Japanese kimonos

Textile Art To Drool Over

wafuku blog aug 12 logo A

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Japanese textile art often leaves me overwhelmed by its beauty and intricacy. Many kimonos have hand applied textile art, known as yuzen, created by several artisans, from the designer to an artist whose speciality may be outlining, another whose speciality is shading, perhaps one who applies metallic lacquer etc.There are also magnificent examples of textile art that is woven and some is hand printed or stencilled or created using batik or shibori (tye dye) techniques.

I am saying this simply as an excuse to show off some beautiful examples of the Japanese garments I have.

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This next kimono has a wonderful repeat landscape.

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Blind Man’s Bluff on a Men’s Haori Lining.
One way geisha entertain is by playing lighthearted games and here, on the donsu silk lining of a men’s haori, is a portrayal of a game of blind man’s bluff being played in a dark room, by just the light of the moon coming through a little window.
The outside of the haori is black habutae silk, with 5 mon, making it the most formal haori, called an itsutsu montsuki haori.

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The outside of that haori; black habutae silk with 4-eye mon. There are three mon at the back and two at the front, making it the most formal style of men’s montsuki haori.

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Mount Fuji Through clouds. Simple but striking.

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The textile artist has added his signature to this kimono.

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An antique furisode kimono. This kimono has the ultra-deep swinging sleeves of a furisode (only worn by young, unmarried women) and wonderful artwork including brightly coloured flowers, beautiful birds, ouches of lacquer work and lavish, gold  embroidery.

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A delightful woven design on a pre tied obi.

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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

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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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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. 

Haori Worn With Style + Hanami – Japan’s Cherry Blossom Viewing

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Haori  Kimono Jacket – Worn With Style

Susie Lau Wearing a Japanese Haori

Style Bubble’s Susie Lau can  be seen above wearing a Japanese haori kimono jacket, with a pattern of little flying cranes all over it, over a light blue jacket and a striking dress and with amazing shoes and Bebaroque gemstone tights.  That mixing and wearing together of different patterns is a very Japanese thing. She looks extremely stylish.

This may give you an idea of the length of haori jackets and the look of their swinging, kimono sleeves. Haori jackets are very useful garments, striking when dressed up, such as Susie is, and fabulous when dressed casually in jeans or the like. Some haoris are patterned all over like Susie’s one, many have a dramatic design on the back on an otherwise plain background and some are simply self coloured with no pattern other than one in the texture of the weave of the silk. The variety is amazing and they tend to be very beautiful and eye-catching.

You can also see lots of photos of other haori being modelled, in my haori photo shoot post.

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Hanami – Japan’s Cherry Blossom Viewing.

The sakura blooms briefly, then scatters to the winds

Hanami means ‘flower viewing’ and refers to the annual tradition of cherry blossom (sakura) viewing in Japan. Originally it was plum blossom that was viewed this way in Japan but, in time, cherry blossom succeeded it and Hanami is now always cherry blossom viewing time.

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The geographical location is the main factor determining blossom blooming time. The milder the climate, the earlier the blossom.

On Japan’s southern, subtropical islands of Okinawa, cherry blossoms open as early as January, while on the northern island of Hokkaido, they bloom as late as May. In most major cities in between, including Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the cherry blossom season usually takes place around the end of March and early April.

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Osaka Castle

The blossoming time also differs from year to year, depending on the weather. If the weather preceding the cherry blossom season is mild, blossoms will open early. If it is cold, blossoms will open later. From year to year, the start of the blossom season can vary by as much as two weeks.

Cherry blossom season is relatively short. Full bloom (mankai) is usually reached within about one week after the opening of the first blossoms (kaika). Another week later, the blooming peak is over and the blossoms are falling from the trees. Strong wind and rain can cut the blooming season even shorter.

