wafuku.co.uk

Appliquéd Kokeshi & Winter Kimonos

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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

Kokeshi Appliqué Waistcoat.
Back in the 70s my mother bought three appliquéd, quilted waistcoats while on a trip to America. She loves them and still wears them, so last Christmas I made her a grey one with silhouettes that represented her garden and the wildlife in it, then I made her another for this last Christmas, with chickens on it because she used to have chickens back in the 1960s and I remembered that, when I was a child, she painted little cockerels onto all her biscuit tins, so the waistcoat is a memento of those things. It will be her 96th birthday next month, so I made her one more, this time it represents my love of Japanese things. I bought a pattern for a small quilt from The Gourmet Quilter and adapted some of the appliqué items from that for my mothers new waistcoat.

Kokeshi doll waistcoat

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I also bought a couple of inexpensive kokeshi brooches for myself, as mementos of making her the waistcoat.
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Yukata Times Magazine.

I wish this magazine was easily available in the UK. Yukata are ultra-casual, summer kimonos that are still very popular in Japan and worn by many to summer festivals etc. Further down this page you can see some fabulous, less informal kimonos for winter.

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Tasuki
Tasuki are used to hold the long, swinging kimono sleeves out of the way while working wherever they might be a nuisance if hanging loose. You can get tasuki clips, like the beaded one in that picture (available on my wafuku.co.uk website), which threads through the obi and clips onto the sleeves, providing a very elegant option to hold them out of the way, or you can simply use a koshi himo (soft tie) to do the job, as you see in the diagram. I was sent the diagram picture by a friend, so don’t know who to accredit for it.

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Winter Kimonos
Check out all the wonderful kimonos in this wa-art.net site’s display of winter kimonos – HERE. I particularly love the three below but there are many more at that link.

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Want to see some stunning kimonos and fantastic kimono styling? Check out the Akira Times blog.

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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


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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Kimonos, Cats and Cords

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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

Wafuku.co.uk in another magazine feature.
My website and I were part of a feature in the How To Spend It, the FT magazine, a few months ago, in their fashion edition.

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Huge Kumihimo.
I have two of these huge kumihimo; they are enormously long, hand braided, silk cords, each with a loop at the centre and lovely tassels on the end. They are unused and the tassels are still wrapped in paper. I have no idea what they are for . I think they may have been made for a Buddhist or Shinto temple, because they very thick and long, pure silk, hand made, rather special and must have been exceedingly expensive to produce. They are really rather lovely and, when you move the cord about in your hand it has that lovely sound that silk makes, like footsteps in deep, crisp, new snow.
In that photo my daughter is holding just one of them.

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Contemporary Take On Kimono.
This floaty, contemporary kimono is by Hayami Mariya.

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Pretty Kimono.
Although this will fit an adult as a beautiful robe, it is actually a girls’ kimono but girls wear them with a big tuck in the shoulders and at the waist, which reduces the size of them a lot. They are always made big so tht these tucks can be inserted, so, without the tucks, they can fit adults surprisingly well. My adult daughter, whom you can see holding the kumihimo in a photo above, wears this size of kimono a lot. She especially likes them because they come in bright colours with vibrant patterns

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Here she is again, wearing a kimono of same type and size. She is not a tall woman, so it is ankle length on her; on a tall woman they would be shorter.

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Feline Fabulous.
Check out these great cat obis. I would love these.

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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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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.

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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. 

Seijin-No-Hi & Other Bits & Pieces

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu – A Very Happy New Year

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We’ve had incredible winds here of over 100 miles per hour as Hurricane Katia reaches us here in Scotland. I hear there is even worse to come, so we’ll see. It’s frequently wet and windy in Scotland but it has been much wetter and windier than usual this year. I don’t know if it is anything to do with global warming or simply a natural cycle that happens every generation or whatever but the grey skies that have been close to constant since late summer have become depressing and make one reluctant to go outside. Scotland does not have great weather at the best of times but this has been much more severe than usual.

Below is a photograph, from http://www.sott.net, of a wind turbine in Ardrossan, not so very far from where I am, which burst into flames because of the force of the winds making it spin in the wrong direction.

