Bebe Taian: December 2010

December 25, 2010

Meri Kurisumasu!

Meri Kuri~

Today it is Christmas, even in Japan. Although a very small percentage of Japanese say they are Christian (.05%, as of 2006), Christmas is still celebrated as a day off and with lots of lights! Although you probably won't see too many trees with presents under them, of course, it is a good time to get small gifts (omiyage) for various people. And of course, New Years' preparations are already underway with many families!

Christmas Eve is also a romantic time of the year for 'single' women who have boyfriends- the night is expected to be gorgeous and special. For women who are not dating, it is probably something not talked about much. However, many places will be open until Dec. 31st, closing for New Years' holidays, so going someplace on Christmas is not such a big deal.

Many families buy Christmas cakes for this day and eat them together. They become very inexpensive if you manage to get one on the 25th! This idea has resulted in an awful expression for single women; when they are unmarried and turn 25, they are "like old Christmas cake", rapidly becoming stale. One should note that the average age of marriage is rising despite this, though, so maybe even though it's a hurtful expression, people are choosing to do what works best for them anyways instead of rushing into an arrangement simply because they feel like they're losing time? I hope so. Considering how seriously marriage, and moreso, a wedding, is taken in Japan, it seems like too much to bother with if the timing and people aren't a good match!

So, for you today, is an old video once part of a Christmas special- the mega-popular stars Kamui Gackt and Hamasaki Ayumi singing 'Silent Night'!

December 23, 2010

Otanjyoubi Omedetou Gozaimasu!

Otanjyoubi omedetou gozaimasu! (Happy Birthday!)

Today, Dec. 23, is Tennou no Otanjyoubi- Emperor's Birthday. Every Emperor's birthday is a National Holiday in Japan. When they get a new Emperor, they change the date. Current Emperor is Akihito (Heisei).

Kinjou tennou (Reigning Emperor, as he will not be referred to as Emperor Heisei until after his death) was born this day in 1933, the fifth son of Tennou Showa.

Kinjou Tennou has a wife (Empress Michiko), two sons (Naruhito and Akishino), and a daughter (Sayako Kuroda, formerly Princess Nori).

More on Emperor Akihito here at Wikipedia. <3

December 17, 2010

This Weekend: Japanese Meetup!

There is a meeting of the local Japanese club coming up this weekend. Until recently, I didn't even know there was one outside of the University crowd! It will be a potluck meetup/swap/sale. I am hoping to sell some of the kimono I have on hand there, as well as meet some new people.

This means I need to get busy with inventory this weekend and start labelling things, and figuring out prices. I need to find my records of what I paid for each item, make piles of koshi himo if possible, and figure out what I can sell them for in-person. Online there is a slight markup because of various fees associated with hosting sites and Paypal, but in person I can avoid these and cut a better deal.

I also need to figure out what I can trade. Of course, I am always looking to have wonderful things in my personal collection, and I am going to buy things I love regardless of what the money came from. If I find something in particular that I would love to wear, I may consider trading for it if it is of equal value. If not, there will always be another gorgeous kimono! I have also decided that future kimono should fit me properly to avoid much aggravation associated with putting them on, which is difficult, since I have gotten so much taller in the past two years. I've gone from 5'3" to 5'6"! 5'3" was reaching to begin with. 5'6" is just out of the question. It's the reason you'll rarely see me wearing ohashori when being photographed in kimono. It's there, it's just really small! I wonder if our tallness is why shigoki obi are so popular here. It isn't just a kabuki-imitation thing, it's to hide the lack of ohashori!

I also recently found out that a friend of mine had purchased a kimono from a local dealer who misidentified the kimono as being antique Taisho. Just by looking at the colour I can tell that it's from the 90s. It's a 70's reproduction tsukesage with synthetic interior, a material that didn't exist in the 20's or even the 30's. ::sigh:: I wonder if it was an honest mistake. I cannot tell how such a mistake could have been made, but there is nothing she can do now. I do have an obi that may match it for her, but I am looking out for a better option so that she can learn to wear it. Currently, she is learning how to put on yukata- always a great place to start!

I can't wait for the day when she discovers a greater joy in wearing kimono and decides to learn to wear more formal outfits. Even if she buys nothing from me, it would be fun to help her scout for things and trade off kimono style books!

NOTE: The obijime you see here is available and for sale. It has never been worn, and is a new item. Only $25 for this obijime, which includes shipping with insurance!

December 13, 2010

For Sale: Cheery Yellow Yukata Kimono

It's out of season at the moment, but no time like the present to begin preparing for the heat of summer!

