Bebe Taian: 2011

December 29, 2011

Christmas Shopping Spree

Christmas was incredibly busy this year. I barely slept for a week! Now that all the festivities are over, and I'm cleaning up the place and recovering, I can get back to business as usual. But first, I went on a small shopping spree!

Okay, for me, it isn't small. It was almost funded by my mother and uncle. Seriously, I think I've finally found a gift card that I LIKE. Amazon cards are the way to go, guys. :P I can blow $200 on books without even blinking. And I will devour them all.

I don't like Kindles or Nooks because they are electronic- nice and all, and some stuff is cheaper on them, but 1) I don't buy the eco-friendly thing as compared to harvesting trees when I know where the metals come from and what they cost (think child slavery, rape, and strip-mining in Africa, Afghanistan, and other countries) and 2) they're ELECTRONIC. Which means if the power goes out, or the batteries run down (more metals and chemicals being produced), it won't work. A book, I can just take outside. It will be readable anywhere there is light. I can take it anywhere. TSA will never stop me for a stack of paper (I hope), but they apparently don't know how to handle laptops and Kindles. Books are far superior!

Aside from the stuff I've been meaning to get on and off (for, I don't know, ten years or so), I racked up on Japanese culture books. It's a good thing my husband reminded me, because strangely, I'd forgone those (again) in search of a bunch of YA books that I loved long ago. My youngest sister tends to read my books, even the beginners' stuff on physics, economy, and chemistry, so I tend to think of her when I buy things that are on my back-burner list. So I've put more of those on a list of "One day..." books, and picked up a list of Japanese-themed books! All descriptions are the short summaries from Amazon, since I haven't received any of them yet. Which means... book reviews impending! <3 Here's the list, but oh, there are SO MANY more that I want...

December 11, 2011

Taisho style, Heisei kimono.

DH bought me some new kimono things, despite recent troubles. <3 Christmas kimono = awesome. I'm very, very happy. This one was a little hard to dress in. Actually, it fits very, very well, I think. The obi is the hardest to tie without a biyosugata. I can't quite get the sparrow wings to fold the way I want them to. I will have to practice!

I wanted to get the wide-obi, bright Taisho look... Taisho Chic has a cover featuring a modan-gyaru (Modern Girl) in a red kimono with a blue and gold obi with a cloud motif. I don't think clouds will work with anything I own, but this pattern will. I think I still tied the obi a little too widely for my body shape. Maybe I'll tie the obiage differently next time, too. Less showing, I think. I did like the handbag and dress combination overall. And next time, I'll bother with doing my hair. I actually can't do much with it because my hair is so thin and flat, but maybe I'll try something like country girl braids, or big, loose curls at the sides in a more modern take on the outfit. Everything I'm wearing I think is from Heisei-era, post 1989. Overall though, not bad for not having worn anything but yukata in a few months!

But ack. My shoulders are always so broad in these photos. How do Japanese women make it look like they are so narrow? I know Japanese women HAVE shoulders. There's no speculation to the fact (like in the early 1900's, when some people thought Americans had tails, thus why women wore bustles). How do they do it? Complete mystery... one day, I'll discover the ancient Japanese secret of shoulder-hiding. :P Wish me luck!

December 5, 2011

Eeek! Gomennasai!

Ack! I'm so sorry!

I thought I had updated a week ago, but it turned out that I'd saved the post as a draft instead!

What I had intended to say at the time was that I am taking a slight hiatus to finish reading some books on Japanese culture, with intent to review and share some pertinent information with everyone!

My New Years' Resolution has already been decided: to start scheduling informative posts, as I had tried to keep up with previously. If I feel I can't sit down and write it that day, I can write it ahead of time and post it on the appropriate day. Since my goal is to learn new things as I write, it'll be an adventure of education for me as well! I think that is what keeps me so interested. I want to learn everything. Awesomely, I have a super-cool younger sister who is just as interested, without the typical pre-teen "OMG EVERY ANIME CHARACTER IS SOOOO HOT!" thing going on. She really just wants to learn about etiquette, see anime museums and learn how stuff is made, and geek out about Roppongi and geisha. I figure we'll get to more 'adult' matters later. Like when my mom won't kill me for it. >D Besides, lots of cool intelligent-kid-friendly stuff to learn!

So, here's what's on the schedule:

- Reviews of some books I've acquired recently
- Posts on national holidays
- Adherence to the 'traditional' calendar where possible, except for holidays adopted after Western calendars became widely used
- Etiquette posts every week
- Psychology-related cultural posts every 1-2 weeks
- Monthly motifs, colours, and other fun seasonal stuff

I will try harder this year to improve my habits regarding posts. Also, I've seen a cool kimono challenge going around on other kimono blogs (something I want to add a section for on my blog! Redesign coming up... ^_~) Also, I have already begun building a new website for my kimono and other items for sale! It isn't quite* what I want yet, but I'm working on it!

Ganbarimasu!

November 17, 2011

Artfire Announcement

Hi everyone!

I had so many items listed on Artfire- cool things, like the Satsuma and Kutani dishes, piles of silks and fabric remnants, so much awesome stuff... but the sales are lacking too sorely to pay the monthly fees, something like $12/month. That means if I sell one kimono, the entirety of the payment goes towards fees and maybe three or four months of simply hosting the items! One of the reasons I joined Artfire was their explicit promise that they would never charge Basic seller accounts monthly fees or listing fees; instead, we would pay a percentage of the final sale value of each item when it sold. This has obviously changed.

I will be hosting on Zibbet as soon as I work out the kinks in listings. I also hope to have a website built soon as a permanent home to shop through, similar to the one I built for Perthro's Pagan Supplies. The cart system is not as streamlined as I'd hope it to be, but I can accept Paypal through that site and adjust shipping rates before refunding accordingly.

Of course, the Bebe Taian website is still being planned out. I want to make it more than just a sales site. I want to fill it with useful information, fashion examples, all kinds of stuff! And of course, I'll link it back to here... or perhaps import my blog to there as well. ^_^ I'm still deciding. It's on my list of things to do with the New Year! Please be patient. I'll be back up and running soon!

November 11, 2011

Private Collection: Asa no Ha Komon

Fittingly, this asa no ha (stylized hemp leaf pattern) hitoe komon is made from hemp. It's ultra-durable, and about as soft as thickly-woven cotton, if not smoother. It's *wonderful* fabric! In fact, I may attempt to collect many more made of hemp for precisely this reason. It's like the best cross between denim and linen that could possibly exist. It's awesome. <3

Actually, this would be something I'd wear today. Even though it is now awase season, and the weather is certainly much cooler today (down to 50F at night! YAY!), it's thick enough to where the layers underneath keep  me plenty warm. You can't see through it, so maybe no one will notice the lack of lining.

It might be one of the last few days this year that I can wear something like this. The rest of the year, maybe it's all silks or synthetics.

My only issue now is getting a workable obi. I had one that I wore with it previously, but I really didn't care for the combination. I don't have anything that really fits this right now. Perhaps I should look into a hakata obi- but in what colours? Red and white, maybe?

November 8, 2011

SOLD: Pink Wool Hitoe Komon

UPDATE: Sold on 2/12/12

Yellow walls are not kind to photographs. Especially not photos of kimono. Although, this one came out better than most others...
Up for sale is a pink/black woven wool kimono. It is unlined (hitoe), except for plain white cotton lining on the collar and the upper body. It is a very sturdy fabric. Even though wool is rough and stiff, because kimono are worn over juban, little if any of the fabric should directly touch your skin!

Komon like these are the informal jeans and t-shirt of traditional Japan. A simple kimono like this can be dressed down with a super-casual hanhaba obi, or dressed up with a pretty Nagoya obi! With the right accessories, the same kimono can look radically different from one day to the next.

This one came from my private collection, but I've since decided that I favoured asa fabric (hemp fabric) over wool. And in Florida, I don't need anything to make me warmer than I am! Even though it is unlined, wool can be oppressive. I prefer thin, gauzy silks if I'm going to wear hitoe! But it would be perfect for someone who lives further north- all the warmth without the weight, great for those days that can't make up their minds as to whether they're going to be hot or cold. Wear it with a padded juban, or with another layer of kimono on colder days. The fibers are actually pink and black woven together, so you get horizontal thin streaks of black all throughout the piece. Play it up with a black and metallic obi!

