July 1, 2015

Ready to Die From Cuteness?

Just for fun.

When it's time to take a break from kimono kitsuke because of the heat, it's time for our second favorite subject! Yes, it's time for cats in kimono.
View more photos here!

Have a very happy Independence Day!

April 19, 2015

Origami Show in Yukata

There was a fun origami show at Yume on April 3rd. Since it was after work, I didn't have a lot of time to figure out a kimono. The weather was pretty warm, so I wore a vintage yukata with a colorful 12" wide hitoe (unlined) hakata obi.
Unfortunately, the settings on my camera has been fiddled with, so most of my photos are blurry. Other people managed to get a couple of me in front of some paintings with added origami butterflies and koi, so all was not lost!

March 13, 2015

Matsuri 2015- Fun in Phoenix

Katsugi okedo (drums that can be carried by the <br>
player using a shoulder strap) lined up for performance

Every February since 2006, I have been attending the two-day Arizona Matsuri in Phoenix- one of the top Japanese cultural festivals in the United States. When I go, I play taiko with my my taiko group one day and enjoy the second day of the festival dressed in kimono. I chose not to post a ton of taiko photos because it's difficult to get really good photos unless you are in the front row with a wide-angle lens.  And of course, this is a kimono blog!

The All-Arizona Taiko Team had 50 people in this year!
The people in the red happi are from my group. 
Friends performing hana-hachijo in yukata
The weather on Saturday was the typical Phoenix gorgeousness that snowbirds covet: sunny, warm, with vibrant blue skies and fluffy white clouds- but I think is was in the mid-80's by the afternoon! Luckily, our set was before noon, so that helped a little. Sunday was slightly cooler and cloudy, so it would have been much better for playing taiko, but that's how it goes!

Even though it's the end of February, I often end up wearing a summer kimono or yukata and this year was no exception. Traditional kimono seasons be damned when you are in Arizona! I wore a vintage charcoal grey textured ro summer kimono and an equally vintage sha obi, and all of the appropriate summer accessories. The ensemble was a success even though I look a tiny bit rumpled by the time photos were taken- I was taking photos and video of other taiko groups on Sunday, and lugging around a tripod most of the time.
Ro kimono paired with a sha Nagoya obi featuring 
fuji (wisteria) and hagi (bush clover)
The colors on this obi are bright and festive
Longer sleeves are a characteristic of vintage kimono before WW2
New comfortable zori complement the kimono nicely
Kimono Shopping!
This year I was very lucky to pick up some great kimono kitsuke items from a couple of my favorite vendors. This year, I found three vintage juban, obijime, a haori, and an obi. No kimono this time though- probably a good thing as I have too many at the moment! The obijime were particularly nice this time; I especially love the half black and half red with sliver flecks and the multi-colored braided obijime. 

A lovely everyday cotton hanhaba obi 
I couldn't resist the haori- it's striped, with long sleeves and is on the roomier side. Except for the obviously replaced lining, the jacket is in perfect condition. I have been wearing haori lately with western clothing when a kimono might not be appropriate or I just don't have time to be bothered.

Long sleeves and stripes! The plaid lining looks new.
Yuzen-dyed floral on the inside of the sleeves only

The really wonderful items were these three juban- all from the Taisho or early Showa era- they all have amazing patterns and colors and sleeves of 20"-26" long. They are not in perfect shape- all will need new han eri (collars) but the price was right and they were so charming, I could not resist! In case you are wondering, "juban" are under kimono- essentially underwear. The juban must fit exactly underneath the kimono, sleeves included. So these would need to be worn with equally vintage kimono and you would see a tiny sliver of the juban at the sleeve- a glimpse of hidden beauty. Akin to wearing sexy, special underwear.

Super asanoha stripe

Hemp-leaf, not pot-leaf!

This bold striped juban has faux shibori (tiny circles) and asanoha or hemp-leaf pattern. It has the shortest sleeves of the three. I believe all three are made of rayon or a blend. 

Pink plum & mum

The stripes remind me of red licorice 
This pretty bubble-gum pink juban is in the best shape of the three. it features kiku (mums) and ume (plum) flowers and a design on rising steam in red. Very feminine!

Dutch treat

Little Dutch girl and a tiny windmill!

I saved my favorite for last. The collar is pretty much disintegrated, but it can be replaced. It may have been relined years ago since the red lining looks inconsistent for the time period. But the design is incredible. Windmills and Dutch girls, sailing ships (Flying Dutchman?), spades and hearts, playing cards, faux shibori, plus the bright turquoise, yellow, red, and pink are still vibrant and colorful after all these years. 
It's possible all these of these belonged to the same woman- they are almost exactly the same size and from around the same time period and seem to share a certain style- fun, exuberant, and very stylish. It's a very romantic idea! Now I just need to work on some new collars for them and figure out when I can wear them.

February 28, 2015

Valentines Weekend Ikebana + a Date in Kimono

Ping Wei created this as we watched. The black vertical stripe is not part of the arrangement.

My last blog post mentioned Ping Wei, the Ikebana and ceramic artist from Phoenix- well, I finally got to take a class from him on Feb. 15th. He teaches Sogetsu Ikebana near my home once a month. It was very mysterious and fun and since it was at the local Japanese garden, it became a kimono-wearing opportunity. I even have a kappogi apron for the classes. I wore a basic komon with a hanhaba obi- an everyday look appropriate for the class. The great thing is, Mr. Wei saw nothing wrong with me wearing kimono- seemed normal to him.
Brand new, comfortable zori!
He brought lots of flowering peach or plum branches that were just budding, pink delphinium, tiny yellow mums, and large pinky-purple mums. We were to create free-style arrangements in vases we brought. I learned that free-style does have some rules! The challenge was dealing with the large branches- after awhile, it looked like a tree had exploded in the classroom. I did really well; maybe it was beginners luck? I was the only student that didn't need their arrangement corrected during the critique. I think I will try another class on March 15th. It is a challenging art form.

Mr. Wei critiquing our arrangements
My arrangement! 
After the class, I walked out into the garden to appreciate the changes in the season. I saw some spring flowers blooming and the recent rain was causing everything to wake up from winter a bit early it seemed.

After class, I went home, my brain full of new information. I was starving, so my husband suggested we go out- a post-Valentine's Day late lunch. (We missed going on Saturday). 
I was still in kimono, so I decided to keep it on. We went for pizza and wine at a local shopping area- one that happens to have really beautiful architecture. We sat on the patio, sipping wine. Afterwards, we got some gelato. My husband took some photos of me afterwards as the sun was starting to set. 

Of course by this time, I had been wearing a kimono for about 6 hours, so my obijime looks a little messy, but who cares? I wore this new rust red hitoe komon- very comfortable. It's probably wool or a wool-blend. It was overcast but actually in the low 70's. The obi is a wonderful cream and gold hanhaba obi. I added the navy polka-dot obijime at the last minute to dress up the obi. 

Next kimono-wearing event will be last weekend's Phoenix Matsuri! I'm still going through all of  the photos, so look for a post very soon.