In the Southern states, it is still somewhat warm. One day here in Florida, it's 65F. The next, it's 80F again! Well, 80F is warm to me- especially when wearing two layers of kimono, even when they're both cotton.

Yukata literally means 'bath robe'- 'yu' is 'hot water', '-kata' in this instance refers to something to wear. Once, yukata were reserved for bath robe use only, for letting the water come off of the skin and cooling off naturally before getting dressed. Baths are very important in Japan! They are a way to destress and relax at the end of a long day. For those who can, people take their time bathing and soaking up the warm water, neck-deep in a tub. For wealthier people, old-style tubs are made of fragrant cedar wood. Most people today seem to have the modern plastic or ceramic baths, however. Baths are always taken after showering and scrubbing off in a separate area, so the water in the tub stays relatively clean.

Today, yukata are worn at festivals like Obon and in the house. In big fashion-forward cities like Tokyo, yukata are increasingly being worn with a juban underneath (like a more formal kimono) for extremely casual situations outside of the home. Bright, cheery kimono are even being dressed up with more formal accessories done in less-formal, non-traditional ways for cute new looks, like using shiny, metallic mesh instead of an obiage, or attaching bright flower clips to a dual-coloured obi as an accessory!

Yukata are excellent "starter kimono". They're inexpensive, they don't require a million accessories, they are easy to tie on your own, and they are lightweight. You can usually also wash them at home instead of dry-cleaning them. If one becomes badly stained, they can be taken apart for quilting fabric, and a yukata + obi set from Bebe Taian usually costs less than one pair of new jeans from the mall!

This yellow floral cotton yukata needs an ironing after storage, but I'll take care of that before shipping it out. It'll only get wrinkled again in storage, right?

Length: 154CM/61.6IN
Width: 136CM/54.4
Sleeve length: 48.6CM/19.4IN

As the fabric is cotton, it should be washable in cold water on a gentle cycle. I did not see any stains or tears on this yukata, but I will double-check before it goes out. Yukata alone is $50 (which includes Priority Mail shipping), $80 when purchased with the obi, once again, including shipping. Yukata + obi set include bonus koshi himo so that you can wear your new outfit immediately!

UPDATE 1/31: THIS KIMONO IS SOLD, BUT THE OBI IS NOT!

This yukata requires only two things to wear in the home (outside of the home, you should use a juban): 2 koshi himo to tie it at the hips, and a hanhaba obi. Hanhaba are soft and flexible, not needing the typical accessories that more formal obi require!

Purple Chikuzen Hanhaba Obi, $30 (including shipping), $80 w/ Yukata

The main purple colour visually minimizes the waist appearance and accentuates the brightness of the yukata, while the blue, white, and tan/yellow stripes mimic the colours in the floral pattern. Fabric is silk.

Length:

Width:

Cleaning recommendation: Spot-clean the obi until testing how it reacts to cold water and gentle detergent. Some silks can be dry-cleaned or hand-washed in cold water, some cannot. I would test out washing methods on inconspicuous corners, such as the very ends, which can be easily hemmed in an inch or so if colouring runs. Silk tends to keep colour well, but occasionally, kimono items can present surprises! I have always either hand-cleaned mine or had them dry-cleaned by someone familiar with the delicacies of Asian textiles.

If you've never worn a kimono before, yukata are the way to go. I kind of wish I'd started out with one! I probably would have been more persistent in learning to tie them properly than I was in the beginning. Now, when I don't feel like wearing "heavier" or more constraining clothing around the house like jeans, I put on yukata quickly and I go on with my day. They can be so cool and comfortable and easy to move in, it's really a comfort to be able to take one out of the closet and put it on.

I have a few colours and patterns available right now, so if yellow isn't your thing, just let me know! I can even scout for custom motifs or colours for you, although with our current TSA-enforced fiasco regarding overseas shipping, it can take up to three months for an item to arrive from Japan. I do not ask people to pay for anything until an item is inspected and ready to ship. Just comment or contact me for an invoice!

December 11, 2010

Kimono: A Whole-Picture Process

What the heck do I mean by that? "A whole-picture process"?

I mean that if you're running around in kimono, chances are it isn't just for the heck of it. You probably don't put on kimono just to sit in your house and scrub floors all day. And people in kimono are conspicuous- let's face it, people will think we're dressed up to really go somewhere, even if were just wearing cotton or wool! Therefore, I think that when seen in kimono, you have to really have yourself together. Just like you probably wouldn't wear a cute prom dress with no makeup and boots, you probably wouldn't wear a formal tomesode and then have styrofoam flip-flops and not even a trace of lipgloss. If you go for a look, go for the whole picture!

