Bebe Taian: 2014

June 28, 2014

Sold! One of a Kind Beaded Haori Himo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come see the others on BebeTaian.etsy.com

June 13, 2014

New things for Natsu Matsuri!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

June 7, 2014

Natsu Matsuri 2014 is coming!


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

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

May 6, 2014

Notable Japanese Women: Yanagihara Byakuren

柳原白蓮 (Yanagihara Byakuren) 1885 - 1967

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

April 15, 2014

Cleaning Up - The Whirlwind Week

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

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

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

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

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

Ganbaremasu. <3

March 31, 2014

Weekender 6: Stuff + Things

THESE PAST FEW WEEKS:

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

WEEKEND STUFF!:

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

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

March 26, 2014

Becoming Jimae Geisha Now Subsidized!

From Asahi Shinbun, 25-03-2014

Keeping Tradition Alive: Geisha to Get Subsidies for Clothing
Tomoyoshi Kubo

KYOTO--Young geisha starting out can easily splurge as much as 10 million yen (nearly $100,000) on exquisite kimono and accessories in their first year as a free agent.

Not surprisingly, the ranks of geisha, called "geiko," are thinning.

Alarmed at the dwindling number of professional geiko plying their art in Kyoto's Gion and other districts of the ancient capital, the Foundation Ookini, a Kyoto organization for promotion of traditional performing arts, decided to subsidize kimono expenses for young independent geiko from April.

Officials said their aim was to ease the women's financial burden so that the venerable geisha tradition will continue.

According to the foundation, eligible geiko are "jimae-san"--independent free agents, so to speak--who are in their early 20s.

The subsidy will cover 50 percent of clothing expenses, or up to 500,000 yen, between the three months prior to the time leaving her geisha house and the five years after becoming independent. The foundation set a limit of one purchase per year and three purchases over a five-year period.

A geisha house will take care of clothing, food and housing for a girl from the time she joins the establishment upon graduating from junior high school until she transitions from "maiko" apprentice-level position to geiko and independence.

After reaching jimae-san status, a geiko must procure her own garments and other items. An inexpensive kimono will run between 700,000 yen and 800,000 yen while the "obi," or sash, ranges from 300,000 yen to 400,000 yen. If an independent geiko buys a new outfit for each season, her expenses can easily nudge the 10 million yen mark in her first year.

As of the end of January there were 181 geiko in Kyoto's five geisha quarters, a drop of 21 women from 2006.

Over the five years, 59 women apparently retired upon becoming geiko or jimae-san.

The foundation was established by the Kyoto City Tourism Association and the city's geisha quarters. Until now, it has provided financial incentives for veteran geiko who are well-versed in the performing arts.

An official of the foundation noted that the geisha tradition will fade without an influx of young people. The subsidy is intended "to provide some encouragement to young women who are hesitant about becoming independent."

Fumisono, 26, a geiko who has gone independent, says, "There are many cases of women quitting because they're worried about whether they can make it financially. The subsidy will help."

March 24, 2014

Sold! Koshi Himo and Satsuma Peacock Bowl

At last! My friends' Satsuma china sold! It just needed the right person to come along.

I'll be packing it tonight if possible and shipping out in the morning. A shame I just got rid of a box of packing peanuts last week! Auugh! Every time! I sit on one for months, say 'eh, it's taking up a lot of room...', throw it all out, and then...

Naturally. But my friend will be grateful for the money!

And these koshi himo were the last of the wrapped ones to be sold. The person who bought them will be attending a Japanese festival soon! How exciting! I missed J-club USF's Haru Matsuri this year, so I'm happy these will at least see a fun event. My own himo need to come out of the closet soon... it's been too long since I brought out kimono to wear for myself!

I'll have to update my G+ profile to clear out all the stuff that's gone! There's so much left still...

March 23, 2014

For Sale: Indie Makeup, Books, Beads

I'm destashing more and more of my life since I'm downsizing everything. Plus this job is on shaky grounds, and I haven't managed to land a new one yet. x.x But the good news is that I might be getting a desk soon, right? I haven't had a desk in years!

The first thing I'm destashing is a lot of unopened makeup, mostly from indie brand Shiro Cosmetics! Yeah, yeah, I've posted about her before. I have some discontinued Spinarak and Beta you won't find anywhere else (they work very well together, actually), and some of the really gorgeous new stuff from the Hobbit and Game of Thrones-inspired lines. I bought a lot of different shades from her, but it's official: I just don't do blues very well. x.x But these haven't been opened, so I don't mind passing them on for a discount! Also, there's an unopened sample if BareMinerals super-expensive mascara, and a new Benefit highlighter. If the auction ends, it'll be renewed.

Bunches of cat books! =^.^= The Silent Miaow, The Stanyan Book of Cats, and The Cat Who Went to Paris. There are so many more, but omg, I inherited piles of cat books!

Most of them are vintage, almost all in pristine condition, like they've been read twice if at all. I need to get out the shelf full and start listing again!

Check my store this week for assorted lots of cat books, especially inspirational pet books like "Furry Logic" and "Zen for Cats".

More beads are starting to pile up as well. I just took a massive lot down to the Upcycle Trading Company, a local store that takes in new and used craft supplies for store credit. They had a vintage man's haori there! But it was in a little bit of rough condition and had been resewn a few times, so I passed on it. Would make for excellent fabric for someone's project though, especially that beautifully subdued lining. And yet, somehow there was another box of stuff I missed!

Bronze fan charms!

March 13, 2014

Private Collection: Kyoto Bridges Obi

Sometime around Christmas I bought myself a new obi/obijime set. I've been working hard enough,
right? And I paid all the bills first... but it's my last kimono purchase for a long time. Even though it's very much out of season right now, I can't wait to wear it!

