Bebe Taian

April 6, 2017

Tadaima, minna-san.

It's been a long time. Years. I've gotten older, but not much smarter it seems.

Watching the blog, which I once spent hours a week on, to becoming something I think of now and again but don't touch... it's like a treasured book that you never read. A mirror in a shrine that no one sees.

Over the years, the depression that I've talked about before hasn't gone away. It's only gotten worse. before, I could ignore it by absorbing myself in work. Now, I can't manage half of what I'd like to do. Chemical imbalances are... not something you can "just handle", like a bad day. It's having a perfect day with absolutely nothing going wrong, and having barely any energy to even sit up on your own, and wanting to burst into tears without reason. And it just don't stop, ever. There are only bad days and worse days. I've tried to tell this to doctor after doctor, and they don't listen worth a damn. "But you said you had an OK day ten minutes ago!" "Yes," through gritted teeth, "But MY 'okay' days involve being able to go grocery shopping AND throw frozen food in the oven AND eat on the same day. THAT IS NOT A NORMAL LIFE. My bad days involve panic attacks for no reason, or worse."

I think people don't talk about these things because there's a huge stigma around the issue, and neurotypical people have a habit of saying they're compassionate and understanding, and then they turn around an prove themselves to be absolutely terrible human beings. They equate "being depressed" with "just being sad", usually over some melodramatic bullshit like "oh, you didn't get something you didn't deserve just handed to you!" When that is absolutely NOT what is happening,

If we get *at all* angry about being invalidated or directly harmed by these people, "Woah, woah, woah! You're mental! You're too unstable to have a rational conversation about what's happening to you! I should dictate how your life REALLY is because you're too crazy!" Condescension, invalidation, and personal attacks are what we can expect if we try to talk to anyone or get help.

See, none of you are actually helping. Many of you make things infinitely worse, in fact. Especially terrible are the "medical professionals" who don't give a damn about their patients and are just there to collect a paycheque, paid up-front for appointments regardless of quality of actual service. Eventually, we just stop trying. To directly remind you all, that is to say that many of us WERE ACTIVELY TRYING TO HELP OURSELVES, on limited resources, and very limited energy- but the difference between normal sadness and depression is that sadness is a transient spring rain. Depression is a climate change, and now you have 12 months of monsoon season and you need help building your house up on stilts to escape floodwaters. Handing us an umbrella and then getting angry when we say, "Hey, we're still wet, in fact, we're drowning." won't cut it.

And you all wonder why the suicide rates are so breathtakingly high in America.

ha ha. breathtaking. that was a joke, people.


That's a large part of the reason I disappeared. I'd log in, stare at the screen, log out, defeated and more depressed than I started. I tried Xanax, but it just left me dissociated and unable to function very well. Life has gotten pretty bad in places, so it isn't like I'm entirely unreasonable, but it's starting to come back up, sort of. Dante, the Takehisa cat, died recently. Last week? It's so hard to keep track of what day it is. "Brain fog" is what it's called- depression so deep you can't figure out 'when' you are, when things happened, even important things to you. Lovecraft died in November. Azrael died a few years ago- did I write about that? I wrote about adopting him... My sister died too, shortly after the heart transplant... and so many others. Bebe and Seraphina are lonely without the other cats, but we're going to quasi-adopt two more. Maybe it'll cheer them up a little? I stopped collecting kimono for awhile too, and started again this year... I just... had no enthusiasm for anything. And no energy for anything that I once loved.

So why bother posting now?

hnnn well...

I finally decided to hell with it all. I'm going to die broke and unhappy anyways, working 60+ hours a week and making less than poverty-line wages. I might as well go to school and rack up debt, and get something done that was so far out of reach for me... I paid quite a bit of my student loans to medical bills, finally going to docs to try and get a diagnosis of why my bones hurt, my joints are on fire, and I feel like I'm walking on broken glass and legos half the time. I have most of the Brighton Score points. heh. And that's the better end of the health issue. The guy that wrecked my car (and my neck) in the hit-and-run back in 2013? He's suing ME for damages. That's rich. So I get to take care of that. There's a whole host of awful things happening, microaggressions on a major scale (hey, men- FYI, life is not television. We do NOT like it when you walk up to us, grab us, and start kissing us, and WE DON'T EVEN FUCKING KNOW YOU! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH MEN?! FUCKING CHRIST! And if I say ANYTHING about it to anyone, *I'm* the problem! What the hell?!) SO yeah, definitely depressed for a damn good reason.