I'm not even going to try to get into coordination of kimono themselves today. I could dedicate entire books to that process! Today, I want to talk about the little things that you need to think about once you've already decided on an outfit- hair, makeup, and handbags.

December 4, 2010

How to Make a Susoyoke (Under-juban Skirt)

A susoyoke is a simple rectangular wraparound skirt that is worn underneath the juban to prevent moisture or perspiration from getting on your lovely silks! Susoyoke are especially important to have because traditionally, Western-style underwear are not worn beneath kimono. Wearing that style can make it very difficult to use the restroom without messing up the layers and ties you might be wearing. Susoyoke are often silk or cotton, and with little to no real sewing experience, you can make your own. I did. That's why I took up basic sewing lessons after I turned 12! Only please forgive my poor illustrations done in simple pictures from Paint. I hope that they are complex enough to show the process adequately, but not so simple that meaning becomes lost. I also apologise in advance for any mistakes I make in this. I am attempting to remember what I did years ago to make my own susoyoke without pattern or experience.

Cheap-o Komono: How to Make and Fake Some Accessories

Wow! Outfitting in kimono CAN be really inexpensive! But wait! WHAT ABOUT OTHER KITSUKE ITEMS?

Glad you asked! Other kitsuke items are not readily apparent, so some people forget they need them or don't understand just how incredibly useful they are!

Here are the facts: kimono books today will tell you that you need a million koshihimo, datejime, and types of padding for everything to give you that "perfect cylinder" of a modern woman. This is and isn't true. It depends on the look you're going for.

Today's kimono is not "every day wear" to most people any longer. It takes time to learn to tie a kimono on your own. It takes time to tie an obi on your own. It takes time to learn about motifs and seasons and fabrics and what is and isn't appropriate and OMG WAY TOO MUCH for the average Japanese to remember on top of work/school/kids/errands/cleaning, etc. Kimono-wearing today very much reflects that. Rules are somewhat relaxed, for one thing. If you see an awase (lined) kimono in summer, yes, it's likely inappropriate for the season- but that person probably owns nothing else and could not or did not rent for some reason. Kimono for most people today is for Obon holiday, New Years', graduations, and sometimes funerals or weddings. Thus, the kimono-wearing style has changed "shape". Gone are the days when women wore kimono every day, and things were tied more loosely or simply differently because women were working and living in them. Today, women model them for posterity and maybe because dressing up for a day or two a year is fun and exciting. The somewhat uncomfortable cylindrical shape I think is because of how "smooth" it looks. And it takes most people some hot, stuffy padding to get that shape!

A breakdown of some of the most common komono:

Using Everyday Items for Kimono Kitsuke!

I really wanted photos for this. I will have to get permission from someone and update!

But if you didn't know, when you are buying kimono and you see auctions for things like "kimono shawls", or other such items, there are things you can do to replace them or everyday closet items you can use instead.

KIMONO SHAWLS:

A "kimono shawl" can get very expensive, just as regular high-end shawls here can. However, you can often find normal wide, long shawls that are beautiful and which go well with kimono in malls, thrift stores, and consignment shops for what is often a fraction of the price of buying one new from a kimono retailer. Unless it is a particularly beautiful or unusual shawl, I would not buy it unless I LOVED it and would wear it with or without kimono!

OBIAGE:

This one I had to do for a long time before obiage became more readily available in the US for less than $30 apiece. I had a small assortment of scarves and appropriate fabrics that had been cut as obiage for more informal kitsuke. For example, a few layers of folded print chiffon with black background and pale beige leaves in a very small print were used as an obiage for a tomesode ensemble, before I 1) had money for kimono, 2) had access to the wealth of kimono items we have today in the States, and 3) had any idea what I was doing when getting dressed. LOL... All in all, it didn't work out too badly so long as I stuck to "flat", not ruffled, fabrics, appropriate colours, and formality level, which was almost always informal at komon level.

December 1, 2010

Shiwasu: First day of 12th Month

Technically, that may not be today.

Japanese calendars today go according to Western Gregorian dates, but traditional dates are still in effect for some who keep track of these things. The lunisolar calendar, based on the Chinese calendar, still holds for traditional dates. In this case, I'm not sure when the first day of the 12th month actually is for them.

But here in America, today is December 1, 2010. The first day of the 12th month. This day is alternately known as 'shiwasu', "priests run". During last month of the year, priests are hurrying from one place to the next to make preparations for celebrations and an influx of those requesting their services at the end of the year.