Wednesday, April 13, 2011

JETAA Japan Benefit Party

On April 1st, JETAA had a Japan Benefit Party at the Hard Rock Cafe on Dundas & Yonge, and Sunil and I went to help by attending. Plus, he was playing taiko, so we kinda had to be there. It was his first time playing taiko in public since Japan and he was rather excited.

The event had world music acts, which was very cool. Live performances included Arashido Taiko drummers, the world music of Nhapitapi, indie rock from Olaroks and Cousin Rufu, Kenji Body Paint Black-Light Dancers, and more.

I wore a kimono, naturally. I was the only one, too, but that's okay. It was the same outfit I wore to the Hallowe'en Repo: The Genetic Opera showing: black cotton kimono with komon pattern, red tsuke-obi with velveteen motifs, yellow obiage, red obijime, white embroidered collar, black boots, black haori.

kimono,obi detail 

Sunil went to the bathroom or something and I was standing near a column when suddenly was I attacked and nearly molested by a small, somewhat intoxicated (I think) Japanese lady. She straightened my collar, touched something or other on my obi, and finished before she even said anything. Granted, my collar had likely shifted from being in the car, so I didn't mind the fixing - it was the sudden attack aspect of it. When she finished, we chatted a little. She collects and has 20-30 kimono and knows how to wear them, but doesn't because she can't dance in them (she did a few steps, she does ballroom style). Someone did take our picture, and during it, she hugged my arm and rested her head on my upper arm. It was kind of weird, but very cute. I wish I had a copy of the pic.

When she went off with her drink, we wandered the event and looked at the goods up for silent auction. There was a cool selection of items that had been donated, including a signed Peter Mansbridge tie. I decided to bid on salsa lessons (5 lessons for a couple) since Sunny and I had fun learning dancing before our wedding and wanted to do it again. Turns out I won it, yay.  All told, the fundraiser benefit raised $12K for the Red Cross' Japan Tsunami fund. You can read more about it here, on the JETAA website (more pics there, too).

Wearing the kimono was a great conversation starter. I had quite a few people say something, or come up and want to talk a bit with me because of it, which was neat. I even met a few Japanese girls who are interested in kimono and who are here in the GTA on a year long work visa. I've still got to email them about the club, but I did give them the URL. That reminded me I need to get some cards printed up.

The musical groups were quite good; I really appreciated the variety. What was very cool was that during the other other acts, people milled out wherever, but when taiko was up, everyone - EVERYONE - came and sat and stood and watched. I imagine it made the taiko group feel awesome. Everyone likes taiko and it's probably nostalgic for many of them. I tried to get some good pics, but I was too close and people got washed out. Unfortunately, Sunny only played one song (the awesome jumping one, though) and was in the back, and from my angle, I couldn't get any pics of him. :(

I was happy to see people I worked with there, as well as meet an ex-coworker's musically talented husband.
Photos are thumbnails; click to make larger.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kimono Academies, Daily Kimono, and Style

There was an interesting thread started on the ImmortalGeisha forums regarding kimono schools and the effect they have, if anything, on kimono wearing in Japan. (Note: a "kimono school" is one that teaches kitsuke, or the art of kimono wearing; for the sake of this thread, it encompasses licenced instructors who teach for a specific school.)

The idea put forth was that kimono schools, especially the one most kimono enthusiasts know of (Sodo Kimono, Yamanaka Norio's academy - he's the author of The Book of Kimono), are too strict and may actually discourage people from learning to wear kimono. They push the rules and indicate that everything has to be "just so" or you shouldn't go out in public. The impression of schools is that they are rigid and don't provide much flexibility or style development, especially when compared to how kimono was worn as a part of daily life pre-WWII.

The thread has lots of interesting comments and discussion. I knew I wanted to reply, as I'm one of the few members of IG who has attended classes (licenced Sodo instructor, but not at a "school"), but it was difficult. I knew I wanted to say something in the thread, but I didn't want to leave it too long and eventually not post.

You'll find summarized ideas from the other commenters in the thread, as well as my own reply after the "read more".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finding Local Japanese Culture Events

Someone on the IG forums mentioned the Consul-General's page, and I gathered the links for the forums, so I figured I'd share them here since I did the work. I used the local page when I was in Chicago for events for the newsletter there, and I use the Toronto one here to find things to attend.

Consulate-General of Japan Events Calendar Links




Ottawa: Upcoming Cultural Events
Ottawa: Japanese Culture Events






Chicago (covers Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin)





Los Angeles: Local Cultural Calendar
Los Angeles: Local Event Links


New York


San Francisco


Washington, DC
DC Metro Area Events

(Back to being sick. Ugh.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tea for...fifteen?

