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Summer kimono and yukata designs which benefit pet foster programs

Beautifully designed products to help pets without owners

We recently heard about another really beautiful yukata and summer kimono design from Felissimo, which is a brand with beautiful and playful designs for various products, of which the profits benefit pets without owners. You can check our the Felissimo Facebook Page for more detailed information about their cause.

The yukata and summer kimono design that caught our eye is a design with lovely cute kittens playing with ajisai hydrangeas that blossom in June.

Looking in detail at the designs and its patterns on a lavender background, you can find the kittens in different poses behind and around the hydrangea blooms.

A full 360° look at the beautiful hydrangea design. The yukata are made of 100% cotton and will keep you cool in the hot summer months. 

They have also created other products like these awesome bags with the same design. This looks like an absolute must have for every cat lover!

 

If you are interested in buying these from Japan, we would love to help you. Just send us a message in the form below:

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10 Reasons, why you should do hiking in Japan

weather in japan

***Guest article by Wanderweib.de ***

Japan has some unique points that you can only find there! How about hiking in one of the world’s most mountainous country (#1)? Ever wanted to know how Japanese nature is like (#5)? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet Japanese hikers (#4)? Or would you like to know what is your biggest threat in Japan (#8)?

Wanderweib presents you 10 reasons, why you should do hiking in Japan!

#1 Japan is a hiker’s heaven

mountains of japan

About 72% of Japan is mountainous, with a mountain range running through each of the main islands. However the highest mountain Fujisan (3.776 m) isn’t as difficult as other mountains!

#2 Huge Bus Networks

japan bus network

Japan has a huge bus network which brings you directly to your trail head. So you don’t need to rent a car for starting your adventure!

 

#3 Weather Forecast

weather in japan

Sure, the weather is still unpredictable, but compared with our weather forecast the Japanese shows the current temperature on most famous mountains and even the hiking conditions. The most famous sites are Tenki to Kurasu and Mountain Forecast.

#4 Everyone’s friendly

 

Japanese aren’t the most open-minded, however the nature environment seems to open them up. During your hiking you will meet hikers who will start to talk to you and they will be extremely friendly.

#5 Ladders and Chains

japanese mountain trails for hiking in japan

Japanese mountain trails are greatly aided as compared with our western trails. At difficult spots you can find a ladder or chain that will guarantee your safe travel.

#6 Japanese Signs

japanese signs on hiking paths

Japanese trails are well marked some include even English translations! To ensure your safe travel I recommend to learn some basic Japanese Kanjis that you don’t get lost within the Kanji signs!

#7 Trail head box systems

japanese trail boxes

At trail heads you can find Tozan Posuto Box where you can leave your name and your itinerary. In a case of an emergency they may help authorities locate you faster.

#8 Your biggest threat!

Japan has the lowest crime rate in the world and you can feel very safe. Unsurprisingly, your biggest threat comes in the form of a giant hornet.

#9 Huge hiking communities

japanese hiking community

Japan has a huge hiking community which is called Yamareco. The latest trail conditions and photos are only a few clicks away with a little help from Google Translate!

#10 Clean Water

japanese clean water

You don’t need to worry about water, because crystal clean water from high mountain streams is generally safe to drink! However, in lower mountains I recommend to boil your water or use a filter system.

—-

Tessa from Wanderweib

WanderWeib – Hiking in Japan

Hi, my name is Tessa and I live in Tokyo/Japan since 2012. During my studies in computer science, I had the opportunity to live in Japan, where I explored the Japanese rich culture. After my graduation I extended my stay until today.

Last year I discovered hiking for me and began to explore the Japanese mountains. During my preparations for my hikes, I noticed that all the hiking books were only written in Japanese. So I started my own hiking blog in German, which describe the beautiful nature in Japan. Additionally, you can find several culture tips on my blog about hiking in Japan.