But I found one person who really loves kimono, at a local sushi bar run by Japanese people. So I've been trying to go in a new outfit every week, something in tune with the current or preceding of the 72 seasons. Someone said that one of the keys to dealing with depression is to have a ritual that you absolutely must stick to, in a way to kind of 'reorder' a life that seems to be passing by in a haze. To give clear delineation to that existence, you have to hang on to something, even when you really don't want to. So far, I've done four outfits, maybe five. I'm surprised by how many kimono I really own, even with so many in shops or having been sold already. I'm still waiting- five more should have been here by today, but haven't arrived yet. I hope they come soon, though.

I want to go out tonight, to wear kimono and such, but honestly I've done nothing today and somehow have no energy. Maybe later I will start posting what photos I have of past outings. I'd really like to renew and go through the blog, but I don't know if I have the spoons to commit to it yet.

June 21, 2015

Natsu Matsuri is Next Saturday!

OMG it's time already! I spent so long waiting for this week to come, and now it's here, and where did all the time go? The older I get, the faster I notice it slipping by.

Natsu Matsuri, the annual Summer Festival in Tampa, is next Saturday. I'll have a booth all to myself for a few hours. It only runs from 9am-12noon, since it gets really hot this time of year. I wish it did run longer, though, at least until 2pm. It would give us late-risers and night-shift workers a chance at attending! I don't know about you, but if I work at a gas station, call centre, or even as a first responder (EMS, police, whatever) until 2am, I am NOT getting up at 8am to go to a festival! ::sighs:: Even so, the organizers really do a wonderful job every year, working within the event location that we have. And they managed to secure a wonderful covered location that is large enough for us to spread out a bit, all under a cement pavilion, which helps us avoid the rain and wind of previous years.

I can't wait to break out some of the things I am bringing this year! I should probably get to sewing a bit, to have some handmade crafts for the event, but I don't know that I want to put forth effort on low-demand traditional goods. Unfortunately, competing means having large sums of start-up capital, something I've never had for niche-market projects. I do want to do something different this year, though! I may make a series of magnets or other items to showcase traditional Japanese beauty, and bring high-quality prints of ukiyo-e art to demonstrate that kimono are indeed wearable, and have been for two thousand years.

If you're in the Tampa, FL area, be sure to come by! We're at Christ the King Church on the corner of Henderson and S Dale Mabry Hwy.

June 4, 2015

It's Too Early for Ro, But...

I know it's two months too early for ro, but I seem to only have two sha kimono and a total lack of sha accessories. Really, I preferred only awase kimono for so long that I never bothered buying anything sheer, despite living in such a hot climate. I didn't want to deal with having only sha or ro accessories, juban, haneri, everything when they're only seasonally relevant for a month or two each in the strictest sense. It's very expensive! But now, I'm much more comfortable with my skill of wearing kimono, so finally I've come to terms and started trading out for gauzy things.

... well, it isn't just that. It's also that I'm really self-conscious, so I don't even really have any transparent yofuku either. I wear layers and long sleeves in public pretty often, even in the heat. If I could, I'd dress modestly for an Alaskan, but it's way too hot here.

That being said, I wanted to get dressed for an impromptu meeting at the local teahouse, Kalesia's. But I only have one really viable sha kimono, which is the blue one that keeps showing up in photos, since the other is a fragile Taisho piece that almost feels like stiff, thick paper. The risk of buying antiques: some are too fragile to wear when they arrive. That, paired with the lack of proper accessories, brought me to ro fabric. 80F+ is way too hot to even think about lined kimono! I wanted something bright and colourful. Only one option there: my muted purple kimono with faux-sashiko bishamon kikko in white.

I have a few ro obi, all of which match the kimono- do I do subtle 'older' proper woman, and go with a pale wheat-gold obi with dragons embroidered on it? Black and white hakata? Nah. Let's go bold. I've felt awful with anxiety for weeks. To heck with this. Let's do BRIGHT! A bold salmon-orange 1960s fukuro obi with white, sky-blue, and buttery yellow nadeshiko and metallic gold grass embroidered all over, a faded yellow silk obiage old enough to buy it's own liquor, and a pale pink obijime with a wide, open weave.

