Lovely and Soothing

I’ve been feeling incredibly uninspired lately. Mental health, physical health, the state of the universe in general, they all weigh heavy on us right now, don’t they? In an attempt to get myself out of a rut I decided I would just reach blindly into my “tansu” (revamped armoire, really) and build an outfit around it.

I’m so glad I did, because I cannot get over how well these two pieces go together. They’re both the same lovely, dusty, desaturated palette and the flowers complement each other so well. I can’t believe I’ve never thought to pair these up before! I should do this impromptu coordination thing more often.

As much as I love the really bold and vivid pieces that came out of the Taisho era, there’s something to be said about these delicate, painterly ones. There’s just something incredibly soothing about outfits like this where everything just flows harmoniously from top to bottom and nothing really “jumps out” at you.

Items used in this coordination

Bamboo for resilience, Paper cranes for hope

I try not to get too angry or too political on this blog, but there comes a point when keeping quiet is complicit with violence. I’ve devoted half my life to the study and appreciation of Japanese arts, and now more than ever I feel the need to speak up against the wave of racist violence being perpetrated against Asian-Americans of all cultures. While the most recent horrific attacks have been aimed at Korean and Chinese women, the types of people who commit these atrocities typically don’t know or don’t care about the difference.

Those of us who share a passion for one or more aspects of an eastern culture have a duty to help defend the beautiful, diverse people and cultures to whom we owe so much. So what can we do? Stand up. Speak up. Whether you witness something as egregious as a physical assault on an elderly woman, or people in power using racist terms like Kung Flu, or something as “minor” (and I say that sarcastically) as a relative lumping multiple Asian countries into some vague orientalist monoculture, step in and defend the peoples of those cultures you love and respect so much.

Of course, my way of channelling my frustration and anger usually involves the mannequin. I knew the best starting point would be my orizuru (paper crane) obi and haori, as hope for a more understanding and peaceful world. I paired them with this gorgeous Taisho-era bamboo komon, as bamboo is strong and resilient. It feels like an optimistic coordination in a dark time. I know in the grand scheme of things, this is a bit of an empty gesture, but it helps me to cope.

I wish I had a cute or pithy way to end this entry, but I just can’t find it in me today. Thank you for understanding.

Items used in this coordination

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