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How Do They Know When Hanami Will Take Place?
Not every tree in an area opens on the same day, as trees in shadowy places, for example, bloom several days later than trees in sunny places. For this reason, a set of representative sample trees is selected to define the date of kaika (the opening of the first blossoms) for each city. In Tokyo, the sample trees are located at Yasukuni Shrine. A chart is produced showing the average time of the first opening of the blossom in each area.

Cherry Blossom Kimono
Once cherry trees are in bud, it is too late in the year to wear a kimono with a cherry blossom buds design on it but one can wear a pattern of them in full bloom. When the trees are in full bloom, one can wear a design of falling cherry blossom petals. Once the petals have fallen, one stops wearing cherry blossom design until shortly before the next cherry blossom season. The pattern must stay at least one stage ahead of the blossom.

Enjoying Hanami
In some places the blossoms are lit up in the evening, which makes a glorious sight. From a distance, the trees appear as beautiful clouds, while the beauty of single blossoms can be enjoyed from close up. Hanami can be just a stroll in the park, but it traditionally also involves a picnic party under the blossoming trees. Hanami parties have been held in Japan for many centuries.

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Japanese Urushi Textiles

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Urushi Textiles

Urushi is Japanese lacquer. It has many uses and one is in textile design.

Thread, usually silk, is coated with lacquer, then used to weave beautiful textile art. Textile with urushi weave is found on some kimonos, on obis and is particularly popular on haori kimono jackets. You can see several urushi haori here (and hundreds more on my website).

Urushi is sometimes just a coloured lacquer but often it’s metallic, found in shades of gold, silver, pewter, copper, bronze and a whole rainbow of metallic colours. On some garments it is quite subtle, on others it is bright and spectacular.

While kimonos may have a somewhat limited use in the West, mostly worn at home as robes, haori jackets are very wearable with western clothing. Haori are wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing), designed to be worn over kimonos, but are lovely worn with yofuku (non Japanese style clothing), looking wonderful worn casually with jeans and the like or dressed up for a special occasion. The designs make them extra special and urushi ones are real eye catchers.

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Snow… man, robot & squirrel… snow play!

wafuku new year

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Christmas has passed and New Year beckons.

I loved having snow thick on the ground here on Christmas day, it’s been so long since we had a white Christmas. My daughter came home to spend Christmas here and, even at 36 years old, was really excited by the snow.

On Christmas day we started making a snow man, by 27 December we had built a snowman, called Lyle, a Kid Robot and a snow squirrel and were quite exhausted by it.

In the photos below, you can get an idea of the snowy conditions and the outcome of all our snow play. The first shows my daughter in part of the back garden, the second shows the snow topped, permanent sculpture there, a stylised mule called Mr Lamb.

In next few photos you can see us making the snowman. He got named Lyle because my daughter decided to add a quiff and he suddenly looked a bit like Lyle Lovett. We used some ash from the log fire in the house to outline his hair a touch. He was built near the front of property, to be seen through the kitchen window

Next was Kid Robot, built on the lawn called the washing green.

It was started in daylight but time flies when carving a snow figure and we continued to work after dark, relying on a little light from the house reflecting off snow. Most of the light in the photos below is from the camera flash.

Next his chin was bulked out a bit, his mohican adjusted and his eyes worked on but he got crumbly towards the end of his construction, so we stopped at that and didn’t add the ear discs for fear of the head breaking off (again).

We then moved to the top back lawn, to make the next and final thing, before it got too dark and the snow got too icy to manipulate. The final one we made was a snow squirrel, because we like watching the squirrels scampering about on that lawn. By then it was pretty dark and the snow had thawed enough to have dropped off the trees but snow still lay over the ground and had got quite icy on the surface, so it was hard to work. It’s still there and I’d like to make some adjustments to it but it’s now so frozen and the snow on the ground is powdery below a crisp frozen layer and none of that lends itself to making changes to the squirrel, so I’ll leave it alone now

The picture below, printed on a man’s, silk juban kimono, shows geisha building snowmen. Notice the extremely high geta they have on their feet, to raise them out of the snow.

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A happy New Year to you all.