geisha

Happy Easter!

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

 


You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk


Rita Ora.
One of my vintage, silk kimonos, from wafuku.co.uk, modelled by the beautiful Rita Ora.

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

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Happy 2015 + Cool Cushions & Kimono Artisans

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

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 Happy New Year.

2015 is the year of the sheep. It is also called year of the ram and, sometimes, year of the goat. I guess I should really have given my sheep some horns.

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I lost the login details for my Wafuku Facebook page, so I have just started another called Wafuku Kimonos, you will find it here.

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Cushions I covet.
I found these great cushions on Etsy.

I love this Astro Boy one from the seller Morondanga.

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and these great ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ cushions, including a delightful soot sprite, from Homderful.

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and this No Face one, also from Morondanga.

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Morondanga also offer this nice geisha cushion

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An onigiri one

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and, away from the Japanese theme, this Lieutenant Uhura cushion that I rather like, though I do feel it should have her ear-piece. Did you know that the word uhura is Swahili for freedom?

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Yuzen kimonos are ones with hand painted textile art. They are, not surprisingly and quite justifiably, vastly expensive. Here are some pictures showing yuzen work in progress, by Takesi Goto. He has drawn the colour sketches, applied the outlines to the silk and tacked the pieces together to check the alignment. The next stage is to paint the design with textile dyes and touches of gold, all expertly done by hand, of course.

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Outlines on the tacked together pieces of the kimono

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The colour sketches of the artwork for the kimono

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Another kimono he has outlined ready for painting. I don’t have colour sketches for this one.

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Here are some fantastic stage costumes also done by Takesi Goto.

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Check out the sketches on the wall behind them too. Stunning work by a great master.

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Ypu can see some more of his work on his website here

@situnai

and more here

@mari

and more here

@yuugen

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I came across this cover of Tokyo Journal magazine, with a photo of Gene Simmons, of Kiss, wearing a kimono.  He is actually wearing a women’s kimono. You can tell by the sleeves. It also looks like it may be a female’s odori kimono (a traditional dancer’s kimono). I think the lightning strike was probably appliqued onto it for the photo shoot, as it looks added.

Simmons

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There is a kimono tailor in Japan, by the name of Lyuta, who is making lovely, contemporary kimonos and haoris. His website is here and he is also on Facebook as ‘Kimono tailor LYUTA’.
I’ve added some photos of his garments below. A few are for women but most seem to be men’s garments.

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Reversible, men’s kimono

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A men’s kimono made of Marimekko fabric

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I think this is my favourite of his garments.

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A women’s kimono with pairs of cats
on an ichimatsu (checkerboard) and bokashi (shaded) background.

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Multi-tone, men’s hansome ensemble

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Pigs & Polkadots

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Note the contemporary detail of a mobile phone pocket.
Traditionally, kimonos have no pockets. Inro and  kinchaku (drawstring)
pouches held by the obi, with the help of netsuke, were used instead, with
small, light things also carried in the sleeves, now and then. Nowadays the
mobile phone demands a pocket.

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Cat-tastic Men’s Kimono

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A two tone denim, katamigawari, men’s kimono.
Katamigawari means half-and-half.

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Samurai motifs

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Close up of the haori fabric.

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Big dots on bold, bright green

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Oatmeal denim men’s kimono
another with the unusual addition of pockets for that ubiquitous phone, tablet etc.
Notice that, like most good quality kimonos, these appear to be hand stitched.

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A denim kimono for a young girl
who chose these fabrics for her kimono

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Arabesque pattern, above and below.

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The tailor himself.
I think that is in his shop

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Reversible- Pinstripes & Polkadots.

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The spotty side, for those less subdued moods

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Heart Fancy, men’s kimono

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Lots of labels

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Military style kimono for a man.

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Delightful daisies haori

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An old murayama-(oshima-)tsumugi with red lining, as a male kimono.

 An old Oshima tsumugi kimono relined in red textile.
More often than not, these Oshima tsumugi kimonos are lined in
indigo dyed cotton. I really like the red replacement in this one.

Those are just some examples of Kimono tailor Lyuta’s creations. I love his style

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

haorisweeritao

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Cabinets, Kimonos and Celebrating the Topknot

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

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Magnificent, kimono shaped cabinets by the Californian artist, John Cederquist. His work is influenced by advertising, Japanese woodblocks and American cinema and animation. He creates vivid images using wood, wood inlay, stains and epoxy resin. These kimono shaped cabinets are from 2005. I covet them all.