The iromuji is one I've had for awhile. The gold iromuji my mother bought me years ago, with pampass grass patterns and subtle shifts from khaki to a very slightly orange-toned tan. You can almost tell in the large version of the photo. In bright lighting, it's very difficult to see. Only in dim teahouse lighting can you really see it's true beauty! This kind of serene kimono was made for subtlety. 

The bright obi is rokutsuu-fukuro, 60% patterened with white/gold towards the end. There is a repeating pattern of Kyoto during the fall woven into it. The colours seem so much more brilliant in person. Really, it seems too pretty to wear with a simple otaiko knot. The green/white obijime with rolling patterns is the perfect highlight to the bright green in the leaves here! But should I wear it with the white or the orange obiage? The white is white and gold matsu-pattern, where the orange is shibori crosshatch with woven clover (although, you can't see the clover when it's tied). Eggplant-purple collar? White? Deep chocolate brown with some gold?

I can't wait for October!

March 5, 2014

Coveted Kimono: Indigo Tsumugi

I'm feeling sedate and super-casual today, keeping to greys, black, deep blues. I wish I had a day off to wear kimono like these! ... well, I guess for that, I'd need kimono like these first...

This grey-blue kimono is tsumugi weave, like an ikat. It's soft and floral, even though the silk is a comfy nubbly texture. Super-casual and perfect for the hot days of Florida Spring, when it's 75F+ during the day. Can you see it with this obi, maybe with a pair of wooden geta with yellow hanao?I was thinking maybe the colourful paper patterns would bring a little life to the kimono, if 'cooled down' with a pale blue or yellow obiage.

Kimono - Obi

I suppose the last obi would work with this kimono as well, but who could resist another dark asanoha kimono? Certainly not me. And the rabbit obi! <3 <3 <3 How to choose? ... Okay, I'd pick the rabbit obi if I could only have one.

But from far away, I think the black and white pattern of the asanoha kimono would look almost grey, deep and rich like the rabbit obi. Plus, with a large, bold pattern of the rabbit obi counters the small repeating pattern of the asanoha. With soft colours like silver, white, and blue as pale as the halos of a full moon,  it could be perfect for a moon-viewing party. Bring sake!

Kimono - Obi

March 2, 2014

Weekender 5: Overworked But Grateful

THESE PAST FEW WEEKS:

I have been working 40-60 hours a week for over a month now. February had 28 days; I worked 26 shifts. I got a day off for my car accident trial (yes! He got ticketed! First step in the grueling process), and two 'general' days off. I spent those with friends to catch up and doing errands. I haven't gotten more than a few pages of reading done, and when I have time to read, I'm usually so zoned out that I can't focus on anything. Plus I inherited piles of books and other household items to resell, so I have to sort through those, list them, or take them to local dealers (such as in the case of the books) and see if I can get cash or store credit for them. They're all beautiful, and most of them brand new or like new, not even read. But I really don't have much shelf space right now. It's driving DH crazy!

So much to do, so very little time for anything.

WEEKEND STUFF!

- I'm on a makeup kick, esp. since I got my hair cut recently. Shiro Cosmetics released more new stuff and retired a lot of my favourites (always happens!). New shade: Jareth's Tight Pants.
- Speaking of makeup, looking at traditional Japanese makeup/hair stuff is maddening. But if you're not into oshiroi (and let's face it, how many of us are going around in something no one wears?), try Hakuhodo. Top-line brushes that last forever with proper care! Okay, they have a top-line price, too... for now, I'll stick with my EcoTools.
- I kept wondering what these wooden tray things were for. Japanorama has solved my mystery! I bought my bekko combs from him before. I can't wait to come back!
- For guys who think that wanting an Asian girlfriend is "just a preference", educate yourself. Analyze. Why is having an Asian girlfriend so important to you? Because the next guy who says "You love me long time!" when I'm out in kimono is getting punched.
- I want to do photos like BikaBika one day!
- I made a few more things! <3 And they're going up for sale today... before I head back into work.

Beaded Haori Himo - BebeTaian.etsy.com

WEEKEND SURVEY:

Did you make anything this weekend? 
Just a few himo and assorted pieces of jewellery for the shop. I made a lovely tiger eye/rose quartz/bronze bracelet, and a few pairs of bone/bronze/aventurine or agate earrings. I wish I'd gotten photos of them! Maybe I'll make a pair of citrine/dragon's vein agate for myself.

Do you have a current hobby fixation?
Hard to have a hobby when I'm working, thinking of work, sleeping, or doing 'life stuff'. ::sighs:: But the spare few minutes I get to make something, I at least like to look at my supplies... 

Do you ever wear kimono out? (Did I ask this before?) Where did you go? 
I haven't gotten to wear kimono in awhile, but I did wear my black Gion haori the other day! I went to get sushi someplace that isn't my job. >D

How do you store your makeup, if you have any?
Currently isn't mostly in one big makeup bag, separated into three pockets, plus a bead tray repurposed for loose shadow. I need a better solution!


Did you make anything this weekend?
Do you have a current hobby fixation?
Do you ever wear kimono out? (Did I ask this before?) Where did you go?
How do you store your makeup, if you have any?

February 9, 2014

Weekender 4: Yay! ... and Ouch.

THESE PAST FEW WEEKS:

I got exactly what I wanted, so I shouldn't complain. Be careful what you wish for, and how you wish for it! I always get in trouble with the second part. I'm never specific enough since I never think anything good will actually happen to me. This time, I asked for more money made at work, since of course I need to pay the bills. Things are so much more expensive for me after the car accident, and more effort is put into getting around since it takes 2-3 hours to get somewhere by bus that I could have driven to in 20mins or less! So much lost productivity! And the stress of creepy guys in public. Uuuugh. But I've gone from 12 hours a week, to racking up over 40-50 hours per week at work, plus the extra 45mins each way for the bus, and I often have to arrive half an hour early because of the bus schedule. The next bus would mean getting there late, so I sit around for awhile with not much to do. Usually I catch up on paperwork, write, or sometimes read (but carrying a book means extra weight, which can be painful). Plus "life stuff", like the doctor's visits, laundromat, grocery shopping, etc. This leaves very little time for writing in the blog I've wanted to dedicate myself to so much! I'll keep trying though! Gomennasai~

WEEKEND READING?