Age is most likely Heisei, although without patterns or distinctions, it may be as old as Showa.

This Week in BebeTaian News

So, instead of posting on Halloween, I ended up working as much as humanly possible on housework, Perthro's Pagan Supplies, and Bebe Taian's upcoming Japanese Culture Festival! The entire week was about folding, sorting, checking, repairing, sewing, and working out fine details about the booth and logistics, on top of working two out of three nights that I was scheduled at Ichibans'. There are some photos to post, though! I just have to unpack the camera and edit them. By Saturday night, I felt like I still had things to do, but I'd done enough to fill my section of the booth and then some.

Sunday the 6th was the Orlando Japanese Festival. It was a loooong ride! But fortunately, a friend was driving me there and back, being far more familiar with the area than I am! There was great food (sushi!), join-in dance sessions to 50s Japanese songs, and lots of vendors.

My booth was shared with a few other people with all kinds of stuff: obento and ohachi sets, Hello Kitty merchandise, CDs, books, magazines, and lots of shirts and wristbands for charity! I mostly sold very cheap accessories, $5 or less. Plenty of kimono items up for grabs, but it's a tough year. I made just under the booth fee, so actually, the day was a loss, but it was still very enjoyable. I got to show someone how to tie a yukata, and met a very cool couple who had an interest in kimono and Japanese antiques just as I do! G and E were kimono/20s-30s porcelain collectors. SO AWESOME. E has a very different kimono style than I do, but it works so well with her colouring! I'm more of a subdued, "old lady" person, more likely to be decked out in dark blues and greys. >D She's so bright and vibrant! Her buttery yellow kimono and bright purple obi worked really well together! And their daughter was awfully cute. I think maybe she was shy because there were so many people around.

Another vendor was so kind, they translated the name of some of my dishes! The ronin set is a Kutani work from the mid-80s or so, and to have a full set, each signed, is fairly rare. Kutani is a very famous, very expensive brand! The other name, Matsumise, means "pine peak", and is likely the artists' name or the house he works for. For this reason, I have raised the price on the porcelain set. Even so, it is well worth the cost.

Afterwards, it was packing up (with the help of some of the other booth members- thanks, guys! You really saved my back! <3 <3 <3) and heading out around 5PM as the festival was winding down. And then... more FOOD! OMG. I can eat quite a bit when left to my own devices. I tend to forget to eat, but when I do... dinner was SO American. >D Give me a cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, and onions any day of the week. And then, the rest of the long drive home.

Today and tomorrow, unpacking. And today, I paid for a rather large shipment of items from Osaka, far away from any nuclear fallout that I've heard of being reported so far, so please don't worry about radiation. They gave me what I think is a very fair price on shipping. I checked by weighing similar items and ran the weight past Japan Post (the official website of Japan's post office) to calculate shipping costs. My estimate and their price were within a few dollars of each other, with my estimate being slightly more expensive. I will report again when I see my items, which can take up to 2-3 months to arrive. 6-8 weeks is standard, but sometimes SAL shows up here as much as 3 months after initial shipping date!

I can't wait to show everyone what is coming, and to list what is already here. I'm working out details locally to have a better photo location, as my apartment is very dark indoors, even with the lights on.

As well...

I'd like to give a public shout-out to fuel tanker TRL30 on I-4 towards Tampa. You wove in and out of lanes, rode up on people's bumpers, and otherwise engaged in highly risky driving behaviour. You were going about 10mph over the speed limit, judging by how fast you outstripped us, and I will be looking up your companys' phone number, as I didn't see it on your truck. It's bad enough that some people have no driving skills and yet choose to use major highways going speeds in excess of 60mph. You were driving a FUEL TANKER. You know, the kind that EXPLODES, sending burning wreckage and shrapnel everywhere. You have no business being on the highway if you're going to be doing this. I understand that you have a schedule to keep, and that companies are increasingly demanding of tighter and tighter shipping times which can sometimes be impossible (literally, impossible) to make, but don't risk people's LIVES over a whopping half hour off of your trip! /end rant

October 25, 2011

About Cultural Appropriation

With Halloween coming up, I think it's time to talk about cultural appropriation. Especially in relation to costumes you'll be seeing/wearing. It's really important to not be (accidentally, most often) racist. Yes, yes, I know that the point of a costume is all in fun, and no one takes it seriously, and blahblahblahblahblah... but some people do. Your idea of 'fun' does not supersede someone else's right to cultural integrity, ok?

Let me tell a story:

October 22, 2011

Private Collection: Mint Green Awase Kimono

I finally wore my mint green kimono today! It's so gorgeous, but unfortunately, it was one of those purchases that turned out with more damages than described. Even so, it's incredibly* soft and comfortable to wear in the house with our sudden burst of chilly weather. It's wonderful! I'm sick of going outside and dissolving into sweat. x.x And now I can go outside without doing that- while in kimono!

Actually, it's less yellow-green than in this photo. The real colour is more like mint chocolate chip ice cream, with slight hints of bright orange lining at the sleeves and the hem. Inside, the lining is white, dip-dyed orange at the edges. The pattern is waves, pale blue seigaiha, chrysanthemums, and camellias.

Since I'm just wearing it in the house right now, I didn't bother with an obi or a proper juban. Too much to refold and pack up tonight. However, I do rather enjoy the pastel orange and white juban I have with a white haneri featuring a woven chrysanthemum and ichimatsu pattern, and the silver metallic fukuro obi with waves and ichimatsu. It's a solid colour obi, entirely silver, so it's very versatile! I picked it up in Japan when I was visiting Hokkaido during a summer festival. I only wish I'd brought more money on that day!

This is one of many private collection kimono that I've considered selling. As incredibly soft as it is, I don't think it does as much for my skin tone as I thought it would, mostly because it's less yellow-toned than I had anticipated. Because of the staining, it might be most useful as fabric, although it could perhaps be worn to occasions where you'd expect to get something on it. I do love the longer-than-usual sleeves, though! And the upper part isn't so bad; maybe it would be nice with a bright hakama.

On a side note, today was apparently supposed to be the Rapture Day, according to some crazy Christian sect. For those of you not following Fundie Christian culture, it's some really bad gematria-inspired interpretation of the *English* Bible with a handful of lines taken largely out of context by a guy who's run a radio station for forever and a day. Followers preach a message of general hatred and elitism before warning True Believers (TM) that they'll be saved on this day... by way of flying up to the heavens to be with God while demons run loose on earth to prey on those left behind. I have to say, it's a really nice day for some demons to come up. They might get to enjoy the relative air conditioning for once. Although, if they're used to brimstone and undying flames, they might want to bring sweaters. 68F must be like Arctic wind to them, poor things. Maybe they'll stop by and buy some haori from me? Silks are awfully warm and soft...

October 17, 2011

Hyakki Yagyou: Kuchisake-onna

Midway through October, and it's still barely Fall. We had a day or two of cooler pleasantness, but all in all, it's still fairly hot outside. Perhaps now* is still time for ro fabric here- if not yukata season all year 'round. In any event, it is surely awase season in Japan again!

I may wear one of my remaining hitoe wool kimono soon. I've been making time to wear yukata about once every two weeks. My current issue is largely storage-related, since we are downsizing so much! I've also had to clear out a large corner for the new cat tree, which is helping the kids get along much better now that they all have a comfy space of their own to nap on without being disturbed. Whoever designed it really knew cats- even the "flatter" spaces are curved, so that they can rest their heads more comfortably. Two of the cats are fairly large, so you can perhaps imaging the discomfort at laying down. In any case, it's very space-consuming, and I need to look at new options!

Halloween is still approaching. What should I do? If kimono is my regular outfit, and it isn't particularly theatrical or scary, perhaps I need a new approach- an obake, maybe? Perhaps Kuchisake-onna!