Bluto's diner

Bluto’s Diner
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Big Fish

Big Fish
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Heavenly Victory

Heavenly Victory
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Double Fuji

Double Fuji
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Forrest Grows The Flying Fish

Forest Grows The Flying Fish
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Kosode That Built Itself

Kosode That Built Itself
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Mr Chips

Mr Chips
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Searchlight

Searchlight
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Skyways

Skyways
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Bluto’s Diner Partially Opened
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Bluto’s Diner Fully Opened

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Downton Abbey fans may have noticed that Lady Mary, in the UK television series, Downton Abbey, wears a lovely kimono as a robe. Whenever a show portrays the 1900s to 1930s, you tend to see a kimono being worn if a scene is called for with a woman wearing a robe.

I’m afraid my screenshots are rather fuzzy but they are the best I could capture.

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Another UK television show, Mapp & Lucia, based on the novels by E. F. Benson, has Lucia wearing a lovely kimono (see below). My screen grabs of it are even worse than the Downton Abbey one, as the scene with Lucia wearing it was in a room with low light, but you can see clearly enough that it is a little black beauty of a kimono. It is a lovely, old furisode kimono. Furisode are the ones with the ultra deep sleeves, a style worn in Japan by young, unmarried women on special occasions, such as to their graduation or to a wedding. Lucia’s is a lovely example of one from that era; it will have been very expensive, both when new and now.

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Here is a handy little guide to kimono types and where they may be worn

kimono types - when to wear

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Shimada Mage is a Japanese Festival held in Shimada city around 19 September each year. It celebrates the topknot (chignon) hairstyle.

There are different theories about the origins of the Shimada Mage hair style: some say it was created by prostitutes working in the Shimada-juku inn district on the old Tokaido route to Edo, some suggest that it is the style used by the Kabuki actor Shimada Mankichi (1624-1643), others think that is the Japanese word Shimeta, in the sense of tied-up hair, became “Shimada” and others think that Tora Gozen, a native of Shimada, devised the style herself. Tora Gozen was a prostitute said to have been on good terms with Soga Juro Sukenari, the elder of the two brothers in the famous tale of Soga.
She is also depicted in Kabuki theater as Oiso no Tora, a key character in works such as Kotobuki no Taimen. In front of the Yakushiji Hall, in the grounds of Uda-ji temple in the Noda district of Shimada City, is a stone memorial known locally as “the grave of Tora Gozen”.

Shimada Mage is the most popular traditional Japanese hair style. It has been worn since the 13th century, but like the other Japanese hair styles, it developed mainly during the 18th century, as part of a wider blossoming of Japanese traditional culture.

Most of the information above is from the Shizuoka Gourmet website, where you will find more pictures and more information about this festival.

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I wish I knew what the writing on their kimonos says.

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Above photo from Shizuoka Gourmet

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Traditional Japanese Wigs. A lovely, Japanese lady, whom I know on G+, attended a Japanese wig event, where she watched wigs being styled by a professional. In Japan, brides who wear traditional, Japanese wedding kimonos wear wigs to complete the look. Here are pictures of wigs created by the artisan at that event.

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Wax is combed through the hair, then it is tied and twisted into ornate designs.

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There are many variations of the style.

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Wigs are also worn by geisha (geisha are also called geiko in some areas). The trainee geisha, called maiko, who have very ornate hairstyles lavishly decorated with flowers and pins, don’t wear wigs but have their own hair styled and therefore have to sleep with their necks resting on uncomfortable little blocks, called takamakura (high pillow), so that their hair touches nothing as they sleep. When they paint their faces white, they leave a centimetre or so of skin pink and unpainted around the hairline. The two reasons are that it keeps the makeup and facial wax out of their hair and it reminds people looking at them that there is a real person hiding behind the doll like mask of makeup. Once the maiko graduates into a fully fledged geisha, she cuts her long hair and has wigs made instead. A geisha therefore wears her makeup over her entire face, under the edge of the wig, with no flesh colour showing around the edge, apart from the eri-ashi, which is the unpainted pattern of peaks or curves at the back of the neck. She usually has a widow’s peak at the front. A geisha can also sleep more comfortably because she just takes off her wig and sleeps with her head on a standard pillow, with no neck block required to raise the hair from being disturbed. She no longer has to go through the weekly, agonizing ordeal of having her hair restyled, she just gets her wigs regularly maintained instead.
Some geisha have a bald spot on the top of their scalps due to how tightly their own hair was pulled and tied when they had, as maiko, to keep their own hair styled. The constant tight pulling on the scalp gradually damages the follicles until, at that tightest spot on top, the hair ceases to grow. They tend to be rather proud and fond of this bald spot, as it marks their suffering for their art. Not all geisha have been maiko first, one has to be young to become a maiko, One might be a maiko for about 4 years but it depends when one starts. If older, the apprenticeship has to be shorter, if not young enough, one has to become a geisha without can become a geisha but not a maiko. Not surprisingly, it carries extra prestige for a geisha to have been a maiko first.