Pay me a visit under: http://wanderweib.de

 

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Running in kimono for good customer service

wimax-commercial with kimono

Japan is known for great customer service all around the world. But what if your clothing might hinder you in the pursuit of customer happiness?

The company UQ-WIMAX found their own answer to this question. At least according to their cheeky commercial which saw some airtime this year on Japanese TV.

Running in kimono and tabi

Basically what happens is that a customer forgets or loses his portable Wi-Fi device at a restaurant or hotel. This triggers the devotedly customer-oriented waitress in her work kimono to run after the customer. But as you can imagine, running in a kimono, even if it is without cumbersome traditional japanese footwear called geta, probably isn’t very practical. I don’t know what time of the year it was, but running around in tabi (the white sock-shoes) might even be quite cold and uncomfortable.

So to become faster, she gets rid of her kimono along the way. Don’t worry though, she’s not getting rid of all her clothes though, she is still wearing her kimono underwear, called hadajuban and nagajuban. As she hands over the Wi-Fi device, the customers seems quite pleased with her performance and…well…the view that is offered to him.

To understand all this, you have to know that a waitress wearing a work kimono, like a uniform, isn’t something unusual at more sophisticated restaurants and hotels. These might even be really fancy and beautiful unique kimono, depending on the place.

The other thing is that free Wi-Fi in Japan is quite hard to find. That’s why many people carry pocket Wi-Fi devices around with them. With this, you can not only connect your mobile with the internet, but also your laptop, tablet and so on. All with just one data plan.

wimax-commercial 2

Only thing I don’t understand:

Why is he taking a taxi so awfully far away from the location, where he lost or forgot his gadgets?

I am sure the kimono girl is thinking the same thing…

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Love Japan Magazine – Coming Spring 2015

Spring seems to become a good time for people who love to hold their first-hand Japan info resources in their own hands. Emily Faulder has taken it upon her to bring her love to Japan to the next level and actively spread it all around to everyone who wants to read about it with her “Love Japan” magazine. She has been a photographer and big time lover for everything that has to do with Japan for a long time. She already did some photography under the name “Emily Forrest” for the Hyper Japan event which is held twice a year in London, as that’s where she is also based at the moment.
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Kitsuke from Hyper Japan event
Kitsuke picture from the Hyper Japan event, taken by Emily
Calligraphy at the Hyper Japan event in London
Calligraphy at the Hyper Japan event in London
Their vision for the Love Japan magazine is:

Love Japan is a magazine created by fans, for fans.  We have a core team in charge of editing and design, along with a whole host of contributors from the USA, Japan and UK.  We all share a passion for Japanese culture, and our aim is to bring you a beautifully designed online magazine, once every quarter, with the first issue due for release in Spring 2015.

We want to fill the gap in the market for people who love the aesthetics of Independent British magazines, but want to immerse themselves in all things Japanese. It’s a fusion of East meets West.  We’re not only going to be cramming Love Japan full of of fun and interesting Japanese related topics, but we will also be satisfying your need for eye candy.

From travel, food, fashion, and illustration, to interviews, events, music and pop culture, we’ll have it covered.

They actually announced to release their first issue in February 2015, but seems like they had to reschedule to a rough “Spring 2015”. No specific reason was given, although I can imagine that there are many things that could go wrong or just get in between releasing a magazine when you do it the first time.

Like with the Be Part of Kimonogeisha.com program, they also offer you to be part of their magazine with your submissions:

We currently need the following:

  • Illustrators/Artists/Designers who are either Japanese or have a Japanese theme to their work
  • Writers who would like to share an article they’ve written (this can be anything related to Japan, we’re open to all ideas so run it past us)
  • Small businesses who have a Japanese theme, this could for example be a cafe, a restaurant, an online store or a shop, selling Japanese or Japanese inspired clothing, jewellery, food, sweets, merchandise etc.
  • People who have lived/worked/travelled in Japan, or currently live/work/travel in Japan and would like to share their experiences.
  • Photographers who have a Japanese theme to their work for examples, Japanese band, landscape or fashion photography.

