November 3, 2015

Whoa- It's Already Time for All Soul's!

Hi Everyone!
It's been an interesting year- and I haven't had as much time to post. The kimono-wearing season has started in Arizona and I have missed a couple of events at Yume Japanese Gardens due to work obligations (I have a few part-time jobs now!) but one of our signature events, the All Soul's Procession, is happening on Sunday, November 8th. That's when Odaiko Sonora and friends get together and process behind the urn and do our Tucson Ondo Obon dance.
We usually wear happi coats, kimono, and yukata and there should be more than a dozen dancers. For this All Souls Procession, I'll be wearing a wool hitoe kimono I picked up at a taiko conference a few years ago. The hanhaba obi is also wool or wool-blend, cream and black and looks great with this kimono. The whole ensemble is graphic and bold and should be appropriate for this event.

This time I will be honoring our beautiful kitty, Lula, who we lost in June this year as well as remembering an old friend that passed away suddenly on St. Patrick's Day. I will be putting prayers and mementos for both into the urn along with my own thoughts and prayers regarding this past year and hopes for 2016. The urn contents burns at the end of the procession finale- a fitting ceremony that for me, symbolizes letting go of the past to make way for the future.
To view photo galleries of past All Soul's Processions, click here. 

RIP Miss Lula Kitty- seen here under a wedding kimono

Look for photos of the event after next weekend.

July 24, 2015

The Imagine OneWorld Kimono Project

I wanted to share this with everyone-it's way too hot in Arizona right now to wear kimono, but at least we can all dream. 

This amazing project involves creating 196 unique kimono for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Read about the project here, and view photos of some of these stunning works of art from their Imagine One World Concert in Los Angeles, courtesy of their Facebook page.

The United States kimono has images of a astronaut, olive branch, Statue of Liberty, etc. 
Absolutely breathtaking- some more kimono are here. 

All images Copyright © 2015 Imagine Oneworld, Inc. All rights reserved.
The United States Kimono

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.

January 19, 2015

Gallery Opening: Ping Wei, Ceramics for Ikebana

Last night I went to a gallery opening of beautiful ceramic ikebana vessels by Phoenix ikebana (Sogetsu School) and ceramic artist Ping Wei. It was held at Yume Japanese Gardens. I had seen Ping Wei's work in Phoenix and was delighted to discover his show so close to home.

It was a nice event, very intimate, with people were spilling out into the lantern-lit patio for wine and Pellegrino water. I was the only one in kimono as usual, but I'm getting used to it now and people are starting to get to know me.

The show is really wonderful- the ceramic vases work without flowers.  He did have a few arrangements- the one in the gallery was my favorite- freestyle in an extraordinary vase that looked like mountains to me.
Big free-style arrangement

The kimono I wore to the event was chosen to work with the season, month, and weather as much as possible. It was sunny and 70 F when I left the house at about 4:45 pm. It's a white komon with orange seigaiha (waves) and big patches of faux-shibori. I dressed up the everyday-style kimono with a heavy brocade karabana (Chinese flower) pattern Nagoya obi with red shibori obiage and dark green obijime. I was going for light, bright colors in an almost monochrome palette to suggest spring and well as celebrate January (New Year) with an auspicious pattern that is supposed to be lucky. I took a richly-patterned orange and yellow haori with me for after dark.

Before I left, my husband took some photos of me in the yard on top of our giant flagstones. The weather was perfect- not like winter at all!
Waiting for someone to serve me tea?

Detail of obi and kimono
At the gallery next to one of Ping's vases. The scroll is by Yoshi Nakano.
I was so enamored with Ping Wei's work, I decided to sign up for one of his ikebana classes. He teaches them once a month at Yume. Maybe I will wear kimono- if I can find a kappogi (Japanese apron) to wear over it!

Mochitsuki 2015

Hi everyone
It's been a great month so far for kimono-wearing! The 2nd Annual Mochitsuki event on January 10th was really fun- I think there was about 175 people- an amazing turn out. I played taiko (in kimono!) and volunteered by giving out raffle tickets at the entrance and of course forgot my camera- so these are phone pics- almost as good. Because I was so busy, I don't have a ton of pics.

Since I was playing taiko, moving drums, and hanging out in a big crowd with quite a bit of sticky mochi flying around, I wore a washable poly kimono and Nagoya-style tsuke (two-piece obi) obi. The mochi-pounding was amazing- a local craftsman made the beautiful cherry wood usu (mortar) and kine (mallets). Trained volunteers took turns pounding the mochi, adding water, and making sure it it turned into a sticky, homogeneous dough.

Volunteer cooks turned the sticky mass into little dumplings that were served with sweet kinako (spy flour), shoyu, and seaweed. Everyone seemed to enjoy the special treat.

For my kitsuke, I had to bring everything and change there right before the event started. Hence the tsuke obi- a brilliant device that makes it a bit easier and faster to dress in less-than perfect accommodations. The kimono is one I have had for a while but I had never worn before! It's new and has lovely multi-season design of tzuzumi drums, fue (flute), tachibana (wild orange), sakura (cherry blossom), momiji (maple leaves), and arare (hail)! The obi is soft gold with bamboo; the obiage is light eggplant chirimen, and the obijime is wide fuchsia stripe design that was shorter than I remember, but I managed to make it look presentable with the fluffy tassels.

2015 is the Year of the Ram!

Beautiful Sakura Matsuri happi coat
Zori view

The Blue Music Komon kimono