Probably, you've seen a more recent horror movie called 'Carved', or 'Kuchisake-onna', the Slit-mouthed woman. It is an updated version of a very old story, today often set in places like Tokyo, a city so big that anyone could be anyone!

The story starts the way they usually do: with a beautiful woman. This particular beautiful woman was very obsessed with her beauty, taking great pride in her lovely face. She is married off to a wealthy samurai, who begins to believe that she is being unfaithful to him (despite the numerous affairs most samurai were given free leave to have...); he becomes so enraged at this idea that he cuts her mouth from ear to ear, saying "Who will think you're beautiful now?" Later, she died and became a vengeful spirit.

Today, she walks the earth covering her face, entrancing people. She will ask you, "Do you think I'm beautiful?" If you answer yes, she'll uncover her face and ask, "Do you still think I'm beautiful?" If you say 'no', she'll stab you to death. If you say 'yes', she'll carve your face up like hers was. Supposedly, the only way to have a chance is to say "You are so-so" or 'average', and it will confuse her for a few seconds so that maybe you can escape! (Other variations: say you have a previous engagement, and she might excuse her bad manners; or give her sweets or a gift, and she might be distracted long enough to run away!)

Of course, the modern legend is a little different. In the late 70s for some reason, mysterious sightings of Kuchisake-onna were reported. Today's Kuchisake-onna is a beautiful woman wearing a surgical mask, which is a common sighting in Japan- especially during cold + flu season! Supposedly, even school children were sent home in groups because of it. Perhaps someone thought that a person imitating the old legend was running around, hurting people. In the new urban legend, the woman is perhaps an escaped mental patient who cut herself, a woman in a bad car accident, or someone who was a victim of plastic surgery. In any event, she looks like everyone else, and carries a large pair of scissors sharp enough to kill anyone who responds to her the wrong way.

Scary, isn't it?

October 11, 2011

Hyaku Monogatari: Yuki-onna

Thanks to running three part-time businesses and working one on-payroll job, I've had little time for... well, anything. For once, I'm a little happy we're having financial troubles; the same thing that is causing me to work so much is allowing him to finally do things he's been needing to do, but never could due to his own former workload. I'm so happy for him!

But now that it's October, and we've FINALLY had our second day of semi-Fall-like weather here in FL, I've been all too ready for pumpkin spice cookies, phasing out cotton and hitoe kimono, and most of all, GHOST STORIES!!! Yes, I'm a big horror/fantasy lover. And that means... Hyaku-monogatari kaidankai! The Gathering of 100 Ghost Stories!

This is an old game played in Japan. No one is really sure when or how it started, but the game goes like this:

Just as night falls, light 100 candles in a room with a gathering of friends. Usually, the candles are in a circle around you. Take turns telling each other ghost stories; there are, of course, more than 100 ghost stories in Japan, but certain stories were very, very popular. As you finish telling each story, extinguish one candle. At the end of the 100 stories, when the last candle goes out, supposedly a ghost of some kind will appear!

Perhaps the most famous of the Kaidan in Western knowledge comes from modern stories like Ringu (The Ring), Ju-On (The Grudge), or older stories from Lafcadio Hearns' KWAIDAN.

Yuki-onna - CLAMPs "Shirahime-syo"
This story is of Yuki-onna,"Snow Woman", one of the most famous supernatural stories today. "Shirahime-syo" by CLAMP is a take on Yuki-Onna. But no matter what happens, the Snow Woman stories are often along the same lines:

Two woodcutters became caught in a snowstorm. Incredibly cold, and looking for shelter, they found only a small abandoned shack. Most of the wood was too damp to burn properly, and only a very small fire could be made. Together, they spent the night there. As the fire died out, they began to freeze... when a beautiful, silent woman as pale as snow comes into the shack. She wears white clothing from head to toe, her pale lips and long black hair the only features standing out. As she bends down to touch the older man, his skin loses colour and becomes bluish, frost forming on his fingertips as she breathes over him. The younger man wakes up to see this and is frozen with terror. Yuki-onna turns to look the younger man over. She decides to let him go, but only on one condition: he can never tell anyone what he saw that night.

Segawa Kikunojou II as Yuki Onna
When he arrives back home, he tells no one. He is too afraid of what might happen! He continues about his work well into Spring, when he meets a young woman traveling through the woods. She says that she has no family, and is a wanderer. This sort of thing often happened when a family could not support a single female; she was sent into the world to find her own work. She was very pretty, and very pale, either with hunger or because she had possibly come from a formerly well-to-do family (never having had to work outdoors before). In no time at all, she proved her usefulness and great skill in weaving and sewing. Eventually, she became the young mans' wife. They lived together for years, had children together, and were very happy with their simple life.

But little things about Yuki were strange to her husband. She seemed so familiar, as if they'd met before, and he just couldn't place it. The way she moved, or her faint smile... finally it came to him. THIS was Yuki-onna! The same woman who had spared his life years earlier!

Certain that it was her in disguise, he decided to tell her his story from so long ago. She listened patiently, and believed every word- but, she was angry. He had broken his promise never to repeat his story to anyone! She had to make sure he was good on his word somehow. But she did not kill him; rather, she left him to raise their children, and returned to her duties as the Snow Woman.

October 3, 2011

SOLD: White Silk Obiage!

Last Saturday, I was lucky to have made a sale, despite not being able to attend the Clearwater Japanese Festival. <3 Very lucky, indeed! Tonight, I've arrived home after a long day of work, and I am inspecting it again before shipping it in the morning. I hope it has found a great home!

Obiage are so delicate and versatile. More often than not, in winter, you can find me wearing a 'flat' obiage or an ironed-out shibori obiage as a scarf. Sometimes you'll see one peeking out from underneath a headscarf. I tend to wear them in winter, since personally, I love the cold... but my jaw injuries do not. Obiage help keep me warm and look great, even when I'm not wearing kimono.

Some kimono fashionistas sew smoother ones to eri to decorate their collars! In Taisho era (and perhaps before that), collars were just as bold and patterned as the rest of their clothing! And wearing more than one obiage at a time, tied into an interesting way, can be one way to add visual interest to your kimono outfit.

Really, there are so many possibilities! It is why I am always excited when someone tries out an obiage. So, sayonara, obiage!

Also, two days ago, I received a pile of "new" maiko and geiko postcards! I already have them archived, but I'll take them out again soon and post some photos. Would anyone like to help me place the dates or identify who is in them?

September 21, 2011

More Old Photos

 A series of old photos from postcards. Some are very well-preserved; others are in terrible condition. I hope that one day I can archive and perhaps digitally restore some of them.

On the right, a tayuu (highest rank of courtesan) is flanked by six kamuro, who are servants and apprentices to tayuu. You can only see a few in this photo. I bought the postcard over the weekend and haven't yet received it for better photographing. The tayuu/oiran ranks were nearly extinct by the early 1900's, so this is a somewhat rare find!

September 20, 2011

Revisiting Old Photographs

I'm revisiting old photographs. Ones I'd forgotten, some I don't care for. I've never been very photogenic... This one was taken by my mother in law last year (I think) at our birthday lunch. I wore the purple Taisho and juban kimono that my husband bought me for Christmas. There are a few variations on this outfit, including a red plum blossom obi combo. The issue with getting my collars to stay is ongoing, although I've found that korin belts do wonders!

And others, others are some from private collections. It reminds me of how much I need a scanner! I have a collection of postcards from my paternal grandfather, who brought sets of them back from Japan during his stay in Okinawa (a military guy, of course). Some are ones I've purchased more recently, within the past two years.

Despite my financial setbacks recently, I've decided to stop buying sushi here and there while working (I get it at a discount, since I work there), and put in for a few postcards to add to the collection. I am also going to ramp up my efforts to make more sales, although, that mostly has to do with paying the bills. I've spent most of my waking hours working recently; I think a little retail therapy is in order.

Tomesode Sneak Peek

A quick sneak peek at the details on a tomesode I am selling!

I loved this piece so much, especially with a gold fukuro obi with red details. <3 A maru obi would have been lovely to wear with it, but alas, I lack one that fits it well! I paired it with the white obiage and obijime listed on ArtFire.