You can find more about submitting your content to the magazine here.

Their main page is lovejapanmagazine.com, but in these times, you can of course also find them on Instagram and Twitter.

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The Okaya Silk Museum

Although synthetic fibers and wool have become more common as a material for kimono and yukata, the the higher quality kimono will always be made of silk.

Being a fan and collector of kimono, sooner or later you will want to find out where the silk is coming from and how it is made. If that though ever crosses your mind, you might want to visit the Okaya Silk Museum. The museum is located in the city of Okaya, right next to lake Suwa (which is a stunning sight in winter!), which is in the center of the Nagano prefecture. Known these days for hosting the winter olympics in 1998, Nagano was a major center for producing export-quality silk in the past.

The Okaya Silk Museum – over 140 years of silk history

Only being 28 years younger than the city of Okaya itself, which was founded in 1936, the museum was opened in 1964 to chart the silk manufacturing tradition in the region around Okaya and Suwa.

Silk factory

The region itself became the center of silk manufacturing due to the Suwa model silk reeling machine. It was based on imported Italian and French combing machine designs, which got improved by Japanese engineers in 1875. With these machines, the region exported its silk to all over the world, but mainly to the US, which had a high demand of silk for its silk weaving industry at the time. Okaya itself enjoyed a booming silk era during the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926) and early Showa (1926-1989) periods.

Museum and functioning factory

The museum itself was reopened in August 2014, as it moved to a new location within the city, as the old location is going to be used for a new municipal hospital.

Okaya Silk Museum Front

At the new location, you can not only see what a museum normally shows, which means old stuff and “how it used to be”. Instead, you see a full functioning manufacture that is run by the Miyasaka Silk Reeling Co. inside of the museum.

You can see silk reeling by hand in person, using the “zaguri” technique. It’s the only place in Japan where this technique is still being used. The zaguri technique utilizes cog wheels and a belt to turn the reel, which improves the uniformity of the silk and making it thinner, compared to older techniques.

Silk worms

Besides watching the manufacturing process itself, you can of course see old machines and touch the silk, the silkworms and the silk dolls. As part of the silk industry, the history and life of the so called “mill girls” who worked in the many silk mills and came from all parts of the Nagano prefecture, is also shown. The shopping streets and businesses in the region transformed and catered to the wishes and needs to a huge number of women living in one place, although the consensus is that life was still harsh for them.

Silk reeling machines

Various types of machines dating from the Edo Period (1603-1867) all the way to the Showa Era (1926-1989) are on display at the museum. Among the items is Japan’s only remaining French reeling machine, which was once used at the Tomioka Silk Mill.

Silk mill as a UNESCO world heritage site

The Tomioka Silk Mill has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2014. From the UNESCO world heritage site:

The Tomioka Silk Mill dates from the early Meiji period. With its related sites including two sericulture schools and an egg storage site, it illustrates the desire of Japan, a traditional silk producer, to rapidly access the best mass production techniques. The Japanese government imported French machinery and industrial expertise to create an integrated system in Gunma Prefecture. It included egg production, silkworm farming and the construction of a large mechanised raw silk reeling and spinning plant. In turn, the Tomioka model complex and its related sites became a decisive component in the renewal of sericulture and the Japanese silk industry, in the last quarter of the 19th century, and a key element in Japan’s entry into the modern industrialised world.

In addition, the Tomioka Silk Mill has a website that promoted the designation as world heritage site until the wish became reality. The website can still be found here.

Fortunately Tomioka is in Gunma prefecture and not that far away if you have a car. You can plan with a trip of around 2 hours by car. By public transport, you are going to need around 4 to 5 hours, depending on what trains you use. You can travel via Nagano city or all the way back to Tokyo and take trains from there to Tomioka.