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Geisha in wigs

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Maiko Satoryu (left) and maiko Umesaya (right), by Michael Chandler on Flickr

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

haorisweeritao

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Pretty Things & Helpful Tips

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk WordPress blog

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Does anyone know why my blog layout is confined to the left side of the browser window?
When opened to full screen in Chrome browser, my layout only covers 50% of the window width and in Firefox it is just around 60% of the width, with just plain black background on the right side. I don’t know why this is and I can’t find anything in the WordPress options to make it spread over the entire window. I want the menu strip down the extreme right side and the body of the blog to entirely fill the rest of the width. If anyone has the answers, please let me know via a comment.

blog layout problem

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How to tie men’s haori himo
I want to start this post with this instruction diagram because I was asked for it by someone. My previous one had Japanese text but this one can easily be followed with no text. It also shows how a himo can be attached to the little loops on the haori but men’s himo are more often hooked onto those, with little S shaped metal hooks. This means the himo only has to be tied once, since it is unhooked to unfasten it, not untied.
Women’s haori himo are tied differently from men’s ones and are normally untied to unfasten the haori. A man’s himo can be threaded into the haori loops and tied each time it is worn, if one has no hooks, and some women’s himo, often ones that are a string of beads or a decorative chain, are hooked on and off instead of tied.

If you have no hooks you can make some out of a hairgrip, using pointed nosed pliers to cut and bend it into two S shaped hooks. I needed two pairs of pliars, one to hold it and one to bend. You may need to file the cut end to smooth it off so it doesn’t catch on things.  You can see the proper hooks in the picture below. Sometimes a necklace clasp is attached to each end and used to clip the himo onto the haori’s loops.

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I thought I would show you this antique haori from my website.
It is the longer length, with the much deeper sleeves that these older ones have. I like the lovely soft blue colour of the silk. It is shown being worn by a UK size 8-10 woman and she wears it gathered at the back and with the front edge folded back, lying open at the front, held by a wide belt. Although haori are designed to be worn on top of Japanese kimonos, they do look fantastic with western world clothing.

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Shibori Long Haori.
Here is another longer length, antique haori, also with the much deeper sleeves. This one is shibori (tie dye) silk and has a cute upper lining with ships on it. The external design is kiku (chrysanthemums). Shibori silk is highly prized in Japan because it takes a long time to produce when it is hand done, as this haori is. Because it takes a lot of time and skill, it is also very expensive. It is often seen on obiage (obi scarves), as this was a way to have some shibori without it costing an arm and a leg, since it was only on a small item. It still made the shibori obiage much more expensive than one with none on it, of course, but shibori clothing could be out of many people’s reach.

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The ships on the lining are rather nice.

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Here is the front…

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I have a handy tip for mobile phone owners.
The cable on phone chargers is notoriously bad for splitting where it enters the end fittings. This is because that is the point that most often gets bent and that splits the plastic coating and eventually breaks the wires. To stop it happening, you can take the spring from a ballpoint pen and wind it around the cable, making sure to hook the end over the thicker part on the cable, to hold the spring in place. This spreads the stress on the wire so that it is no longer all at that very end point and causing it to weaken and possibly split. You can see what I mean from the picture of mine, below.

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Kansai Yamamoto Yukata Kimonos.
Below are two Kansai Yamamoto kimonos from my website (I have some of his geta too). Kansai Yamamoto is the Japanese designer who designed David Bowie’s costumes for the Ziggy Stardust tour many years ago. He still designs clothing and does a range of different types of kimonos and Japanese footwear.
These kimonos are folded and stitched closed, so I can’t show them opened out, but you can see the patterns on the cotton.

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The ball on it is called a temari (sometimes just written as mari). Temari are traditional, Japanese, decorative balls, often quite large, which are bound in different coloured threads to create the designs. You can see a closer view of it in the next photo. It has some nice, delicate, gold outlines, as do the stamens of some of the peonies.

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This next one is a darker one, in colouring very popular in yukatas just now.