- It might be old news by now, but Hayao Miyazaki has some strong opinions on why anime quality is on the decline. I can see his point, especially after buying certain "how to draw manga" books. (Has this guy even SEEN a real woman before?)
Asahi Shinbun Feb 9. 2014
 - Thyroid cancer increasing. Record levels of strontium. Massive exposure at the TEPCO plants (we discussed this a few years ago in the Dowa article). TEPCO... posts PROFITS of 190B yen?! What on Earth?!
- In innovative technology news, former skier Taniyuki Yuki is creating a special product to help the skiers of Japan win the Sochi Olympics! It may not be profitable, but it isn't about the money for Taniyuki. I wonder if his name is written 雪? 雪 (yuki) means 'snow'. How appropriate! I hope you will get your medal this year, Taniyuki-san. <3

SURVEY:

Are you paying attention to the Sochi Olympics?
Somewhat. The whole thing is a mess, and I really question the judgement of whoever decided to hold the Olympics in the backyard of Chechnya. And now everyone's surprised about terrorist threats. ::sacrastic drawl:: Really? ::facepalm::

Do you have a favourite anime? 
Depends on my mood. Some days, it's slow-moving and gothic; Witch Hunter Robin days. Others, it's jazzy and spunky, so Cowboy Bebop. Most days, it's xxxHolic, where I feel like I'm schooling a dozen Watanukis. Sometimes it's MPDPsycho, and I have no idea what's going on but it's over before I figured it out.

Any books on Japan I should be reading next? What are you reading now?
I'm between rereading sections of the funeral history of Japan and Prohibited + Permitted Desires. I'm finding it hard to commit anything to memory lately. I think I should start taking notes!

Do you have a favourite sushi place? What do you always get?
Strangely, I still really prefer it at my old job! Black hijiki, when it's made sweetly with mirin, and a salmon skin or eel roll are favourites, although sometimes I'll indulge in something completely American, like bagel tenpura (smoked salmon, cream cheese, green onions, wrapped in rice and deep-fried). Dip that in eel sauce (they make it with real eel!) and I'm pretty much in heaven.


Are you paying attention to the Sochi Olympics?
Do you have a favourite anime?
Any books on Japan I should be reading next? What are you reading now?
Do you have a favourite sushi place? What do you always get?

January 28, 2014

Aaugh! Must... Clean... Everything...

Must... clean... everything!

I worked Sunday, then had jury selection duty yesterday and wasn't able to post anything substantial... x.x But I still haven't gotten the photos from the last geisha show either! This one was really low key. We had a raised platform that we partially covered in reed mats, with a small kotatsu that I ended up sitting on to raise me higher for the rest of the audience to see me. The show before this, we had a full scene with screens, furniture, antiques, etc. set up, but for this event, it was really small and short (maybe an hour? hard to tell).

I've discovered that since the structure was very different this time, I need to come up with an organised list of things to touch on, in an arrangement that kind of flows from one topic to the next. So I'll add that to the list of things to do! Until I get those photos though, I can't really post about the whole day, can I?

But wow, I'm piled under clutter in the apartment again. This happens pretty easily. I run the online store, have been helping a friend clean out her dad's house, and going through piles of legal/insurance paperwork resulting from the car accident I was in. But underneath all that somewhere is a pile of things I want to scan in for this blog! Ofurisode advertisements from ten years ago (Disney ofurisode, anyone?), kimono accessory photos, so much stuff. Can't wait to get it all out, scan it in, and start posting!

January 22, 2014

Coveted Kimono: Hikizuri Edition

Since I'm going to be doing the geisha show today, I'm coveting plenty of kimono I wish I had... like hikizuri. Which might actually be long enough to trail behind me properly... if they were made in the past few years. If they're the vintage style I love, I can wear them as 'normal' kimono with an alluringly deep neckline.

 I'll be honest; I have nowhere to wear such a formal piece. It's like the black tie event dress in Western equivalent. Black hikizuri are so common on the market, however, and are usually in excellent condition- likely because there are relatively few occasions to wear them on. A couple of festivals like Hassaku, some formal events upon request, and outside of that, they can become outdated fairly quickly. And a geisha can't possibly go outside in outdated clothing, can she? What on earth are people paying her for if she's walking around in old clothes?

Nope, they get cast off after a few passes around. So some fantastic beauty like this can become ours... if you happen to have about $550.

The red lining in the kimono gives away it's age, and sadly, it's in great disrepair. Maybe it can be used for a display piece to illustrate past designs of geisha kimono, in some museum or in a private collection in a home without animals, but otherwise, I wouldn't buy this one. And yet, how wonderful it must have felt to dance in it...

The scene is of a Gion festival, naturally. The parade of people is a lively scene on such a dark and somber kimono. The colours are muted- is it to preserve the formality of the garment, or is the fade alluding to faded, dim memories of festivals gone by long ago, as seen by the maker of the kimono? A shame there aren't journals (that I know about) written by the makers of kimono like these... I would have loved to know the thought process behind deciding which scenes to paint. Naturally, Ichiroya is the seller of this piece.

A bright, lovely piece from Shinei is a refreshing blue and misty golden-white. You can almost feel the worn black lacquer lamp, hear the trickle of water into wooden buckets, smell misty air and grass, can't you?

