March 24, 2011

Fringe Festival performance ensemble

This is a short post...I have out of town guests arriving in the next 20 minutes! I played a small part in an emotional and fabulous performance piece last night at the Fringe festival. The incredible Denise Uyehara was the artist we collaborated with. Her performance was about the Japan earthquake and tsunami. I played the part of a happy memory: an obon dancer. One taiko drummer and fue + myself and Denise as the main character. Denise wore mofuku, or black mourning kimono as her costume with a simple heko obi.

I wore this outfit- a tan and cream yukata with black dianthus, purple hakata obi, a purple and white tenugui, and blue-purple geta plus an uchiwa fan for dancing. Sorry that this is not a picture of me wearing it but I forgot my camera last night and didn't get home until about 10:00pm.

March 21, 2011

Japan relief benefit & kimono-style taiko

Yuko happily playing taiko.
The previous post mentioned a benefit for Japan at Sushi Yukari. I went in yukata of course, but that's not the half of it! Many members of my taiko group were there, including two taiko friends from Phoenix Taiko Kai and since we had a very special visiting artist that weekend, she came along for support.
We brought a few drums, played, danced, and attracted the attention of  the local news station as well as generous people wanting to donate to the relief efforts. One of our taiko players is from Sendai. Her family is OK (apparently their home was not destroyed) since their home is far inland. However, she has been so worried about her family since and been trying to help remotely. It has taken a lot out of her but she came out to play taiko with us in the parking lot. She was very happy to see so many people come out to dinner and give so generously. Way to go Yuko!

Chieko (L) playing Hana Hachijo as Rome Hamner plays the jiuchi with her.

Chieko Kojima of KODO was the very special visiting artist and was in Tucson for a couple of days to teach a Hana Hachijo and Japanese folk dance workshop.
I was so fortunate to be able to learn some of this taiko style from her. It's very difficult but she makes it look so easy. The dance class was so much fun, we learned some traditional Japanese folk dances! Those were much easier.
What an incredible performer and all around fun lady to hang out with! She even performed Hana Hachijo (Chieko's own woman's version of the famous taiko piece from Hachijo in Japan, performed in "kimono-style"). in the parking lot of the sushi restaurant! Chieko was very moved by the generosity of all of these strangers in Tucson giving to help out her country at this little sushi restaurant in the desert.

Since I don't have a video of that performance (yet), I did find a video performance she did a little over a week ago that I found on You Tube. This one is really fabulous since she is actually wearing kimono.Click here to see her riveting performance. 

And of course, I wore my "new" yukata with the martini glasses on it. It's a wonderful yukata, so boldly colored. I wore it with the deep red hakata obi and a red manekineko tenugui for dancing. Our taiko group performed our own Tucson obon dance in the parking lot to the rhythms of matsuri daiko. So I got to dance a bit. Chieko really liked my yukata (She noticed that it was traditional indigo and white) and was impressed I dressed myself. That was a pretty big complement!
I look a little disheveled...4 hours of taiko and dance before quickly dressing in yukata does that.
Thank you so much for the workshops this weekend Chieko! I hope that I can see you perform on stage one of these days.

March 16, 2011

Japan Disaster Relief at Sushi Yukari this Saturday!

Dear readers
My taiko group will be supporting this event (the images and information below was taken directly off of the Sushi Yukari website) this weekend, so if you are in Tucson Saturday, come over and enjoy lunch or dinner at a fabulous Japanese restaurant in the foothills and help the Japanese recover from such a terrible and tragic disaster.
I hope to see you there!

Sushi Yukari would like to do everything we can to support
those who suffered loss in the recent disaster in Japan,
and those with family in Tucson.
We will have a fund raiser at Sushi Yukari on March 19th Saturday.
Lunch from 11:00am to 2:30pm, and Dinner from 5:00pm to 10:00pm.

Please come over to eat, and/or contribute.
We will donate 50% of our sales. Please pass the word.
We will never forget your help.
Call (520) 232-1393 To Make Reservations,
Order To-Go, Or Just Drop In To See Us!
"Tucson's Most Intimate Japanese Food Experience!" 

Locally owned -- Japanese Owner - Japanese Chefs -
Japanese Servers - Not Found Anywhere Else!

March 7, 2011

Kimono storage and yukata care

I'm feeling a little under the weather today (I had minor surgery a few days ago and am not quite 100% yet),  and I didn't feel like working in my studio, so I decided to iron a yukata or two and organize a drawer I use for kimono storage. I'm very lucky to have built-in storage for my collection! So I have some pictures of where I store and how.

The house I live in has an addition built by a slightly (the neighbors say very) eccentric man and he built 21 drawers for the upstairs "master suite" instead of a closet. The drawers are faced with beautiful matched-grain mesquite wood, so they look really nice. The top drawers are so high, you need a step ladder to see what's in them, so maybe he was 7' tall and had a huge sock collection. We never met the mystery builder.

In the center of the drawers is a wall-mounted ironing board and mirror, which I love. We store blankets and bedding in most of the drawers but I have taken over half of the drawers and filled them with kimono stuff. It's basically a giant tansu.

