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

January 9, 2015

Beautiful Obijime for Sale @ Kyoto Kimono

All images from Kyoto Kimono

Kyoto Kimono, a fabulous kimono and textile dealer in Endicott, New York, has a great selection of unusual obijime on their website! I have purchased from them online and they are great to deal with and everything I have purchased has been excellent quality. 

I love vintage obijime and have about 40 in my collection. Unusual patterns and weaves are always desirable as obijime are an essential accessory in kimono kitsuke. 
Kyoto Kimono has some wonderful patterned obijime (bamboo, yabane, floral), gradation or ombre (bokashi) weaves, as well as some interesting textures and least two summer obijime- I'm sure those will be snatched up quickly since these are harder to find. 

A handy step-by-step guide on how to tie an obijime is here. 
Have fun shopping!

Clear turquoise and gold in an exciting pattern

January 8, 2015

Cool Stuff You Can Do in a Kimono

Think wearing a kimono hinders movement? Watch Chieko-san play Hana Hachijo and change your mind about what it means to wear a kimono. 

January 4, 2015

Breaking in the New Year with Calligraphy!

Yesterday, I went the the New Year's Celebration at Yume Japanese Gardens- there was an art show and calligraphy demo-workshop by Yoshi Nakano, hanafuda games, and the gardens were open. Of course I wanted to show up in kimono but mostly I wanted to try my hand at calligraphy and see Yoshi-san in action!

Yoshi Nakano demonstrating how to make the character for "Ram". 
Yoshi-san was demonstrated his zen calligraphy in the classroom and afterwards I went outside to see the garden. The was a new dry stream with bridge, and the garden looks really nice right now. The koi were hiding and the pomegranate tree had lost it's leaves but the bamboo was lush and green from the recent rains. Most everyone was inside playing hanafuda or at the workshop, so the garden was very quiet.

There were no ceremonies in the tea house, so I used it as a photo backdrop. The weather was sunny but chilly, about 55 degrees, so I wore my red plaid kimono coat and my gloves with the furry green cuffs. You might notice that the bingata kimono I'm wearing is the same as last time I was there (See entry for Oct. 6) but I changed the obi to red and blue hakata. I mainly wore the kimono again because it has pine and bamboo motifs on it- pine, bamboo, and plum are traditional for the lunar new year. I tried for all three "Sho Chiku Bai " motifs, but I don't have much plum. However, the lining of the coat has plum blossoms. So I just barely made it! Sadly, I do not have a kimono or obi with with a ram motif. That would be very cool!

The new dry river feature and bridge in the garden
Yuri the cat relaxing in the exhibit hall
The kakejiku (hanging scroll) features a winter landscape
The empty tea house
My hands were freezing!

Squinting in the bright sun
These next photos look like I'm demonstrating how to put on the kimono coat! :) This was not intended!
You can see a glimpse of my red juban peaking out from my sleeve. 

The sleeves of the kimono are longer than the sleeves of the coat and bunching up a bit.
Next Saturday is Mochitsuki, so stay tuned for more photos of Japanese culture in Tucson well as a different kimono!

January 1, 2015

Arizona Matsuri - NEW Japanese Haiku Expo!

This announcement was just emailed to me today: a Haiku contest in Arizona!

The steering committee of the Arizona Matsuri has initiated a Haiku poetry event to help raise interest in the arts and culture of Japan to the people of Arizona. 
The Haiku event is now open for online entries and each entrant can submit up to 3 haiku free of charge. The deadline for submissions is January 24th, 2015. 

Japanese language students might especially be interested in the contest by challenging themselves with creating an entry in Japanese language. English entries are also accepted. All the information is online; please click on the link below.