Hagi, kikyo, and nadeshiko prove this one to be a summer kimono before you examine it closely to see the gauze weave. It's an ethereal feeling, otherworldly, to be in a garden in the twilight hours at dawn or dusk. The wet smell and slight sinking of your steps in the soft earth, rustling of leaves and occasional crack of a small twig, while crickets sing and (if you're lucky) fireflies light by. A black obi repeating firefly or lamp patterns would be ideal with this hikizuri, I think.

If you are thinking about buying from Shinei, you should know that when they were on Ebay, they had thousands of positive feedbacks (including quite a few from myself)... however, there were and sometimes still are some significant issues you might want to know about before deciding to use their services. Undeniably, they sell some gorgeous kimono, but it's a bit of a roulette scenario.

January 21, 2014

Geisha Show Tomorrow!

A Japanese-run group here in Florida hired me again for an educational and fun show for a private company. It's a fairly small venue, but I like small gatherings better than huge ones. Much more intimate and personal, a 'closed world'. I expect this one will be much like the last one, so I'm very excited!

The show involves geisha/maiko henshin (and it's naturally made clear that it's a performance, not actual geisha/maiko), with an open-ended skit. Set up on a stage, there's two or three of us dressed in kimono with various articles of furniture and folding screens, chatting away as if we are on a day off in a residence. We introduce ourselves and talk about what geisha do, some of the history of geisha, banter between each other a bit, and answer questions from the audience. I'm usually the cheeky apprentice (although that isn't so much an act as it is real life...), but maybe I'm a little less trouble since I can dress myself. At least, I hope I'm less trouble than I think!

I try to avoid questions regarding most politics, especially regarding American involvement in Japan. It's a pressing issue even today, but it isn't the sort of thing that gets you invited back when you ruffle feathers. If asked about something, I try to refocus it on how it affected geisha, the economy in Japan, and the survival of every-day people... especially in front of women-predominant groups, probably. I think issues women face largely depend on culture, and cultural views of outsiders who have more sway in their countries than the natives do. So especially when it comes to Western views of mizushoubai, the "water trade", attitudes need to be checked and gently corrected.

Since the details are basically set, now I have to decide what to wear tomorrow. Something subdued, given the location? Something flamboyant (even though geiko generally wear subdued outfits) as it's a stage production? Something vintage and beautiful? Something synthetic and rather plain, so it can be washed? I'm definitely leaning towards synthetic and new, considering the damage to my kimono last time. So that leaves me with a choice- something red and bright, like this outfit, or the purple cloud iromuji with either the red plum blossom obi (seasonally appropriate) or a bright green shousou-in/karabana pattern?

I think the peachy-pink kikko obi, while pretty, might be too 'quiet' for an entertainment production, so it's probably out, but I think I'll still use the purple and orange accessories if I go with the bright green shousou-in obi. I'm not sure what I'll use if I go with the red plum blossom obi. Maybe soft pinks, white, more seasonally-appropriate colours to 'quiet' such a bold obi on such a pastel kimono.

What should I do? Well, I only have maybe 15 hours to figure that out, but even so...

Red iromuji, gold obi, white/red accessories?

Purple iromuji, green obi, orange/purple accessories?

Purple iromuji, red obi, ??? accessories?

Hnnn January is so difficult. Because now is plum blossom season... a few months ago, the choice would be easy: my black fukuro with winter motifs of shouchikubai. But the pine and bamboo pattern is out of season now! Even though they won't know, I will, and likely the coordinator will, since she used to work in Japanese textile manufacturing. Muzukashii dosu e...

And naturally, if anyone has ideas about these types of shows or would like to offer some guidance, always let me know. I'll do my best!

January 20, 2014

大寒: Great Cold

Here in Florida, as in Japan, we are actually getting Daikan ("Great Cold") season! The polar chill is here again, and it seems like everyone is breaking out coats that we shouldn't even own as Floridians!

Saturday, I spent my day at the flea market, in two layers of thermal socks while my toes lost feeling. I pulled them off to put them under the bathroom's hand dryer and noticed that my nails had turned bluish-purple. It was really that cold! I was in two shirts, jeans, and a thick jacket too, and still freezing. Normally I like cold weather, but Florida has kind of a wet cold that creeps into the bones. It's very different from cold up north! I was actually warmer in waist-deep snow one year in Michigan than I am down here in 50F chill. Strange, isn't it?

But now is the time for snowy plum blossoms! Bamboo is receding, and branches of early spring flowers and grasses are starting to show. Wear greys, pale pinks, mouse-browns, and plenty of shades of pale blue. Flowing silk in two layers, thicker silk obi, and pretty black lacquer or kiri zori.

Fortunately, it is the very last before Spring starts! Winter is ending at last!

January 19, 2014

Watch "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" for Free!

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is a documentary about the 85-year old sushi chef, 小野 二郎 (Ono Jirou), a man who lives to perfect the art of making wonderful sushi in his 3-star restaurant. But it is also the story of his sons, both sushi chefs, obligated to take over their father's restaurant after his demise. Jirou-san watches his customers intently, constantly pursuing perfection in his work, looking for any sign of delight or displeasure, looking for any improvement... but everyone's taste is different, isn't it? So what one thinks is amazing may not be liked at all by another... so is this all in vain? Is there such a thing as perfection in food? Does he have unrealized dreams? Do his sons wish for another life?

Watch "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" for free on PBS until Jan. 22! Just two days left to see this amazing documentary without having to pay anything. <3 Netflix usually also features this documentary, so if you miss the deadline and have Netflix anyways, you can watch it there too.

January 18, 2014

The Weekender, Vol. 3

THIS WEEK:

I found my old stash of bookmarks from many OS-reinstalls ago! <3 Reorganizing them has been a challenge and a thrill. I was sad to find that a website once focused on LGBT resources in Japan has since been bought by another Japanese company which has since erased any mention of the history of the site.

