Bebe Taian: January 2011

January 31, 2011

Iromuji Kimono Arrived + 25CM Formal Tabi FOR SALE!

w00t! It finally came in the mail! ... last week. :P

Lately, I've been running two households, not just one. I barely had the strength to run the one that I live in, and now I have to find energy to help family out. It's leaving me with very little energy to update, but I hope not to abandon this! I do want to say again, Thank You SOOO MUCH to everyone who has offered to help with the Onihide Project! Right now, Flickr is extending his account until 2013.

Recently, I got four packages from Japan.

My tan iromuji came in the mail, and it's gorgeous! It's much closer to khaki/tan than yellow, but the fabric is so  soft and supple, I really don't mind. I usually expect some colour variations when buying online anyways, and with kimono, I usually accept that what comes may not be as expected. So far, it's mostly worked out! The iromuji is the same one I was talking about earlier last year when I bought the rabbit obi. <3 The pampas grass patterns match wonderfully!

I can probably also wear it as a monochrome outfit with my khaki and blue maru obi as well, which was part of my wedding ensemble (which is a story in itself). Although, I think now that I've gotten so tall, it may not fit as well as I expected. Hopefully I can sort that out with a tasteful pair of boots and a Taisho-style obi, or at least, a stylish obi musubi. I may need some pale blue accessories, if I don't decide to go the other way and do tan + tan + dark green + deep red.

The second package was pretty good. I can always trust the seller to ship quickly and have it arrive safely. I didn't do good measurements on myself though, so the tabi I ordered were too big! Ack! And they looked so nice. So, I have a pair of brand-new 25CM white formal tabi to sell! They are a little stretchy on the uppers, with four tabs to hold them shut. They are $18 including shipping, which is what I paid for them. Otherwise, the eri-shin were smooth plastic, unlike the kind I had previously purchased. I haven't used either one yet, but I'll see how they work out. I've been working on eliminating plastics from my life as best as I can, so I'm not sure what I'll do with them.

The third package contained a few things that I'd hoped to coordinate with outfits to sell. I think the obi I purchased might be a little dark for the komon I'd planned it to go with. It looked a brighter neon pink shibori in the photo, but indoor lighting can be deceptive! It's actually a darker pink/purple. It's still very pretty though. Maybe it'll work anyways, even if it's with a different outfit. I also got a very cute silk hanhaba obi that I LOVE. Normally, I don't care for hanhaba, since I don't wear yukata very often... but... I just couldn't pass this one up! It feels very Taisho-deco to me, even though it is much newer. I wonder if I could get a nagoya obi like it?

The fourth was the dragon obi. OMG the dragon obi. I was pondering it for awhile because of its' expense and because of a few damages it has. I was worried maybe they would be too obvious, uncleanable, etc., but all in all, I'm very, very happy with this piece. Dragons are not frequently seen on women's kimono items. I am in <3 with dragon-themed items, about as much as I am in <3 with rabbit-themed things and momiji. Rabbits are not very common on adult kimono either, I've found. Easy enough to see them on cute tabi or komono, but not on kimono themselves. Dragons are the same way. It takes a special king of woman to really carry a dragon theme well. I am hoping to be that person. Also, I can wear it next New Years, since 2012 will be the Dragon Year! In the meantime, Feb. 3rd will begin Rabbit Year, which I was born into.

Here's the question:

What kimono should I wear the dragon obi with? Should I go for something dark blue? An iromuji? Look for something with wave patterns? Or something green to match the small details?

January 16, 2011

The Onihide Project

This is a project that I cannot possibly hope to complete on my own. If you read the post previous to this one, you already know what I'm on about. If not, a great photo blogger of Japan, Onihide-san, passed away in December. When his Pro account with Flickr expires, his photos will be lost with the exception of 200. I can't stand the idea of losing all of these gorgeous photos and the information about them he left. I want to preserve as much of them as possible.