I wavered on selling this one. For a tomesode, it was so bright! Most tomesode, by definition, are subdued in muted and dull colours. To find one so brilliantly adorned in reds and bright greens- it was stunning! The crane motif is especially luxurious. I can't help but to wonder if this was worn by the mother of a bride, or perhaps, by a bride herself at a reception party. Maybe it was her first kurotomesode? Maybe...

Really, the photo doesn't do it justice. It leaves out the black and orange bamboo motif, the peach momiji, and the constellation of gold dust scattered across the wings of the cranes.You can't feel the raised texture of the ever-refined kinran (gold threads) couched to outline highlighted details. You can't feel the texture of the silks as they slip through your hands. I'll grant that some of the gold dust has worn away in bits and pieces here and there, and there is a smudge or two, but it's unlikely to be noticed without a thorough inspection... and who would, when the piece in it's entirety is dazzling?

Kimono measurements:

From hem to shoulder, along the back seam - 63"/157.5CM
Wrist to wrist - 53"/132.5CM
Sleeve length - 19.25"/49CM
Width of bottom hem - 22.5"/56CM
Crest is kiri, paulownia. 

By the fine yellowed appearance of some of the silk, I can tell that it is not a new piece, likely from Showa era. I cannot be certain. With newer "standardized" kimono, it can be so hard to tell. However, it was well-stored. The yellowing so far seems to be slight and even, not blotchy like kimono which were exposed to moisture. The colour pairs in the bamboo (purple and yellow) remind me somewhat of the Taisho-era colourings once so popular, imitated in the late 60s and 70s but yet not quite from that time frame. The leafing appeared to be hand-drawn, and by the tiny white stitches at the hem, it was also hand-sewn. The person who made this kimono had skill; clearly, it was a lavishly expensive outfit. I doubt there is another quite like it.

Still, tomesode are quite common. Because they are the most formal of outfits, there is somewhat of a limited wearability to kurotomesode. Perhaps they would be for someone attending a formal black tie affair, an opera or Broadway show, to a wedding of a close friend or family member (if you are already married; otherwise, irotomesode or ofurisode would be worn), or something similar. Some people choose to display these gorgeous kimono for a bold and decadent Asian motif to their rooms! It is as easy as hanging a curtain rod on the wall, or getting a special kimono hanger.

Can you see yourself in it?

September 15, 2011

Two Down, One To Go!

Two down, one to go! Two of the vintage men's kaku obi sold yesterday. That lovely gold one, and the bright red one as well. That leaves the subtle and sophisticated blue obi.

The san-san-kudo set from before has also been sold recently. It was a beautiful set. The white uchikake is still available, though! It would be excellent for Halloween. Honestly, I'd thought of getting a black obi and white wedding accessories and doing the Heron Woman from 'Sagi Musume'...

It almost makes me wonder if I shouldn't quit Artfire, despite the money it will cost me every month to sell there. I've made three sales so far since April. Which, I admit is far better than I did on Etsy. Maybe I'll stay on for one more month? I've been so busy running two other operations that I haven't had time to make a new website for BebeTaian!

As a side note, I think it is the play 'Sagi Musume' which inspired the decidedly non-geishalike dance in 'Memoirs of a Geisha/Sayuri'. Don't you think so?


September 5, 2011

Private Collection: Taisho Tachibana Kimono

I have a side job at Ichiban Restaurant now. I have never worked in a restaurant before, and my health is not the best, so it is perhaps harder work for me to get used to. Even so, I want to work hard, and learn how to do things better so that my coworkers will have less burden. They are looking out for me, but really, I need to learn how to look out for myself and be the best so that I can help them.

We do not wear kimono anymore. It is too hot lately to work in them. Much cooler and faster to work in shirts and pants.

I haven't worn kimono since around Natsu Matsuri. Recently, I wore my purple yukata with a red obi, and my blue asanoha kimono with a gold obi. Maybe I am a little paranoid. I worry that if my heart has another problem, maybe the paramedics won't be able to easily get me out of kimono- or worse, they would cut the kimono to get it off! I would cry if I lost a Taisho piece to THAT. Clearly, I've recovered from past incidents of heart issues. I'm tougher than I let on! My kimono will not recover.

This is one of my Taisho pieces that I love. Three seasons of beauty! I love the tachibana detail, hidden when worn. I have two or three obi to wear with this, including a mint green momiji fukuro, a bold red ume fukuro, and a silver wave fukuro obi that matches the hemline. I'm not sure which one I like wearing with this kimono best, but it means that I have something for three seasons to specify which season it's being worn in! It is the same red ume fukuro obi that I wear in my photo of the purple Taisho kimono, so I feel comfortable wearing this obi with more than one outfit. For me, this is great- I have obi with no kimono to wear them with yet!

I seem to have an issue with overheating lately, even in cool air-conditioned places. Ice showers are keeping things in check for now, but it means wearing kimono less. I may end up getting a few more yukata to wear around the house, or simply taking the yukata I already have for sale and seeing what fits. ^_^

So, no kimono for right now. When I'm back to full capabilities, I hope to continue updating this blog with monthly info on motifs, new collection photos, folklore, and lots of great stuff!

August 28, 2011

For Sale: NigatsuBebe Jewellery + Accessories, Pt. 2!

Just to recap from the last post:

I'm having a blog sale! I have SO MUCH STUFF to close out from my former ArtFire and Etsy accounts that don't belong on BebeTaians' sites. If you're interested in any of these items, message me and let me know which items you want, and I can invoice you through Paypal. Max. shipping on most items is $6, Priority Mail. This means I will fit all I can comfortably wrap in a Priority Mail box that reaches anywhere in the US within three business days. I can ship regular mail too; it's cheaper, but it takes 5-10 business days on average. Of course, I'm happy to ship overseas, too! Just ask about shipping rates, and I'll check prohibitions in your country. Some places have some strange rules regarding jewellery materials, so I like to be sure!

BTW- normally, these are priced higher online and in person at shows. I'm wanting to get them off my hands to pursue new avenues; namely, kimono stuff for resale locally. And groceries. Those are very important lately. :P

Agate + Hematite Earrings, $15 + SH
Gold/orange/white agate just glows! Each stone has a slightly different swirl of colour, but I've matched them as well as possible for these gorgeous earrings. Fall is coming, and these are the perfect thing for that gorgeous black dress at Halloween!

There are two of these sets: one more yellow, and one more white-tinged. Please indicate which you'd like, or I'll ship the yellow ones shown here by defailt.

Finishing beads are non-magnetic hematite.

August 18, 2011

For Sale: NigatsuBebe Jewellery + Accessories!

Folks, I'm having a blog sale! I have SO MUCH STUFF to close out from my former ArtFire and Etsy accounts that don't belong on BebeTaians' sites. And, come to find out, ArtFire has messed up payment processes due to their website changes yesterday. The day I make my second sale. Lovely. x.x  Paying directly through Paypal is an assured way of sending and receiving payment that clears quickly, meaning that I can ship just as quickly!

So, I'll make this relatively easy and foolproof! If you're interested in any of these items, message me and let me know which items you want, and I can invoice you through Paypal. Maximum shipping on most items is $6, Priority Mail. This means I will fit all I can comfortably wrap in a Priority Mail box that reaches anywhere in the US within three business days. I can ship regular mail too; it's cheaper, but it takes 5-10 business days on average. Of course, I'm happy to ship overseas, too! Just ask about shipping rates, and I'll check prohibitions in your country. Some places have some strange rules regarding jewellery materials, so I like to be sure!

BTW- normally, these are priced higher online and in person at shows. I'm wanting to get them off my hands to pursue new avenues; namely, kimono stuff for resale locally. And groceries. Those are very important lately. :P

Sodalite Pendant, $15 + SH
Handmade wire-wrapped sodalite pendant on 18" silvertone chain OR adjustable black cord- you choose. Each one is made to order. No two stones alike! Also available in several other stones, so ask away!

