U is for Ume

Ume, 梅, Plum

Another of Japan’s more iconic flowers, ume or plum blossom can be found on nearly as many things as sakura nowadays. While their blooming season is not as celebrated, they’re an icon of the new year (since they bloom in winter), and a common motif for luck and prosperity. They’re one third of the “three friends of winter” or sho-chiku-bai, the other two being pine and bamboo. This combination can quite often be found on formal celebratory kimono such as wedding kakeshita or kuro-tomesode.

Visually they’re quite similar to sakura; five-petalled blossoms directly on wooden branches, with little to no foliage. There’s one obvious difference that allows for easy identification though, where sakura petals have that tell-tale notch in the tip, ume petals are very round. In more stylised representations they may even be depicted as full circles.

Ume is primarily a late winter motif, However, much like sakura, ume has become such a common and popular flower that it shows up on items for all seasons nowadays. It’s often used in the summer on things like yukata to evoke a feeling of coolness.

All the photos in this entry come directly from my collection. You are welcome to use them for personal projects and reference, but not for anything commercial. If you’re uncertain, feel free to contact me.

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

Fudangi First Friday – Flirty Florals

I’ve been pretty terrible at keeping up with my Fudangi First Friday project, but since this is the last one of the year I figured I had to make an effort! This gorgeous raspberry red hakata obi is one I got from Kimono Yuki back during the summer and hadn’t gotten around to coordinating yet. I love how rich the colour is, and it’s also super long, I can’t wait to wear it myself!

The obi is one of those strange colours that’s super bold and vivid but still manages to fall into the neutral category, at least when it comes to kimono. So I knew I could pair it up with almost anything. I haven’t done much with this multi-season komon recently but thought it could work and make a sort of sweet, feminine outfit that still felt a little mature due to the black base and richer tone of the obi.

I’d also never gotten the opportunity to use this adorable owl haneri. It matched some of the pinks in the kimono so perfectly, I’m very glad I thought of it. The finishing touch was a peach and white obijime that again ties in to some of the accent colours on the kimono. It was feeling a little drab against the obi, somehow, so I thought tying it in a cute bow would help balance things out a little better.

As much as I’ve loved doing the Fudangi First Friday project (and the MonoKimono challenge), I’m pretty sure that in 2019 I’m not going to commit to any challenge or project where I have to do something at a fixed and repeated time. I’ve just got too much going on. I hate feeling like I’ve failed and I don’t need that sort of stress going forward.

Today’s post was apparently brought to you by the letter F.

Items used in this coordination

 

Obi Bundle part II – Chuuya and Tsuke Obi

Continuing my deconstruction of that huge obi bundle. I was initially planning on doing a separate entry for each type of obi, but since there were only two chuuya obi and two tsuke-obi, I figured I would put them in one entry in the interest of efficiency and expedience.

Black bingata tsuke-obi with cranes

Or, as I like to call it, the roast-chicken obi. Something about the shape of the birds in flight reminds me of a trussed-up cooked chicken. I absolutely love the design of this one though, despite not usually being fond of cranes. The construction is a bit odd for a tsuke, it’s all one piece. I’ve yet to figure out how to put it on and have it look perfect, but I’m working on it!

Black tsuke with ume and momiji

I’m so glad the other ladies let me have this one – I’m really in need of more cute, versatile tsuke obi for days when my health is not great and I don’t have the energy to tie them myself. I think this one is incredibly charming.

Green multi-technique chuuya
Obi Bundle Part IIObi Bundle Part II

I’m not entirely sure how to describe this, aside from gorgeous. It’s rich, slightly dusty colours, lots of different techniques , and the silk is incredibly soft and buttery. It’s a typical chuuya with black on the opposite side, and the black silk is rotted beyond salvation, but I’ve replaced the silk on other ones before, and it’s not difficult.

Grape chuuya
Obi Bundle Part II
Obi Bundle Part IIObi Bundle Part II
So called because one side is purple and the other has grapes. How could I not? This is so gorgeous, the grape-and-trellis side is sort of a rough blend, and the wave side is a rough cotton or hemp. It’s quite casual, but so unique. I can’t wait to find the right kimono for it.

Beautiful handmade kanzashi

I received these two gorgeous handmade hair accessories, or kanzashi, from Kornelia and I really encourage you to visit her Etsy shop.

Card Suits Hairband
As I’ve said many times before, I am a sucker for card suit motifs. I cannot wait to wear this with my card suit geta, spade obidome and a haneri I haven’t shown off yet. This is adorable, and I have to say I have never seen card suit motifs done using this method before. It’s so charming! I also really love that it’s on a hairband, so I can wear it no matter how short my hair might be.

Cards Kanzashi Hairband

Cards Kanzashi Hairband

Pastel pink ume clip

This is a much more traditional-looking kanzashi, but I don’t find it any less beautiful or charming. It’s such a delicate colour, but it’s a nice substantial size, so it doesn’t feel too twee or childish for someone of my age and height. The alligator clip needs a little more hair to grip than I currently have, but I’ll be growing it out a little bit again for the fall so I’ll be able to wear it during the winter, when it’s in season.
Pink Ume Kanzashi

Pink Ume Kanzashi