Still, there has been relatively little damage, despite the roaring winds; the hut is in a bad way, a small amount of tile repair required on the roof, a huge tree came down in our adjacent little field and about 6 foot or so was blown off the tops of a few of the pines growing further down the field, where there is a small wood entirely of very tall pine trees. There are smallish branches, from the old trees surrounding the house, littering the place, the plant covered metal mesh arches have blown over, etc. but no drastic damage. An acquaintance’s car, in a tiny village about 3 miles from here, was flattened when a large tree fell on it but it was empty and parked outside his home when it happened.

There’s been some flooding in the town, which is in a valley, but my home is on a hill on the edge of the countryside, so is never going to flood.

When I think of Japan’s tsunami and other natural disasters around the world, I do admit we have been let off lightly.

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Seijin-no-Hi

January 10th was Seijin-no-Hi in Japan. Seijin-no-Hi is the Coming of Age Day when people who will have their 20th birthday in the present year all celebrate. The celebration begins by going to local government office, then to a shrine with their parents, then partying the rest of the day away with friends. Young women usually dress up in wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing) for the day, which means wearing a furisode kimono, which has exceedingly deep sleeves and beautiful patterns on it. Young men may wear wafuku too, with an ensemble of kimono, hakama and haori, though most seem to choose to wear yofuku (clothing that is not traditional Japanese clothing), usually a standard suit. Of those young men who do wear wafuku, some wear the more usual, formal ensembles, comprising montsuki kimono and haori in black and hakama with black and white or grey stripes, but some turn it up a notch and wear even more striking versions, with brightly coloured kimono and haori and hakama of bold patterns and gold brocade, sometimes seen with very contemporary hairstyles, such as spikey blonde styles etc. I love both the more sedate versions and these more gaudy ones and the mix of traditional and contemporary.

Tokyo Fashion as a blog post about Seijin-n-Hi in Tokyo so, as I’ve written about it before on this blog, you may want to visit theirs, as they have lots of lovely photos such as the one below.

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You can see more photos here on Akakusa Diary, which has, amongst others, the picture below, with young men in both contemporary and traditional clothes and both colourful (front left) and serene (front right) versions of the traditional outfit.

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Now for just a few of the furisode kimonos on my Wafuku.co.uk website

Floral Bands

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Rainbow Peacocks with Rhinestones

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Bouquets on Purple

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Soft yellow with Fabulous Flowers

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Bright Peacocks & Rhinestone Details

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Detail on Bright Peacocks & Rhinestone Details

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Furisode Kimonos

Furisode means ‘swinging sleeves’ and there are three styles of furisode kimono, all only worn by young, umarried women:

type 1 – Ko-Furisode: the shortest sleeved furisode, with sleeves that are around 85cm in length, one might wear a ko furisode, for example, with hakama for a graduation ceremony

type 2 – Chu-Furisode: a furisode with sleeves that are around 100cm in length. “Chu” means “medium”.

Type 3 – Oh-Furisode: “oh” means big, therefore oh-furisode means big, swinging sleeves, with the longest sleeves of all the furisode type kimonos. Oh-furisode have sleeves of 114 – 115cm. This is the type that would be worn for Seijin-no-Hi. all the kimonos shown above are oh-furisode.

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3D paintings

Check out the 3D paintings by Riusuke Fukahori; he paints a layer, pours on thick layer clear lacquer, paints on that and repeats the process  until done. You can see pictures of his work here on the www.thisiscolossal.com design website, as well as a short film of him doing the work.

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Snow Monsters

It is worth having a look at these trees covered in snow and rime ice in Japan, known as “snow monsters”. You can see one photo below and lots more here on the Pink Tentacle website.

Japan’s Snow Monsters

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I really like this photograph from tokyotimes.org 

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wishing you all the best for 2012

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Furoshiki, Fukusa & Oriental Eyes

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Japanese Furoshiki – the multifunctional cloth
Furoshiki are Japanese wrapping cloths. Typically, the Japanese tie these cloths in a variety of very clever ways to wrap gifts and make bags and suitcases. When it comes to folding and tying, no one does it better than the Japanese.

The 2 pictures below are from an instructional video clip here

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You can see how to tie a bag like the one below in the Kakefuda Kyoto Famous Furoshiki Store’s  instructional video clip here

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Got a laptop like the one below to wrap or something the same shape? Check out the instructional video clip here

You can find those clips and more here.

