Monday, November 22, 2010

Moving to Weekly Updates

I'm not sure how long this will go on or if it'll become permanent, but for now I'm going to change to weekly posts rather than daily posts. My new job is wonderful, but isn't leaving me a whole lot of time for the blog.

I hope to make each weekly post a longer and more info-packed one than the short daily posts, but we'll give it a shot and see how it goes. ^_^; My first one will go up this weekend sometime. If you have a topic you'd like to see me write about, feel free to make requests!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What to Wear to Meet the President

Kimono formality, while generally outlined by TPO (time, place, occasion) charts, can be as tricky as Western clothing when it comes to what to wear for what event.

If you'd asked me what would be appropriate women's kimono for meeting a U.S. president, I might have gone for a gold fukuro obi and kurotomesode, the black with hem-patterns kimono type and the highest-level formality for a married woman. However, on Obama's recent trip to Kamakura to visit the temple that houses a famous giant Buddha, the temple director Michiko Sato wore a fairly subdued fukuro obi and houmongi (visiting wear), which is two steps down from a kurotomesode (kurotomesode, then iro(color background)-tomesode, then houmongi). Takao Sato, the man with her, is the temple's chief monk and is not dressed in typical men's wear.

After following the link, you can click back and forward a few more photos to see more of their outfits and the Buddha.

Given Michiko's age (tradition requires more subtle colors for older women) and the nature of the event (walking around the temple and chatting rather than a formal dinner, etc.), her outfit makes sense to me, and it was interesting to see a real-life example of a situation not found on most TPO charts. ;)

Regarding Kamakura itself, it is a pretty day-trip out of Tokyo and worth going to, but a little touristy in spots. If I'm remembering right, you can also actually walk down into the Buddha as he's hollow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Japan Post Suspending US Shipping

No news is sometimes good news! Sadly, my first post back after a week of insanity (I've just become a middle school English teacher, which is both exciting and a lot of work!) is some bad news for any Americans who buy kimono, obi, or just about anything else from anyone in Japan:

In what will hopefully be a very temporary move, the Japanese postal system is going to stop shipping packages over 16 oz. to U.S. destinations November 17th this year.

Citing terrorist concerns, SAL, airmail, and EMS are being shut down as of the 17th until further notice. The Japanese original notice is here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Costuming: Wig Tips

If you're into cosplay or costuming and like taking it to a truly detailed level, authentic human hair Japanese wigs really perfect the whole look when it comes to traditional Japanese costumes. You can actually find them on Ebay, under "katsura", though be warned that most will technically be wedding or generic wigs rather than the higher-end ones for geisha or maiko.

However, as most Westerners don't know the difference, I don't see a problem in wearing a generic/wedding one as long as you don't claim it's a super-authentic geisha wig you yanked off a real geisha's head while on your trip to Japan. ^_^; (While maiko wigs are more distinctive, geisha ones are very similar to wedding ones in appearance.)

Should you get your hands on one of these babies, here are some tips or things you might not have known beforehand, based on my own wig purchase:

1. They are styled with camellia oil, I believe, so they have a distinct scent that I don't mind but can be a bit strong at times.

2. The wigs have a hard base, so you're more or less wearing a football helmet. I've made it eight hours in mine with some discomfort that I was able to alleviate by minutely shifting it every few hours, but I've heard the average runs more to 3-4 hours for comfortable wear.

3. For my American readers, Sally's Beauty Supply has $4 styrafoam heads, in case your wig didn't come with the traditional stand and case.

4. The wig adds a lot of mass all around your head, so if you can leave it off if you have to take any tight car rides, etc. to your destination.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Job!

Life can take surprising turns, and to make a long story short this past week I woke up Monday in one job not expecting anything new, and ended up starting yesterday with another, much better one. :D

That's why I haven't had the chance to update for a couple of days, with everything going on regarding that, but I hope to settle back into daily posting very soon.

Today's tidbit about Japan is that changing jobs, while becoming more common, isn't something you see a whole lot of compared to America. Traditionally, you worked for one company until you retired, and firings were rare. Rather than fire you, the company would move you into progressively smaller or more inconvenient arrangements (smaller rooms, far-away desks) and give you less and less work to do until you finally took the hint and quit on your own.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Common Motifs: Momiji - Fall Maple Leaves

Long time, no motifs!

Tonight's motif is momiji 紅葉, literally "red leaves", referring to leaves changing color in the fall. It can also refer to fall maple leaves specifically. Naturally, they're a fall motif and are easily identifiable by their shape. Below is a wedding maru obi featuring momiji mixed in with chrysanthemums, and a wedding uchikake sleeve.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Craft Resource: YokoDana Kimono

If you're more interested in crafting with kimono than wearing them, check out online dealer YokoDana Kimono. They specialize in bulk kimono and fabrics meant more for creative sewing and design uses rather than straight-up wear.

I haven't ordered from them myself, as a note, but they seem to have a positive reputation online. If you've dealt with them in the past, feel free to comment with your experience!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Culture: Rain Woman

Tonight, after a very long dry spell, rain is drumming steadily on the roof of the house. In honor of the storm, our topic is "rain woman", "ame onna" 雨女.

Any woman who rain seems to follow is an "ame onna." If every outdoor party or event you go to gets rained out, you might find yourself being called this.

While in Japan I made friends laugh with my own tweak on this, jokingly labeling myself "jishin onna" (earthquake woman) as it felt like they happened right after I moved to a new place. Of course, when you come from Houston, where the ground never moves, you're a bit hypersensitive to the Earth wiggling. ^_^;