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!

February 21, 2014

Phoenix Matsuri Starts Tomorrow!

The Phoenix Matsuri starts tomorrow! Two days of Japanese culture, food, and fun- this is a fabulous event. I've been to the amazing Sakura Matsuri in D.C. and I feel the Phoenix Matsuri is even better and it's free!

The mikoshi parade starts at 10:00am tomorrow and this year they have brought back to beer & sake garden!
Come see me play taiko with Odaiko Sonora on the ASU stage at noon Saturday and wearing kimono (Blue grey hitoe with pine needles) or yukata (If it's hot, you will see me in emerald green) on Sunday. For a full list of the entertainment, stages, and vendors, click here. 
I hope to see you there!


February 9, 2014

Japanese cultural event in Tucson: 2-15-14, Shamisen Concert at Yume!

Shamisen Concert

Saturday, 02/15/2014 - 5:00pm

Come hear one of Japan's signature musical instruments, the shamisen, or Japanese lute, as master player Aki Takahashi performs traditional folk songs. Born in Japan and trained in Kyoto, Aki is Associate Artistic Director of the leading Canadian taiko drumming group, Nagata Shachu, and teaches taiko drumming, shamisen and voice. She is founder of the Japanese Folk ensemble ten ten, and has performed with numerous artists from a variety of other cultural backgrounds and traditions. She also creates her own original compositions and has choreographed dance pieces to accompany her music. 
Sponsors of this show are Tucson's Odaiko Sonora taiko drumming group and the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition. 
Ticket prices: $15 members, $17 nonmembers, $20 at the door. 

For more Japanese cultural events coming to Yume, visit their events page and buy tickets in advance here. 

I hope to see you there in kimono!

February 5, 2014

AWA ODORI Workshops in Phoenix coming up!

Attention AWA ODORI Fans!! (Click link to see video of Awa Odori in Japan)

If you love the opening parade at Matsuri and have always wanted to learn the dance everyone is doing, you'll be interested in this workshop! The parade starts at 10:00am, be ready and dressed in yukata, kimono, or happi and I will see you there!

Read about Awa Odori and see more great photos on this awesome travel blog. 
Hands up! Everyone is ready to dance in the opening parade! Matsuri 2013.

presented by Arizona Matsuri Committee
Ken Koshio

Workshop 1: 
Sunday, February 9th, 2014
Noon - 1:30 pm
Workshop 2:
Saturday, February 15th, 2014
Noon - 2:00 pm
Japanese Friendship Garden
$10 donation is appreciated.

 Come learn and practice the basics of the fun folk dance to participate in the upcoming Matsuri opening day parade on February 22, 2014. Ken Koshio will be conducting the workshops and leading the parade.
Please join us in the Garden to learn Awa Odori and become a true part of the fabulous Matsuri Parade.  

February 3, 2014

Ocean Waves and Faux Batik Komon

Two new komon kimono: orange and white seigaiha pattern and a off-white and navy with a pattern that looks like batik.

More shibori print on the back of a sleeve
The seigaiha pattern translates as "blue ocean waves" and these waves are calm and go on forever, signifying good fortune. The orange on white pattern looks fresh and clean and reminds me of orange Popsicles in the summer! This kimono is very nice polyester (washable) and looks brand new. There are some cloud-shaped patches of shibori print, and if you look carefully, grass with dew (tsuyu-kusa); the orange clouds are evenly spaced on the kimono. This added design adds some brighter color to an otherwise plain kimono. This pattern is geometric, so it is considered seasonless. The clean and clear colors make me think of summer but more likely is late spring or late summer season because it's fully lined.
I can see this kimono paired with a Nagoya obi, maybe in vibrant ocean blue or aqua green with seasonal flowers or other motif, and yellow and sky blue accessories.
"Shibori" print detail
Front and back of the kimono
This next kimono is a bit ordinary looking and not quite as festive as the above kimono, but it is hitoe, or unlined! The fabric seems to be a very light wool blend. It has a slightly fuzzy, almost itchy feel to it. It has a panel inside the center back, which I assume is to protect the modesty of the wearer when kneeling. I have a yukata with this same patch. It's actually called "ishikiate" and is to reinforce the area on the dress since this area takes the most wear.
It's mainly cream and navy blue with a few touches of red and yellow. Definitely an every day kimono that can be worn in the late spring through summer but why not dress it up with a vibrant red obi with butterflies or bush clover? Make the ordinary fun and fashionable. 
Have a great week,
Diamond pattern looks like faux batik

Komon kimono, front and back. Note the light-weight fabric
"modesty panel"