Aside from being merely pretty, various stones are thought to have special power from the earth. Sodalite is said to bring emotional balance, self-acceptance, and thus increases spiritual perception. It is said to tie the head and heart together, harmonising logic and intuition.

August 14, 2011

About Shinei

On Ebay and elsewhere, there's a seller by the name of Shinei. He/they overtook Ryu-Japans' shop, and they also have two or three of their own shops under various names on various websites.

For a long time, I bought many private collection items as well as others from them. They started the ads at a ridiculously cheap price and reasonable shipping from Japan. However, it seems that their practices have been increasingly erratic and outright deceitful towards their buyers. There is also some evidence that someone has created a shilling account to deliberately raise prices on their own items by placing false bids.

If Shinei feels that they are not getting enough money for their items, they should simply raise the starting bid price on their kimono. Many sellers like japanese.antiques and kyoto-antiques do this and sell successfully, at much higher prices. It is not fair to artificially inflate prices on buyers after the fact.

August 10, 2011

Creativity in the Face of Adversity

Let's face it, the past two months have been rough for me. It's a story I'm sure many share some variation of. Both of us unemployed, with our savings having run out long ago, hospitalized twice in a week for near heart failure, the car breaking down, so, so much stuff happening like that, all in a short space of time. It's a little much. But I have hope still. I have to. Thinking of how bad things have gotten for friends, and how bad things have been in Japan in the past six months, and seeing how other people carry on despite their setbacks, I remember that I can't give up yet. As for everything I wish I'd done, or wish I could have done? Shoganai. It cannot be helped.

So, in between looking for work and calling about jobs, I've been trying to keep busy. Cleaning the apartment makes me feel better somewhat, but what I really like doing is going through everything we own and finding out what we can sell. I go through periods of acquiring stuff and destashing stuff; this is a good time to destash. It gives me a sense of purpose, and I don't feel so bad letting go of things if it might keep food in the pantry. Thus, why I sold off two of the kanzashi from my private collection. My hair really isn't long enough to wear either one, and won't be for years, so there's not a whole lot of reason to hang on to them. ^_^ The other things I've been doing? Making stuff!

August 7, 2011

::le sigh:: Selling Kanzashi.

I finally caved and put some of my beloved kanzashi up for sale. At a loss, even. But it was necessary- I have bills to pay, and there isn't enough money coming in for both rent and food. So, in the hopes of better days, I put my bira kanzashi and the Taisho kogai up for sale. Both end in only a few hours now. I'll be a little sad to see them go, but I hope that one day, I'll be able to afford to support us both for the basics and also one day afford some Taisho bira kanzashi, the brass and silver/aluminium kind!

I started the bira kanzashi at $15, since I paid $30 for it. I'm hoping it'll get a bit higher than that, but who knows what people can pay these days. I feared going much higher on it for a starting bid simply because I've put up so many kimono things that go nowhere. I was hoping that the yukata sets would be more popular, since Halloween is coming up! But maybe not yet- not until September... then things will pick up, I'm sure of it!

The Taisho kogai is also for sale, starting at only $10. It's fairly damaged, but still functional. It might have been nice to do a Hone Onna thing for Halloween, but in reality, I never do anything that night... :P Probably, it's a bit  more valuable. Ah well. Shoganai, ne?

I might think about listing others in the future. Much of my jewellery is likely going with it, as are some of my kimono accessories. If you have a few moments, you may want to check out my Ebay page!

August 6, 2011

Hiroshima Anniversary

On this day, August 6th, 1945, American President Harry S. Truman ordered the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

On August 6, 1945, President Harry S Truman announced:
"Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T.  It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British ‘Grand Slam’ which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare."

He told Americans that this location was a military base and a threat to our country- and then used the public support to use a largely untested atomic bomb what was actually a civilian city. He followed up with a second bomb on August 9th, knowing full-well what it would do as evidenced by what happened to Hiroshima, on Nagasaki. The bombs killed around 200,000 people. Most of them were civilians. Most of them died from flash or flame burns resulting from the bombs. Other died from debris, or fallout. Uncounted many afterwards died from radiation poisoning or leukemia.

August 4, 2011

It's August Already? Oy...

I posted on August 1st and somehow missed the fact that it was August 1st. Shows you exactly how preoccupied I've been lately. Oy. Why is time going so fast? Why do I feel like I don't do nearly enough with it? The name for August traditionally is Hazuki (Month of Leaves), or Haochizuki (Month of Falling Leaves).

Maiko Fumino, by Onihide
This months' kanzashi include morning glories (asagao), which are extremely popular on yukata, and susuki- silver grass. It is a very stylized kanzashi that is sometimes painted pink on the underside of the 'spines', to make the top silver part reflect those pale hints of colour. This is usually said to be pampass grass, but actually, they are two different plants.

Kimono motifs this month include summer grasses, bush clover, uchiwa (round fans), various animals such as deer and rabbits, children playing, thistles, fireflies, kingyo (goldfish), and fireworks.

Fortunately, it is still ro weather. Gauzy, open-weave silks are in fashion for a little while longer. Really, the way it is in the States right now, it should be ro weather all year long! o.O I can't wait for it to get cold again. I want to see deep purples, white, dark blues, golds, silvers, and brilliant reds. I want to walk outside, turn around, walk back inside, and walk out again with a jacket of some kind. I don't particularly care for snow (or rather, I like snow; I just dislike driving in it), but cold? Bring it on! As such, we have to wait... at least right now, the fashion is to dress in cool clothing. Even yukata are hot to wear right now!

Kagiri aran
Naka wa hakanaku
Narinuran
Tsuyukeki hagi no   
Ude wo danitohe


          There comes an end
          To us- how brief
          It seems;
          Dew-drenched, this bush clover:
          If only you would ask it!

Izumi Shikibu

August 1, 2011

For Sale: Vintage Japanese Peacock + Lotus Bowl

It's a gorgeous bowl, isn't it?

The unique lotus shape gives it a flair unseen in other china, and the brilliant hues of the pattern really make it stand out! The gold detailing gives it an even more expensive feel- but this piece isn't expensive at all, compared to what was paid for it years ago. It has been in storage for a very, very long time. And now, it's time to find it a new home.

I am unsure of the exact age of this work; I only know that is has been in the family since the 1980s and is likely no older than that.

This was one of many pieces in a collection by the Fuji China company. There are other pieces of the same pattern, but I do not have any of the others. It was easily paired with any plain white or white/blue dish sets, and having so many, why pursue more? Instead, I chose a few favourites to keep.

Fuji Quality China bowl is approximately 6.5" across, and about 4" high. The porcelain is in excellent condition. It was made in Satsuma, Japan.

 Won't you take it home with you?

July 29, 2011

Private Collection: Kanzashi

I'm taking a moment to show off my private collection of kanzashi/kushi.

It isn't particularly large, and I'm hesitant to get more at the moment... but one day... maybe I'll add a few special pieces to the lot. At one point, I had very long hair, but when the Gulf Oil Spill became an issue, I cut it to my shoulders and donated it to Matter of Trust, which made hair mats and booms to help soak up the surface stuff.

Of course, this meant that I didn't have nearly enough hair to wear most of this stuff. My hair is ridiculously thin. Even at waist-length, it only made a small bun when piled up. Long enough for an ornamental comb or some decorative bobby pins, but wearing a bira kanzashi (the dangly silver one) in *my* hair? Dream on! Especially for as long as those prongs are...

Didn't stop me from buying one though, did it?

The white plum blossoms are from Atelier Kanawa. The blue were made for me by Naomi of Kimono Asobi (Puchi Maiko fame!). The yellow one is a plastic reproduction of bekko (tortoiseshell), and the silver birabira kanzashi is a reproduction of a higher-end type worn by geisha. This one, I think, is made for odori. The others are Taisho-era brass, alloy, wood, and shell works. I am considering selling the alloy kougai (just above the kougai made with shell and wood). The last one is a faux-tortoiseshell comb that I picked up in a vintage shop. Probably, I paid far too much for it, but it was such an interesting shape that I didn't want to pass it up!