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For printed instructions, check  out the following pictures. Click them for enlargements, which open in a new window…

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Here are some of my furoshiki

Two large, silk furoshiki

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Fukusa

Another item the Japanese use to cover gifts is the fukusa, like the ones shown below. Fukusa are also used at tea ceremonies. Traditionally in Japan, gifts were placed in a box or on a wooden or lacquered tray, over which a fukusa was draped. The choice of a fukusa appropriate to the occasion was an important part of the gift-giving ritual. The practice of covering a gift became widespread during the Edo or Tokugawa period (1615–1867).

Fukusa, unlike furoshiki, do not get tied, they are just laid over the item. The one above, on the left, is woven from gold lacquer coated thread, with a design of oshidori (madarin ducks) and ume (plum blossom) and the tassels are in the form of minokame (turtles with a trail of algae behind them). The type on the right is often given with wedding gifts; the kanji on it, called kotobuki, can be translated both as congratulations and as longevity.

The antique silk fukusa above has fabulous, deeply couched, golden embroidery in the centre, in the form of a mon (crest); this mon is sasa (bamboo). This will have been an extremely expensive fukusa when new.

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The fukusa above has flying cranes, which represent longevity and loyalty.

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These fukusa are in the form of wallets, the grey one is given to someone in mouring and the golden one would be given as a wedding gift. They would be given with money in them.

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You also get fukusa like the one shown in the picture above, with a little bone or plastic button, which often come complete with a lacquered tray inside. You sometimes see these ones with Buddhist scripture all over them.

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Oriental Eyes

I absolutely love the Japanese eyes, with their lovely almond shape and single eyelid but many Japanese people prefer the oxidental eyes with the double eyelid. They feel it makes the eyes look bigger. Sadly, this has led to many having cosmetic surgery to give them double eyelids that crease in the middle like oxidental ones, which also tends to reduce the lovely almond shape. A less drastic solution is the one you see below in the video clip, showing some fluid that is applied to the lower part of the eyelid, making it slightly rigid when it dries, forcing it to crease when the eye opens and therefore look like double eyelids. It gives the folding eyelid without destroying the lovely almond shape and it is not permanent. Assuming the stuff being applied is harmless, I hope this catches on more than cosmetic surgery, as it means they don’t lose their beautiful oriental eyes and can choose to go back to their natural look at any time. I’m not anti cosmetic surgery at all, I just love oriental eyes and envy those with them and I hate to think of anyone with them permanently destroying their own natural eye appearance.

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Bits & Pieces To While Away The Time

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Osaka Station Water Clock
In Osaka station they have a fabulous clock that shows the time in water droplets. Between each minute it makes pretty designs. I’ve seen these great fountains before; they are controlled by computer and release carefully timed droplets that create patterns. I think they are so impressive. Photos and video on a blog at

http://gorimon.com/blog/log/eid1414.html

and a video below

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Great Advertisement
Watch it right to the end, it may look grim but is very funny…

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High Brow Finger Puppets
A shop in the US sells these finger puppets. Such an unlikely set of characters (they have other artists, playwrights and philosophers too) and I particularly like Shroedinger’s Cat. I wonder if it is dead or alive.


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Fun & Thrifty!
This takes me back. I remember these types of ‘things to do with’ guides. Oh how easily pleased we were back then; we didn’t beg for the latest expensive gadgets and toys, we got excited when given a handful of empty thread boobins or some such crap. As I recall, I never managed to get more than one spool a year, so that limited me a little when I wanted to make a snake from them.

This next recycling idea is somewhat horrifing now that we know the dangers of asbestos. For those, like me, in the UK, shingles are roof tiles.

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Everybody
I love these guys singing along to animé videos of The Backstreet Boy’s song Everybody. They get the actions and facial expressions just right and the guy on the left, with the great hair, is so very good at it. There are two versions, one with three animé characters and one with a single, different one. The version with the single character is longer though a bit fuzzy but don’t let the image quality put you off. Worth watching both. They almost make me like the song.


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Japanese Propaganda Kimono

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Japanese Propaganda Kimono

Japan has a particularly rich textile history. The main focus for artistic expression on textiles is the kimono.

