DIY Kanzashi

The crafting madness has pretty much descended on both of us.

After a successful attempt at making my own koshihimo, the idea of making my own kanzashi didn’t seem too daunting. Particularly after a trip to Akihabara (sadly the shop, not the area ;-;) revealed that a kanzashi could cost up to SGD$80. Plum and I did all we could to bit down on our tongues and not a) swear, b) get kicked out of the store. We sourced our a few shops and we’re proud to reveal the fruit of our efforts below!

kanzashi

Plum made Maiko (the one with the white pearl spray) and I created Haru no Hana. Yes, we’re so proud we gave them names. ^_^”

またあした
Blossom
blossom

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Furisode Bliss

I’m somewhat sure that I can speak for Blossom in this regard, but I… am… in… love…

Our long awaited furisodes have arrived. We worked hard for these – we worked hard for the money to buy these, we worked hard to choose them, we worked hard to plan for accessories for them and they have finally arrived.

These are vintage, which to me initially brought a gasp to my throat as I opened them and touched mine for the first time. I’ll not forget that feeling of silk against my palm, it’s like touching the breeze… They were beautiful, slightly marred, but beautiful nonetheless. Blossom’s was made during the mid Showa period (1926-1989), and has really beautiful dyeing that reminds me of a painted piece of art. It’s also sweet, pink and girly, like her.

I have no idea when mine was made, though the side I bought it from listed it as ‘quite old’. However, I doubt that this was made relatively recently like ten years ago – unless the mouldy-monster has had a field day spraying the inside lining of my furisode with its brown goo. Still, the thought of touching a piece of clothing that has seen so much history, that has lived through memories of someone else who might not even be alive any more just brings out the melodramatic poet in me. What was that person like? Was she a good person? I wonder what she’ll say about me wearing her beloved furisode…

Incidentally, my mother asked if I was scared bringing something ‘old’ and that has had ‘someone died in’ into my room. To which I replied, “…no.”

It might be dramatic of me to relate this to human relationships, but I’ll do so anyway. It is really like I just got married. To look at the furisode, knowing that mine was probably sewn in the 1920s, is like falling in love. You see the marred portions of it, you see where the gold has faded and age has touched it with a slight patina. It would be so easy to focus on the negatives. But when you step back, it takes your breath away.

It also smells of mothballs.

I hope I go through life always appreciating the beauty of the whole and not minding the faults of the moment. The things one learns from a furisode. (Yes, in case few have noticed, I do tend to take everyday experiences and weave them into philosophy of transient life, written in semi-decent prose.)

Enough talk: ON TO THE PICTURES!!

Faded Glory

Faded Glory

Peony Pink

Peony Pink

~Plum

diy koshihimo

Finally finished making a pair of koshihimo, with some help from Mom. Sewing your own stuff is therapeutic and rather easy, as long as you keep a focused sort of  attention. I have to say that I feel a small sense of accomplishment… and look forward to making the next pair on my own, with very little guidance.

I’d post the steps I took in making a pair but I really don’t want to ruin the Flickr quota since we have the furisodes we ordered arriving soon… and we really REALLY want to show those off.

koshihimo

It’s a little on the wide side. Most koshihimo I’ve seen on sites are about an inch wide. I’ve made mine about 1.75-2 inches. Mainly because I don’t really like the narrow ones and making it a little wider was easier to work with. I’ve also made it longer so this first pair is really 1.75 x 84 inches.

I might make the future ones narrower but meh, you can fold a wider koshihimo in half but you can’t spread open a narrow one, right?

またあした
Blossom
blossom

bagging it

First off, a rainy Sunday is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

Waking up today with a whole lot of potential for doing absolutely NOTHING was really just amazing. Even more amazing was iTunes deciding that the Nat King Cole Trio was the first thing I should hear upon pressing play. Amy Winehouse followed soon after and I take this as a divine sign that I ought to just take things easily…

Now, onto our scheduled blog post. ^_^

After yesterday’s trip into the strange strange land known as the Japanese section of Kinokuniya, I spent the evening contemplating which hairstyle to experiment on my sister, whose hair is long enough for me to play around with. She’s none too happy about it but being the eldest sibling in an Indonesian family allows me certain ‘passes’. While I attempt to convince her to let me try at least once, I’ll have to settle for channeling my creative energies to something else. <_<;

As Plum states, she’s interested in tying the damn obi knot. Yes, I also happen to swear a whole lot more than she does (these days). Relegating the obi tying to her has severely reduced that habit but I’m afraid, I’m still the more foul-mouthed of the pair. Anyway, I’m more into the fabrics and prints and nothing shows off the thought and workmanship out into an ensemble better than a well-selected and well-made accessory like a bag or a kanzashi.