The juban is a thin, slightly rough fabric printed with asanoha in a shade of salmon so brilliantly neon that it actually hurts to look at. Under the kimono, it takes on a new dimension. Too bad it's so short! If it were a foot longer, it'd be perfect for me... but I wore it anyways. I adore it too much to worry. I need to make a pair of blue  hanao for the shoes sometime. I've got so much gorgeous fabric... but I never get it done... I think my favourite accessory was this fluffy long scarf that my friend gave me, with gathers similar to shibori, echoing the shibori in the obiage. The Bolivian bag my father sent me from Samaipata ties all of these brilliant colours together.

After the teahouse, we went to the bookstore to look around. Mojo Books is a great place for offbeat stuff that you won't find at a Barnes + Noble (and yeah, some things you will).

I do need to get better at tying Ginza musubi, to make it 'fluffier' at the bottom. I was mostly worried about pulling the fabric on such an old obi, but I might yet find a way that works. It's such a floppy, soft obi too, so it's definitely one of my favourites! If it ever tears, I'll (maybe cry a little) probably frame a section as art. I'll keep practicing! <3

May 21, 2015

Thinking Out Loud: It's Summer Already

It's summer already. Why. Why, Florida? Well, technically, it's been summer since the beginning of the year, but even so. This means I really need to work on converting all of my wardrobe to hitoe fabrics, preferably ro, sha, or perhaps even ra clothing. I'm seriously thinking of getting large spools of hemp and crocheting an obi! Something loose-weave and light for casual wear, which is all it could ever be, like heko obi-style. Fortunately, I still have one or two yukata to wear.

I'm getting prepped for Natsu Matsuri. I'm not sure what to do this year. I may have only one table and I'll bring the shoe rack. I need to find my Square reader and download the app for it. I do have two nice hanging mannequins to dress up this time! So exciting! Although I should think about a new design for how things are set up. I bought a display board for jewellery to help get it above eye level and painted it for Morigyaru style (my current fave). So... maybe a garment rack, which I can borrow... I will likely try to sell off a stack of books this year. There's so much to think about every time, and every time I think I over think the event! Really, it's only three hours long, and it starts so early in the morning most don't even start filtering in until the last hour. Maybe I should make some new stuff for the event?

I want to bring everything I can! Some things you can expect to see:

- Hanhaba obi, including synthetic and cotton obi in various stripes and colours.
- Vintage silk obiage
- LOTS of obijime! I cleared out my drawers of anything non-essential, and there's still plenty up for sale
- Haori accessories
- Obi kazari, charms to tuck into the obi that dangle and tie together colours you might not have thought to pair together
- Kimono (of course)
- A few high-end fukuro obi
- Lots of jewellery, including bracelets and earrings
- Books on Japan or about Japanese culture

Should I bring things like little drawstring pouches for sale (in addition to the jewellery)? Herb sachets for drawers? I'll probably make a bunch of magnets... those tend to be cheap, anyone can use them, and I can produce them quickly. How should I display them? Maybe I should get a really cheap but nice cookie sheet to prop up and cover in the bright sparkly things. I definitely need to print new business cards! Should I go with the old ukiyoe-based red/indigo/parchment yellow? Or should I go for a more modern peach/brown/mint/sky blue palette?

May 16, 2015

For Sale: New Obijime, Obi Kazari

Lots of things for sale this week! I'm clearing out my closets. There are so many beautiful things that I bought and love, but I either don't wear them because I don't wear many things of the formality level required, or I have enough similar things that my outfits can still work beautifully. I can always get more obijime later! I need to work on getting obiage!

 Obi kazari, an obi charm tucked into the top of the obi which dangles and catches light. Used for informal outfits. Hand-beaded in glass and copper; beads are in shades of purples, blues, and yellow, with a hint of pink in the AB finish.

Each kazari is one of a kind and made by me. I used new and vintage beads, so every item is unique! No one else will have one identical to this.

Wide obijime in hot pink and black! It's absolutely gorgeous, despite the subtle staining. I haven't tried to wash it, so they might come out. The tassels are in really good condition, too!

Wide obijime aren't very common, I think. They're informal in category, and this one is so bright and stark in contrast, you could go for a lot of different modern looks with this one obijime.

2.2cm wide x 133.5cm long, not including tassels.