It is through choice of colour and, more importantly, decoration that the Japanese have always expressed their personal, cultural, and social sensibilities on their clothing. A kimono shows one’s social standing, age, the season and whether one is dressed for normal daily duties, visiting or any of several degrees of formality in an occasion one might be attending. It could also be used to show one’s partiotism.

Japan, with its tradition of potent textile designs, produced striking and varied propaganda textiles in the period 1931–1945.

In Japan, most of the clothing with textiles displaying propaganda images were worn by men and young boys. The propaganda textiles used for men’s garments appeared predominantly in traditional clothing such as nagajuban (underwear kimonos) or the linings of haori (jackets worn with kimono), and therefore were designs hidden from public view and seen only by people close to the wearer. More striking is Japan’s use of propaganda textiles in children’s clothing.

Imagine a Japanese child with his parents, in 1930s to mid 1940s, wearing a kimono like the one shown here, waving a Japanese flag and cheering Japan’s latest victory. Most of these propaganda fabrics did not survive after the war, as it was forbidden by occupation forces and ordered destroyed when the Second World War ended in 1945.

Wearing propaganda is totally unexpected and, nowadays, given the often overt militaristic sentiments, can seem rather disturbing. However, with their bold and evocative designs, Japanese propaganda textiles are certainly still worthy of aesthetic consideration.

These propaganda textiles have begun to gain much attention and there are now a number of significant collectors. Recently the V&A made its first acquisition in the area of propoganda wafuku; a boy’s winter kimono celebrating the journey of the plane Kamikaze-go, which set the speed record for a flight from Tokyo to London in 1937; not a war theme but nonetheless a patriotic one.

The baby boys’ kimono you see here is one from my own collection. The baby who wore this kimono would probably be in his 70s now. These propaganda kimonos are very hard to find and, even though it has a few little moth holes in it, I couldn’t resist such an oddity.

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Textile Art To Die For – Or Wed For

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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My latest uchikake kimono

I know I must not buy more kimonos, I can’t move for the things and my home is now a warehouse with them crowding me out of every room but I could not resist the exquisite uchikake kimono you see below. It was expensive, as was the shipping from Japan, since it weighs about 6 kilos, so I can’t keep it and it will end up for sale on my website but I get to own it briefly, at least, and that will do. I have nowhere to display it anyway and it does not deserve to be hidden away in a box. It hasn’t arrived from Japan yet but I am quite excited about seeing it up close.

An uchikake is worn by a bride in Japan, part of one of many outfits she wears on her wedding day. They are not worn with an obi, they are worn open, rather like a coat, over her kimono and obi.

Uchikake are worn trailing on the ground, the bride stands with the hem laid out around her and the padded hem makes the bottom lie beautifully

It has magnificent aranami (wild waves), flying tsuru (cranes) and kumo (clouds). Cranes are a popular motif on wedding kimonos, as they are symbols of longevity, fidelity and loyalty. The Japanese believed cranes live for one thousand years. They mate for life.

On the front and on the back of one sleeve are red botan (peonies), symbolising happiness, wealth, and honour.

This uchikake is pure silk and has yuzen textile art, which means it was hand painted on the bolt of fabric used to make it. It will have cost ten to twenty thousand pounds, easily. In Japan, brides usually hire the uchikake for the wedding day, which will still cost a couple of thousand for the day’s hire. This makes buying a vintage one, for wear or display, a real bargain, as it will only cost a few hundred pounds and you get to keep it.


Haori Photo Shoot – The Versatile Kimono Jacket

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Haoris in the sunshine – A photo shoot with fabulous, Japanese haori kimono jackets

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day here in Scotland, so I made the most of it and had a photo session to get pictures of a few of my Japanese haori kimono jackets. Astrella modelled them all for me, sweltering in the heat without a word of complaint. We took 331 photos and I have selected 58 for you to feast your eyes on here.  The pictures may help you gauge the general length of them, as haori are longer than many people realise from pictures of them just on a hanger. Astrella is five foot one inch tall (roughly 155cm) and a UK size 10 and about 125 cm from wrist to wrist.

