My Family Crests (Kamon)

As for my reminder, I memorize my family crests here.
Left: My mother's family: 丸に五七の桐 maruni 5-7no kiri (5 and 7 kiri paulownia tree and flower in a circle).
Right: My father’s family: 丸に抱沢瀉 maruni idaki omodaka; (Face to face omodaka leaves and flower in a circle) 
Girls usually succeed maiden crest. However, the opportunity using kamon is drastically decreasing. It was put on armors, house gates, haoris and other festive dresses but currently we merely use them. Even my parents, they didn't recall their kamon soon when I asked...
As for kimonos, put 5 kamons (one on back, two on chests and two on sleeves) are the most formal.  Black tomesode has 5 mon crests but since Emperors family don't wear black tomesode, when you are invited imperial family, you shoud wear colored iro-tomesode and put 5 mon crests on it. It must cost a lot!


Dyeing (not dying) Night

At the exhibition for Japanese cultural experience, I met a Japanese dyeing class student whose kimono design was tremendous momiji autumn leaf. She and her aunt studied Isshiki Tsujigahana tie-dyeing method and now are studying yuzen dyeing. (On the picture, the right lady wears momiji autumn leaf yuzen dyeing and the left lady wears tie-dyeing. how gorgeous kimonos they wear!)

The master of Itchiku Tsujigahana tie-dyeing revived it from four hundred years dormant. It is older than yuzen free-hand dyeing. When he revived it in 1980s, not only Japan but the world praised his works extravagantly. For example, Osho painted his Rolls-Royse as Itchiku Tsujigahana-way. (really?)

To show my respect to all kimono dyeing method, I wore sarasa calico dyeing. Do you know? The word sarasa calico came from Portuguese altough currently sarasa doesn't exist in Portugal any more.

It was interesting night to know the history of dyeing and the world is connected.

Photo book of Itchiku Tsujigahana works.  $1,200 Wow.


Edo Kimono Fashion

At Hotel New Otani museum, an exhibition “Townswomen Fashion Kosode and Ukiyo-e Paintings in Edo Period” has been held by Nov 23rd. We can see kimono fashion history and change from 17th century to 19th century with lots of ukiyo-e woodblock printings and real kimonos!
It was a small exhibition since most of ukiyo-es are hotel owner family’s collection. (Not Hilton's but Otani's) And most of kimonos were labeled personal collection. Who have these super antique kimonos? How they survived the war fire and earthquakes? I am curious…
Today, I wore Edo komon dyeing kimono with Edo bingata dyeing obi sash to show my respect to Edo era kimonos. If you wear kimono, you can get half discount for the entrance fee!


Japanese Empress’s Kimonos

I am not a crazy fan, and not a protester of Japan’s royal family, just I like watching her kimonos. All of them are state of the art. All Japan’s kimono crafting techniques are concentrated. The artisans were young and their golden age when they made these kimonos for her. And now, they are retired and have few successors.

This book is just published and how lucky, I found a magazine introduced some of the pictures. Let’s take a peek!

The Empress Michiko-sama's Kimonos


Which kimono I should wear to see shogun’s wife’s kimono…?

To see wives of shogun samurai generals' kimono (kosode), I visited the exhibition “Art of the Tokugawa shogunate and the end of the feudal age” in Yokohama. It will be until Nov 23th.
October is difficult season for kimono. It’s regulated as awase with liner, but still hitoe no-liner is comfortable. So I wore thin wool komon and put tuzure obi. Wool and cotton are always tailored as hitoe no-liner and we can wear them throughout the year. (and also, it's washable!)
This tuzure obi has good kaku status (I believe) so, I think this ensemble is good for appreciation of shogun familie’s stuffs. Actually, this tsuzure obi is very heavy because it is handwoven and thick. It always slide down…
I was a bit disappointed only one kosode was displayed at this exhibition. Even though, it was really beautiful full embroidered yuzen dyeing so worth to see it!

photo:小袖浅葱縮緬地松竹梅桜菊網干模様友禅染繍伝和宮(静寛院宮)所用 19th century, Tokugawa Memorial Foundation


World-Class Kimono Expert Amazed Tokyo

Finally I could meet Berber Misuchi from Netherland. A queen of kimono kitsuke blog. She was amazing. What else I can say!? She was invited by Cultural Exchange Institute and made a speech. She talked about her history and challenge collecting kimonos and its information. I have never seen a person studying how to wear kimono only from a book. Other Japanese attendees neither. Her kitsuke, coordination and kimono manner were perfect. We (most of them were guide-interpreter) were just amazed and deeply impressed to hear how kimonos were loved by her.