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Closer view…

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Some Kansai geta too…

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and another…

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Temari.
As I mentioned above, temari are Japanese, decorative balls, with a pattern created by covering them in thread. Traditionally they were created by parents or grandparents and given to children on New Year’s day and were often made from the thread of old kimonos. I only have one or two temari, though not the ones in this picture, which were made by an 88 year old woman. Flickr user, NanaAkua, photographed this large and beautiful collection of temari created by her 88-year-old grandmother who began to master the art in her 60s.  Click on that picture to open a page where you can see 500 of the temari she made.

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and a few more pictures here.

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Noren.
I’ll finish off today’s post with some noren. The first (blue) one isn’t one of mine, the second one (with puppies) is.
The blue one has Japanese text on it that says “iki”. Iki means understated elegance or quiet elegance. It is considered an art, an admirable trait to be iki.

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This next noren is very cute, with the back view of a pair of puppies enjoying hanami (the annual cherry blossom viewing).
Noren are split curtains, hung at doors but sometimes, nowadays, used as room dividers or hung on the wall to be decorative. They are often hung from shop doors and you see them at the doors of tea rooms and geisha houses etc. Two strips is usual but you sometimes find them with more. you part the strips as you walk through. Both of these are two strip noren, roughly 85 x 150cm, split up the centre.

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Here are the puppies close up…

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me.

I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and its being there does not mean that I back or recommend it. 

Moon Rabbit, Geisha Wallpaper & Paris Vogue

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The Japanese Moon Rabbit
Tsukiyo no Usagi; the rabbit in the moon. The Moon rabbit in Japanese folklore is a rabbit that lives on the moon, based on pareidolia (the phenomenon of seeing images that seem significant, like clouds in the shape of objects, faces in foodstuffs etc) that identifies the markings of the moon as a rabbit (sometimes said to be a hare). The story exists in many cultures, particularly in East Asian folklore, where the rabbit is seen pounding in a mortar and pestle. In Japanese versions it is pounding the ingredients for mochi (rice cake/dumplings).


In the Japanese anthology, Konjaku Monogatarishu (lit. Anthology of Tales from the Past; a Japanese collection of over one thousand tales written during the late Heian period of 794-1185), a long, long time ago in a far distant land there lived a rabbit, a fox and a monkey who believed that they had sinned in their former lives. Thus, as punishment, they are reincarnated as animals. Determined to compensate for their former sins, they gathered one day and promised to each other to be good and love each other as brothers.

From heaven, Taishakuten, a deity in the Land of Gods, looked upon them in disbelief. “Impossible! The present world is filled with hatred! Even siblings will go as far as to hate, rob or even kill each other. These humans have no compassion and regret anymore, you are telling me that you ANIMALS have it?” he thought to himself. As a test of their true faith, Taishakuten transformed himself into a weak, old man, and descended to the sinful world where the three animals lived. He laid himself down on a path, pretending to be in severe sickness, great pain and nearing death.
Soon enough the three animals passed by this seemingly dying old man. “Salvation… please, help this old man. I have an unfinished journey in front of me, but I have been overcome by hunger and thirst… Anyone, anything, please offer this old man his salvation…” He begged to the three animals in a frail voice.
Seeing this as the perfect chance to prove their determination to be good, the monkey ran off into the forest and brought back fruits and vegetables; the fox went to the graveyard and brought back offerings to the dead that people have left behind; rice cakes, fish, beverages and such.

Rabbit Netsuke

Being small and weak and used only to collecting grass for food, the rabbit was not able to find anything to save the dying man. In great shame, he went back to the old man. “I am so sorry but I have not yet found anything; I will search elsewhere. Please make a fire and await my return”,  the rabbit requested.
Standing by the old man, the smug fox and monkey were getting impatient, “The rabbit brought back nothing and now he tells us to make a fire and wait for him? Useless!” exclaimed the fox and the monkey in disgust. Moments later the rabbit returned, still with nothing. He stared into the fire, then jumped into its flames, making himself food for the old man.
Taishakuten, was so very impressed and touched by such a self-sacrificing act that he proclaimed that the rabbit would be ascended to the moon, so that humans will remember the rabbit and his selfless act forever.

In Japanese art it is sometimes depicted as two rabbits on the moon.

The night of the 15th of September, or ‘Jugo-ya’ (Fifteenth night), is a time when the Japanese go out and appreciate the beauty of the mid-autumn full moon. Such activity is known as ‘O-tsuki-mi’ (moon viewing). ‘Mochi’ (rice dumplings), watermelons, chestnuts and numerous autumn fruits are offered to the bright, full moon. Such offerings are arranged on small, decorative stands and are placed near the windows of Japanese homes.

