On the merits of shigoki obi

Shigoki obi are one of those items that really aren’t necessary by any means in a kimono wardrobe, but once you’ve gotten a couple you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. If you’re like me and are built like the offspring of the Jolly Green Giant, and you have a preference for older kimono, they are a godsend. They are a great way to hide a lack of ohashori, or one that is too short to sit properly and lie flat.

These long loose types are traditionally worn by young girls, but lately with the trend in Japan leaning towards the vintage, the funky, and encouraging women to find their own personal style in kimono, they are making a huge comeback. There is also a variation called the kakae-obi that is stiffer and solid, sort of like a wide ribbon, and typically worn by a bride on her wedding day. I really like the looks of these particular accessories, but I’ve never seen one worn simply as a stylistic element so I think for the time being I will avoid doing so.

Typically they are in the standard beni-bana orangey red that was traditional for accessories and undergarments, but more often now they are coming in combinations of fun patterns and colours. BikaBika recently posted some amazing scans from the newest edition of Kimono-hime and one outfit featured a girl wearing an adorable white-and-red candy-stripe shigoki. I would absolutely love one of these for myself.
Spring Coordination Page 2

So far I only have red ones, but they’re all slightly different shades of red and all have different fringes – two have red with gold, one has a slightly peach cast, one is just solid red. The first example is how they should be worn, the second example is using one as a substitute for the momi, the red cloth geisha wear under their obi.
Halloween 2010 Kitsuke Geiko-inspired kitsuke

If you’re building up a kimono wardrobe and looking for a way to inject a bit of fun and personality into your casual outfits, I’d really suggest investing in at least one or two shigoki obi!

Shabu-shabu with Ame and Mischie!

Tonight I met up with a few of the awesome girls from the Immortal Geisha forums for a warming dinner of shabu-shabu. It’s cold and damp and snowy and icy here, so I decided to wear my black, white, and red wool kimono and hike it up a bit with some boots. I figured it would be a great time to wear my new red-orange Tokaido obi, and had a bit of fun accessorizing with a sandy beige and red keffiyeh (shemagh).

Shabu Shabu

Ame went along the same lines and wore an adorable black wool ensemble, but mischie was very brave and wore a gorgeous black silk houmongi with ume. It was entirely accidental, but we were all wearing black, white, and red outfits!

Shabu Shabu Shabu Shabu
Shabu Shabu

The food was delicious. We went to Kagayaki Shabu-Shabu in Montreal’s Chinatown. It was warming and flavourful and perfect for the weather.

Shabu Shabu
Shabu Shabu

After we finished dinner, we went to a fancy hotel nearby to take photos over their gorgeous koi pond and to relax and have a drink. As usual, I could not resist being a giant ham. Look! Fishies!
Shabu Shabu

Ame with her Pink Lady
Shabu Shabu

Mischie with a cappucino (in a super pretty cup!)
Shabu Shabu

And me being a jackass with a Bloody Cesar. Hey baby, come here often?
Shabu Shabu

I had a great time, and can’t wait to have another kimono meetup. Maybe not until it warms up a little though!

Red Tokaido Nagoya

If you’re anything of a regular reader, you’ll know of my fondness for items with the 53 Stations of the Tokaido motif. I also love the colour red. So when I saw this online, I clearly had to go for it!

I like it because it’s simple and vibrant, and also has two stations I did not have yet on obi. I had Nihonbashi on a fan, but I like having them on wearable pieces better. I also find it interesting that the other station, Kanagawa, is from Aritaya, one of the “other” editions of the prints (the standard one used for this sort of thing being the Hoeido edition).

Red Tokaido hakata obi

Start point, Nihonbashi Bridge
Red Tokaido hakata obi

Station 4, Kanagawa (Aritaya edition)
Red Tokaido hakata obi



Geisha-inspired Meta-kimono outfit

I was so smitten with the kimono that arrived yesterday that I decided to put it on today, despite not having anywhere to go. Sometimes it’s nice to wear kimono just for the sake of wearing kimono – especially delicate vintage pieces.

