December 24, 2014

New Kimono for Summer!

Summer is so far away and too hot for kimono anyway, so "spring" (spring weather starts in mid-February in southern Arizona) is probably a likely time of year for wearing this new piece I purchased from Shinei. I will likely wear this one in February for Matsuri if we have typical nice weather.

This one seems contemporary becasue of the design but it's definitely at least 60 years old. Shinei stated on their website that this kimono was Taisho-Roman era and the sleeves are the right length but I'm not certain. I think it's a bit later. It was advertised as hitoe (unlined), which I love but I didn't expect it to be borderline sheer.

Interesting design!
It's deep charcoal-grey, with light blue "stripes" bordered with pale grey or white. The "stripes" aren't really stripes at all but are more like leaf shapes and remind me of shark's teeth for some reason. I do not know what this motif is supposed to represent, so I may post a photo on the Immortal Geisha website.
Back of kimono

Front of kimono
The silk or silk-blend fabric is nubby and textured, with some subtle color variations in it. At first glance, it appears to be sturdy fabric with some weight to it, until you realize you can see light through it. It's sheer enough that you might have to consider what color juban you wear underneath but it's not ro or sha as far as I can tell. The design is woven but it's not  Meisen, as you can see by the back of the fabric.
Backside of the weave
Detail of the kimono sleeve
I really like this kimono because of it's modern appeal and neutral color- it seems to be begging for either fun bright accessories or maybe a tweedy menswear look. I think because of the color and weight of this fabric, it might work for spring or even early fall. I also have two new obi to share but I'll put those in a separate post!
Happy Christmas everyone!

Mochitsuki & Japanese New Year in Tucson!

It's been a while! 
Between work and the recent All Souls Procession , I have been super busy and even missed a couple of kimono-wearing events recently because of work commitments!
However, some more Japanese cultural events are coming soon to Tucson, Arizona in early 2015. 
Image from

  • The first event in the new year will be Saturday, January 3rd, Yume Japanese Gardens is hosting a New Year's Celebration! The weather should be excellent (no snow here!) and perfect for bringing out your autumn and winter kimono that you probably never get to wear in Arizona. 
  • Next event is Saturday, January 10th, Mochitsuki at Rhythm Industry Performance Factory, sponsored by the  Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition. There will be taiko drumming at this event, so I will be playing and volunteering! Another chance to wear your festive winter kimono.
  • And on Saturday and Sunday, February 21-22nd will be the 31st Annual Arizona Matsuri, in downtown Phoenix. Weather in late February can be variable, but usually we get spring weather- for kimono, we usually bring out the early spring motifs and occasionally summer yukata as well since it has been as warm as 85 degrees F in the past! It has been chilly and rainy too, so be sure to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

October 6, 2014

Kimono: Splendor in Cloth at Yume Japanese Gardens

 Hi everyone
I attended the kimono show last Tuesday and have a some photos! The event was very nice. It was scheduled the day before the garden opened, so it was strictly a reception and only one of the two rooms of kimono was open. There were also ikebana displays (Ohara School) and a new retail store was open. I was able to sneak into the garden and look around since I arrived early. I was the only person in kimono...too bad! But I did answer lots of questions for people and that was really fun. 

Burning question: what am I wearing? I'm wearing the bingata kimono I bought at the Phoenix Matsuri in February. I'm also wearing a Nagoya obi I purchased from Shinei that features motifs of genjiguruma (ox cart wheels) and tatewaku (rising steam). I've added a rust-colored chirimen obiage and a navy blue obijime that has some bits of orange in the weave. Sorry there were no photos of my zori, but they are plain dark red and match my handbag pretty closely! I wanted to wear something with an autumn feel to it and the weather cooperated, at least when the sun started going down!

New obi from Shinei
Check out the new growth! We had a decent monsoon this summer. 

A view to the garden

View through the new windows in the fence

Ikebana display out on the new patio

A lovely tsukesage kimono with bamboo motifs

One of my kimono I loaned to the display- my birch tree houmongi

A pale blue houmongi also on loan- a stunning design!

I loaned out the boy's miyamairi and it was displayed in the new retail store

You can see a glimpse of the beni red juban peaking out of the sleeves

Check out these long sleeves!

In front of the miyamairi

September 15, 2014

Kimono Show Opens Sept. 30th in Tucson!

I've been helping out with this exhibit for the last two weekends. If you are in the area, come by. It will be a great kimono-wearing event! The gardens officially open to the public for the 2014-2015 season on Oct. 1st.
Map link for Yume Gardens is here. 
See you there!

September 9, 2014

Some of my Kimono will be on display!

Yume, our local Japanese Garden, is creating a kimono exhibit that will be up for two months! 
Yours truly was called upon to loan kimono and accessories for the display! The really nice thing is that the garden director wants a wide section of different types of kimono (i.e. everyday kimono) rather than just the fancy stuff. Kimono and obi will feature different levels of formality as well as garments showing seasonal changes. 

