Showa-ing Off

Sometimes it amazes me how small the online kimono enthusiast community can be. A while back I was browsing eBay and saw a bundle of some pieces I really liked for sale by a local seller. I reached out to them to ask if they’d be willing to offer local (but socially distanced!) pick-up and about an hour later I get a Facebook message from my friend Sasa, asking if the message was from me!  😆

One of the main reasons I wanted the bundle was this particular kimono; it reminds me very much of the first “big loss” I ever had on eBay, the first time I truly fell in love with a piece and was outbid in the last few seconds. It’s got a very distinct mid-late Showa era feel to it, the bold colours contrasting against a very soft background, the fantastical floral motifs that almost feel inspired by 60s psychedelia. I chose to pair it with this slightly older obi that echoes the teal-green foliage and has hints of a pale peachy pink that ties in to the kimono background.

I really love how well it all ties together. The obijime is an utterly perfect match for the kimono, and the red obiage provides just enough punch while echoing the bold red tones in the kimono designs. The soft kimono and bold obi contrast very well and the whole thing just feels very mid/late Showa era. I’m quite pleased!

Items used in this coordination

Tintype Vintage Feeling

I recently got this really pretty lace collar from a friend, and it has a wonderful sweet vintage style to it. I decided to build a whole outfit around it. I wanted to stick to the vintage feeling by using soft browns and muted colours, and natural motifs. I am also more than ready for autumn, and wanted to see if I could evoke that without shouting “ORANGE! RED! FOLIAGE!” from the metaphorical rooftops. I do think that I managed to grasp it, as well as emulate the look and feel of an old tintype photograph. All the browns and beiges work so well together.

The obi I bought as part of my final Ichiroya purchase ( 😥 ) was perfect – more matching than contrasting, which suits the soft and subtle aesthetic I was aiming for. In lieu of an obiage I used some beautiful creamy crocheted lace to echo the collar. My initial plan was also to add some at the cuffs, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough.

Despite being relatively busy, the obi felt like something was missing. The ivory phoenix obidome brings in more soft cream tones as well as more birds, and is the perfect finishing touch. Unfortunately this obidome has somehow escaped my cataloguing escapades so no close-up photo of it for now, but I will fix that later.

I am thrilled with how this outfit feels almost monochrome but not quite, with the unexpected accents of pale blue and an almost salmon pink shade popping up in both the obi and the kimono. They’re the sorts of details that only make themselves known up close, and one of the things I love about kimono.

Items used in this coordination

Big Bold Bamboo

My finger has healed enough for me to do kitsuke, and while I did say I was looking forward to coordinating my new shrimp obi, this big bold bamboo piece from Ichiroya was calling my name. It took me a while to find the right obi for it but this one feels perfect. It’s pale so it brings light and contrast to the outfit, but the reds and yellows tie them together nicely.

I went for more stripes with the haneri, and think it blends in well but still feels distinct. A few hits of pale blue and bold red in the obiage and obijime helped bring some more brightness into an otherwise very muted coordination. I also think this is probably the nicest tsunodashi musubi I’ve ever tied, but honestly that’s not saying much. For some reason it’s always given me difficulty! It definitely feels easier for me to tie using a hakata obi like this one, so now I want to try it again with another hakata obi soon.

Items used in this coordination

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

Z is for Zen, Zoge

Zen, , Buddhism
Zoge, 象牙, Ivory

Celebrating the last day of this challenge with a two-for-one. Zen, the Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasising the value of meditation and intuition, and Zoge, the Japanese word for Ivory.

Rather than dump more info on you, I thought I would just let this statue speak for itself. There’s a grounded beauty in its simplicity I could never hope to explain properly. This ivory Buddha belonged to my grandmother. Both my father and I grew up playing with it. The texture on his head is incredibly soothing, and I have strong tactile memories of running my fingers over it whenever I was allowed to take it off the shelf where it was displayed.

Please note, I absolutely don’t condone the sale, trade, or collection of ivory. This piece is from a time when people had different mentalities and knowledge about this sort of thing. It’s treasured by our family and we appreciate it for what it is, and have no intention of ever letting it go back on the market.