I meant to post about this sooner, but completely forgot in all the job-search thesis hubbub.

A little while ago, I was on a big tea kick and was perusing craigslist and kijiji for a teapot to match the art-decoish creamer and sugar we received as one of our wedding presents, when I came upon a sale for about 15 teacups for $30. My hubby said I could buy them, so I went ahead and arranged to pick them up. It's a varied collection, leftovers from someone else's, but I don't mind. I don't think I'll need to keep all of them, and I definitely have my own personal favorites.

It was kind of a learning experience for me, as I never knew there were so many different cup shapes. I don't know how else to describe them, and an admittedly-quick google-search didn't bring me anything that would describe the shapes, so all I can say is that there are some that are 'classic' teacup shape, some broader, some smoother, an octagonal one, one with rounded bits at the bottom...and the saucers are all different, too. The cups are from different manufacturers, and some have little gold numbers on the back which I assume were applied by the collector to mark them. I believe almost all of them are bone china.

Some of the manufacturers represented in this collection include:
Ridgway Potteries
Royal Albert
Royal Winston

A few samples (thumbnails, so click to see larger):

teacup,tea teacup,tea teacup,tea teacup,tea

Which one is your favorite? You can find the entire gallery here. It was my first time taking pics like that, and I'm quite pleased with the results. I tried to give decent descriptions in each info bit on photobucket, such as manufacturer and a description of the motif. If you know more, have more info, or know of any resources, please let me know! I found a few when looking for information, but those with more experience can probably point me in the right direction. I'm not interested in appraising them, really, just finding out more about them in general. I have much to learn about this new 'hobby'/collection of mine.

~A page with info on the makers marks and backstamps~

I still haven't found an inexpensive enough teapot to go with our creamer & sugar set, but I'll know it when I see it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hallowe'en Weekend Kimono Coordinate

I am procrastinating on job apps (my mind just can't take doing them for several hours a day any more), and so I thought I'd share my latest kimono outfit with you all. I didn't get pics of me in it, as it was dark and late.

I wore it to a showing of Repo: The Genetic Opera at the Bloor Cinema. It had a shadow cast, which I'd never seen before, and was fairly interactive if one wanted it to be. It was my first Repo experience, and while unusual, not bad. I did get a Coffee Crisp and a Kit Kat (minis) out of the deal, as it was Hallowe'en weekend. :D

As was all dressed up Nagoya-girl style in pink and floofy bows and lace, so I figured I'd wear kimono, too. Not as a costume, but as fashion, but people out that weekend wouldn't know the difference. I honestly did feel more comfortable in it that weekend as I didn't feel as "odd", as people could pass it off as Hallowe'en wear and not "what a weird girl".


I laid out several outfits, and then asked which one to wear, and he chose this one. I totally agreed; I liked it. It was more of a real outfit than something a little crazier for Hallowe'en.

I wore a hitoe wool komon that has a black base with a kikkou (tortoise-shell) pattern, and in the pattern is flowers and little ochre dots. I paired that with a homemade easy collar that used a white-on-white embroidery, a tsuke obi in red with velvety details, a yellow sash (from Nebuta, haha) that I used as an obiage and a red obijime that matched the red of the obi. For warmth, wore it with a basic black haori that has a few white shibori spots on it (to pick up on the white in the kimono). Paired this with my adorable Victorian-ish boots and a black hat and my Hallowe'en purse (silver-grey with a sparkly bat).

At the show, a member of the shadow cast approached us and complimented us on our outfits. XD She was in a white kimono, wrapped right over left as she was dead (and informed us of such, so she obviously has kitsuke knowledge; her whole outfit was fairly well worn). She expressed interest in finding out more about the fledgling Toronto Kimono Club, so it was a bit of a motivator for us to get moving on that and figure out a first event.

We got a few compliments from others on the street ('nice dresses', 'cute costumes', etc); one lady (50+) stopped and complimented me - not on my outfit, like I thought she would - but on my purse. XD

So without further ado, here are images of the outfit. Any questions, please ask!

kimono,obi detail
kantan eri boots

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gifts from Chicagoland

This post is also long in coming, as technically, I received these items before I received the items from Youko-san. Since I'm sitting around the house trying to be productive and catch up on stuff (I have a list of things to do), I figured I'd cross this one off. Whoo!