There’s still a bit of ambiguity about what this piece actually is, but the general consensus on the Immortal Geisha forums is that it’s likely a vintage hikizuri. Because of that, I decided to go with a geisha-inspired outfit. Not a full on costume, but proper kimono with a bit of “flair”, if you will. I paired the kimono up with a red juban, a black and white hakata obi, and used a red shigoki obi in lieu of a momi (the red cloth geisha wear wrapped around their torso under the obi). I am really pleased with how this pulled together, and took far more photos than I usually do. Sorry about that!

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Because of the formality, the styling choices, and the age of the kimono, this is not an outfit I’d feel particularly comfortable wearing out of the house, but I think it turned out well and I felt very pretty in it.

Hey, hey, wait a minute, Mister Postman!

Sometimes, I suspect the mail carriers in this area really dislike me. I’m constantly getting big packages. Today, I really surpassed myself with three separate deliveries! One, a book called When Art Became Fashion: Kosode in Edo-Period Japan, arrived in the regular post and I will be writing a review of it when I have time to read it properly. First impressions are very positive though.

The other packages were larger, and more unwieldy, and the mail carrier was kind enough to leave them with my neighbours since I was at the cardiologist. Getting home was like having an unexpected birthday, or Christmas come early! So much pretty stuff! Since there are so many things included here, I have used smaller-than-usual photographs. Please click on them to view big versions, they will open in a new window.

Black zori with red chirimen accents

One of the few things I actually truly needed was another pair of casual, comfortable zori. Nearly all the footwear I owned prior to this was very dressy, all in shiny metallic vinyl or silk brocade. These fit nicely and I absolutely love the colour combo and the little chirimen silk insert in the stacked heel. They were a total bargain at $10!

Grey purse with kiku and black trim

This purse, and the one below it, were being sold by one of the sellers I regularly buy kimono from. They’re modern, and made of heavy denim-like cotton, but the designs are definitely kimono-inspired. This one in particular I can definitely see using every day. I love the contrast of the soft, girly fabric and the hard leatherette and metal details.

Red purse with ume and cream trim

This purse was bought at the same time as the previous one. It’s much bigger than I anticipated (I suspect the measurements listed were off), but definitely no complaints there! It’s fun and bright and while I don’t anticipate using it every day, it will definitely be a way to add a splash of colour and personality to a quiet outfit, either kimono or western clothing.

Now comes the find of the month, a bundle of five vintage obi for a total of twelve dollars (plus S&H). They were listed as “scrap fabric,” but as you’ll see four of them are completely wearable as-is, and the fifth one I am going to attempt to salvage and turn into a two-part easy obi.

Vintage cream nagoya obi with fans, thread spindles, and flowers

This is the main reason I bid on the bundle in the first place. I am just head over heels in love with this obi. The colours and style of yuzen make me suspect it’s late Taisho or early Showa, and even if it’s not it still evokes the feel nicely. I plan to wear it with my indigo Taisho houmongi sometime soon.

Mustard obi with flowers

I openly admit I am not very fond of the base colour of this obi, it’s a sort of a strange gold/mustard, but the woven flowers are very pretty and versatile, so I’m sure I will find a good use for it.

Cream obi with orange and silver waves

I’ve wanted something with a smooth wave motif for a while now, and this more than satisfies my urge. It’s vibrant and graphic and I like it very much.

White obi with red and gold flowers

The auction photos really didn’t do this one justice. It looked like a cute but relatively boring obi with some gold weaving and round dots. In person, both the gold and the red have such a rich silky shimmer to them that they look like rubies set in gold filigree.

Blue obi with herons

This was dubbed the Narwhal Bird Obi by my friend Kansai_Gal and I can totally see why XD. Unfortunately, it’s also the obi that is severely damaged – the silk is shredded to ribbons right above the folded area where the main heron is. Hopefully, I will be able to carefully cut it and sew it into a two-part obi. I will record my attempts and write an entry about that sometime in the near future. If worse comes to worst, I will simply turn it into haneri and possibly an obiage. The fabric will get used, one way or another.