Here's the catch: he has over 3,000 photos posted. Flickr doesn't allow for simply downloading all the data off off of their site, and I am totally broke. Read: can't purchase Black Widow (webcrawler program). Must do this the old-fashioned way- by selecting 'original size' for each photo, saving it with title and date reported taken by Flickr. Then see if it's associated with a set to preserve it in (a folder), along with ideas of where it was taken, and hopefully information on the photo or subject in comments saved in a separate text file. It is a MASSIVE project. MASSIVE.

I have been working for about two hours now and have only 40 or so photos saved, with basic title, date, and set title only. At this rate, it will be many, many days, months even, before I save everything I can to the best of my ability. This says nothing of actually having a web host to provide them to other people.

So far, I have the entirety of the "Show Time" set saved, and some various photos not attributed to sets yet. Some were in more than one, so I have decided to switch from last page of photostream going back to saving things by set affiliation. Oldest sets will be saved first. My days are usually packed with work until I can't stand, but I will do my best to have "Birds", "for my BLOG", and "Fantasy" saved by next Saturday.

If anyone can help with this project, this is what I would like:

- Full size versions of each photo
- Title of saved photo is title of original image + date (so, Flickr will try to save it as a long alphanumeric, but please use Onihide's title and the date Flickr says the photo was taken on.)
- Save photos according to set they are in, ie, create a folder titled with the set
- Please read comments on each photo and create a text file for comments (who from, what said) for pertinent information- ie, not "I love this photo!" but "It is Miyagawacho _________ geiko, for ______ with _____ in training." or something like this. A screencap is good, too! <3 Because maiko and geiko retire all the time, it is important to preserve who they were and what we knew of them.

UPDATES:

- Thanks to Turelie for capturing the "Hotels" set!
- Thanks to ScarredDragon for offering hosting space when the time comes!
- Thanks to Rapi for capturing the "Hanamachi Hanatoro" set!
- Also, I've contacted Flickr support to see when the Pro support expires and if I can pay for Onihide's account for a time extension. It is currently being elevated to L3 support.

UPDATE 1/20/11:

OMG! w00t! Thanks for everyone's help on the project so far. I would still absolutely love to see an archive of Onihide's work somewhere when the time comes, and would love to be sent the current saved material at bebetaian a t ! gmail dot com . <3 (I hope writing it like that blocks some spam bots...)


FLICKR SUPPORT has emailed me to say that they have extended Onihide's account until 2013! That's great news- we have two more years to enjoy his work on Flickr! <3

Onihide-san, Rest in Peace

I regretfully inform everyone that one of my favourite photo bloggers, Onihide-san, has passed away on Dec. 21st, 2010. According to a note written by someone on his blog, given the tranquil expression, he probably died painlessly. This man knew how to find beauty in anything- even an image of nurses' stethoscopes!


The last photo on his Flickr account was of a darling maiko named Ayano. He took many photos of maiko, geiko, and many of the Flower and Willow women and buildings. He seemed to be on somewhat close terms with some of them. I thought it was strange that he had not updated his account in a few weeks, although since it has been two weeks of holidays, perhaps he had taken some time off? But Onihide would never miss Seijin no Hi, not with so many bright colours to see! He would have wanted to immortalize them all on film. It is a terrible thing to find out why he is absent.

 There is one more thing: if someone does not have information for his account, when his Pro status expires, all but 200 of his 3,000+ photos will be lost. I cannot possibly hope to save them all myself. I am starting with the oldest and working to the newest, saving the full-size photo with title and date taken. I have no way of knowing when the Pro account expires, so there is some urgency to the matter.

It would be lovely if someone had the ability to host all photos on an easily-navigated website showcasing his work. This, of course, would not cost too much and can be paid for with donations. I am hoping to preserve at least titles and Flickr-reported dates, if nothing else. Is there any advice on the matter? I am taking care of pages 170-175 tonight, but I cannot possibly save information from comments and descriptions for everything on my own. I definitely need help!

So, if anyone has ideas on how to undertake such a massive project, please let me know. I would like to preserve Onihide-sans' work as long as possible.

January 15, 2011

For Sale: Taisho Modern Kimono

There was going to be a post today. A very thought-out post, too! I had one planned, all about Taisho-era fashions and background happenings that influenced these fashions.