Ah, I lied. There are a few more kanzashi I want. I want to add some brass bira kanzashi, some more kushi, and especially some Meiji-era bekko pieces. But THOSE will cost a fortune, and I don't have disposable income for hair combs right now! So, they will have to wait. <3

Want your own? I have a lot of some vintage kanzashi here. Some are traditional Japanese, some are fashion accessories that likely originated in the West.

For Sale: Sushi Plates!

Vintage sushi plate set: five plates and a serving tray.

These have actually been listed for awhile, but I decided to take new photos since I didn't like how the last ones came out. The old ones were dark and small, and not incredibly clear. I also thought I had only two plates until I discovered three more packed away. I've now retaken photos of them, and I hope that people can see the true beauty of these pieces!

I think the plates are four-season friendly, which is excellent for those of us who don't have room to have different sets of dishes for each season or month. There is something to be said for acute attention to the changing of times, but it isn't doable unless you have a china pantry the size of my kitchen, now is it? A plate set that covers all seasons is probably the most practical choice, and the more beautiful that one set, the better!

This one is adorned in peacocks, gosho guruma (lucky carts), seigaiha (waves), houou (phoenix), maple leaves, plum blossoms, Chinese bellflower, and peonies. It's especially colourful, adorned in blues, greens, reds, and white- perfect for those who want to get away from the Chinese-style "blue and white" patterns so common to what we think of as Asian dishware!

Personally, I especially love the blue/green tones. I think a traditional indigo-dyed noren hanging would amplify the depths of the blues while accentuating the lightness and vibrance of the other colours. Technically, noren are door curtains, but really, they make great wall hangings in a Western home that would otherwise have no place for them. They tend to be relatively cheap, so they can be changed often- and usually, they're good-quality cotton, so they're easily remade into other things like quilts, aprons, handbags, etc. <3

The makers' mark on the back is Tokunaga, I think (but I'm not a native Japanese, so I can't say for sure!), and the other is Su-en possibly.

They were carried from Japan around 30 years ago by my friends' lovely mother, who had a passion for beautiful dishware and decor. I can see exactly why she loved these so much; and how much she must have loved them, to have carefully carried them by hand in luggage through customs and airports, just to get them home!

Here they are, listed at ArtFire. Take a look, won't you? I ship Priority Mail every time, so they arrive very quickly and safely.

July 27, 2011

Beef Teriyaki OMG.

As previously mentioned, I am an idiot and ended up in the ICU. Yay for undiagnosed critical heart problems! As such, I am in some serious need of certain nutrients. I apparently go through them much faster than most people, and will until I get proper medication. Some of those nutrients include iron and protein!

Which would explain why I am now desperately craving beef teriyaki. Oh, Just Hungry site, how I love you. You make my adventures into learning Japanese cooking much less perilous. You allow me to have an idea of what I'm doing. Wonderful Obento Person, you ensure that I can cook delicious food.

Basic teriyaki sauce:
- 4tbsp soy sauce
- 1tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Salt and pepper

You'll need some oil in a pan for searing the beef. I prefer a more tender cut, thin-sliced, so that it can be coated in teriyaki sauce and seared to a delicious shiny glaze almost instantly, before or after being threaded onto a skewer with slices of green onions. With a side of white rice, of course. Don't use Botan. It isn't even worth the glue I made from it last time I cooked. UGH. Use something like Kokuho Rose or Nishiki! It's slightly more expensive, but well worth it.

This meal alone I feel qualifies for a hearty obento. Add veggies if you like- my fave. is goma-ae. That'll be spinach, barely cooked (in order to get the most iron out of it, it needs to be cooked a little), tossed in mirin, soy sauce, sesame seeds, etc. I HATE spinach, but when my homestay mother made this for me, I discovered a love for vegetables I never knew I had. It was like experiencing God. But it was food. Pair these three things together, and you will have one of the most wonderful meals that has ever existed in the entirety of human history. Some people have adapted the recipe for broccoli, but to me, that's sacrilege!

Take a moment and thank the nice Just Hungry people for filling our lives with deliciousness. Just comment on your favourite articles. <3 They have an in-site search function for foods, as well as categories. Use them well.

For Sale: Vintage Japanese Tea Set

This tea set was hand-carried from Japan long ago by a friends' mother.

It's a fantastic set, with generous-sized cups nearly big enough to fit an avocado in, with gold detailing. Each one is clearly hand-painted, as marked by subtle differences in pattern and proportions. A shame I have no talent for reading the maker's name! And even better: I thought the set only had three cups, but it actually has five! The teapot seems so small compared to how many glasses it should fill... but then, I suppose they don't tend to fill glasses more than halfway when initially serving anyways, don't you think?

It's for sale on ArtFire right now! For how rare and delicate it is, I think it's well-worth the price. Surely, this is a special tea set. And samurai (or ronin?)- what a romantic image!

Lots of Japanese Dishware!

I'm very excited. I have a box of awesome Japanese dishware, the marks of many of which are not in English (so unfortunately, I'm not sure of the maker). They're fairly old. My friends' mother brought them over from Japan long, long ago. I had hoped to have them all photographed already, but I'm an idiot, and ended up in the ICU for the second time this week! x.x As soon as I'm back on my feet, literally, I'll start photographing again!

Amongst the pieces, I have a set of three porcelain cups with paintings of wandering men (I think ronin, perhaps, but I'll have to look at them again), a lotus-shaped bowl with elaborate painting of peacocks, and a cute mini bowl set with lids!

As well, I'll be getting new and better photographs of the dishes that I already have listed, on white background fabric this time instead of the black. I think that while the black shows some of the angles and details of the white ceramics better, and while I may take a few photos of smaller pieces against a non-white background, I am trying to make my standard colours either tan, pale blue, or white.

I also have a pile of obijime to post! There's three or four different ones that I want to list; blue and silver, green and white, silver and pink, and a flat yellow/white one. And a stack of yukata and obi... Although I think the yukata are too new for listing on their own, some of the hanhaba obi are old enough, and if sold as sets, it may qualify. Some premade cotton koshi himo sets are going to be sewn up soon, as well! I've been waiting to put those up, and now that I have my fabrics out and can see how much yardage I have on my biggest pieces, I can make some premade stuff for sale. I did finish one kinchaku bag! I need to get better at making them more quickly.

On top of that, the 1st of August is coming on quickly. Time for a change of flowers and motifs soon! I was happy this year- I saw LOTS of butterflies, dragonflies, and fireworks on people's clothes and accessories this month! I hope that next month will be just as fashionable, and that I'll be able to wear kimono more often soon. I really need to get some ro or ra pieces; I still don't care for going around in yukata... <3

I recall posting the Utagawa ukiyo-e before, but I didn't mention that I have a kimono similar to the one the woman on the right panel is wearing. It's a Taisho-era piece, and may have been a recreation mused from the famous work.

I haven't worn it yet. I want to get the perfect obi for it. I'm not sure about mustard yellow on me. Would red be too much of a match? Japanese sensibilities seem to like contrast... I should check my kitsuke book for acceptable pairings. I should also look for a good pair of shoes to wear with it.

I bought a pair of geta with red velvet straps (which I need to loosen so that I can actually *wear* them!) to wear it with, but it's an awase (lined) kimono. Technically, I think that may call for zori these days, if I'm not going by Edo-era rules. Maybe if I kept to that style, someone would notice what I was imitating?

And this is likely why I don't call myself a kitsuke expert. I don't know nearly enough about modern rules. I've shown myself what to wear by looking at ukiyo-e from Edo period, from studying photos from Meiji and Taisho eras, from seeing people wear them on the streets of Tokyo and from photos of geisha and maiko. People who wore kimono every day as a habit (well, except for maybe the fashionable Tokyo girls). Rules seemed more flexible because they had to live and work in them. It wasn't a ceremonial garment in of itself. Kimono spanned everything, from our equivalent of sweats or t-shirts and jeans to the ultra-formal black tie event dress. It's the reason why I don't take an incredible amount of stock in kimono rules from today, unless going to an event that would require "good" kitsuke. Not too many people still alive would remember the rules of wearing kimono the way I learned how. It's outdated by about 100 years or more. :P But, if going to a modern event, of course I would have to read up on what is expected beforehand...

