Art Gallery – Takarazukushi Motif

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Happy March! Spring finally feels like it’s within reach after this miserable winter. Something about the change in the air has got my creative juices flowing. I got the idea for this pattern while stuck at work earlier this week and spent my day off getting it out of my system. I was inspired by the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram motif in both the traditional brown colourway and the neon colours, combined with simplistic kamon-based representations of Takarazukushi (宝尽くし, mixed treasures).

Typically the combined motif has seven of these treasures, and which seven varies from representation to representation, but I couldn’t decide which ones I like best so I drew them all. It was a challenge, but a fun one. They are:

  • nyoihōju (jewel of one’s wishes)
  • kakuremino (cloak of invisibility)
  • kakuregasa (hat of invisibility)
  • chōji (clove)
  • uchide no kodzuchi (fortune-bringing small mallet)
  • hōyaku (treasure key)
  • kinnō (money bag)
  • makimono (scrolls)
  • fundō (counterweight)
  • gunhai (war fan)
  • shippō (seven precious gems)

See if you can figure out which one is which! The three triangles that look like the Triforce from Legend of Zelda is uroko (鱗 fish scales motif), often paired with takara. I wanted something a little simpler and more neutral for the smaller repeat, and think this worked out great.

Feel free to download these patterns and use them as wallpapers (right-click and “Open as new window” to get the large version), phone lock screens, or whatever other personal use tickles your fancy. They’re seamless so they’ll repeat very smoothly. Just please don’t use them on things you plan to sell.

These patterns are available on all sorts of cool products over in my Society6 shop, along with prints of some of my other kimono-adjacent artwork. Please do check them out, it helps the blog out enormously when people buy things from there!

Soft and Feminine

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Today is going much smoother than yesterday did, so I thought I would attempt the soft, girly coordination I had in mind for Hina-matsuri. I chose this beautiful pink takara houmongi that my good friend (and Naomi’s charming husband!) Arian bought for me ages ago. It’s one of the softest, most demure kimono I own and it felt right for this outfit.

As much fun as I have been having lately with hime-style and non-traditional kitsuke, I was in the mood to make a very “normal” outfit this time, so I pulled out coordinating pastel accessories and this lovely but painfully soft gold fukuro obi. I attempted a tsunodashi musubi, but it’s so floppy it looks a little deflated, unfortunately. Overall though, I very much achieved the aesthetic I wanted!

Items used in this coordination

Birthday dinner at Sakura

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My birthday is on this coming Tuesday, but I hate having long, relaxing dinners (especially ones with alcohol involved) during the work-week, so I invited a few friends and my folks to come dinner at a restaurant I’d been wanting to try, Sakura on de la Montagne. I read that the waitresses and staff wore kimono, so I figured I would not stand out too much if I wore one too. What I was not anticipating is that the entire restaurant staff would be Japanese and dressed in simple komon and relatively informal obi. Enter one gigantic white person in a rather dressy kimono and even dressier obi, and hilarity ensues.

I chose to wear an outfit comprised of nothing but gifts, and I still cannot believe how perfectly everything worked out. I paired the pink Takara houmongi from Arian with the Stations of the Tokaido obi from Suara, and finished it off with a beautiful haneri from Naomi and obiage and obijime from my dear friend Jeff. Even the shawl was a gift – my grandmother crocheted it.

The restaurant was absolutely lovely. The decor was decidedly Japanese and we sat in a tatami room, but it was subtle and tasteful – not a cheesy theme restaurant, which unfortunately are the norm around here. The owner, Ishii Noriko-san, was incredibly kind and fussed over my outfit repeatedly. She’s offered to contact a Japanese tutor for me, and insisted I come back again in kimono. The food was delicious and the wait staff were all very kind. They allowed me to order off the “other” menu – the one intended for the Japanese clientele, and I had unadon. They also found out the dinner was for my birthday, and brought the table some delicious green tea ice cream (mine had a sparkler in it!) as well as a special box of yokan for me. I was incredibly touched.

My mother took a photo of Noriko-san and I. Doesn’t she look stylish? I loved her obi so much! This photo also does a great job of illustrating why clothing made for the average Japanese woman is so difficult for me to wear.

Uchikake in the front receiving room

Delicious courses of dinner – shrimp gyoza, salad, sushi, dessert.

Delicious unadon. This wasn’t on the regular menu, I had to special-order it from the “Japanese people” menu XD. I love me some grilled eel. Next time though, I think I will try the katsudon!

I was incredibly surprised and touched when Noriko-san came in with my special birthday yokan.

I also received some incredibly sweet gifts, Andy got me a DVD of a spy series I know he is very fond of, The Sandbaggers, and Leslie gave me two beautiful antique woodblock prints by Kunisada that she purchased in Japan quite a while ago. I was so touched. The whole evening was wonderful.

Pink Takara Houmongi

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I’m not generally attracted to pink kimono, or kimono with lots of small scattered designs. And yet somehow, this thing captivated me from the moment I saw it. The first time it was listed I forgot to bid and kicked myself repeatedly for missing out on it. I guess nobody else bid either, because a few days later it was listed again at an even lower price. I couldn’t believe my luck. I bid on it immediately so I wouldn’t forget, and hoped nobody else would bid either.

The end of the auction was coming up but I had to get to bed, so I asked Naomi‘s husband Arian to keep an eye on it for me. He decided to do so by outbidding me by 50 cents. He’s quite a goof sometimes, but a very sweet goof. In any case, I’m very grateful, because it’s absolutely gorgeous.

It’s a delicate soft salmon pink with white bokashi (fade-dyeing) around the shoulder and hem. Within the white areas, there are tiny Takara or Lucky Treasures motifs.

Takara-zukushi is a pattern of assembled “takara”, or treasures, which reflect what Japanese people consider valuable.
Needless to say, “takara” comprises of sacks of gold and magical mallets of luck. Buddhist scriptures which can give you knowledge and wisdom is a major treasure too. Counterweights are also “takara” although it may sound odd to you, because they are used as a balance when valuables are weighed. As for the rest of the treasures, “choji” (an herbal medicinal ingredient), “mino” (straw raincoat) and “kasa” (wattle hat) all symbolize something to protect oneself with against calamities and are therefore also considered “takara”.
The sense of “takara” varies by era and locality. Sometimes it comprises of locks, keys, and even ritual articles.

Trying to identify each treasure in a Takara-zukushi pattern is just like opening a jewelry box. In the mood for a treasure hunt? How about looking for interesting and unique treasures on kimonos or obis with the Takara-zukushi pattern!!

Explanation courtesy of Yamatoku.

I am hoping to be able to wear it on my birthday, and I’m going to aim for a very soft, girly, Kimono Salon-style coordination, pairing it up with the beautiful Tokaido obi I received as a gift recently.