Super-cute silk furisode obijime! Muted metallic threads, cotton candy pink on one side, saturated blue on the other. Tassels need some careful combing and ironing. There's a few tiny loose thread ends, but they don't seem to affect wearability.

1cm wide x 152.5cm long, not including tassels.

 Another formal obijime for young women, this one for ofurisode. It's still new with the tag and tassel protector on it! The main cord is mulberry red with a dusky pastel purple split cord. One side is a normal maru obijime, the other side splits into two cords to make fancier shapes like flowers or hearts when tying the obi.

1cm wide x 154cm long, not including tassel on one side. 

No flaws found.
Beautiful paprika red + green formal maru obijime! Bought new and worn only a few times. It's such a gorgeous colour combo! This one was perfect for houmongi, older iromuji (the kind that actually do have subtle colours and patterns, but pre-WW2 they were still considered iromuji), and maybe 1-3 crest irotomesode. You may also like wearing it with furisode! The tassels are still in great shape, too.

1cm wide x 157cm long, not including tassels.

Another new furisode obijime in mousy grey-green brown and soft purples. This one appears to have a loose thread or two from the manufacturing process. There are some other subtle additions of colour where the purples wrap into the main cords. The tag and tassel protectors are still on it.

1cm wide x 154cm long, not including tassels.

May 2, 2015

Eye-Candy Movie: Lady Maiko

*Paid*? To do art all day? And to hang out and perform and entertain people all night? Sign me up. Minus the art, that's basically what I already do as a waitress. You have to try to keep people entertained with conversation when the kitchen is running behind; it helps the time pass by more quickly, so they are not so upset when the food comes out. Pour drinks, offer another drink, are you sure you don't want just one more? Be beautiful every time you come in: a man will pay you more. But pay the most attention to a woman when she comes in with a man- she might take it the wrong way if you don't, and leave nothing at all. When I finally get some time off to pursue any kind of art, it's short-lived due to lack of resources or time/energy to invest in it. And I certainly don't get paid much for my efforts. Every crafter knows the dreaded "Why do you charge so much? I could make this at home!" or "Ugh, you know, I could get this much cheaper from Claire's!" Yes, you could make this at home... with about $200 in craft supplies, and four or five years of experience to learn how to make something meant to last years.

But that's a geisha's life, isn't it? Painstakingly dedicate years to learning art and how to entertain. Four or five years as a maiko to learn the ropes before you become a real professional. And you'd be paid exorbitant amounts to keep up with that lifestyle. Meanwhile, I spend a bad night's earnings on just makeup for that month... ::sighs::

I guess sometimes I share the fantasy of being something more. Or at least gaining something monetary beyond basic living expenses.

Anyways, I'm thinking this because I'm watching a new movie before I go to work. The downside: no subtitles, and I don't speak Japanese. Ara ma~ But even though it's hard to understand context without it, the storyline, in Kabuki fashion, is easy to follow without knowing the language. Young girl comes to talk with the okaasan of a maiko, is turned away, must learn some things, and reapply to become maiko. As the news review says, it's "My Fair Lady" in kimono.

Even though the movie isn't entirely accurate, even the person who created it says it's 'pure fantasy', so we'll go with it. ^_~ The sets and costumes are beautiful, and the lead actress has a Disney-quality voice (although it doesn't match with what is traditionally 'beautiful' for singing). The whole movie is on Youtube in two parts. Again, only in Japanese; no subtitles.

April 19, 2015

New Haircut

I've been fighting illness for over a week now. Last Sunday I thought, well, muscular soreness and a sinus headache, yeah of course. I'm a full-time + overtime waitress, and I have bad allergies to pollen, trees... basically if it grows from the ground I will have a stuffy face and sound like death. x.x And it's Spring in Florida! So instead of snowfall, we get pollen. Of course I feel wretched! I'll rest Tuesday and feel great by Wednesday...

Heh. heh. heh.

By Wednesday, fevers set in. Everything hurt. Arthritis is flaring up (fun!) and I'm exhausted from all of it. By Friday I was getting sent home from work. I'm glad. This is miserable.

But thanks to a friend making me some magical soul food from his grandmother's recipe, I felt good enough to get my first haircut in a few years! Motivated, even. Actually, I chopped most of it myself and tossed the hair outside for the birds. Then I went off to have the ends evened out, since I couldn't get the very back right on my own. I still look sick (oy, you can tell) and my skin decided that it would massively break out this week, but the hair looks good at least! ::sighs:: When you feel like this, it's the little things...