A kimono magazine’s editor who attended the meeting said Berber was a real yamato nadeshiko from The Netherlands, (Yamato nadeshiko is "woman who displays the feminine virtues of old Japan" by Jim Breen), because Berber wore kimono so nicely. She also said "Berber reminded us the beauty of kimono and depth of kimono clothes." I totally agree!
(After the speech, she was like a star!)

I had known her as Misuchi on kimono blog who posed like a kimono model. Real Misuchi Berber was so charming and her body movements in kimono were really graceful. Thank you Berber, it was great honor for me to arrange such an exciting intercultural session!

At Ikeda antique kimono store. We went Roppongi, Shibuya and Meguro in kimono.


Meiji Era Kimono Style

I read an autobiography of a rakugoka comic story teller, 志ん生 Shinsho, who was born in 1890, Meiji era. Although he was a son of samurai family, he was poor because of drinking, gambling, and playing at hanamachi red district. His description about how poor he was is so funny and tell us old kimono habits in early 20 century.

For example, he said he never rode a train, always walked to everywhere to save train fares. “I walked and walked, tying my haori coat at my neck (like Batman!?) with bare feet, tying my geta shoes at my waist, since I was afraid my geta heals wore out.” Today in Japan, we never see a man like this. I guess he hung his geta with obi sash…
He mentioned that because of his poverty, his family also wore a little. His wife wore only koshimaki at their house. Koshimaki is kimono underskirt… So his wife was like The Venus de Milo!?


Kimono Article on English Magazine.

I wrote about kimono for Tokyo Journal, English magazine published in Japan. I heard it was sold in some foreign cities. If you find it, please read the kimono article.

The photo shoot for the front cover and the kimono article was held on end-July. The model wore awase lined furisode under 30C (86F) temperature… I wrapped the model’s arms with ice pads because I really worried that she had got heatstroke! But she was so patient and tough. She survived.

All of kimonos for shooting from Ikeda-san’s antique kimono shop. Ikedasan’s selection’s furisode is 4000 yen and obi is just 1000 yen. (in total $50!) Although the writing was a hard work, I really enjoyed the shooting. I am so sad that I forgot to take a photo of Ikeda-san and me. Ikeda-san is famous kimono coordinator and antique obidome collector. Some of you may know about her books.


Geisha Show!

On my birthday, hoping a unique event, I asked to take me to Geisha Show! There are some reasonable tours for travelers. I heard English geisha tours were much popular than for Japanese, but this night, I met none of non-Japanese.

After 30 min ride on bus, we went Mukojima old red-light district area. Two geishas, one hangyoku (geisha apprentice) and one shamisen player welcomed us, 17 Japanese people, most of us were women. Although this type of event used to be limited for man visitors, now both customers and entertainers are women.

They served dinner for us, cheered with us, played music and danced. I really enjoyed their beautiful and traditional kimonos. Surprisingly, they wore kimonos quite loosely (but not slovenly). Hangyoku-san’s embroidery haneri (inside collar) was so cute!
Mukojima means Other Side (of Sumida river) or Out Side of Edo (old Tokyo) central. Isolated and lawless area man could be absorbed in self-indulgent pleasures with geishas and oirans, if he was rich!


It is better watching dolls in kimono than wearing by oneself

Too hot to wear kimono. This is my first time in August. I am afraid I would forget how to wear kimono…
So I went to Jusaburo Tsujimura’s doll exhibition in yukata. Lots of samurai and nobility dolls wore gorgeous kimonos. Sorry beautiful dolls, I wore really casual!

This dragon fly yukata from yahoo japan auction is my thinnest one. It was really cheap that means thin. But I like this color and design. Obi sash is hanhaba Okinawa minsa hemp. The motif is continuous 4 and 5 squares which means I am always with you, even we would be in reincarnation. Scary?hana no utage by jusaburo tsujimura
Habano utage by Jusaburo Tsujimura


My small resistance to Tokyo town heat

At the window facing west, I grow a bitter melon, a vine plant to block scorching sun. Not only being a sunshade, it provided me a small bitter melon. I sautéed it and ate with beer. Yummy!

This summer, Tokyo terrible heat has not begun yet. We have record long rainy season (because of global weirding weather?) . I just can’t stand this moisture. Muggy, just muggy….So since July, I have worn only a hemp kimono. With instant nagajuban, thin cotton, no wide sleeve. Obi is 苧麻 I don’t know how I translate it but Jim Breen says it is ramie (an Asian flowering nettle) (Boehmeria nivea). I like this ensemble because it’s the coolest of mine. Do you think grey-green doesn’t fit summer season? We prefer dark color in summer because dark color provides us coolness, impression-wise. That’s why there are many indigo yukatas.

