Friday, March 16, 2012

Obi-dome Tutorial: Kimono Jewelry

Traditionally, kimono are worn with no jewelry whatsoever: no earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc., though it is worth nothing that in modern times those rules are loosening up, especially in casual situations.

One of the only ornaments seen with kimono is the "obi-dome" 帯留め/帯留(oh-bee doh-meh), a sort of brooch or bead threaded through the obi-jime cord worn over the obi.

Obi-dome are a kind of novelty item and are usually worn with casual kimono up through mid-formal ones, depending on the flashiness or use of jewels. Two of the most notable exceptions to this rule are large, playful ones sometimes seen with young women's furisode and huge, high-end ones worn by maiko (apprentice geisha).

Bottom photo: Maiko Humihana 富美英、Fumisono 富美苑、 Fumitama 富美珠
photo credit Onihide

Here are some examples from the Rakuten seller "Sou-bien", ranging from cute to chic.

Obi-dome are a bit whimsical by nature, as you can tell by the photos above, so pretty much anything goes. :) If you'd like to make your own, here's a quick tutorial I put together.

Click to see full-size.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Iromuji and Kimono Seller Review: Rakuten's "Kyoetsuorosiya" 京越卸屋

Houston's Japan Fest, one of the biggest in the country, is coming up the last weekend of this month! I'll be part of a group dance one day, and I'll be informally assisting at a tea ceremony demo on the other day, serving tea and sweets to people in the audience.

One of the standard kimono types for tea ceremony and other low/mid-formal events is the iromuji 色無地, which is a plain-color kimono. Despite its simplicity, the iromuji actually ranks higher in formality than the busily-patterned komon ("fine pattern") and yukata (cotton summer kimono).

I didn't have any iromuji, so this was the perfect chance to get one!

Looking around on the online mall Rakuten for tall or large sizes to accommodate my height and long arms, I quickly found Kyoetsu-orosiya and their awase (lined) washable synthetic ones, which are on sale for about $55.00 USD before shipping. Given the fact I could wash it at home and it averages four stars in reviews, I went ahead and ordered my favorite color, the deep purple on the bottom left.

The iromuji is perfect! The synthetic fabric (high-grade polyester) is not silk, but I'd say it's close in appearance and is a great budget-friendly choice for a brand-new kimono. I also found the measurements to be accurate. Even cheaper "standard" M/L sizes can be found here and hitoe (unlined) M/L ones can be found here. 4/4

Rakuten sent a confirmation email in English, and while Kyoetsu sent an automatic confirmation email of their own it was entirely in Japanese. This was not a problem for me, but could be intimidating if you don't read any Japanese. Generally speaking, there was no personalized communication regarding my order (Ichiroya has probably spoiled me!). 2/4

The shipping was about $28 for EMS, which was the only shipping choice, but nice as it guarantees a tracking number. In just under a week I received the carefully-packaged iromuji, so no complaints here! 4/4

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Houmongi Photoshoot - Spring is Here!

This is a fun spring shoot I did recently with my favorite photographer Courtney Brown, featuring a formal houmongi kimono, distinguishable by its uninterrupted design across the body's seams. My kitsuke is far from perfect, but I had a great time. Thank you, Courtney, for all your hard work! :D

The crane pattern is auspicious and multi-seasonal, I believe, and as the kimono's awase (lined) it's technically appropriate from around October-May. I paired it with a cream, red and gold fukuro obi and green accessories to give it a spring feeling. This sort of outfit would be appropriate for young/younger adult women at formal events, like nice parties, wedding receptions, etc.