Here's the thing: it turned into four hours of studying Japanese history throughout the early 1900s, followed by some time reading aloud Japanese military history and politics articles from Wikipedia. :P He's very interested in what was going on in Japan between the 1920's-1950's. So, yes, this is what I do for fun. Absorb myself in studies of international relations, religion and how it played a role in politics, and language, and how all of this played a part in defining fashion and art over the years, for hours on end on my days off. I should be going to college for this- at least then I'd have some credits to show for myself!

Since I've decided that everything I wanted to say was WAY too involved for one post (I'd have to write a book), I have a Taisho Modern kimono for sale and a book recommendation based on what I've heard from IG Forums.

Taisho Modern Komon Kimono (1912-1926), $174.99 + S/H
Silk Blend

From wrist to wrist, approx. 48in/122cm
From shoulder to bottom hem, approx. 57.5in/145cm
Length of sleeves, approx. 24.4in/62cm
Weight of item alone is just under 2lbs (760g)

The komon has a very fun modern design! Deep purple background with modern yellow and red squares with black outlines on pale waves show the progressive ideas behind Taisho Modern fashion. The very bottom of the hem is pale pink. Komon are usually worn with Nagoya obi today, although they were worn with fukuro obi during Taisho era. It is possible to find many maru and fukuro obi made into Nagoya obi from this period, as Nagoya obi themselves were not introduced until the 1940's-1950's.

The kimono does have a few small, light stains that I may be able to remove before shipping. Either way, they are not prominent and the kimono can be easily worn.

You can purchase it through me directly and be invoiced through Paypal, or purchase it through my shoppe at NigatsuBebe.etsy.com. I likely have an obi that will match it well, if requested.

January 10, 2011

Coming of Age Day - Seijin no Hi!

Do you recall the January 1st post? Well, it's finally here! <3 

Today is 'Seijin no Hi', Coming of Age Day! Everyone who turned 20 between April 1 the year before and March 31 of the current year will have a huge celebration on this day, breaking out their best clothes and spending thousands on ofurisode, obi, getting their hair and nails done, and celebrating with their friends! It is a very happy time. Everyone can smoke, drink, drive, etc. at 20. They are officially recognised as adults on this day. It's awesome.

It seems like everyone is out on the streets on this day- happy mothers, girls who are married wearing nice kimono in bright pastels, men in formal suits, people shopping... And there are so, so many photos being taken of pretty girls in gorgeously decadent ofurisode (and sometimes faux fur shawls). So many. There's just an explosion of wonderfully bright, colourful  photos popping up on various culture websites on the second Tuesday of every month, it's incredible! For me, it's interesting not only because it signals a continued observation of Japanese tradition, but also gives me insight into kimono fashion trends every year.

A kimono, even in it's state of decreased use, is a living garment- it changes and evolves. Could you even conceive wearing shiny mesh fabric with an obiage fifty years ago? But today, it makes an interesting statement fabric which mimics the bright metallic synthetic embroidery of today's fukuro obi. It can be done tastefully and fashionably in the right context. And many of the patterns that were not used twenty years ago are becoming statements now, while traditional patterns are being updated to reflect new tastes. Even some men choose to wear traditional kimono and hakama as opposed to the Western formal attire!

Even though I do not personally care for the "new" synthetic colours being used (as opposed to natural plant dyes), I have to acknowledge that they produce some shades that would otherwise be impossible to wear, and they DO reduce costs of fabric so that people can continue to wear kimono today. Even with all of the cheaper fabrics like rayon and polyester, the synthetic dyes, and the plastics used for faux kinran (metal threads) in obi, kimono can be astronomically expensive. If they became any more prohibitively costly, I think usage of kimono would die out altogether. To see women in kimono every Seijin no Hi is comforting to me because of this reminder- kimono still live, are still wearable, are still appreciated!

January 9, 2011

What to do with all this rice?