How to get to the Okaya Silk Museum

Okaya Silk Museum Map

Open: 9:00 – 16:30
Closed: Mondays and December 29 to January 3

A 15 minute walk from Okaya Station

Okaya Silk Museum
1-4-8 Goda, Okaya 394-0021
+81 266-23-3489
Pic Source: [1]

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Happy Japan 2014

Don’t be afraid, Happy Japan has nothing to do with the moderately successful campaign “Cool Japan” that tries to promote Japan to overseas tourists.

It’s rather about a sound that has left its mark in 2014 like no other: The Song “Happy” from US singer Pharell Williams, which has spread to all over the world after his 24-hour video for his single.

Although not many trends make it to Japan, this one did like no other and it spawned many own versions in Japan, from parts of Tokyo, over Kyoto and even some “not-so-well-known” cities in Japan. Even Fukushima had one, to show that not everyone is just gloomy over there every day and that life continues, even with a smile!

To celebrate 2014 and look back a bit, we have gathered some of the Japanese videos here for you.

 

And probably the one with the most “original spirit” and as close to the original as possible:

Last but not least, let’s not forget that Pharrell actually went to Japan to create a live(!) video version of his song together with SMAP, the Japanese boy(?)group that has been around for ages, who have their own (kind of) talkshow and are probably 24/7 somewhere around the Japanese TV world. Anyway, this version definitely deserves a look. If this doesn’t make you happy (at least, if you like SMAP), then nothing will:

 

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BBC Geisha Girl Documentary

In 2005 the BBC followed the young Yukina, a only 15 year old girl, on her way to become a geisha for the documentary “Geisha Girl”. Before becoming a maiko, she has to prove worthy of the time and money the okiya has to invest in her training. She will stay 5 years in the status of a maiko, before becoming a geisha or geiko (in Kansai dialect) herself.

From the original BBC description of the documentary:

Documentary following 15-year-old Yukina as she leaves home and moves to Kyoto to embark on the arduous training needed to become a geisha.

The profession has always been shrouded in controversy, with some believing geisha are little more than high-class prostitutes. At such a young age, does Yukina really understand what this ancient profession has in store for her?

If you wonder how everything ended for her:

She finished her 5 years of training in 2009 and only worked for roughly 2 more years after that. Which means she quit around 2011/2012. Looking at this life of hardship, it is easy to see why you would wish for a “normal” life. She remains one of the more well known geishas, thanks to the Geisha Girl documentary.

Yukina Geisha Girl 2009Yukina in 2008, still a maiko (Source: maiko.gallery)

Yukina as GeishaYukina around 2010, finally a real geisha.

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Aizome: The art of Japanese indigo dyeing

The first guest post on Kimonogeisha.com!

After our call to be part of Kimonogeisha, we have received various interesting posts from other kimono fans from all over the world. Melissa from readysetkimono.com has the honour to be our first guest poster ever with her post about the aizome dyeing technique. If you also want to share your content, pictures or reviews of events, fashion shows or anything else kimono related, send an email to bepartof@kimonogeisha.com!

Aizome indigo dyeing kimonoAntique aizome kimono that used katazome technique

History of aizome

Aizome (藍染) is known as indigo dyeing in English and it has a long 1400 year history as a dyeing method in Japan.  Aizome is a suitable dye for many kinds of fabric including silk, hemp, and cotton. Because it’s so versatile, it was commonly worn by all classes in Japanese society from the Shogun all the way down to the common laborer.  It became especially popular with the lower classes when the Shogun imposed sumptuary laws banning bright and outlandish colors for clothing during the Edo period.  Aizome’s blue color was still allowed and it became a popular way of adding color to your wardrobe.  It was so popular that when Japan opened up to the west during the Meiji era, British chemist R.W. Atkinson saw so many aizome dyed garments that he called the color Japan Blue.

Aizome obiAntique obi that used aizome dyed thread in the weaving

 

What kind of kimono can be created?