Rabbits are a popular motif on Japanese fans and textiles and all sorts of other items, like in the images of a Japanese textile and tabi shown above. Examples of rabbits depicted in Japanese antiques are this fabulous netsuke…


and this spectacular antique kimono…

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On a change of topic, I discovered this extremely expensive wallpaper the other day. I wouldn’t want it on my walls but it was interesting to see.

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Recently I saw this lovely furisode kimono in a Paris Vogue from Novemeber 2010…

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Left Over Right – Florence Welch Gets It Wrong – Celebrities in Kimonos

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk WordPress blog

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Left Over Right

I notice that Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine, wears a furisode kimono in her Dog Days video. What really puzzles me is that she wears it with the fronts the wrong way round; she has the right front over the left one, whereas kimonos are worn left over right. Even if she didn’t know the left over right rule, it is very obvious with her kimono, as you can see from the third picture of her below, because the left side of the front has the deep, fancy pattern on it and the right front has only the smaller, simpler, bottom end of the design, so she has the nicest, most striking part of the front pattern hidden under the right side’s front. It would also look so much nicer with a sash that was about 3 inches deep and firm enough not to gather up, like a wide belt or something, worn with the buckle at the back.

Florence and the Machine

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine

Here in the West, women wear their clothing fronts right over left and men wear them left over right but in Japan both genders wear their traditional clothing with the left front over the right. Well, that is unless they are dead, because, in Japan, only a corpse wears the kimono fronts right over left. It is not just people from outside Japan who get it wrong; nowadays most Japanese people do not wear wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing), so they don’t tend to know the rules involved in wearing it. It is not altogether unusual for a Japanese person who is wearing a kimono for the first time, perhaps a yukata one at a summer festival, to wear the fronts the wrong way round and it is also not unusual for an older, more informed Japanese person to rush over to them and try to switch their kimono fronts around, horrified that the young kimono novice is dressed as a corpse. Yukata kimonos usually have an all-over repeat pattern, so the pattern doesn’t make it obvious that the left front should be on top.

With a tomesode, houmongi, tsukesage or furisode style kimono it is usually obvious which front should be on the outside, because the pattern on the left front will be much more decorative but on a kimono with an all-over repeat pattern, such as a komon style kimono and most yukata kimonos, it is not obvious, which is why kimono novices get it wrong, especially if they are used to western world style women’s clothes being worn the opposite way. However, on the kimono Florence Welch is wearing in her video, it is very obvious which front should be on the outside but she still got it wrong.

Florence Welch

My daughter, who thinks she knows nothing about kimonos, has clearly picked up a fair amount of kimono knowledge from me over the years, mostly while modelling kimonos for me, because it was her who saw the video, spotted Florence was wearing a kimono and noticed, to her chagrin, that she had the fronts the wrong way round.

In saying that, way, way back when my daughter bought her first Japanese kimono, the one that made me want one and started me collecting, we didn’t know the left over right rule either and it was not obvious because that kimono had an all-over repeat pattern, so we do have photos of her wearing that first kimono with the fronts the wrong way round. Had it been one like Florence’s, though, I’m sure we would have realised which front went outside simply by looking at the pattern, so we can’t work out why Florence didn’t realise it.

We westerners seem to find it so hard to overcome our tradition of right front over left front for all women’s clothing, even when the pattern on the kimono makes it obvious the left front should to be on top. I even, however, saw some full sized paper kimonos, made and displayed by a Japanese artist, with the woman’s kimono fronts correctly placed but he had the man’s kimono fronts incorrectly right over left. It’s only here in the West that all women’s clothes are worn right over left, not the case with Japanese kimonos, regardless of whether one is male or female (unless it is a corpse, then it’s right over left). Here in the West, only men’s clothes are left over right. I understand western women’s clothes are right over left due to the fact that women of fashion in the past used to have maids to dress them and right over left was easier for the maid facing the wearer but I don’t know for certain if that is true.