So, what should I do?

July 24, 2011

Cleaning House

I'm back from Natsu Matsuri!

I was very fortunate yesterday; I managed to scrape up the gas money to get there and back, found a shady spot beneath a tree to set up (right next to the kitsuke instructor and try-on booth! How perfect!), and even sold an obi and a map of Tokyo! The gorgeous Tenga obi I had up for sale on Etsy, long ago, the gold and chocolate-coloured one, was sold. It was a beautiful piece. I was happy to see someone so overjoyed to have it! Someone also brought me yakitori, and I bought some delicious ginger and scallion noodles! <3

The car is still packed from yesterday, though. There is so, so much to unload. I'm a little happy that I didn't bring everything I had intended to. I have to haul what I've got upstairs and make room for it all- refolding items that I couldn't fold yesterday, repacking so that everything fits into their buckets better, etc. I also have a new stash of vintage Japanese dishware that I want to photograph and list.

The only trouble I have now is that ArtFire is changing it's structure. Where sellers once could have free accounts, paying only when an item sold (great for those of us who don't have startup money!), they are changing to a fee-based structure. It isn't much, but I would have to sell $200/month to make the fees worth it. I'm definitely not making $200/month! So, now I have to consider what to do. Which means that I think October is my deadline for doing something about this. I really, really HATE changing venues!

I have such a long list of things to do, and such a small amount of energy to do them with. But I think I can make this work- I mean, if I could pull off Natsu Matsuri despite all those setbacks, I can do this too, right? I will think of something!

July 22, 2011

Natsu Matsuri is tomorrow!

I'm a little nervous. Natsu Matsuri is tomorrow.

I had so many plans for the event- a very specific view of how the booth would look, feel, flow. How beautifully things would be folded or laid out, hung, protected by clear visquine in case of Florida's famous sudden rains.

And then my health tanked, and a lot of huge financial issues cropped up, and just a lot of generally bad news happened all in the space of a few weeks. Just yesterday we spent the last of the reserve cash that I was going to use to get to the festival was spent after I got out of the ICU. DH is insanely worried that I could have problems doing the festival work tomorrow- you know, hauling huge buckets of silks, setting up the displays that I have (half as many as I wanted to do, and now lacking a tent), working for hours in the heat... it may be too much. But, I am determined. I have to be there! Even if I don't have everything I need (like my cash stash for change). I have to at least show up and meet people, and do what I can for that day. It's better than nothing at all, and missing out entirely.

I have some ideas about alternate displays.

I intended* to have two 5' tables, one square garment rack, and one rectangular garment rack, a mirror, a chair, plus maybe a set of plastic drawers, all under a 10'x10' tent.

What I will ACTUALLY have to work with is one 5' table, the mirror, the three plastic drawers, and the square garment rack.

What can I do? Maybe I can clear off the shoe rack and clean it for various items to be displayed. The mirror can be tied to the table with koshi himo, to keep it standing, or to the garment rack perhaps. The garment rack is self-standing, so it shouldn't be a problem unless we're on uneven ground. My sign can also be adhered to the table if need be. The drawers can be beside the table to provide extra space. I can sit on one of the buckets if I need to. I'll bring a pillow to elevate me a bit. Maybe an umbrella, to help keep the heat off of me.

::sigh:: My main worry now is simply affording the gas money to get there, and having enough stock to really make the sales, since my past weeks' worth of working time was annulled by personal drama. Someone needs to make a 'House' episode about me! :P THEN maybe I could get back to work!

Speaking of. Short time, lots of work. No time to waste!

July 19, 2011

Coveted Kimono: Vintage Summer Style

Taisho Ro Kimono, Ichiroya.com
I wish this set were mine. <3 I haven't been wearing kimono nearly* as often as I normally do this year. It has been so unusually hot, everywhere in America (and probably elsewhere, too), I just can't go outside! I get overheated in 70F weather, and when it's 85F at night... I'd rather not leave, if I can help it. But that means I have piles of kimono languishing in drawers, waiting to be aired out and worn! Augh!

So what do I do? Fantasize about adding more to the collection. ::facepalm::

This one is a Taisho ro silk piece, in fantastic condition, given it's age. The price shows it, too! But for a piece like this, I think $400 would be WELL worth it! Purple is a delicate colour, and the bold hagi motif is just irresistible!

I especially love the pairing of mustard yellow with such pale blues and soft greens. They play off the purple beautifully. And there's just enough red to make the proposed obi pop with colour!

Vintage ro obi, Ichiroya.com
The fuji (wisteria) and hagi (Japanese bush clover) motif is a perfect match for that kimono, and the bright reds and blues were so in style during the Taisho era! Even though Nagoya obi were not invented until the 40s, and Taisho ladies would have worn fukuro obi, the style of wearing such an obi would have likely been some variation of musubi that can be replicated with a Nagoya obi.

This one is also made of ro fabric, so it is the same weave as the kimono. How perfect can that get? It's a beautiful late summer set!

Think jade and tortoiseshell hairpins on glossy brown-black hair, coral lipstick, and a cute uchiwa or maybe a folding fan tucked into the obi. Cute natural, unlacquered wooden geta with red velvet hanao. An adorable mustard-yellow collar with red and pale blue embroidery! Maybe a pale silver and sherbet orange obijime with a sweet matching obiage? Or stick with the blues...

Coveted kimono, which will probably be sold long before I can ever hope to afford them. I hope someone buys them both together! What an outfit!

July 17, 2011

For Sale: Teal Striped Taisho Kimono (1912-1926)

Taisho Kimono with Teal, Purple, Black, and Yellow Stripes + Red and Tan Lining

Wrist to wrist, approx. 51in/127.5cm
Shoulder to bottom hem, approx. 58.5in/146.25cm
Length of sleeves, approx. 28.5in/71.25cm
All Seasons
Silk/synthetic blend

There are many stains, some noticeable, some that you have to look for. Some are water stains, which discolour the splotches of  fabric darker than the rest of it. Some are odd white powdery stains, which might be removable. The rest are from either soy sauce, or something that would cause the browning of fabric such as age or perhaps another type of water damage or stain. The worst stains are inside the lining. I have not tried to clean or repair the item, and so do not know how cleaning would affect the fabric. Generally, I would be very careful with something this old. Synthetics then are not like synthetics of now! They were more fragile then.

On the whole, it looks to be in fairly good condition- most of the stains are not so obvious when wearing. However, because it damaged, I have lowered the previous price and grade of kimono from 'Very Good' to 'Average'. Most Taisho kimono are fraught with some damages because of various events- fires, earthquakes, poor storage, normal wear and tear, etc.

July 14, 2011

Natsu Matsuri Approaches!

Here in FL, we have a yearly festival called Natsu Matsuri (literally, Summer Festival). It is one of the few Japanese festivals outside of the usual Morikami Museum fare, and it is near my city. This year, I get to go!

As far as I know, I will be doing some educational things like teaching other festival vendors how to tie yukata easily, and also, vending kimono and kimono items. I have some fabrics here that I will turn into koshi himo, which I love! It seems like such a small thing, but I always like having interesting or unique, easy-to-care-for koshi himo. I made mine out of cotton years ago, and have machine-washed them many times since. They are still in top condition today. I am confident that those who buy these will have the same experience!

I had intended to make piles of kinchaku with hand-woven cords and hand-sewn sashiko quilting as well, but personal events and such have prevented me from having this kind of time. On the other hand, I am making a hand-quilted, hand-beaded growth chart for my cousin, who is having her second child soon. I hope that I can finish it in time!

I also have a new book: "Autobiography of a Geisha", by Sayo Masuda. Although it was written a long time ago, it is a very stark book on the hard rural life of a woman born at the death of the Taisho era. She was indentured to what is today considered the lowest form of geisha house, an onsen geisha (hot springs geisha) house where prostitution was expected. Masuda takes a hard look at the Prostitution Prevention Act passed by Japanese legislature in 1958. This kind of idea seems very favourable to American eyes, perhaps, but the reality of its' effects was much different than most would expect. I suggest you get a copy to read; look for it at your local library first- you'd be surprised what they carry! Then, check a local bookstore or Ebay or Amazon. Any of those places should have it cheaply.