Photo courtesy of Ikue Belland

Here is the announcement by the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition. 

I'll be there and if the weather is cool enough, I will be wearing that bingata kimono in the photo!
I hope to see you there.

August 27, 2014

Want to Honor Your Ancestors with a Paper Lantern?

If you regularly read this blog, you have seen my posts about Tucson's annual All Souls' Procession and the role that my taiko group, Odaiko Sonora, has in it each year. The All Soul's Procession is a unique festival of remembrance of people, pets, and memories that in many ways, similar to Obon festivals celebrated in Japan and other places with a large Japanese population.

However, Tucson does not have an Obon Festival! Instead, our taiko group has a large role in the Procession, with a large group of "obon dancers" in yukata and happi doing our own folk dance, "Tucson Ondo", behind a taiko on a cart. 

This year will be the 25th anniversary of this unique event and Odaiko Sonora has an opportunity to attract three world-class musical artists to create a soundscape for the finale of the burning of the urn! 

We put the FUN into FUNdRAISEr! 

We are doing a Kickstarter fundraiser to raise some money to bring three taiko musicians, and Asano drums to Tucson just for this event! 
If you contribute just $30 at Kazoku Level, you will be able to honor the names of your loved ones on one of our toro nagashi paper lanterns that will be part of the finale ceremony! It's a beautiful way to honor a special memory.

Go to THIS LINK and contribute to help us make the 25th Anniversary of the All Soul's Procession a spectacular community event in 2014. 
Do it today since we only have a couple weeks left!

And if you are really genki, contact me if you want to come to Tucson and participate! It's a great event for being creative with costumes or wearing kimono or yukata if you wish to dance with us. 
I hope you can help us out,
Arigato gozaimasu.

May 26, 2014

Obon Season is almost here!

Get your yukata and geta on- it's Obon season! 

Here are a few of my favorite Japanese festivals and Obon festivals, courtesy of 

All of the Obon festivals have obon dance practices during the weeks before the festival. Check each individual temple online to find out about dance practices. 

Saturday, June 7th, The Arizona Buddhist Temple Obon Festival
Saturday, June 7th, The Japanese Cultural Fair, Santa Cruz, CA
Saturday, July 12-13th, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Obon Festival
Sunday, July 13th, Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple Obon Festival
Sunday, July 20th, Watsonville Buddhist Temple Obon (link to their website)
Sunday, July 27th, Salinas Obon Festival- Buddhist Temple of Salinas

More exciting Japanese Cultural events coming this summer: 

Sunday, July 13th, Bridge USA Natsu Matsuri, Torrance, CA
Saturday, August 9th, Tanabata Matsuri, Little Tokyo
Sunday, August 17th, Nisei Week Ondo and Closing Ceremony, Little Tokyo, LA

April 28, 2014

You need one of these Obi if...

you are a regular-sized woman!

I was just perusing Ichiroya's website and found several "Brand new long size hanhaba obi"! These are the simple obi you wear with yukata, the causal, cotton summer dress that is a perfect entry into the world of kimono! I rarely see longer obi, so this is unusual.
All are 4 meters long and seem to be going fast as yukata weather is just around the corner!

I mean seriously, how cool are these? These are just a few of the cute designs they have right now, so get them while they're hot!

All images courtesy of Ichiroya.

April 14, 2014

An Enchanted Evening at Yume

I was able to take some time out from a super busy schedule to go to a nice event at Yume on Friday afternoon for "An Enchanted Evening at the Gardens". It was pretty warm for April, about 90 F earlier in the day (!) so I opted for my green butterfly yukata and kimono-style accessories: obiage, two obijime, Nagoya Hakata obi, and a han eri. I wanted to wear these colors to celebrate spring and based the ensemble on my Jordan-McMillan pink and green ribbon handbag!

It was a beautiful evening for strolling in yukata, with strawberry shave ice, refreshing cold green tea that tasted reminiscent of the sea, paper lanterns, candles, soft music, and origami art displays. The koi were active and there was even a cat in the garden.

Not many people wear kimono or yukata to these events, but there were a couple of volunteers in yukata, so that was really nice to see! I figure the more I dress up for these events, the more kimono enthusiasts will eventually come out of the woodwork. Events at the garden are starting to gain momentum.
My husband took the photos of my before I went out since it became dark very quickly.

Have a wonderful Easter holiday weekend.
My obi is a little crooked and I have only one pink nagajuban sleeve showing!

New shoots on the bamboo
Yuri the cat was perfectly camouflaged on the bare soil

March 7, 2014

A New Japanese Garden in the Desert!