Aizome uses only two colors, blue and white.  The contrast between the dyed blue sections of the cloth and the undyed white sections of the cloth is what gives aizome garments their striking look.  Aizome can be used to create both sakizome (先染め) or woven kimono (when the threads are dyed before weaving) and atozome (後染め) or dyed kimono (when the fabric is dyed after it is woven).

For atozome kimono, there are two different techniques that are used.  The first is katazome (型染め) which means paste resist or stencil dyeing.  In this method, a stencil of the desired design is created and placed on the fabric.  A paste made from rice is applied and left to dry.  When the cloth is dyed, the places with paste resist the dye and remain white.  When the dyeing is complete, the paste is washed off leaving striking patterns of white in its place.  Katazome can be used to create large intricate patterns, or small, detailed, repeating patterns.

The second method that can be used is shibori (絞り) or the tie-dye method.  In this method, the cloth is tied and secured in a certain pattern.  When it is dipped into the dye, the tied parts of the cloth resist the dye.  Shibori produces a very soft, 3-D effect with no hard lines.

aizome handkerchief 1Handkerchief being brought out of the dye after the first dip.  Note the green colour.

 

handkerchief shiboriWashing off excess dye after the third and final dip in the dye.  This handkerchief was dyed using the shibori method.

Aizome produces a wide range of shades depending on how many times the cloth is dipped.  Anything from almost white to the deepest blue can be achieved.  When the fabric is first brought out of the dye, it actually looks green.  The dye has to oxidize in the air for it to take on its distinctive blue color.

Creating the dye

It can take a year to produce aizome dye.  The long process is necessary in order to make the dye water soluble.  The process starts in March when the seeds for the indigo are planted.  The mature plants are harvested twice, first in July, then again in August.  From there, it is made into sukumo, a dried, fermented, ingredient that will eventually produce the dye.  It is up to the skill of the ai-shi (the sukumo maker) to create a high quality product.  Making sukumo begins in September and takes about four months.  Every five to six days the sukumo is sprinkled with water and mixed so that it ferments evenly.

Sukumo ready to be made into dyesukumo ready to be made into dye

 

vats of aizome dye ready for useVats of aizome dye ready for use

By December, the process is completed and the sukumo is shipped out to the dyers. The dyer will mix the sukumo, ash lye, lime, sake, and water.  The mixture needs to be stirred several times a day for a few weeks, slowly adding more lime to slow down the fermentation process as needed.  When a cluster of metallic bubbles forms on the top of the dye (called the ai no hana or indigo flower) then the dye is ready for use.

aizome museumDiorama from an aizome museum showing the process of katazome dyeing using a stencil.

If you would like to learn more about aizome, please check out the three part series at

www.readysetkimono.com

Part 1: http://readysetkimono.com/2014/11/22/aizome-%E8%97%8D%E6%9F%93-indigo-dyeing-part-one-2/

Part 2: http://readysetkimono.com/2014/11/29/aizome-%E8%97%8D%E6%9F%93-indigo-dyeing-part-two/

Part 3: http://readysetkimono.com/2014/12/05/aizome-%E8%97%8D%E6%9F%93-indigo-dyeing-part-3/

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter!

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How to get out of a car in a kimono or yukata – 3 simple steps

Have you ever wondered how you should get in and out of a car in a kimono or yukata?

Because it’s actually not that trivial and lots of women already saw their face welcome the ground rather fast, because they didn’t know how to do it the right way.

Due to the fact that kimonos and yukatas severely limit your freedom of leg movement, it is easy to trip, if you’re not careful and don’t know what you are doing. It starts with normal walking, which is already difficult if you’re rather used to wearing jeans than something as restricting as a kimono. Next one is sitting down, where some people have already ripped their beautiful dresses apart, because they sat down too swiftly.

But sitting down and getting out of a car is definitely one of the most difficult things to do in a kimono or yukata.

But behold, we have the solution for you:

How to get out of a car in a kimono.