Looking at the way I’ve been spending my money, it occurred to me numerous times that we’ve picked up an expensive and potentially-unrewarding-in-all-ways-but-personal sort of hobby. Not that we care (this also, fast becoming our motto these days). In some cases, the accessories cost as much as the kimono itself and my wallet riles at that.

In order to rectify that wrongdoing, I sought out the person with a phD in Everything – my mother – to get some help in my attempt in making some of the stuff on my own. I decided to start with simple things like the koshihimo and basic pouchbag. I was lucky enough to find a free pattern for the pouch with detailed instructions here. While it looks daunting, I console myself with the idea that… at least after all that sweat, swearing and potential tears, it still beats tying the obi because:

  • I don’t have to figure out which end goes where when I want to use it.
  • I don’t have to suffer not going to the bathroom when I’m using/attempting to tie it.
  • It definitely lasts longer than the afternoon or how long my bladder can withstand holding in all that water. Don’t forget No.2 too.
  • I can wear it wihout the yukata or kimono.

So come payday, I think I’ll be paying a trip to Spotlight to find the needed materials with Mom’s advice at the back of my mind. *grins*

またあした
Blossom
blossom

Also, dear lone reader, you may have noticed the pretty new logo we have. Yes, that is original… and like everything else, we couldn’t have had this without a little help from our family & friends. Thanks, Wan! It’s really pretty and we love it. : )

New Kimono Literature (of sorts)

So Blossom and I, on my father’s credit card (unbeknownst and to be duly reimbursed before he is beknownst), went to Kinokuniya to look up stuff for our budding library of kimono literature. After some stomping around the Japanese section – which I swear to me is like a foreign land – we finally were directed to the appropriate section. I also learned 2 new Japanese characters and can now read the word ‘kimono’ in kanji. I’m proud of myself.

However, since neither of us could read kanji, which most of the books were titled in, the conversation eventually descended to:

P: What’s this about?
B: something something… ki-mo-mo-… It’s about kimonos, lah.
P: Really. @.@

Yes. However, we soon found a good set of books but because I was worried about money, we had to only select 2. We have plans for an upcoming photoshoot for Furisodes and so realize that our choices regarding our hobby are now geared towards that. We picked up two books as follows (with grammatical approximation):

Title: Kimono Hairstyles of the Day

ISBN: 4-418-04405-1

Price: SG$35.10

The hairstyles in the hairstyle book are beautiful, though maybe some a little too aged for us – very eighties older woman type buns. Some were classic. We realized that a lot of the accessories selected for their hair tended towards the mimicry or appreciation of the beauty of nature. All that glittered was only gold. Until we came to the hairstyles of the ‘modern’ kimono-girl. Think being attacked my dragonflies after your hair gets shocked out of its bun due to electrocution. Okay, that was unfair. No, that sort of style is not for us. We tend towards the more subtle and elegant of the styles so… probably we have the combined chic/hippie taste that screams older woman anyway. <_<; Not that we care.

(Blossom is the hippie.)

Title: Basic Kimono Musubi

ISBN:4-418-06405-2

Price: SG$38.20

Plum says (8:48 PM):
Blossom we picked up the BASIC OBI BOOK
Blossom says (8:49 PM):

that was f&^%$#g basic?
Plum says (8:49 PM):
yes
Blossom says (8:51 PM):
well. there goes our first conversation excerpt for you.

These musubis are BASIC???? The book was selected because we saw a few designs that could be used for future furisodes. And if that is basic… what is intermediate or advanced? Origami kimonos? Okay, I know me looking at these musibis from my point of view is like a prawn in the primordial pool trying to comprehend chartered accounting, but the amount of ingenuity that went into the humble knot to turn it into such a work of art is staggering!

There is a reason why I kept this book while Blossom kept the hair book. She hates tieing musubis because it makes her tired and her blue blood probably rebels against it. I, on the other hand, don’t care much about my hair as long as it looks decent and is out of my face.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, we do make little jibes about each other even in real life. She will mock my lack of regard to such things as Rules Against Bending New Shoes You Happen To Be Wearing At The Time In Public while I will mock the fact that she is a kampong dowager-to-be born in the wrong era).

You know, if nothing else, this hobby will prompt us to learn Japanese seriously if only just to read these how-to books.

Plum

Plum

Things I learned from a kimono.