I have mentioned Yume a couple of times, but I just realized I haven't introduced it.
Yume ("dream") is a new Japanese Garden in Tucson! This is a really great thing since the garden is starting to host cultural events such as mochitsuki, intimate concerts, Hinamatsuri, and more.
The best thing is that I don't have to drive two hours to Phoenix to attend a kimono-wearing event!

The garden (actually five gardens) is small but really well designed; it's really a nice space that will continue to improve as it grows into itself. I'm hoping to get more involved with their events in the future.

These photos were taken at Mochitsuki on January 4th.

Yes, you can grow bamboo in the desert!

Showing off my new fan before I leave for Yume.

A young man pounds mochi.

February 24, 2014

Two & a Half Days of Japanese Festival Madness! Phoenix Matsuri Weekend 2014

This year's Arizona Matsuri was amazing and fun as usual...each year it's a little different. Taiko drumming, shopping for wafuku, beer & sake garden, warm weather, Awa Odori dancers from LA, great food, fun costumes, the taiko party at Fushicho's dojo Saturday night, and the inevitable sunburns despite lots of sunscreen. Plus there was dehydration, exhaustion, sore feet, dropped bachi, blisters, and aching muscles.

The weekend started Friday afternoon when I arrive our hosts home outside Phoenix. I gave Emma two of the new kimono and an obi I received from Yamatoku as gifts. Before the other guests arrived and dinner was ready, we had an impromptu kimono try-on session. I picked kimono that would go with what she already owned; she tried on the "faux batik" komon with two different obi. I used my own obiage and obijime since she is lacking in accessories. She loved the gold-tan obi with the kimono. 

The next morning we were all up really early so we could be in downtown Phoenix at about 8:30am to unload drums, set up for two days of taiko, and be ready for the mikoshi parade at 10:00am. I was playing taiko at noon, so I didn't wear a yukata or kimono in the parade. However, Emma wasn't scheduled to play taiko until later, so I dressed her up in her new ayame (iris) yukata. 

However, arriving at the parade in just a taiko shirt, black pants, and a black logo jacket wasn't very festive, so I went shopping as the merchandise booths were setting up and found a cute happi 
coat to wear in the parade! 

The vendor said "Shimoshin" was the name of a company. I like the bright blue color and the waves.

A member of the Awa Odori group. 
The mikoshi parade is getting larger every year, and this time the Awa Odori Tokushima-Ren from LA were back again after a hiatus. My arms were tired after only 20 minutes of dancing!
More dancers.
Hana-hachijo being played in yukata!
It was warmer than average over the weekend and on Saturday when my taiko group, Odaiko Sonora, played at noon, it was probably about 80 F with a gorgeous clear, blue sky. That doesn't sound too bad, but we were looking directly into the noon sun; stage is not covered! Afterwards, we all went to the beer and sake garden for shade and beverages. I didn't realize I had a sunburn until later. Oops.

Sunday was kimono day for me at least. Besides dressing Emma again and Karen (Sensei and one of the directors of Odaiko Sonora) in yukata, I wore a hitoe kimono I bought at matsuri last year. 

Karen brought her gorgeous vintage shibori yukata and beautiful obi she bought at Ichiroya a few years ago and I dressed her after she played taiko. She wanted an obijime to dress up her obi as well, so we went over to Maruhachi's booth  and went shopping! Karen picked out a lovely flat weave in a lime green with metallic threads. I also shopped for Emma since she wanted a few obijime as well but she was playing taiko all day and couldn't shop. So I picked out three for her: a solid red, a cream with gold flecks, and a flat weave with several shades of purple to go with the purple komon I gave her. I found a fabulous red and silver obijime for myself, which Karen bought for me as payment for dressing her up!

Modeling a new obijime and  a borrowed bag.
Karen hamming it up with Muri.

Silver and red with cranes!
It's wide!

Sunday was warm again but a bit cloudier, which helped. I wore a blue-grey hitoe (unlined) komon featuring a pattern of pine needles paired with an olive green multi-season Nagoya obi, also hitoe. 

Karen found the White Rabbit and Mad Hatter!
My subdued ensemble was perfect for a warm but overcast day
Sunday was much more relaxing, and I got to watch powerful taiko performances, shop for kimono and accessories, enjoy the shade of the beer and sake garden, sample yuzu lemonade with cherry syrup and again (it was soooo good!) with violet syrup, tried some peanut butter mochi, shared bright red (dubbed "hummingbird food") shave ice with two other people since it was sooo huge, and watched people in their fun and sometimes crazy costumes. The drive back to Tucson was the worst part! Luckily, I have Monday off from work to recover.

Oh, and I bought a kimono from Maruhachi. I wasn't supposed to but it's totally awesome bingata! And it has 26' long sleeves! Can't wait to wear this one. It's in almost perfect condition, with spots only on sleeve lining. I may have to pair a hakata obi with this one.

There are a few more kimono-wearing events coming up, so stay tuned for more blog posts in the near future!