Y is for Yabane

Yabane, 矢羽, Arrow fletching

Yabane (also yagasuri for the small, tightly-repeating variation) and hakata; two of my favourite things together! I love all depictions of yabane, but particularly these big, semi-random depictions that were so beloved in the Taisho and early Showa eras really get to me. I’ve loved this kimono ever since I first bought it back in Boulder, Colorado. It’s an odd fabric, it feels like a mix of silk and cotton. It’s very light and breezy, despite being lined, and is smoother than cotton but has a lovely grip that makes it a pleasure to put on. However, I still can’t believe I ever wore this comfortably though. It’s so tiny!

I’m glad I had an opportunity to use this dusty rose-pink hakata nagoya obi. It’s really subdued but the texture of it makes it feel so lush. I couldn’t resist using my spider haneri which is a near-perfect match to the obi. Also, you guys, I’m so proud of myself. I did an ensemble with yellow accents and didn’t use that lemon-yellow shibori obiage and hakata obijime I use all the time. Will wonders never cease? I did use a yellow obiage, but a much more subdued one. The obijime was a better choice in theory than in practice I think, but it’s not terrible. I just know I can do better next time. XD

Items used in this coordination

X is for X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot
Expression regarding the target on maps

Whoof, this was a challenge. Not only are there no Japanese words starting with X, there aren’t really many in English either! I certainly don’t have any items with a xylophone or a xerox machine… My friend suggested “x-rated” and I did debate doing a post on erotic woodblock prints for a hot minute, but I’d rather keep this blog family-friendly!

So what was I to do? I racked my brain until I remembered this kimono I have with a vaguely x-shaped meisen design. It’s lovely, and I don’t use it nearly often enough in coordinations, so I figured what better time to feature it than today’s post?

I kept the rest of the outfit fairly simple and desaturated. The obi is pale enough that it contrasts nicely against the kimono but is definitely not the focal point. All the attention stays on the kimono. I pulled out accessories in soft tones from the obi to keep things subdued. Today’s outfit might be a bit of a stretch, but I think I pulled it off in the end. I’m happy with how it looks, even if it does only barely relate to the challenge.

Items used in this coordination

V is for Vivid

Vivid, intensely deep or bright colour

We’ve reached another one of those super-fun letters that essentially don’t exist in Japanese. Like the L and Q posts, I knew I had to run with an English word and what better word than Vivid? Or possibly vibrant!

Taisho and early Showa era kimono are absolutely some of my favourites, due in no small part to the vivid, bold colour choices brought about by the advent of synthetic dyes. Prior to the 1910s, kimono colours tended to veer to the gentle, subdued, and either pastel or very dark tones thanks to natural dyes. With the introduction of synthetics, colours went pretty crazy.

I went with my beloved turquoise irotomesode with tachibana, since I didn’t get to use it last week. And heck, compare the colour story of that entry to this one, and you’ll get a really good sense of what I mean by vivid!

My initial plan was to use a vintage mustard-yellow floral obi but it just wasn’t bright enough. Then I remembered this gorgeous modern piece with the moorish arches that are a spot-on complement to the kimono. This obi was a gift and to this day I still don’t know who sent it to me! Next up was this gorgeously eye-searing meisen haori. Doesn’t get more vivid than this piece, when it comes to my wardobe. And to bring in the hit of yellow to echo the yellow accents in both the kimono I ended up using my yellow obiage and obijime again. This is starting to feel like a running gag, but they really do match just about everything!  Honestly these photos don’t even do this ensemble justice. One day I’d love to see this coordination on a person, but this kimono will never fit me so I’ll have to find a willing model.

Items used in this coordination

E is for Ebi

Ebi, 海老 , shrimp, lobster, or other long-tailed crustacean

Quite possibly one of my favourite motifs! I love all sea-creature motifs, but I seem to have a soft spot for the goofy-looking rock lobsters often found on wafuku. I had several choices to work with for today’s coordination (you can see them all below) but in the end this pente lobster tsuke-obi won out. I just love it so much.

I paired it with this gorgeous soft brown Taisho-era houmongi. I love how the black pops against the muted brown, and the beige clouds on the kimono echo the shells on the back of the obi. Red accessories draw further attention to the ebi itself and anchor the red sleeve lining. The finishing touch was a brown obijime tied in a way to faintly evoke a lobster trap or net.

As much as I love this obi I tend to forget how long it’s pre-tied in the back. It would suit a taller person (like me, hello!) much better than the mannequin, I think. I don’t mind though, I still love the finished outfit to bits.

So far these are all the items I have with ebi motif in one form or another, but I’ll never say no to more!

Items used in this coordination

Showa Fabulous Christmas in July

It’s still hotter than the surface of the sun here in Montreal, but I was determined to see if I could turn my han-darari tsuke obi into a passable fukura suzume bow in preparation for the Otakuthon fashion show. I figured while I had the mannequin and obi out, I may as well go all-in and change her outfit. This isn’t going to be a full outfit in the show but it’s good practice and visualisation for something that’s in the works.

The obi has such a gorgeously shiny showa fabulous feel to it that it felt like the perfect time to bust out my precious post-war kiku houmongi. I went with gold, red, and green accessories, and while I worried initially that the outfit would feel Christmassy, it actually worked out really well. Besides, Christmas in July might help me feel a little bit cooler!

As for the obi experiment, it definitely worked in theory. I just need a few more himo to make things a little tidier, but I’ll definitely be able to pull it off properly for the show on a real model, and I’m thrilled.

Items used in this coordination