Hello and welcome to the Plum and Blossom. As much as our site name sounds so much like a teahouse, let me assure that it is not. Blossom covered the founding of our site pretty well, so I’ll skip over that. I’ll head right to the introductions. I’m the Plum of the pair, for as much as that lends itself to so many jokes. Unlike Blossom, who treats words like gentle brush strokes on a canvas, I tend to slap them together, knock a few nails in and hope it looks like the picture on the cover of my brain. She’s the far more prolific and poetic of the pair of us and there really are times when it shows. (Like now ^^)

Blossom and I started this little escapade out of boredom and the need for escapism. Both being admirers of Japanese culture (the ancient one, not so much the ‘dye-your-hair-neon-pink-and-dress-like-a-doll’ one), we have finally found our way to the calcified culture as demonstrated through their clothing. We rented a costume for Natsu Matsuri and I think that just opened the floodgates to a dormant love affair for clothes that are really none too practical for our climate.

That being said, there is much insight to gain through simply experiencing the clothes of another culture. I’m eurasian and pretty deprived on the culture front. Thus, it was nice to experience an ‘official’ ethnic experience and learn much from it.

Kimono lesson #1: There is a reason why Japanese women are thin and the food is raw.

It takes a long time to put on these things (largely because we don’t have the luxury of a servant to dress us, unless we count eachother), so there probably wasn’t enough time to cook. Also, our bodies were the sort that got worshiped as prime models of fertility in ancient cultures – what with the child-bearing hips and breasts and all – and as such, the willowy shape the kimono requires needs some creative padding.

Kimono lesson #2: Our postures are terrible but our bladder control is impeccable.

The obi is the greatest spine straightener ever, if tied properly. And since we weren’t about to even try to pee while in kimono, our years of training to obtain the iron bladder have paid off.

Kimono lesson #3: Obis are a creative endeavour.

The part that I love, and that Blossom hates – the obi. Tieing it is, to me, a creative endeavour and something I enjoy doing. She was born to be a rich girl who presumably will have someone paid to dress her, so everything works out in the end.

We both love different things about the kimono – she the prints and I the obi and coordination. As we slowly build up our collection of things to wear and excuses to wear them, we’ll be bringing you along for the ride as the Gaijins Go Native.

~Plum

Welcome to The Plum and Blossom – where sense met sensibility.

The first post of any blog really shouldn’t remain the default ‘welcome’ one that the template came with.

That being said…. welcome nonetheless.

Okay, the tagline is really pretty vague and I can’t resist the Jane Austen reference but it does sum up this pretty little endeavour that Plum and I came up with. Being both budding enthusiasts of traditional Japanese clothing. We would have pursued this passion earlier but we didn’t really have the money or the *ahem* to do so. Now that we’re both hardworking adults with an honest paycheck each, we can do the supposedly irresponsible thing and get this thing going!

What we hope to do over the next few months is to build up our individual collections of various types of kimonos, obis, kanzashis and other accessories that make up the traditional Japanese ensemble of clothes. (There are other plans but I’m not going to spoil anything really. *crosses fingers*)

Who exactly are Plum and Blossom?

I’d leave it to Plum to introduce herself but as a rough guide… we go by our pseudonyms on this site. She being Plum and myself as Blossom. It’s a huge inside joke that would just take too long to explain and has a really low rate of success unless you were either one of us. We’ve been friends for nearly 5 years and eerily connected through a series of obscure connections since our childhood days, long before we directly talked to each other.

Yes. Really.

Long story short, two very different people found a few things in common and pretty much decided to embark on a social experiment that was more than just marginally successful.

So how did this ‘thing’ start?

Pretty much like everything we did, the PnB started out of impulse and boredom. We’re both shameless fangirls of Japanese culture, both accumulating intelligent-sounding trivia from different aspects of it. One common interest in history and clothing. Hence, barely two weeks after putting on a kimono for the first time and enjoying the experience immensely , we shamelessly decided that we were going to make it happen as often as damned possible.

And how far have you guys gone in this effort?

After many weeks of hesitation and searching… we finally put down orders for our first set of furisode each. I went a step further and bid on ebay for a kimono and an obi.

We hope to be able to put up our first pictures within the next two weeks. Then this blogshoppe won’t look lonely. :/

So anything else we can expect from The Plum and Blossom within the year?

Yes. We have something very, very special planned… but I’m keeping mum on that. *grins*

Speaking for myself, I feel this to be a very personal and valuable project. It’s more than just kimonos and sashes or histories and fangirl-ism… I feel it to be a very interesting turn in my own friendship with Plum.

(Yes, Plum. You’ll get a hug.)

So keep coming back… we’ll be putting stuff like links and not-so-random articles up soon. It’ll be interesting and you’ll sound smart when you use it in conversation.

We promise. : )

またあした
Blossom
blossom

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