Can't wait to do a kimono day again, and see how it looks. ^_^ In the meantime, I have soup to eat!

April 14, 2015

Lunchtime Kitsuke

A quick shot from lunch with DH at Ichiban, where I worked years ago. The weather is so hot outside already, really, I should be in summer kimono all year. It was around 80F today, with high humidity... so... Japanese weather? The outer kosode and inner juban are both silk. To be honest, I didn't bother with a third layer under the juban (don't do that! Not having a cotton layer underneath can make your silk rot faster) but I was still way too overheated. If it weren't for the blinding sun and high UV rating, we'd probably have gone to the beach instead!

Even inside, it can be hard to cool off. When it's 80F-ish outside, you can only expect it to be maybe 75F inside in a small restaurant, since the doors open and close all the time. Still the food is good and fairly cheap, and the tea room is filled with framed noren and ukiyo-e prints, so it's comfortable and attractive!

This time, I didn't have a flat obijime that I liked with the obi, so I used two thin kumihimo that are of the variety used in furisode decoration instead. The obiage is plain white, partially shibori- I think I have nothing less formal that isn't sha silk. The obi itself was billed as a Nagoya obi, I think, but it's actually a fukuro that is very floppy and double-sided. One side is brightly patterned with royal blue and white plaid; red, white, and olive green botan (peonies); and bright metallic gold peacocks with hearts in their feathers. The other side is smooth olive silk, no pattern at all. The shigoki obi is only slightly darker than the peonies and is a very thin, loose gauze with a shadow-pattern of birds and tree branches. The kosode, a basket-patterned web, giving (hopefully) the illusion of air moving through the fabric.

All in all, it's a colour scheme I am very comfortable in. My current boss asked me to come to work in kimono one day... but it's a restaurant. Maybe I'll look into a synthetic outfit that I can wash more easily.

January 5, 2015

Iromuji Kitsuke w/ New Obi

Mz J at the grocers' took a few photos of my outfit for tonight. I had to put my hair back up pretty quick.

Not pictured: the other employees I was talking to about fabrics (second photo) and origins, or the friend I was with who was kind of laughing about the whole thing.

Yeah, it's January, I know. Out of season and all. But... it's Florida, and it's really hot and rainy out all night. Like mid-70s hot, especially with three layers on. x.x And I was finally getting to take said friend to dinner! The restaurant, naturally, was cold inside.

So what did I end up wearing?

From outer layer in:
- Deep-necked tank top w/ susoyoke
- Bright orange unlined silk juban
- Ink-blue synthetic sha iromuji (harder to stain accidentally)
- That gorgeous vintage obi with the fire flowers!
- Bright orange silk shibori obiage
- Orange creamsicle-coloured woven obijime
- Rain, and no amageta, so instead regular geta and fashionably(?) no tabi, keeping in line with the hitoe kimono and image of heat

I think I'd really like a darker kimono, likely in a deep rich purple or almost black-blue, with a geometric pattern reminiscent of the designs on the obi, to really make those yellows and oranges pop! I have the bright red iromuji of course, but wouldn't that be too 'loud'? Hnnn I'll have to think about it. I definitely don't want to pair orange with orange! And I'm not sure I'd look that great in all-over yellow with my skin lightening up from working indoors all day. Before I at least got sun from my job at the last restaurant, since we had sun-facing windows everywhere, but the current restaurant is just plain dark, even in the day. The boss thinks it's 'romantic', but really, everyone else thinks they just need a flashlight to see the menu at noon. x.x So I have to be more aware of my palette! Suggestions?

June 28, 2014

Sold! One of a Kind Beaded Haori Himo

I sold a few haori himo in the past two weeks! Very exciting since the festival was fun, but 0 profit... and well, it ended up costing money to prepare and go. But even so, it was very fun! I even re-found the tea canister maker! <3 His products are way superior to the cans sold at places like Teavana, and for the same price range. I can't wait to have some spending money to get a few.

But back to the haori himo. I made a pile of them because... well, I could make bracelets, but I like haori. >D Maybe I should try to make dual-purpose items? They're both 7-9" long... something to think about.