I did break out the kanji cards I made myself! I may start taking 10-15 at a time to work each week and studying in our downtime. <3 Writing them myself instead of printing them took forever, but I think I'll remember them better if I write them myself. You can make some too!

Check out Wikipedia's list basic kanji. You can copy these characters to Paint if you have Japanese support installed. I use Paint on a 700x1000px bitmap so that I can print as many as possible on a standard sheet of paper. Then I printed them out, cut them into squares, and used clear packing tape to affix them to 1/2size flash cards. On the back I wrote info from Denshi Jisho to define each one. I started with 100 that I thought I'd learn quickly, and included some that are very similar to each other to quiz myself on the difference. I'll probably start like my Japanese teacher did- 10 a week, make a list of what 10 in English, then at the end of the week look at the list and have to write the kanji from memory. Grade myself and be honest about rotation and ability to remember. Repeat!

WEEKEND READING?

- Hamasaki Ayumi's "GAME" made it back into my playlist this week! It's a blast from the past, circa 2004, but it's a fun video for such an emotional song.
- An article from 2012 is circulating it's way around Tumblr again, and it's always worth re-reading: Female game designers of Japan. A reminder that the idea that women don't play video games and don't do computers/programming/design is a lie. We rock, and we need more opportunities to show it!
- Yamatoku Kimono has undergone a massive redesign and now offers bulk kimono for wearing and for crafting. If you do both, be sure to check out his listings! Yamatoku has been around a long time and was one of the first sellers I bought from on Ebay.
- Surviving in Japan looks like a handy guide to getting around and doing things 'right'. If your interest is daily life in Japan, and your Japanese is still rusty, this might help you!

SURVEY:

Who is your favourite J-pop artist? 
Hnnn always a toss-up. I like Ayu always, because she was the first J-pop artist I was introduced to, and she has so much grace and style when she messes up on stage. She's human like us! Even if I sometimes think her voice is a little too high-pitched for my taste...

Are you teaching yourself another language? What language?
I don't know about teaching myself. >D Obviously Japanese, but it's pidgin Japanese at best. I need a real tutor!
 
Did you celebrate Seijin no Hi this week (even if you're not in Japan)?
Nope, way too old now. :P Besides, it's only for 19-20 year olds, so there's a really narrow range to celebrate unless you're the parent of someone that age.
 
What kind of crafting do you do? 
Sewing, crochet, papercrafts, jewellery-making, candle-making. I diversify, since I always want to learn something new. Maybe this year I'll take another stab at sashiko. (Sashiko= "little stabs", taking a stab, yeah? I kill me.)
 
Who is your favourite kimono designer?
Hnnn Mamechiyo wins for inventive and fresh, but I prefer some of the unnamed designers who made my favourite antiques. Taisho Roman will never be out of style for me, even though their names were lost to time...

Your turn!

Who is your favourite J-pop artist? 
Are you teaching yourself another language? What language?
Did you celebrate Seijin no Hi this week (even if you're not in Japan)?
What kind of crafting do you do? 
Who is your favourite kimono designer?

January 16, 2014

成人の日: Furisode in Tokyo!

成人の日 reads as Seijin no Hi, Coming of Age Day. It is the day when a Japanese person is marked as an adult, occurring on the second Monday of January every year. Since year 2000, Seijin no Hi became moved to Monday because of Japan's Happy Monday System of organizing holidays to allow 3-day weekends! Before then it was every 15th of January, and even then, Seijin no Hi as a public holiday only started in 1948.

It seems however, that popularity of the holiday is shrinking, according to some sources. This may be because formalwear for women, especially ofurisode customary to the ritual, is prohibitively expensive! This is increasingly a burden during times of economic hardship, which is being experienced everywhere right now, but Japan is hit especially hard by disasters and burdens afterwards. Since buying a furisode set can cost into the thousands of dollars, most of them are rented or borrowed from an older relative. Even so, many women choose to patronize beauty salons, which offer full service: professional kimono-dressing, hair, and makeup packages. It's a sensible thing to do when most women do not wear kimono anymore!

If popularity of Seijin no Hi is declining, though, you'd never know it from photos around Tokyo... 

Yoshikazu Tsuno - AFP/Getty Images, The Guardian
And yet, this year, there are truly some stunning and very un-traditional ensembles...

Get larger vers. at TokyoFashion.com
Bright colours are nothing new at these festivals, but (chalked? dyed?) hair! Those bold Taisho-style stripes! Those heels (not zori, like on the right)! The feather kakaeobi! And... Barbies? Yes, those are Barbie dolls tied into the woman's hair on the left! I have no idea what's going on there, but alright, sure, why not? I'd have really loved to ask her what the inspiration for that was, though.

January 12, 2014

For Sale Sunday: More Himo + Accessories

I missed this one today! Actually tried to sleep in for once, after working shifts all week... and then went to work this afternoon. But I did manage to list a few new things, and took photos of plenty more! So those should be for sale soon, including some great vintage Tiffany crystal, vintage Wedgewood dishware, and various cat-themed items.

Kimono sleeves too short? Yeah, they usually are on vintage kimono (or really, any kimono not made expressly for you). But that's OK- just wear a few bracelets! With casual outfits, one or two pieces of jewellery or a nice pair of gloves can bring a modern touch and plenty of fun. This one is for sale on Etsy.

This bracelet's colours and composition is based on the tarot card "The Empress", representing emotion as a force of nature. I have a few bracelets based on archetypes, all different colours and themes.

Only three of these beautiful shibori koshi himo left! Each one was handmade from silk, with real shibori made the traditional way, not the faux-shibori which is made by printing fabric. One is in shades of pink, one in peachy-yellows, and one in bright orange. Even though they aren't seen when worn, luxury comes in the little things.

