi

My mom also got me this gorgeous hand-blown glass lobster, and I couldn’t resist posing with it. Of course, Vinnie had to get in on the action too.
Kimono-hime inspired outfit with lobster obi

Kimono-hime inspired outfit with lobster obi

I went a little overboard with the photos for this one, and rather than make this too image-heavy, if you want to see the rest please check my Flickr :)i

Tsuke-obi – cheat or genius?

Sorry for the lack of updates! Sometime between Christmas and Boxing day I received the heartwarming and thoughtful gift of gastroenteritis. I’m starting to feel better, but still don’t have a lot of energy for kitsuke. Since I’ve acquired a few new ones lately, I thought it would be a good time to discuss tsuke-obi, or pre-tied obi.

There are a few camps when it comes to tsuke-obi. Some people are staunchly against them in any situation, some people have to rely on them because they’re not confident enough yet, and some, like myself, think that well-made ones have their place in any decent kimono wardrobe. They’re a godsend when you’re not feeling well and don’t have the energy to deal with an obi, or if you need to dress a bunch of people in a hurry. They’re useful for fancy furisode musubi that would otherwise require two people to tie. They’re also great for dressing people who don’t have a lot of experience wearing kimono, since they don’t need to be tied as tightly as a “real” obi would be.

Some of them definitely look cheap and are obviously pre-tied. The brightly coloured polyester types with a large butterfly bow that often come with yukata sets are a prime example of these. Except in the direst of situations, I’d never recommend going out and getting one of those, because nothing says “I can’t be bothered!” more than one. Especially if worn with anything dressier than a yukata! However, there are definitely nicer examples. Often times they’re made with solid old obi that have been damaged, or were owned and loved by someone who may have gotten too old to tie her obi efficiently. Some of them are also mass-manufactured, but in a way as to look more like “real” obi. They come in several different musubi, or bows, such as otaiko, niijudaiko, and some larger and more elaborate ones for furisode. Often times, once these are tied on properly and an obiage and obijime added, it’s virtually impossible to tell they are pre-tied. I’ve got a few of them, and two of them are probably some of my favourite obi in my collection.

Pente Lobster obi
Pente Lobster Tsuke-obi
Pente Lobster Tsuke-obi

This is such a stunning piece. I found it on eBay right before the holidays and my folks encouraged me to go ahead and get it and it would be a gift from them. I’m so thrilled. I’ve mentioned my fondness for lobster motif before, and this is not my first lobster obi, but it felt different enough from the one I had that I felt fully justified in buying it.

Pente is an interesting and relatively uncommon technique – it’s a thin layer of paint daubed onto the surface of usually solid black silk. It was popular after WWII when there were a lot of damaged pieces floating about and people generally didn’t have huge budgets for fancy embroidery techniques or high-end dye methods. It was also used to re-work mofuku (funerary wear) into something more useful for everyday, stretching the wardrobe budget further. Unfortunately, due to the nature of most paint, it’s incredibly fragile. It sits on the surface of the garment rather than sinking in, and decades of tugging and pulling on the obi while it’s being tied leaves most vintage pente obi in states of disrepair, paint flaking off or peeling in huge chunks. Because of this I generally avoid anything pente, but because this was a tsuke-obi there was virtually no stress on the paint and it’s in flawless condition.

One of the other interesting and relatively unique things about this particular obi is the way it’s tied. Like most pre-tied obi, it’s in a standard otaiko musubi, but unlike more mass-market ones, it’s tied on a quirky, jaunty angle. This really helps make it look like a “real” obi, and definitely gives it a lot more personality than a perfectly level one.

Black and white hakata obi
hakata
hakata-2
I make no secret of my ridiculous love affair with all things hakata, but somehow I’d never managed to acquire a standard black and white weave. When I found this one I fully expected it to go for more than I was willing to spend, but I figured I’d throw out a bid and see what happened. Imagine my shock when nobody else bid! This is another variation of an easy obi, it’s not really pre-tied, just separated into a narrow waist bit and a wider bit to tie the actual drum with. It requires a bit more time and effort than a fully tied one, but also allows for more leeway in tying.

Cream tsuke-obi with navy, ruby, and silver foliage
White Tsuke-Obi
This is the first tsuke-obi I purchased, and was really the one that made me a convert. It’s a heavy almost silk blend that almost feels like parchment or canvas. The majority of the vines and leaves are dyed, but the red and silver ones, and a small selection of the navy ones, are embroidered over top, which adds a depth you don’t usually see in mass-market pre-tied obi.

Red synthetic with black flocked irises
Red Tsuke-Obi
This one is a synthetic, washable faux-tsumugi in a bright fire-engine red. It also has the strangest inflatable obi-makura (obi-pillow) sewn into it. I bought it mainly because of the flocking, which I loved, but it’s become a mainstay for a quick hit of colour.