This one was made from discontinued Blue Moon leaf-shaped beads, metal spacers, and AB crystal-cut glass. My favourites are the late-Summer, mid-Fall dragonfly beads. Here in FL, there are mosquitoes all over the place, year-round, but they get bad especially in the damp, humid Summer and Fall before it starts to cool. Dragonflies come out from everywhere to eat them, as many as they can. It's pretty rare for me to see a red one, but a lot of dragonflies I find are green or blue, or black/gold with tortoiseshell wings. It'll be especially lovely on any Summer or Fall-motif haori, like the one it was photographed with! Congrats to the new owner.

This himo was bought by the same person who purchased the himo above. Another himo made with discontinued glass. You can't tell by the photos, since it's difficult to capture, but the red glass has golden frost in the centre which becomes brighter when the light shifts, matching the metal spacers and faceted glass beads. Somehow, gold clasps just didn't fit, though- or at least, I thought so at the time. Maybe to make the beads stand out more? Bronze was used instead.

Faux coral haori himo with plastic, glass, and metal gold-toned spacers. This was made from a vintage Japanese-made necklace that was just beyond repair. I wanted to re-use as many of the beads as possible to keep with the spirit of the original.

The benefit of plastic over almost any other material is that it's lightweight enough to use on older or more fragile fabrics without the weight breaking threads or pulling/tearing fabric. And because of the more traditional look, it's prime for any Taisho or war-era piece! Even though no one wore beaded himo then, it's a way to keep simplicity and style in line with the fashion of the times. I'm sure if there were such things as these during the 1920s, Japanese women would have taken to them as they did obijime and other accessories.

Anyways, I'm excited that these have gone. I expected to be a little sad, but I'm not. I'm really happy that they will (presumably) be worn and cared for. There are lots more up for sale if you want your own! And of course, I can do custom commission if you're trying to match a particular outfit.

Come see the others on

June 13, 2014

New things for Natsu Matsuri!

Some new things I bought for Natsu Matsuri, and later for Etsy. <3 A preview of what everyone else will get to see on Saturday!

Silk obiage with firework-like patterns in shibori, appropriately dyed a super-saturated highlighter green. This shade of green almost hurts to look at. Good thing an obiage is halfway hidden! A very bold pop of colour for a daring wearer.

One of four obiage I have for sale right now... I'm waiting on others to arrive. x.x Hope they get here soon!

 Another super-saturated piece, this silk/synthetic woven summer obijime is bright, intense royal blue. For it's weave it actually feels a little stiff. Most of the braid is silk, but the very thick cords are synthetic. The whole cord has a starched feel to it. Still, summer pieces aren't always easy to come by, and with the heat increasing in Florida, I have a penchant for pulling as many ro, sha, and ra pieces as I can into my collection. I may start wearing hitoe all year round! Surely anyone who lives here will feel the same...

A mofuku set meant for funerals can be awfully depressing to some, but here, I see potential. Black obijime really aren't fashionable for anything but funerary wear, but with an added thin obijime cord of a bright colour, perhaps that will change. I have a few myself in purples and blues which are only maybe half a centimetre thick to pair with wider obijime!

As for the obiage and shoes, the shoes are my favourite. Plain black zori are terribly inexpensive on their own; it's when you dress them up that they become unique and fun! In this case, a little lace, some beading, and some knowhow, and you have a gorgeous, unique pair of Lolita-like zori for gothy kimono fashion. The obiage can be embroidered with silks along it's existing pattern, or over it with another appropriate theme, which adds some versatility.

I hope more comes tomorrow! It's the last day I get to prepare before the show. I get two tables this time, since a friend is lending me hers. Also, I found this gorgeous silver and peach nadeshiko brocade fabric to use for a table runner! Of course, that's for sale, too... where would I keep it the rest of the year? So hopefully, I'll have enough to cover both tables. I've sold a lot in the past year... time for something new. ^_^

June 7, 2014

Natsu Matsuri 2014 is coming!