I can't say I lived a life anything like hers, but if there is one sentiment we share, it is this:

"If you ask me what I did know then," (as a small child) "It was that hunger was painful and human beings were terrifying, that was all." (pg. 12 of the Vintage 2004 edition of "Autobiography")

I think it would have been interesting to be able to speak with her personally. To know how things worked in her day, to talk about dresses and people gone by. To get as much information as possible on how things worked in the geisha world she grew up in. Today, we know geisha as pristine artists- and they are, at the top ranks of geisha houses. But of course, there is always the 'geisha underworld', the lower ranks not talked about by higher ranks. The world where a girl did play shamisen and sing, where training was rigorous and expensive, but really, a persons' body was never their own, and only through this life would they ever have a chance at freedom of their own. Eventually, Masuda was able to leave this life, but it was just as hard living without it than with it. Probably, one of the reasons that her story endures today is that she had unusual strength of character and an iron will despite the terrible conditions she battled daily.

Masuda Sayo died only recently, in 2008. She was 82 years old. If you are curious a little, I suggest reading this short page about her.

July 8, 2011

Taisho Stripes!



I love Taisho kimono! I'm normally a sucker for lavish patterns, but I'm finding myself attracted to the simple beauty of stripes lately.

If you are just getting into kimono, I suggest striped ones. The reason for this is that even though many kimono are beautiful (and it's possible to find three- or four-season kimono), stripes are the most versatile, chic patterns you can find, and they go with any pattern of obi! They are seasonless, timeless. And what is both more simple and more bold than a striped Taisho kimono?

I have two of these beauties going up for sale this week, as soon as it stops raining. The teal and purple one is already up for sale, but I need to get better, lighter photos of the stains described in the advertisement.

The other is bright red and pink! I love it, but it's the wrong colour for my skintone. I especially loved wearing my bright red plum blossom fukuro obi with it, since the gold embroidery really set off the buttery yellow tones, but I think it's time that it finds a home with someone who can really make it work! <3

Dragons in the Water

Today I was all set to get photos of a new outfit! Well, maybe not new. I've worn it before, but not on camera. Black haneri, blue hitoe iromuji somewhere between ocean blue and sky blue, and my dragon obi! The dragon obi is a favourite piece since I was born when rabbits become dragons, and it's so versatile in colour that it can be worn with grey kimono, blues, or even paprika red! I prefer the stormy blues unless I'm in a particularly dragon-like mood. I also wanted to photograph some of my kimono better. Someone who has been taking inventory of their kimono collection reminded me that I should do the same so that I can decide how much renters' insurance I need.
Sadly, it has been heavily downpouring all day. I won't complain too much- we really needed the water! But this means that the apartment is completely dark. Even with the indoor lighting, it's very dim and yellowy. Not at all appropriate for photographs! Kaaa. So, what can we talk about today?

Maybe about weather in Japan.

In most places, the rainy season starts in May, and lasts through mid-July. Some places start a little later, and in Hokkaido, which always seems to have gorgeous weather, it doesn't really start at all. The rainy season is called "Tsuyu", and it basically means that you should always carry a small umbrella, even if the day looks nice when you set out! Like Florida, it can go from beautiful blue skies to complete washouts in all of an hour. And if you don't like the weather now, just wait an hour and it'll be different!

Like Florida, Japan's rainy season brings a terribly oppressive humidity. Humidity that rots clothing, fogs up glasses when you walk outside, and makes it feel like it's 20F hotter than it is. Bread on the counter even gets moldy overnight sometimes! (Ask how I know. Ugh.) What on Earth do you do then? It's a time when one can get easily irritated, but there are some beautiful things during Tsuyu to explore.

Ajisai, close-up
- Ajisai-viewing. All over Japan, ajisai (hydrangea) grows in abundance. I saw many, many of these beautiful plants lushly blooming all over Tokyo. The petals can change colour depending on season, breed, and even iron content in the soil. So, if a piece of iron is being broken down in the soil on one side of a large pot, the flowers will turn blue, whereas the other side might be pink- and in between, they'll go purple or have "freckles" of both colours! Ajisai are a rainy-weather flower with petals like raindrops. And if you're going to see flowers...

- Ayame. Irises. Remember what I said back in May about them? There are three different kinds of Japanese iris, depending on where they are cultivated and when they begin to bloom. There is a breed of iris now called "Maiko no hama"- beach of maiko - that is beautiful, and a little striking. It is very white with tinges of purple on only the edges of each petal, while the very centre is yellow. Ayame are popular for ikebana this time of year. There are so many varieties to choose from!

- Hot tea on a slow day. This is the day when I pull out my favourite cups and make good tea. Usually something summery and fragrant, but also sometimes a higher-quality "plain" green tea. Take your time making it and drinking it. Look around at your surroundings while you do, and count your blessings. It's easy to get carried away in the maelstrom of things like kids, unemployment, a harried work schedule, stress from medical issues or family problems, and overwhelmed with chores. Take just a moment to realise that even though all of those things are going on, you are surrounded by four walls and a roof over your head- and that's more than many right now. Inhale. Let it out slowly. How many books have you afforded? Think of the retail value on all of those shelves alone- how fortunate! Are you and your family fed? Well done. Don't think of all the bills and other worries- that will wait until tomorrow. Just take this moment for what it is right now.

- Do you craft? Today is a good day to pull out papercrafts, sewing blocks, or anything you have around. Even blank printer paper can be turned into a few sheets of gorgeous stationary with some time. It doesn't have to be a complicated design, either! If you have stamps, or want to free hand some cute flowers on the edges with different coloured pens or markers, then by all means! Write someone a letter. It doesn't have to be long or particularly interesting. Leave it for a lover, or a friend, or a relative that you haven't spoken to in awhile. They'll be glad for the reminder, and very appreciative of the handmade quality of your note. Nothing is like a handwritten letter, and nothing is like a handwritten letter on stationary you crafted! It's the ultimate freedom to make every letter different. You can even print templates for stationary off of the internet.

One of my favourite projects was buying a gorgeous blank journal for a friend, and then stringing a few beads onto the ribbon in it before filling every few pages with a quote they'd like, or copied from this collection of Japanese poetry. There is still plenty of space to write in the book.This is the one I used.

- Maiko/geisha image journal
- "Asian Landscape" journal (okay, it's Chinese, but early Japanese history involved a lot of trade with China- that's where their writing, clothing, and most holidays and stories come from!)

- Finish up any "loose ends" chores that you have today. If it's raining too hard, there's little point in being outside. So get the little stuff out of the way now! Load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, sweep the floors. Then go back to reading or watching a good movie over tea. Tea solves everything.


What will you do today?

July 7, 2011

Star Stories: Tanabata

Photo from Bite-JAPAN
Is it Tanabata today? Every year, on the 7th day on the 7th month, the Star Festival is held. Some places go according to the "new" Western calendar, and some go according to the "old" Lunar calendar. If by the new calendar, then it is today!

On this night, it is said that two deities meet in the Heavens. Altair and Vega, as they are known by Western names, which are called 'Orihime-boshi' and 'Kengyuu-boshi'.

Tanabata was brought over from China during the Heian era, but wasn't incredibly popular until almost 1,000 years later, in the Edo era (1603). Once, Obon and Tanabata were only a week apart, and still are in some regions, so celebrations would get mixed the entire week. There were once two other festivals that mixed and became a part of today's Tanabata. It's celebrated differently depending on where you live because (as with most Japanese festivals) local religions or beliefs mixed in with the adapted holiday. For the most part, it is a day for airing out wishes! Traditionally, women wished to sew and weave better, since most fabric was made by the families who wore it. Men wished for better academic skills, or for other useful skills. Wishes today are written on slips of paper and hung on special bamboo poles; before, they were attached to trees.

The story is a romantic one, and also one of heartbreak.