The first haori shown below is covered in large, pink and white ume (plum bossom) and shows how good haori can look when worn with a belt, which is something the Japanese don’t do. They wear them unbelted on top of a kimono and obi. You may notice that haori (and kimono) sleeve seams lie down the arms a bit, not up at the edge of the shoulders. The traditional way of fastening a haori, if one chooses to fasten it at all,  is with a single tie, just inside the fronts, called a himo, which holds the fronts edge to edge, not overlapped. As you can see, though, from photos on this page, haori do also look extremely good with a a belt added. The first one below is being worn with a wide elastic belt.

This next one has magnificent textile art of bright flowers on black, shown modelled with a narrow leather belt as well as without a belt. The large white stitching at the edge of the sleeves is called shitsuke and is often put in, by the Japanese, just to keep garment seams neat during storage. It is simply pulled out before wearing but, as this haori was just being modelled, I left it in.

All but one of the haoris in these photographs is pure silk, inside and out, and all are entirely hand tailored, with the seam edges completely hidden in the lined ones, so those can actually be worn inside out too. Some have hand applied textile art. The quality of the fabric and workmanship is absolutely exquisite.

The following photograph shows a haori in a pretty pink, with a design of magenta leaves.

Now a touch of 1950s pattern. Shown, in one photo, inside out. The bottom half is usually lined in the same silk used on the outside, with a lighter weight silk on the top half and the sleeves. This haori’s upper lining has a lovely design of colourful parasols on it.

Pink leafy repeat pattern.

Graduated pampas leaf pattern on russet. The leaves become more dense towards the bottom.

Bingata style print of pretty flowers.

The one below has autumn maple leaves, shown with and without a belt and shown inside out, with the beautiful lining on show. Haori are usually so exquisitely made, with hidden seams and hand tailoring, that you can wear or display the lined ones inside out. The lower half is lined with the same silk as the outside and the upper half and sleeves are lined with a lighter silk in a different design. This one has lovely Japanese parasols on the upper lining.

In the next photo you can see how beautifully they are made, with the edges of the seams completely hidden inside and out; not a line of stitches in sight in the lined ones.

On the next haori you see a wonderful design of stylised kiku (chrysanthemums) swirling over the silk.

Now black, with striking, champagne gold, metallic urushi (lacquer covered silk thread) woven to create a landscape design.

An iro muji (self coloured), scarlet haori, with flowers in the damask weave of the silk. I do wish I’d ironed it before the photos, though. They usually aren’t creased when unfolded, as there is a special way of folding haoris and kimonos to ensure they very rarely require ironing when unfolded for use.

Swirls of dragon fire on black silk, with subtle touches of gold detailing that are lovely when up close. A 1930s haori, so slightly longer than most of my more recent ones, with slightly deeper sleeves too.

Magnificent birds and flowers.

Big, pink butterflies on black.

Vermillion flowers and leaves on black.

Now for two examples of kuro muji (plain black) haoris, with patterns in the weave that the photos haven’t picked up. Each has one white mon (crest) at the centre of the back at shoulder level.

This second plain black one, below, is an antique haori, which are often longer than more recent ones. This one is 102cm long.  I am keeping it for myself.

Below is another metallic urushi landscape design haori, this one with glinting, distant mountains and a formal mon (crest) at the centre of the shoulders, making it a hitotsu mon (one mon) haori

An unusual one next. It’s a large sized, child’s michiyuki jacket but big enough for an adult to wear. It would fit a child because children wear them with big tucks loosely stitched in the shoulders, narrowing the width. Children’s ones have a collar and tassels, whereas adult michiyuki usually don’t have either of those and would also be longer than this one. The michiyuki you see in the next two photos is made of shibori patterned silk, with little red dots all over and large ume (plum blossom). Shibori is an intricate tie dye process, usually painstakingly, entirely hand done, making it a frighteningly expensive fabric that is highly revered by the Japanese, so this garment would have been for a child from a family with a great deal of money.

In Japan, haori jackets are not worn with the fronts overlapping and not worn with a belt but michiyuki jackets are worn overlapped at the front and they are usually fastened with press studs, which in itself is unusual, as almost all traditional Japanese garments are fastened only by tying; using using various sashes, cords, obis etc.

Finally, black silk, with painterly, red branches and little ume (plum blossom), shown with and without a smile. This is a haori that the model has kept for herself, to wear with her red, Terry De Havilland shoes

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