Hi everyone! It looks like I'll be heading to the annual Natsu Matsuri festival, after having missed Haru Matsuri at USF this year. As usual, I'll be bringing kimono, vintage Japanese dishware, accessories, jewellery, etc. but this year I'm making some fun, inexpensive "extras":
ukiyo-e magnets, washi cards, bookmarks, and gift tags, otedama sets, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff. <3 

If you're in the Tampa Bay area (Florida, USA) come out and see us- but come early, since the rains usually start around 1, we close up around noon. It's a kid-friendly, free event! Plus, lots of traditional and modern shop booths to visit. Usually we have a tea shop, a pottery booth (all handmade), and my favourite, a taiyaki stand. Mmmmmm bean paste fishies.

May 6, 2014

Notable Japanese Women: Yanagihara Byakuren

柳原白蓮 (Yanagihara Byakuren) 1885 - 1967

Byakuren was born Yanagihara Akiko, a first cousin of Emperor Taisho, daughter of an unnamed geisha and Count Yanagihara. She is perhaps best known outside of Japan for her push for women's rights instead of her poetry.

Her first marriage was at 16 (women were considered adults between 14-16 then), when she was sold to an aristocratic family and forced to marry their son. After five years, she fled back home, where her elder brother put her on house arrest and again forced her to marry, this time to Itou Denemon, a wealthy coalmine tycoon 25 years older than she. Such an arrangement was called a "Golden Marriage"; the newly-wealthy person gains social status, the wife (and more importantly, the wife's relatives) gains access to greater financial sway.

Itou was 52, an illiterate former coal miner with children and several mistresses. Byakuren was 27 by this time, middle-aged by standards then, and the daughter of aristocracy. It was a scandalous marriage that was purported to have caused outrage regarding social standards in the 'vertical society'. Tokyo Asahi Shinbun reported in 1911 that Byakuren's brother was in financial straits and needed the wealth from Itou in order to increase his own social standing. Her 'bride price' was proof of her position as chattel in her world.

It was during this second marriage that she began to develop herself as a poet, with writing as her escape. "Trodden Images" (Fumie), her first published poetry collection, was printed in 1915. Fumie is a heavy reference to the punishment of Christians during the Tokugawa and even Meiji governments, when suspected Christians were forced to recant their faith and trample images of their saviour, or face execution. Surely, faced with a sham of a marriage to someone she resented so strongly, and a society unwilling to allow for her right to leave, she felt this choice as strongly as the religiously oppressed.

Yet, as with celebrities around the world, interest in this woman might have died if not for a scandal involving her husband's mining operation in 1918. Reports of bribery rocked a country with an increasing gap between the poor and the wealthy, when resentments on both sides rode high. But even that might not have been enough to maintain public interest in her works, which were few before 1920. The real uproar didn't come until three years later, when she'd finally had enough.

Her divorce announcement was published in the Asahi Shinbun on Oct. 22, 1921, an act simply not done by 'respectable' women. That letter would spark a firestorm of conversation and public demonstration regarding the treatment of women and the female role in society. Byakuren was lucky- it was her influence, established works, and a wealthy social network that held her up upon leaving. A 'normal' woman would scarcely be able to dream of having that kind of freedom. Not only was her divorce of Itou public, but it was known that she herself had a paramour, and had run off with him. During Taisho era, a woman who runs off with another man could be punished with two years in jail; a man would be given a minor sentence, and only if that other woman was already married. Byakuren's behaviour was unheard of, and her story only brought to light how unequal women were in her society.

Stripped of her royal title, Byakuren lived with Miyazaki Ryuusuke, her chosen husband, until she died in 1967. She had two more children with Miyazaki. Her poetry and writings did not cease after her newfound happiness. She lived out her life as a celebrity author, and throughout her fame, even had a serialized newspaper fiction which (although not based on her life) was widely understood to be about Byakuren and other women like her. Many parallels from the two stories can be seen, which is an essay in itself.

During her entire career, with the swirling change of the world and rapid industrialization of her country, her one letter became the symbol for the need to change. Right-wing groups used her divorce, as well as movies and other stories of the time, as evidence that morals were in decline and chaos would surely ensue. Left-wing activists took this as an opportunity to say that women should have their own lives and should be free to marry of their own accord, not to be bought and sold like objects. The Modern Woman was someone 'unrestrained' and 'morally corrupt', wanting independence and rebelling against the Yamato Nadeshiko image of the 'perfect' woman: quiet, refined, submissive, cute. Byakuren was seen as outspoken, in control, even sexy. Despite losing so much, ultimately, she gained her happiness and satisfaction in her life.