Get all three as a set in my Etsy shop!

More haori himo, made from a mix of vintage and new beads. These are pretty, lightweight for delicate vintage fabrics, and light-catching. Each one is one of a kind, so you'll be the only one wearing the one you purchase!

Himo run $5-8 each, and I combine shipping. Most shipping for small items like these maxes out at $6 within the US.

January 11, 2014

The Weekender, Vol. 2

THIS WEEK:

Wow, this week went by fast. O.o I feel like I haven't had time for anything! I guess that's a good thing. Work picked up a lot, which helped me to pay the rent this month and take Bebe to the vet. She had some pretty alarming symptoms (lethargy, uneven pupils, one non-responsive), but relatively fortunately, it's just cataracts and possibly a pinched nerve in her neck that she can stretch and roll out of. She did by yesterday. So, pain meds for the Bebe-cat. These things left me with little time to do the research I really wanted to do this week, or even to continue reading, but I suppose there's always next week, right?

WEEKEND READING?

- Wednesday the 8th was the 22nd anniversary of the "Comfort Women" protests in front of the Japanese Embassy of Seoul, S. Korea. Comfort Women were prisoners held by Japanese, especially during WW2. These weekly protests are particularly important, as Japan still has not made restitution to the last remaining survivors, and to this day, protest any reference to their existence at all.
- It looks like more and more small businesses are dwindling due to the cheapness of mass-produced products, usually made by underpaid and overworked labourers. This one, fortunately, has some help! A friendly reminder to support smaller venues whenever possible. :P
- Coming back to Nintendo, which I mentioned last week, I found a guide for maintenance. Why didn't I read this stuff sooner? Everything new is on CD, but NintendoDS probably still has many of the same rules as the old NES did.
- You might be surprised, if you've been to Japan, that the black vans of people shouting at you are not in fact racist towards white people. They are not yelling at you to leave their country. In fact, they're Uyoku Dantai, right-wingers who are racist towards Koreans. Kind of like how right-wingers here in America want to get rid of all the brown people (insert current race of topic here: South Americans, Mexicans, "Muslims" <-- actually a religion, not a race, but used to mean any Middl Eastern or Arab-descent person) who live here. Surprise! This behaviour isn't limited to America. But it's certainly not as violent as America towards minorities.

SURVEY:

Do you know of any great local businesses? Do you shop at any of them?
Do you wear tabi even without geta or zori?
Have you ever been to Japan? If so, what did you like best?

January 10, 2014

成人の日: 5 Fabulous Fukuro Under $100

Seijin no Hi (Coming of Age Day) is coming up on Monday! I've written before about my love of furisode, but I don't talk about obi very often. Obi are naturally an integral part of making a fabulous outfit. They take a very long time to make, and can often cost more than a kimono!

There is a misconception that obi hold together the kimono. This is not true. Koshi himo and datejime hold the kimono in place; an obi's function is to be art, as it has evolved from a narrow cord hundreds of years ago to a wide brocade in order to show off lavish Edo-period wealth and taste. These sensibilities have lingered ever since (and I should hope that they never fade!)

So here are five favourite fukuro obi under $100, not including shipping, from Ichiroya. I can't decide what I love more: vintage style featuring large, bold designs, or modern tastes featuring almost solid metallics and lots of tiny patterns. Either way, they are sure to be fairly versatile with furisode and your average single-crested iromuji and higher in formality.

Fukuro obi featuring traditional houou (phoenix), botan (peony), kiri (paulownia), and many other motifs.

Silk base fabric, metallic gold threads making it formal and sophisticated. A classic series of motifs on this wholly modern-made work of art. With so many warm and cool colours, multiple subtle and overt patterns, this obi can practically be worn with anything. Pale blue iromuji, reflecting the tiny hints in the leaves, orange-red kimono with bright gold patterns, really, there are so many options that if you can only have one fukuro, this might be a good choice for you!

$98 on Ichiroya.

This classic matsu obi was listed as being "quite old", and looks to be 1930s style. The bold matsu (pine) pattern with subtle hints of green in the gold and red makes me think that this obi was actually intended for a wedding of that era. I wonder about it's versatility today. Pine is still a December/January motif, and I think with the right kimono, it can be used for both Coming of Age and wedding ceremonies. It should be said that a young woman's ofurisode or formal kimono's motifs should not share the wedding symbols in order to avoid giving the wrong impression.

Sadly, it appears to have many damages. Because of it's age, I wouldn't wear it even if it wasn't stained. Hanging it is a more likely option. As it is, sections of the obi may be able to be cut and framed for brilliant decor, especially if you have a home filled with hardwood furniture in deep browns or brilliant yellow-blonde woods.

$58 on Ichiroya.

This appealing modern fukuro has charming patterns of sparrows and sasa (bamboo grasses), dewy and golden, filled with light in a background of darkness. I wonder what the mind of the artist behind this obi is like.

This might be my favourite of the five, but that might be because I have a particular love for bird patterns and glowing gold/black combinations. The obi is made of a silk base and was listed as having flaws such as 'prominent folding lines'. I suppose that could be a flaw; it means it was well-used and loved, despite it's recent construction. Perhaps with a cool iron with a protective sheet between it, the fold lines will come out. Or with any luck, the fold lines will be exactly where you need them to wear it anyways!

For $98, an obi of this magnificence and quality is a steal!

The brown/gold arabesque motif and use of bright pastel kiku (chrysanthemums) remind me heavily of a tenga obi I once owned. It was spectacularly beautiful, but I didn't have anything to wear with it. Tenga have a peculiar TPO position; not for odori, but not for average festivals, but not formal enough to wear with most kimono... what a difficult piece! Fortunately, fukuro obi have a much more versatile quality, and this one brings in more colour than the tenga, so I would be able to pair it with more outfits. <3 And look, more birds!