So, basically, the backstory in a few sentences: I met at a JETAA event, and we kind of hit it off. We mostly met only at JETAA events until I had more time during the day and could meet her at her place of work for lunch. We'd talk about our time in Japan, Chicagoland, jobs, JETAA, kimono, etc. She encouraged me to take out some books from the JIC library, which was fun.

Anyway, before I left the city, she mentioned that she had some kimono stuff she'd never use again and offered it to me. I said I'd gladly take it, and here's the lovely haul:

  • 2 obi
  • kimono and juban
  • 2 obijime
  • accessories for fashion and wearing
  • kanzashi (she now has very short hair and thus they are kind of useless for her)
  • parasol

  • All pics are from photobucket and clickable thumbnails.

    Let's start with the obi! I received my first tsuke-obi from my friend, starofpersia. I have yet to wear it, but I think it'll match a kimono I have on hand. It's got black flocked velvet design in what I think is clouds or water (anyone confirm or deny?).

    obi detail

    The other obi is also red-based (I think she also has a thing for red :). Just today when taking pictures of the items I found that it is a maru obi. I had thought perhaps a dance obi as the design is silver, but now knowing it's maru that makes more sense. The design is also flowing and looks like waves. Since it's not a summer obi, I figure it can be worn anytime, though on either side of summer is probably best. I think it'll match my honfurisode (bridal furisode) very well [it's green].

    maru obi Maru obi detail

    The kimono is an iromuji in one of the most common colors - pink! I would have said it was my first one, but I had one already in a different color, so it's my second one. The rinzu pattern is bamboo and grass, I think.

    The juban is a basic white juban; I needed more, so this is great. It's got a detail pattern of chrysanthemum (kiku) woven in. Needs a little work cleaning the collar, but I'll likely cover it with a han-eri anyway, so I'm not overly concerned about it. I just can't remember if it's polyester or silk; I'll have to take a closer look later. Likely silk, just older, as starofpersia said she often shopped at the markets in Kyoto.

    Pink & White detail on juban

    I also received some accessores for wearing kimono: a kohrin belt, a 'magic' datejime (one that's rubbery and does up with velcro), 4 himo (2 pink and 2 white), and a makura. Naturally, just about all the accessories are pink. XD The makura is my second one, yay! It looks big enough to use for furisode musubi, so that's nice and handy. I also received some tabi, as she's not going to wear kimono any longer, only yukata.


    Fashion accessories were also received. Whooo! I received a cloth for wrapping things or wiping hands (like a small furoshiki) that is blue-based and printed with sakura petals; a matching blue fan with characters on it, a mirror backed with pink chirimen, and a little envelope thing for carrying flat things (I forgot the name for it, haha oops) that tucks into your collar or obi. It's also chirimen with little plum flower (ume) details.

    Accessories Fan detail

    Since starofpersia has very short hair now she doesn't have need of hair ornaments, so she passed them on to me as I have long hair. There's a few things on pins like bobbypins: a little fishy and some glass bobbles. There's also cute pink cherries and a sparkly snowflake. The fanciest is a sakura with some pearls on a hairstick.

    Kanzashi Sakura kanzashi

    One of my favorite things from the gifts from starofpersia is this lovely beige parasol. :) It's small and cute, and super-duper adorable. The lace pattern is so neat and feels delicate, and it does provide enough shade when out and about (I had to test it). I've wanted a kimono parasol for a while and now I have one! Though I'd also like another one that's a bit bigger, and maybe in black, for matching more Western wear. XD

    parasol parasol parasol


    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Kimono Cafe Day in the GTA

    Kisa-chan and I decided since we had a holiday here (Labour Day) we'd dress in kimono and go to a somewhat local cafe (Caffe Demetre), and these are the results:

    Kisa is wearing a poly kimono with dots and lines in pretty blues, purples, and pinks with a pink Nagoya obi, pale pink/yellow obijime, and yellow obiage. It was a dreary day, so she wanted to lighten it up and make it a little more cheery.

    I'm wanted a 'cute' look, and I wore my poly hakama (dreary day meant I wanted to wear covered shoes) with a hitoe stripe kimono (not sure if it's silk), a green hanhaba with flowers, and my flowered haneri. Hairstyle is my new default side-bun with twists. Kisa-chan decided the outfit had a Meiji-ish look as it was stripes with hakama and books, and I agreed. Unfortunately, even with some safety pinning, my juban sleeves were too long. Oh well, I'll fix it for next time.

    It was fun to wear kimono again; it had been a long time for both of us.

    We nommed on cheesecake and iced cream and had a ton of coffee while plotting future endeavors. :lol:

    Not looking for critiques, just sharing!





    OMAKE (the wind caught my hakama and it was something I found hilarious):