There were two moments when I meant
Ne'er to allow the slightest touch
Of dust to settle on this heart:
Once when I prayed; once when I loved.
(Fumie, 1915)

AsiaWeek on CNN
Toshima-ku Tokyo Tourism Guide
Asia: Journal of the American Asiatic Association, Vol. 20 (Jan. 1920)
Japan Review 24 (2012): 105-125

An online catalog of Byakuren's writing, including some digitally published works.
Byakuren on Wikipedia Japan (in Japanese; sorry, the G Translate makes no sense.)

April 15, 2014

Cleaning Up - The Whirlwind Week

Still working lots of days and long hours, although I've been getting a few days off for the past week. Which is nice! I can catch up on physical therapy, going to the gym, cleaning, and clearing out stuff to sell. Dante and Lovecraft both have cat colds, and Bebe needed to go to the vet after her diabetes flared up and made her really sick. Joys upon joys.

On the plus side, they'll be okay soon (I hope; I'm keeping an eye on Lovie), and I got to see a friend safely into his new residence after his roommate decided to evict him on 0 notice. Luckily, he knew it was coming (since he was leaving at the end of the month anyways) and had a place to go. The move was beautiful, like a military operation. Just seamless and organized. <3 And his kitty is a lil fluffball of luv, so I got to pet him too for a few minutes. Plus, today, I packed three pounds of herbs for the shop... and I have about seven more to go. But I ran out of bags until Wednesday. So I decided, hey, I'll print labels! ... and then after one sheet, my ink ran out. x.x Aaaaaugh!

It's that kind of week. No gunshot wounds, just repeatedly stubbing a toe on every step.

After packing herbs and getting labels and all that, I spent nine hours today getting photos of some of the sale things and listing new items. ::phew:: I can finally close up an old storefront and work towards consolidating everything into one shop. I can't run multiple storefronts anymore! Goodbye to ShopHandmade, Zibbet, Wix, and soon, Weebly. I can't take all this online clutter! I can't handle the in-person clutter either, but I do have to try to make something off of it... these vet bills aren't cheap, and they're very necessary visits. I'm fortunate that my vet consults on the phone and only schedules appointments when necessary so he can get to the really sick animals first. He does things like emergency surgeries in office, so it's pretty critical to do so, I think. But when I do go it, it isn't free. So I need to sell off all the clothes I don't wear, the books I don't read, just about everything. And then when I sell enough off, I can get rid of furniture, too.

I just can't do it all. I'm trying, but... I think there isn't enough of me, or enough hours in a day, or enough days in a year to accomplish everything I feel like I need to get done. I'm swiftly putting myself in burnout mode again, and... there's little I can really do about it. If I keep going, burnout. If I stop, I risk losing everything: the apartment, the car, the cats, just... everything. So I keep trying.

Ganbaremasu. <3

March 31, 2014

Weekender 6: Stuff + Things


I got a few days off last week! ... because the restaurant was shut down to move. I spent them sleeping, going to Drs. appointments (still doing physical therapy after the car accident in October), listing things for sale, and catching up on a month's worth of laundry. Also, I got a new desk this week! <3 It cost a little under $100 off of Craigslist, but it has doors on it (computer armoire style) and shelving. With an internal riser, I'll have even more space for my equipment and office supplies! It also means I can print things immediately from my laptop, now that I have a space for my printer/scanner, instead of getting DH to log off of his and using that computer... which in itself doesn't even have a power supply powerful enough to support things like the external hard drive and such. x.x So... yes. Increased productivity! I'm still working seven days this week at the restaurant, though... only one 12-hour shift this time! The others are 6-7 hours a day.


- I'm on an organisation spree... or I would be, if I had any time off. I'm trying, though! 5 minutes a day helps me keep things in line.
- What I wouldn't give for a tansu or three... for my kimono, for really anything. I'd keep it all cat-free, and protect some of my more precious books and things from light and dust that way. Strangely, I've also found these on CL a few times, usually for under $500!
- Kimono Couture shows have been a big thing this past week, it seems. Here is one model for the GLE Fashion Show!
- And if you want more eyecandy, bookmark GLEshima on Tumblr. So worth it. WARNING: You may lose several hours of your free time at this site. And forever lament not having half of those kimono.

No survey this week, since it's already 2am on Monday! <3 And I get up in just six hours or so for a 12-hour shift. Oy. x.x