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Everybody Loves A Kimono

It seems everyone loves a Japanese kimono. Below you can see a photo of Dita Von Teese dressed up as a maiko (apprentice geisha). It’s a pity she is not wearing okobo geta, like those shown further down this page. When Dita Von Teese visits Japan she always gets a new set of photos taken of herself in a kimono. It takes them about an hour to get her dressed up, in preparagtion for the photos. Dita advises that every woman visiting Japan should do this too.  If you are not likely to be in Japan, you can always treat yourself to a genuine, Japanese kimono from my www.wafuku.co.uk website. Below Dita you can see Sarah Jessica Parker, in Sex In The City, wearing a floral kimono to a party, Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce, Vanessa Williams, playing Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty, Drea de Matteo in Desperate Housewives, wearing a pretty orange kimono, which I think is actually a girl’s one, rather than a woman’s one, and she has the fronts, like Florence, the wrong way round with the right one over the left instead of left over right. Janet Jackson,  Madonna, Jessica Alba, Reese Witherspoon and a few others and, of course, my daughter in the kimono that started my obsession with them. Since kimonos, when worn the traditional way, are worn with a big fold-over at the waist and, with children’s, big tucks at the shoulders, the children’s ones are actually quite big when the tucks are taken out and the waist isn’t folded up, so they can have a nice fit on an adult, as you see on Billie Piper.

Dita Von Teese dressed as a Maiko

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Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex In The City

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Rita Ora Models a Wafuku kimono.
The May 2014 edition of Elle Magazine (UK) features the singer, Rita Ora, whom you can see modelling one of the silk kimonos from my www.wafuku.co.uk website.


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Rita Ora in a kimono from www.wafuku.co.uk kimono

ritavidkimono2

Above, on Rita Ora.

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The same kimono (not on Rita).

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Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce

wearing a shortened, soft silk, antique kimono, in lovely muted colours

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Vanessa Williams, playing Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty

wearing an embroidered furisode kimono

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Drea de Matteo in Desperate Housewives

she too has the fronts the wrong way round

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Bowie yukata

David Bowie

wearing a casual, cotton yukata kimono.

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Billy Piper

in what is actually a little girl’s kimono

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Janet Jackson

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Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink,

wearing a pink, antique kimono, with another kimono hanging on her door in the film

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Hope Davis in The Matador

wearing a komon kimono open over black trousers & top

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Madonna

even she has the fronts the wrong way round

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Jessica Simpson

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Justin Lee Collins in a really nice men’s kimono and hakama

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Shirley MacLaine

wearing a hoari kimono jacket over her kimono in the first photo

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Jessica Alba as Sue Storm of the Fantastic 4

in a white kimono, as the bride at a Shinto style, Japanese wedding

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Miranda Clarke in the tv series Firefly

wearing an antique Japanese kimono over her dress

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Also from the tv series Firefly

The heavily pregnant character in this episode is wearing a red, Japanese michiyuki. Michiyukis often have covered buttons down the front but they actually fasten with press studs. This girl has hers only fastened at the top, with the front pulled slightly open because she has the large, pregnant bump that they want to emphasise in these scenes. They don’t normally lie open when worn.

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Reese Witherspoon

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John Wayne

in The Barbarian & the Geisha

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Freddie Mercury

from the band, Queen.

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Simmons

Gene Simmons of Kiss

wearing what is actually a women’s kimono.

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beat chain

The Beatles wearing  Japanese happi (festival jackets),
provided by Japan Airlines to first class passengers.

The chainlink pattern on their happi is one of the komochi-Yoshiwara patterns, this one being “Yoshiwara-tsunagi” a single link wide chain. There was a guide to entertainment at Yoshiwara, at Tebiki-Chaya, at the entrance to the Yoshiwara.
Komochi-Yoshiwara was used as the pattern on the noren of “Tebioki chaya”, the guide teahouse. At the time, Yoshiwara wass representative of stylish play for rich men. The chain represented the hold such pleasure had in keeping them in Yoshiwara and the suffering of the women bound to stay there. It has remained a popular motif on happi and summer yukatas.

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My daughter

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uchikake

Uchikake Kimono

That one now belongs to London’s Grange Park Opera for a production of Madame Butterfly, photo below of Cio Cio, in Madame Butterfly, wearing it.

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Too Small is Iki

I was talking to someone recently about Japanese geta and zori. The facts that they are rather narrow, that the toe post is in the middle and not offset to one side like western world flip flops and that they all tend to be quite small in length and don’t seem to vary an awful lot in size were mentioned. The narrow soles and the fact that the toe post is central means one side of the foot overhangs the side of the sole. The Japanese also allow their feet to overhang the back of the sole, with both geta and zori, they don’t consider that to look too small, they consider it iki (quietly stylish) but to the western world eye it looks slightly odd. We in the West expect the entire foot to sit within the edges of the shoe’s sole and not to overhang it at the sides and back. Below you can see a diagram of how they should be worn and why they are worn that way.