Here is a photo of the wall o' drawers with the mirror/ironing board closed:

The drawers are a bit smaller than the typical tantoshi (kimono and obi storage paper packets), so I use white or unbleached glassine paper between kimono and obi for storage. You can get it at most art stores for about 50 cents for a large 22x30" sheet. It's acid-free and provides a barrier against dye transfer and moisture. You can even create "envelopes" by folding the paper and using acid-free tape (On the outside please!) to make smaller storage packets for obi, obiage, obijime, etc. More on making your own packets in a future posting.
My kimono sensei said it's very important to store vintage Japanese textiles with paper between, not in plastic bags. She has seen vintage silk kimono disintegrate after being stored for years in plastic bags in boxes. Silk and wool need to breathe. You can store kimono in those big rectangular plastic under-bed bins too, but make sure you use the glassine paper between each kimono and obi. She also recommended storing silk with silk and synthetic materials separately or with cotton. Wool kimono can go with other wool or with silk. Linen goes with cotton. You want to make sure you don't stack or pack things so tight that no air circulates yet protect from moths (cedar blocks and spheres work fine) and keep colors from rubbing off or transferring. Items should be as clean as possible before storing, so make sure you hang up all kitsuke items 24-48 hours to let perspiration dry and some wrinkles hang out before folding and storing: kimono, obi, all accessories, koshihimo, etc. I like to hang mine on special kimono hangers but a long, smooth wooden dowel would work too.
I wash soiled yukata and synthetic kimono, using  Zout on stains (Zout took out a giant butter stain on a yukata from corn-on-the-cob without hurting the fabric or the color!) and washing them in a mesh bag and on the "hand wash" setting. Then dry on the clotheline, press, fold, and store. Never, ever hang kimono or haori for storage! Always fold. The weight of the fabric on a western-style coat hanger will distort the nice vertical lines of the dress and ruin the shape of the shoulder and sleeves.

Here is my freshly-ironed hibiscus yukata and is ready to fold, You can see the ironing board folded out; it has a hook for hangers inside the mirrored door:

The ironing board is at the average ironing-board height and the yukata is about 61", so you can see how high up the drawers are.
Here is a drawer open, with yukata inside; these are folded into fourths lengthwise because the drawers are not quite deep enough; there is a piece of glassine paper on the bottom of the drawer:
I just moved all (6) the yukata to this drawer today since I was running out of room, so now I need a few more sheets of paper to put between. The new purple hail kimono, which arrived today, went into the "synthetic kimono drawer".

March 3, 2011

Happy Hinamatsuri!

Today, March 3rd, is Hinamatsuri or Girl's Day in Japan. This holiday is sometimes called the Doll Festival. So bake some chi chi dango mochi, drink some green tea and be glad you are a girl!!

Update: I just came across an interesting article on Hina Dolls written by John Marshall. These are the dolls displayed during Hinamatsuri. 

March 2, 2011

Purple hail

The pattern on this little gem was called "bokashi/arare" (hail) on the eBay listing. I will assume a hail motif is probably for the winter season. It hasn't arrived yet though, but I wanted post it anyway. It should arrive next week in the mail.

This design is one of those kimono I would usually pass up since it's so....loud and purple. Why so garish you ask?

This is very likely a brand-new dance kimono. Most kimono for stage or dance are usually high-contrast and brightly colored so the character or dancer wearing it can easily be seen by the audience. Modern ones are synthetic so they can be washed between wearings.
So what the heck was I thinking? Where the heck am I going to wear this thing? The All Souls Procession! This  year's color is violet! Yes, violet. Purple. Lavender. Eggplant. Wisteria.
Detail of the square "hail"

Since the event is at night, all the more reason to be bright, loud, and high-contrast. Anyway, with the right obi, this might look fabulous! And I can wash it...we always get so dusty during the procession. Can't exactly do that with the purple Taisho-era Meisen kimono.

UPDATE: This one arrived today, March 7th. It looks just like the photos, grape-soda purple! Mint condition too. I also looked up the Japanese description of the kimono and found both  "bokashi", which  means "shading off, gradation" and that explains the purple background, and "arare", which is both a small cracker and "falling ice balls, or hail". So Bokashi/arare is a gradation/hail pattern. Makes perfect sense!

Three obijime

The last few items I purchased at Matsuri are three obijime. An obijime  is a silk cord that is both decorative and functional depending on how you wear it. It functions as a structural component of many types of musubi (obi bows). With a simple yukata tied with a hanhaba obi, you don't need it to be functional, it just looks really cool. I love the more interesting obijime for enhancing the look of an ensemble. Obijime are often hand woven and the best examples can be expensive. Sometimes you can buy obijime in a set with a matching obiage, also known as the obi bustle sash. An obiage looks just like a long silk scarf.

The obijime in the top of the photo is basic black flat weave that appears to be new. The middle one is a wonderful navy and white striped round cord that reminds me of those woven craft thingies you make in summer camp. (Lanyards? I don't know what they are called!) The third is a wonderful vintage obijime in navy and cream that has amazing detail.
Detail of the vintage navy and cream obijime

The intricate weaving and the subtle shading is really lovely and the dark section appears to be wrapped with super-fine silk threads in shades of dark blue and red. Overall, a wonderful addition to my collection.

March 1, 2011

Autumn rust

I got these three items at Matsuri, from Maruhachi USA. I usually buy from them each year, they usually have some nice haori and an occasional yukata. The haori is pretty special! The silk is so soft and it has elegant long sleeves, so it's definitely vintage. Maybe early Showa but I'm not entirely sure. Here is the haori on their website. I paid much less for it than they have listed.
The pattern is kiku, which is chrysanthemum. The flowers look like daisies until you notice the leaves. It's half-lined in peach-colored silk. Chrysanthemums are an autumn motif and the colors certainly have an autumn feeling.

I went back to the same dealer the next day and found these items, not sold as a set but they have become one! A new-looking rust silk chirimen obiage and a fabulously wide vintage silk obijime in rust and cream. These two items will go with my brown thistle obi! And it looks like everything will go with the haori!

With my finger there for scale, you can see how wide and fluffy this obijime is! I like a bit of drama in my accessories.