This kind of bird motif is called onagadori. The other flowers are karabana, imaginary Chinese flowers. Much of the obi is made of metallic thread on silk, so it can only be used in very formal outfits (or perhaps for stage), but even so, I wouldn't mind owning this one!

$98 plus shipping on Ichiroya.

To be honest, I'd be very tempted to go with an all-blue and silver outfit when wearing this one, perhaps with a formal white/yellow or white/gold variegated obijime. I can't think of anything more beautiful than a deep or twilight blue kimono with some misty design, perhaps sparrows or rabbits, trailing along the hem. This is the kind of obi I'd wear to Otsukimi (moon-viewing).

Tiny leaves at first take the appearance of butterflies. Perhaps a deep blue butterfly kimono would also be appropriate?

$98 on Ichiroya.

January 7, 2014

人日: Jinjitsu!

Jinjitsu is a holiday I've written about once before, which used to be called Nanakusa no Sekku. This holiday means "Human Day" and today is considered to be part of New Years' Celebrations. I think on this day, some people offer sake to their okami for good fortune. Also, 七草の節句 (nanakusu gayu) is eaten for good health. Nanakusu gayu is a seven-herb porridge, very filled with fiber and delicious herbs which are thought to be medicinal. One of the herbs, however, is strangely poisonous- except for Japanese varieties. Seri is water dropwort. Most of the species of this plant are dangerously toxic to humans, except O. Javanica. If you are making nanakusu gayu outside of Japan, be very sure of which kind you have!

O. Javanica (Seri) - KENPEI
This year, I will probably not eat nanakusa gayu since I will be working. I think, however, I will bring my boss some herbal tea. Because it got cold suddenly in Florida, people are not used to it, and are starting to feel sick. The air is either very humid, or very dry from heaters/AC running, contributing to cough. If you are sick, you cannot come to work in the restaurant, of course, so we cannot allow someone to get sick if we can help it! But the restaurant makes a very filling meal every night for us. I think last week we had a kind of chicken and tofu curry, with large fried tofu blocks with a texture very much like extra-fluffy eggs. And now all this take makes me want agedashidofu! Augh!

Shigiyoshi is also today, but I think some places start early. Shigiyoshi is the day (or sometimes week, depending on house) when maiko and geiko in Kyoto dress in formal black hikizuri with gold obi and visit everyone who has helped support them to wish a happy New Year and to ask for continued support. They must renew their vows for the year as well. Being a geisha is very much like being married! Every year, you must re-commit yourself to becoming better at what you do. 


This year, Satsuki-san is the winner! She earned the most in the past year, so she gets some special recognition. It must be such a thrilling occasion!

Since it is Human Day, though, I will try to be nicer to other humans. I try anyways, but maybe some extra effort can't hurt. <3

January 6, 2014

Waitressing Can Be Hard Work!

Yoshitoshi Tsukioka - Fukugawa Waitress

I'm back to waitressing again, and it can be hard work. Shifts are unpredictable, and I can be called in on less than fifteen minutes notice in an emergency (one hour if not). The job taxes the body with repetitive stress injuries, since the trays can be heavy, whipping them around people and tables can be unwieldy, and wearing a wrist brace means it gets dirty, smelly, and it's hard to wash your hands AND the brace- so you just don't wear one. Plus, the work itself is untimed. Unlike jobs in some industries such as call centres, where you have a list or a first-come-first-serve order, waitressing demands you seat everyone in order and then take whoever orders something first... and also, there can be every seat in the house filled, or none filled, and you have to prepare as if every seat will be filled most nights, just in case!

Even so, I'll try to keep up with the blog in this new year. <3

Tomorrow is Jinjitsu*, and also Unmei's birthday! But of course, I work, so I'll have to see her sometime soon... So return tomorrow to find out what Jinjitsu is about!

*Not to be confused with jiu-jitsu, the martial art

January 5, 2014

For Sale Sunday: Kimono/Obi Sets, Haori Himo, Vintage Rice Bag

This week, I've been listing as many new things for sale as possible, with many more photos to come as lighting indoors permits! Amongst the new items, I have several beaded haori himo, a vintage rice bag from WW2-era, and a few kimono/obi sets.

Taisho Modern kimono featuring the original red lining, with tatewaku pattern speckled with yellow and red squares, in a fuzzy meisen-like weave. I haven't seen any visible staining, but I can double-check before it goes out. This is one I need to get better photos of; they kept coming out fuzzy because of the indoor lighting and my shaking too much. x.x

The obi is a matching red, white, and silver Nagoya obi, with a geometric line pattern mimicking tatewaku. Very tasteful and appropriate! The obi is plain enough to not take away from the rich purple and busy pattern of the kimono, but bold enough to pair with other kimono easily. Red is a fairly neutral kimono colour as well, so the obi will match many casual outfits.

Beaded haori himo made from reclaimed vintage beads cut from older Japanese costume jewellery. Each one is different.

They are made to be lightweight so that they don't pull or tear more fragile fabrics such as vintage and antique silks, so I chose acrylic, plastic, and sometimes zinc alloy metals for beading. Chartreuse, pale blues, purple, gold, pink, and silver are all tones found in the new himo, with more varied sets coming.

Floral rice bag from the 1930s-1940s, likely made from upcycled maru obi, lined with cotton sack fabric. The tassels and kumihimo closure seems to be synthetic, which wasn't really a quality thing until around war-era (although synthetics started showing up in fabric around Taisho era). Fabric was very scarce at that time, so many items were cut down and reused in such a way.