How the Japanese wear geta

In the photo below, you can see an example of what I mean.

maiko geta

It shows the foot of a maiko (apprentice geisha) in her high geta, called okobo, with the side of her foot up by the toes hanging slightly over the side and the heel hanging over the back. If the foot does not overhang the back of the sole, that is also considered fine but you can see that an overhang is considered acceptable with traditional Japanese footwear. The person I was talking to about this wanted a pair of my zori for a photo shoot but thought they were no use because all were a little too short in length for the model but, on learning that the Japanese often wear them with heels overhanging, selected a pair for the photo shoot after all.

I have an entire blog post all about Japanese traditional footwear here

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Japan’s 20 Year Old Girls’ Seijin-No-Hi Celebration & Furisode Kimonos

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Each year in Japan there is a celebration called Seijin-No-Hi (sometimes seen as seijinsiki), now usually held on the second Monday of January. No matter where you are in Japan on this date you will see many girls, dressed in their traditional kimono, out and about celebrating Seijin no hi. The celebrations are organized by the local government of their place of residence. Styles of these ceremonies are different from region to region. Many of these young women have their hair and make up done by a professional and have a photographer take a commemorative photo, just as we might when dressed for a university degree ceremony.

Seijin-no-hi is a coming of age ceremony for girls who have reached the age of 20. At this age, they are considered adult and can legally vote, smoke, drink etc. It is meant to be an auspicious event to celebrate and encourage people who realise that they have become adults and have made up their minds to live their lives independently.

In Japan, the 20 year old women dress in beautiful furisode kimonos for that day. Furisode is pronounced foo-ri-so-day, with no stress on any of the syllables. Furisode kimonos are very ornate and have exceedingly deep sleeves. The beautiful furisode is usually bought for them by their parents, at a cost of thousands of UK pounds for a silk one, plus as much again for the obi, obi accessories and such. Nowadays they sometimes just hire the outfit for the day. The Japanese have a saying that translates as, ‘have three girls and be broke’.

Girls used to be taught by their mothers how to on put their kimono and obi, which is a time consuming and difficult task, but this tradition has largely died out, so they usually now go to classes to learn how to put it all on and how to carry themselves when wearing it or have a dresser to help them on the day.

Below you can see examples of current fashions in obi knots for wear with furisodes, nagoya obis in a variety of bow knots. You may also notice the little stoles many wear around their shoulders, another popular fashion just now. The stoles are often fur fabric or, particularly popular, floaty marabou feather. Although kimonos have changed relatively little over the centuries, there are, like everywhere, fashions that come and go. This can be a style of print, a weave of silk, a way of tying an obi, a particular kimono accessory etc

Furisodes are astoundingly beautiful kimonos when on but they also make spectacular display items, either on an ikou (special kimono display stand) or on a wall, hung from a kimono hanger or bamboo rod, back view with the fronts pulled out and pinned to the wall or clipped (like in the next photo, below) to the sleeves. The furisode comes in three different sleeve lengths: oburisode(full; 105 cm), chuburisode (medium; 90 cm), and kofurisode (short; 75 cm). The ones shown here are all oburisode, the deepest sleeved furisodes.

Below are some examples of the furisode kimonos on my site. Where you may see a break in the pattern at the back, this area is hidden when on, by the waist fold and obi.

This first one has wonderful, stylised cranes and ume (plum blossom) on it

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This pink one has pretty clouds floating across it, a very popular motif in Japan.

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The pale yellow one below has trailing flowers and lovely, gold, kinkoma couched embroidery detailing.

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The green floral one below also has gold detailing. The photo doesn’t do it justice, it is exquisite when on.

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The furisode below is a pretty, soft green colour, with wonderful flower sprays in shades of pink, white, blue and green.

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This next furisode kimono is a more modern one, also on my website. It has magnificent peacocks on it, with rainbow tails, and is highlighted with sparkling rhinestones

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Finally, the furisode below, one of my favourites, has a dramatic design of tabane noshi and flower baskets, with pretty embroidered detail too. Tabane noshi is a decorative bundle of strips, originally narrow strips of dried abalone/mother-of-pearl bundled together in the middle; it was the ritual offering to God in Japanese Shinto religion. Tabane noshi is now also is used to refer to a bound bundle of any kind of ribbon strips. This motif is often seen in the masterpieces of furisode kimonos from the middle of the Edo era, created by various techniques. It remains a very popular motif in Japanese design.

When you think of the quantity of silk used to make these furisode, which are usually fully lined in silk too, and the fact that they are almost all hand printed and entirely hand tailored, it is hardly surprising that one will pay at least £3000 for the kimono alone.