I tend to overestimate what I'm actually going to eat when making rice. I love rice! I was so excited to get a super-cheap rice cooker from Walgreens for around $7 years back. It doesn't have a lot of features, but for a beginning rice cooker/steamer, I didn't need too many. I just quickly grease the metal bowl part with a little sesame oil and rice vinegar, and steam rice according to directions. Sometimes instead of water I'll use chicken stock, which I highly recommend for soups! But in my excitement I made 2c of uncooked rice. When cooked, it was a lot more rice than I thought it would be! I ended up keeping the extra in the fridge for a day or two, slowly adding it to soup, stir-frying it with soy sauce and eggs, and trying to think of ways to not eat it plain.

It's cold out, I'm relatively broke, and I have a lot of leftover rice. There's only one thing I can do now- make soup!

One kind of soup is pretty common in Japan: Torizosui. 'Tori' is 'chicken', or 'bird', which is generally understood to be chicken when talking about food. Zosui, to my understanding, is a basic rice soup.


Torizosui - What You Need:

- 2c leftover steamed rice
- 1/4lb chicken thighs (I used leftover chicken breast, since I get more meat for the money), chopped into chunks
- 2.5c dashi (soup stock)
- 2 eggs
- 2tbsp chopped green onion (scallions), or to taste
- 2tbsp white miso (which you can get frozen by the bucket for only $10- a little goes a LONG way! The darker kind seems to be saltier.)
- Optional: a small amount of shiitake mushrooms

Put the dashi into a medium pot and bring to a boil. While waiting for this, rinse the rice in cool water and drain well. Once the dashi is boiling, turn it to low and simmer the chicken for about 5mins, or until the chicken is cooked. Bring to a medium boil and add the rice and miso paste. Stir this gently for a minute. Then, in a separate bowl, beat the eggs as if making scrambled eggs. Slowly drop into the boiling soup, little by little while stirring, like egg drop soup. Then before turning off the heat, add the chopped green onion (and mushrooms if you added them). Let it cool slightly before serving. It should be enough for two helpings.


There's also another kind of simpler zosui: ochazuke. It also uses leftover rice well, since you only need a few spoonfuls for a bowl. 'O-cha' is green tea! There's a really awesome recipe with photos at this great food blog.

If you're going to be making ochazuke *anyways*, why not make some extra rice and put together some onigiri?

Onigiri are Japanese rice balls, either round or triangular, shaped by hand and stuffed with delicious things like cooked fish soaked in broth, pickled plums (ume), or sometimes even a sweet bean paste or vegetables. They're great at room temp and you don't have to worry so much about refrigeration. I've eaten Japanese-made obento (lunch box meals, usually at room temp) hours after they were put together and I've never gotten sick. Just make sure you cook the fish all the way, if you use it! Also, please be sure you use the correct rice. Rice is flexible in soups, especially since many are made with the express purpose of using any leftover rice from breakfast. However, rice balls can only be made with a certain type of rice, so please be sure to get the right kind! Just Hungry will walk you through how to make the best onigiri there are, with plenty of tutorials on selecting rice and ingredients!

Next time you are making rice, be sure to make a little extra to try new recipes with. You may be surprised and find a new favourite comfort food!

January 1, 2011

Ganjitsu! It's New Years' Day!

It's New Years' Day! Or in Japan, 'Ganjitsu'.

Actually, the new year is traditionally in February, according to the Lunar calendar. The Western new year did not become a holiday in Japan until 1948.

Today, Ganjitsu is one of the most important holidays! In fact, the holiday can last for up to a week, depending on where in Japan you are. Many places close on Dec. 29th and reopen on the 3rd, so be sure to have your shopping done early! New Years' holiday has another name, 'Shougatsu'- New Years' Season, a reference to those three to seven days of holiday around the New Year.

And the festivities don't end here in Japan! The second Monday of January is 'Seijin no Hi', Coming of Age Day. Everyone who turned 20 between April 1 the year before and March 31 of the current year will have a huge celebration on this day, breaking out their best clothes and spending thousands on ofurisode, obi, getting their hair and nails done, and celebrating with their friends! It is a very happy time. Everyone can smoke, drink, drive, etc. at 20. They are officially recognised as adults on this day.

It is going to be a very busy month!