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I’m Sure They Didn’t Mean To Suggest…

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This is why…

…Miss Fluffington of Bigglesworth the cat model was never seen again

Jonelle Patrick writes mysteries set in Tokyo. Her fourth book, Painted Doll, is just out in paperback 

When Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death ten years ago wasn’t an accident, his world begins to unravel. New evidence links her to...read more

When Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death ten years ago wasn’t an accident, his world begins to unravel. New evidence links her to…read more


Jazz Age Paintings Of Beautiful Women And The Real Kimonos They Were Wearing

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If you love kimono – and especially if you love Taisho and Showa-age kimono – don’t miss this exhibition! Right now, the Yayoi-Yumeji Museum – where over 3,000 of artist/illustrator Takehisa Yumeji’s works are archived – is displaying the actual kimonos and accessories worn in his paintings, side by side.

I’m a huge fan of Taisho Era kimono (1912-1926), because they’re perfectly suited for hime-style wear, in which Japanese kimonos are worn with Western-style gloves, hats, shoes and other accessories. While Western jazz-age women were shedding their corsets and raising their hemlines, Japanese kimono designers entered into the roaring-20s spirit by shucking off traditional seasonal colors and designs in favor of brighter, more graphic fabrics, often with western motifs. Think roses instead of cherry blossoms!

You can instantly tell that these are Taisho Era by the explosion of unusual color combinations

Artist/illustrator Takehisa Yumeji (1884- 1924) was one of the foremost painters of beautiful jazz age women (bijin-ga). The exhibition takes advantage of the fact that his wife was his chief model, and the museum owns all the kimonos she used when modeling for the paintings.

He took a little artistic license, but not much!

Obviously the very same kimono and accessories!

I like the real kimono much better than the illustration, but maybe that’s just me

So, so, cool

You still have a chance to catch this one through September 29th (2019), so if you haven’t seen it, GO.

Where: Yayoi-Yumeji Museum, 2-4-3 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Open: Every day, closed Mondays

Hours: 10:00 – 17:00

Admission: Adults, ¥900; Children ¥400

MAP

(It was forbidden to take photos anywhere but the top floor, so the kimono/illustration photos are taken from the official museum catalog for this exhibition) And if you’d like to get a regular dose of kimonos like these (and more!), styled for the modern age, go check out Angie Salz’s blog – you will not be disappointed!

Are you as delighted by all things Japan as I am? Would you like to find more posts like this spicing up your email from time to time?

Subscribe to Only In Japan, and I’ll send you all the astounding, thought-provoking, conversation-starting Japan swaglets, the minute I post them.

It’s easy: Scroll down to the subscribe button, enter your email, and push the button. You can unsubscribe at any time, of course, and I promise: no ads and no sharing of your information EVER.

 

The Most Only-In-Japan Halloween Costumes Ever

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Tired of being the same old sexy skunk or slightly NSFW goose in a tutu for Halloween? Keep your fellow costume partiers guessing with these only-in-Japan puzzlers!

However much mini-skirted shrine maidens might figure in cosplay fantasies, you can be sure this will be the first time everyone actually sees one IRL

And if you’re shooting for for sexy AND inexplicable, fellow revelers might guess Japanese Olympic skating costume, but only true Japanese history wonks will guess Modern Oiran!

Or you can sort the true popcult mavens from the wannabes by dressing as everyone’s favorite gachapon capsule toy: the Office Lady Cup Sitter

If you’re more of a life-of-the-party type, those who have ever been to a Japanese office drinking party will be happy to see a giant flask of sake coming their way

For a costume that’s guaranteed to start a million conversations, why not show up as everyone’s favorite Japanese food ingredient: a giant green onion? If you can believe the package, this is guaranteed to baffle even Japanese Halloweenies

And if you’re out to meet other comic book aficionados, separate those who think they know Japanese manga and anime characters from the real deal by wearing this Daddy Eyeball Monster hood

Last but certainly not least, they tried to disguise this too-Japanese costume as ho-hum “Devil Tights” but it’s clear to anyone who’s spent any time at all in Japan, that this guy is a dead ringer for a kabutomushi: the famous gigantic Japanese beetle pets

I found these at the always-entertaining Don Kihote megastore in Shibuya (here’s a map). And if you still haven’t hit on your dream costume, you can always check out what the peeing statue is wearing for Halloween this year, or if you’re really desperate, Costumes I Would Regret.

Are you as delighted by all things Japan as I am? Would you like to find more posts like this spicing up your email from time to time?

Subscribe to Only In Japan, and I’ll send you all the astounding, thought-provoking, conversation-starting Japan swaglets, the minute I post them.

It’s easy: Scroll down to the subscribe button, enter your email, and push the button. You can unsubscribe at any time, of course, and I promise: no ads and no sharing of your information EVER.

 

Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge

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Hello, fellow kimono lovers of all shapes, sizes, colors, & geographic persuasions!

Author in playing card kimono
If you’re like me, and love modern kimono dressing—especially my favorite kimono hime style—you’re in for a treat!

Kimono princessing is all about mixing East and West, colors and patterns, styles and eras, and it warmly embraces vintage, second-hand delights as well as new. But there are a growing number of talented designers who have boosted the ancient artform onto modern runways, and the results are utterly swoonworthy. If you haven’t been introduced to these fabulous brands yet, here’s a peek at my favorite modern kimono designers. (But don’t say I didn’t warn you: hide your credit card first, because it will definitely be trying to leap from your wallet!)