The bag is quite large, and can fit 4-5 bath towels folded into it easily. I do not recommend using it to carry things around anymore because of it's age. It is not washable, and must be spot-treated or dry-cleaned by someone who has experience with antiques. Bags like these are hard to come by these days, so don't miss out!

January 4, 2014

The Weekender, Vol. 1

I think this year, once a week, I should post a new segment called 'The Weekender'. It's a weekly post about nothing in particular every Saturday. Did I read a new book? Is there an interesting post to share? Cute red panda photos? And (in a nod to other blogs I read) a short weekend survey. This week...

THIS WEEK:

I've started reading Modern Passings: Death Rites, Politics, and Social Change in Imperial Japan (Andrew Bernstein).

So far, a fuller picture of cultural isolation in the Tokugawa era makes sense. Society was becoming unstable because of outside influences. While change is generally good, too much at once can derail an entire society. While the top officials were surely acting in their own interests, attempting to keep power to themselves, they were surely not fool enough to believe that the entire system of life falling apart in favour of new imported religions (Christianity) and practices was a good idea. At the same time, this isolation is what forced many Japanese to abandon Shintoism in favour of Buddhism, by national decree, regardless of personal beliefs, in order to prove that they were not 'allied' with foreigners. This is just from the beginning of the book. I can't wait to read more!

WEEKEND READING?

- A look at the kimono of first-generation immigrants (issei) from Japan: Japanese American National Museum
- OMG MUSHISHI IS COMING BACK!
- If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can watch Mushishi for free online.
- If you're looking for tabloid-style J-drama, you've found it here.
- I finally got a possibly working copy of Castlevania 3 for DH! And then found out that our NES doesn't work. Aaaugh! So, next project: working NES. I mean, his only lasted about 30 years...

SURVEY:

Did you have a New Year's celebration?
Nope. Worked all night, came home around 11:15pm, surfed the net, went to bed. Exciting, eh?

Is it snowing where you live/are staying?
Not in Florida. But we got some grey rainy cold weather! It's like snow, but not frozen!

Have you ever had osechi foods?
Not properly, not yet! I don't like black beans much, although I love various forms of mochi, so I'd like to learn to cook them for myself. "Japanese restaurants" around here are not particularly traditional, since there aren't many Japanese to support them.

Do you like daifuku? What is your favourite kind?
Peanut butter <3 Okay, that isn't traditional Japanese, but I really like peanut butter. I also love the azuki kind, but I still prefer my azuki paste in taiyaki form.

What is your Animal Year (Dragon, Snake, Horse, etc.)?
I was born when Fire Rabbits become Earth Dragons. This is possibly why I'm a taciturn person. >D I love running a business, being organised, and I don't tolerate foolishness lightly... but I also have a taste for expensive things, like kimono-collecting. I guess it's fortunate that I have the drive to make my own money to support my habits.

So, how about you?

Did you have a New Year's celebration?
Is it snowing where you live/are staying?
 Have you ever had osechi foods?
 Do you like daifuku? What is your favourite kind?
 What is your Animal Year (Dragon, Snake, Horse, etc.)?

January 1, 2014

お正月: Happy New Year!

お正月 is oshougatsu, is the New Year celebration. The New Year is also called ganjitsu. On this day, it's a big celebration. Wear your best kimono and have some too-sweet plum wine!

This year begins the Year of the Wood Horse. Horse-born people tend to be straightforward, honest, and lively. They can be high-energy people who don't like the idea of restricted freedom. Naturally, this temperament is said to change somewhat depending on factors such as exact birth hour, element balances, etc. but that's what some people employ fortune-tellers for, isn't it? But no matter what, I think this year will be as good or bad as you make it. Attitude counts for everything. When things go badly, as they inevitably do, how do you approach the situation? With hopelessness, or with a fierce, rampant ambition to make the best of things? This will truly tell your future.

Osechi foods are to be eaten today, a wonderful assortment of konbu (seaweed), ozouni (a type of soup with tofu and herbs), sashimi, and many other foods. As usual, different regions of Japan have different ideas about lucky vs. unlucky foods!

Pay attention to the first dream you have on the 31st or the 1st. Normally, many Japanese do not get to sleep on the night of the 31st, since there is so much celebrating to do. The morning of the 2nd is seen as the end of the first day's dream. There is a superstition that if you dream about one of three things, you will have great luck! Your 初夢 hatsuyume will be fortunate if you dream of hawks, Fujisan, or eggplants. Fujisan, possibly because it is the tallest mountain in Japan, hawks because they are strong, intelligent birds, and eggplants because eggplant is nasu or nasubi 茄子, a homophone for nasu 成す, great achievement. There are a few more additions to this list, but when they were added or why is a source of debate. Have they been there since the original list was founded during the Edo period? Or were they later inventions? Either way, the first three on the list are memorised as Ichi-fuji (first, Fuji), Ni-taka (Second, hawk), San-nasubi (Third, eggplant).

There are many, many kigo related to New Year's Day. Kigo are special seasonal words, and there are entire dictionaries of them to refer to specific events or objects during each season. Most of New Years' kigo begin with Hatsu-, as hatsu- means 'first' in this case. As writing New Year's cards is a huge event even today, knowledge of kigo is especially wonderful when haiku or other poetry is composed for your letters. Of course, not everyone is writing haiku; these letters are often a way of sending well-wishes or letting distant relatives or friends know that you're alive and well. Japan tends to employ many post deliverers to ensure that all the New Years cards get to their recipients on New Year's Day or New Year's Eve. These cards usually include some auspicious symbol or the New Year's animal, and are sometimes hand-drawn by the sender! Each one is surely a treasure, and you should be lucky to receive such a card!

As for me, I worked most of last night, and didn't really do any celebrating. By the time I got home, I only wanted to look at cute animal photos and go to sleep! For the rest of you, 明けましておめでとうございます! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! Happy New Year!