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More Vintage Kimonos & More Post Office Annoyance

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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More Kimonosoidered Furisode Kimono

butterfly furisode kimono

The kimono above is a lovely, silk furisode kimono. Furisode (pronounced foori-so-day) means ‘swinging sleeves’ and this style of kimono has extra deep sleeves and is worn by young, unmarried women, from about the age of 20. Once married, they replace it with a houmongi kimono, which has much less deep sleeves. This one has the most fabulous embroidery on it; great big butterflies. The lining is foxed, that is, it has yellowish brown spots on it, a characteristic sometimes seen on vintage silks, especially the ones used for linings. It doesn’t weaken the fabric, it just discolours it and that doesn’t show when it is worn. The photos don’t really do that furisode justice, it is much nicer up close. My daughter’s scarlet hair goes well with so many of the kimonos.

I’m most annoyed with the UK Post Office. A parcel sent to Germany went missing (I since insist on sending overseas mail as insured, registered mail), so I put in a claim for lost mail, even though I will get £34 back at most, when the contents’ value was £120. The other day I got a letter from the Post Office, asking for my original receipt for the contents, saying I had 5 days to reply or they would consider the matter closed. What annoys me about that is that it took them 7 WEEKS to send that reply to me. I told them, in my reply, exactly what I thought about that!

Now I’m going to take a 30 minute nap, having got little sleep last night, then it’s time to make lunch, after which I will pay another customs’ import tax bill for kimonos I’ve bought from Japan.

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Japanese Geisha Doll – wafuku.co.uk

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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I took some photos of a Japanese geisha doll I own, to show here. This is my own doll, not one for sale on my vintage kimono site.

Her face, hands and feet are wood that is covered in gofun, which is powdered oyster shells. Gofun gives a finish rather like porcelain. Her dark brown eyes are glass. She is in the midst of a dance, one of the arts of a geisha. Geisha actually means artist and they learn many arts, including dance, musicianship and the art of conversation.

Her hair is real, though probably yak hair, which grows long enough to make an excellent facsimile of human hair. Real maiko and geisha suffer greatly for their hair; to achieve the styles they traditionally wear, it has to be waxed, then combed painfully into shape, swept back from their faces. Many geisha eventually develop a bald spot because the hair is pulled back so tightly in the centre and fastened like that. Rather than be upset by this, they tend to be proud of it, as it is a mark of a geisha. To maintain the hairstyle, they must sleep using a takamakura; a tiny neck pillow raised on a support, keeping the head above the bed, so the hair does not get messed up during sleep. While maiko must have their own hair styled, many opt for the use of wigs after they become geisha. The hair has to be restyled every five days or so and they cannot wash it.

The doll’s hair has 3 kougai (hairpins) and other kanzashi (hair ornaments), like the traditional, large comb in the centre

Her parasol is bamboo, covered in the finest, sheer silk and does actually open. Her little feet have gofun tabi socks. Shoes are not usually worn indoors in Japan, particularly in the tea houses where geisha are hostesses

The kimono is silk, with a yuzen (hand applied) artwork on it and a thickly padded hem, designed to trail on the ground. A padded hem makes a trailing kimono always lie nicely on the ground, when dancing the geisha moves the hem around with little, elegant flicks of her feet.

The neck of her kimono is pulled low at the back. Kimonos are worn with the neck pulled down at the back and the younger the wearer, the further down it is worn. Geisha and maiko wear it lower than the average person. The neck is considered very sensuous and sexy in Japan, so revealing the neck and emphasising it with white make up is considered very attractive. It is pretty much the equivalent of showing cleavage here in the West.

The obi is deep at the front, with the usual obiage around the top of the sash (you can see part of the red obiage threaded through the top of the obi’s rear knot) and a russet obijime, which is a cord tied around the centre of the obi sash (also threaded through the rear knot, it is visible at the front of the obi in the last photo). The obi knot is tied asymmetrically, though strictly speaking, it is not really tied, it is folded into shape with the obiage and obijime holding it in place

The kimono is a lovely grey colour but, as can be seen in the photo below, was originally blue. The dyes used in old blue silks (and many purples) seem to fade faster than any other colour but I particularly like the grey shade it has faded to over the years. It was already grey when I bought it. I used to have more dolls but, with my collection of Japanese items getting out of hand, I decided to keep only this one.


 


More Kimonos

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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The kimono below is one of the newly listed ones, though not in the Bargain Box. It’s a lovely, deep magenta one, with little geishas on it.

I have so many more to do but it takes such a lot of time. I try to keep a steady trickle of new items on the site

Another parcel to Europe has apparently gone missing, losing me about £130, so I am now having to make mail insurance mandatory for addresses outwith UK