For me, the biggest concern in summer is not town heat but cockroach. May be both are related and recently, big cockroaches sneak into my house often. Every time I screamed as if I were killed but no help. I’ve finally found this might be the best solution. 木酢液 Jim Breen says nothing, wikipedia says it is pyroligneous acid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyroligneous_acid
By my direct translation, it is wood vinegar. I spray it at my leaning and always a bit opening terrace door. Since then, no cockroach appears. This wood vinegar also works for stray cats that regard my backyard as a rest room. 木酢液 wood pyoroligneous vinegar works well! Because somebody said, it smelled like burnt wood so scared insects and animals. No cocroach and cat shit shows. For human, only me? it’s not so bad smell.


My first tea ceremony experience

I joined tea ceremony which was held in English. Either in Japanese or in English, this was my first tea ceremony experience. Since I hate Japanese confectionaries, -I can’t eat sweet azuki bean paste, how poor Japanese I am!- I avoided the opportunity to attend tea ceremonies. Because I knew attendees must eat tea cakes and must appreciate them….
But at this class, we eat western cakes. I could appreciate it! (although still liquors are preferable than sweets for me) Everything happened in the ceremony was quite fresh and interesting for me. I learned how to appreciate everything (everything!) and got peace and comfort in my mind. Wow, Zen experience!?
Just one thing, I was surprised that we need to sip the tea. I know lots of tea ceremony lovers reading this blog. I would like to ask, doesn’t this embarrass you??


How to wear kimono coolly

Do you have ice pad in your area? These sheets are so useful to cool down the body when we wear kimono in the hot season. Usually it is put on fevered kid’s forehead. I wrap my upper arms with these sheets. I can’t stand without them in summer. Insert ice block between kimono and obi knot might be cooler but obi will get wet. Only with non-silk obi, you can try ice block on back.

Today’s ensemble is
Light brown; ojiya chijimi 50% hemp and 50% cotton
Light orange; Tale of Genji Evening glory sash
White; obi jime belt
Hmm it’s a bit colorless…


New summer sake tasting party

Now it’s a season for first brewed sake, which were blended and stocked in the keg last autumn. We tasted 14 kinds of summer sakes at once! My favorite was …Tukasa botan senchu hassaku (what a long name… ) Not too sweet but had body and nice aroma. And also, it’s not so expensive.

For this tasting party, I wore hitoe no-lined yellow zenmai tsumugi and summer obi. Zenmai is a kind of fern grass. The fabric shows the fern's fiber randomly.
This tsumugi was originally tailored for awase lined. I removed the liner (actually I asked to remove it to kimono laundry). Because of this color, when it become hitoe no-lined, it become much useful. Nice to wear in late spring and early autumn.

Today’s three colors are
Yellow; kimono
White; obi sash
Violet; nagajuban under kimono, obi scarf and belt
My favorite colors!


Which is which?

Kilo sent me his photo in kimono from San Francisco. The photo reminds me the most famous last samurai Saigo-don in Japan.

Kilo, if you would come to Japan, you must be treated like a celebrity!


A boat obi on the ship in Hawaii

I brought some hitoe kimonos to my cruise trip around Hawaii islands. Because air conditioning was sometimes too strong for me, (hei it's waste of energy, America!) not yukata but hitoe was perfect to wear in the ship.

Boat design hakata obi sash, Ginza musubi knot
Kimono is 50% cotton, 50% hemp hitoe Ojiya chijimi


Sakura with Sakura color haori

Sakura blooms only for a week in a year. This is the reason we all long for it almost a year, and once it blooms, we are intoxicated around the tree!


New kimono kitsuke session

Although kimono has become special occasional clothes, someone still wear it daily. We asked her to show us how she wore kimono, and she did! At previous kimono kitsuke class, I was taught to use two Korin belts -elastic with plastic clips on both ends to hold collar not loosen. So I used to clip kimono and juban in total 4 clips inside kimono. But she totally denied the belt with clips and told us how to tie chest strap between kimono and obi sash. Big surprise! The strap holds collars gently, and keeps them for a long time.

She also taught us, if we use 3 different colors in total kimono coordination, it look chic and sophisticated (=iki). Not too many colors, not monotone. She also said, we need to be careful for black sash because it easily seemed “nighttime entertainment business women’s” fashion…

Next time, I will ask her how to remake kimonos which became a bit girlish for my age. She may tell us how to re-dye them or how to change the liners. How exciting!


My Shamisen teacher is on January Kabuki

I think this is a big opportunity for who wants to study Samisen, Japanese banjo, and a big crisis for this traditional instrument.
You can study from a national theater level teacher with $30 per lesson at local small class! Class mates are always less than 10. If you would like to study how to play piano or violin from national theater level teacher in their original country, how much it would cost!?

My shamisen teacher was on January Kabuki. I couldn't get the ticket so watched him on TV. He was just behind Tomijyuro!!!