TAMAO SHIGEMUNE

Tamao Shigemune kimono designs
I love everything this designer has ever put together. She designs and illustrates her own fabrics in a painterly mixed-media style, and her choice of subject matter never fails to amuse and amaze
Tamao Shigemune kimono design
You can see her illustration style a little better here. Isn’t this a fabulous balance between modern and retro?
Tamao Shigemune kimono designs
Here’s the designer herownself in one of her coordinations (at one of her trunk shows in Harajuku). I’d never have the nerve to put that kimono, obi and jacket together, which just shows what a novice I am, because it totally works
Tamao Shigemune kimono designs
Even when she does elegant, it’s head-swiveling and eye-popping

You can romp through her current collection on the Tamao Shigemune website, but I also like her blog and @tamamshi Instagram, which are filled with more casual shots and great coordinations

MAMECHIYO MODERN

Mamechiyo Modern kimono modeled in London
Everything they make is sooooo stylish
Mamechiyo Modern striped kimono and rabbit obi
Their obis are especially…hard…to…resist…aieeeee!
Mamechiyo Modern rental rabbit yukata
And look what I discovered on their Instagram! If you don’t have quite enough cash lying around to invest in their kimonos and obi, you can indulge your princess fantasies by renting one of their beyond-fabulous yukata coordinations for a day (more on rentals after I check it out myself!)

Here’s Mamechiyo Modern’s online store and you can see their coordinations and accessories on their @mamechiyomodern Instagram

DOUBLE MAISON

Double Maison black lace kimono
If a Gothic Lolita grew up to become the coolest of kimono designers, this would be her collection
Double Maison white lace kimono
The black and white pieces are modern and retro, fashion cult and Japon-esque, all at the same time
Double Maison large blue check kimono and obi
The collection’s not all black and white, and even the more mainstream colors and patterns work in deliciously offbeat ways, like this kimono and obi fashioned of the same fabric and tied in a nouveau-Edo style

More kimono inspiration on the Double Maison website and their extra-fab Instagram @doublemaison

KIIRO

Kiiro black lace kimono with corset tie obi
This collection is an elegant and unexpected riff on kimono hime style (with just a hint of goth), made of unusual fabrics (lace and velvet!) and designs that incorporate inventive obi folding and details like edgy western corset lacing
Kiiro crow and stripes furisode with polka dot obi
Their traditional designs are also anything but, like this strikingly anti-seasonal, yet festive, furisode for Coming-of-age Day
Kiiro yukata with black belt
They’re also pioneering easy-to-wear summer yukata, that are much faster to put on, because they dispense with obi-tying in favor of a wide, sleek belt that’s still in harmony with traditional yukata

Kiiro’s 2020 collection can be found on this page and their furisode can be ogled in the Mimatsu Group online store.

MODERN ANTENNA

Modern Antenna cat yukata
Nyan, nyan! This big girl is sporting a little-girl-style obi, and it makes this ensemble even more charmingly casual
Modern Antenna striped yukata with manga print obi
Manga don’t care
Modern Antenna black and white polka dot furisode
Modern Antenna’s dramatic patterns leave no doubt that you’ve come out of your shell on Coming-of-age Day

Here’s the Modern Antenna website. These photos are from their Mod Series and Polka Dot Series. Their @modern_antenna Instagram is wonderful too.

SAKUTEN (SAKU LABORATORY)

Gofukuyasan blue kimono with cats and cat obi
Sakuten (Saku Laboratory) became famous for their obi with a cat “sleeping” on the obijime
Gofukuyasan brown unwrappede chocolate bar kimono with ant obi
But their collection is filled with entertaining tongue-in-cheek themes, like this unwrapped chocolate bar that’s attracting some uninvited guests (HA, don’t you love the tinfoil obiage?)
Gofukuyasan ghost kimono with obake demon obi
Even their “traditional” coordinations (like these dancing ghosts and demons) are freed from the traditional seasons, and celebrate holidays that are definitely off the beaten calendar
Gofukuyasan circuit board men's yukata with motorcycle obi
They even have some excellent “manly” designs, for kimono princes

Tons more entertaining Sakuten designs can be found on their fabulous @gofukuyasan Instagram and the Gofukuyasan website

HIGH CALORIE OTOME (ハイキャロリオトメ)

High Calorie Otome graffiti yukata with black cat face obi
High Calorie Otome also has a famous cat obi, and their charming designs incorporate breezy patterns and creative musubi techniques

Here’s the High Calorie Otome website, where you can see their whole line

RUMI ROCK

Rumi Rock snake yukata with snakeskin obi
If it’s tradition-busting motifs you’re after, RumiRock features bad girl rocker designs like snakes and their skins…
Rumi Rock leopard yukata
…and leopard-rarr
Rumi Rock sheer black summer kimono with fluorescent flower design and silver obi
Even their summer wear would look right at home on a live house stage

All the RumiRock offerings are un their online shop and you can check out their newest designs on their @rumirockstore Instagram

YOSHIKIMONO

Yoshiki playing piano with Yoshikimono model wearing kimono on runway
But if it’s kimonos fit for rock royalty you’re craving, you can’t get more legit than this line designed by Yoshiki, the legendary drummer/pianist of X Japan
Yoshikimono manga panel kimono and obi
This year, he’s got a superhero obsession
Yoshikimono manga design kimono and obi
But his heros and villians are elevated to high art when writ large all over a kimono
Yoshikimono manga design kimono and obi
Skull season has never been more stylish

More eye candy is on the Yoshikimono website and you can catch a glimpse of the master himself amid the kimonos on the @yoshikimono official Instagram

SHITO HISAYO

Shito Hisayo black and red furisode
Shito Hisayo is also doing swoonworthy work for the modern princess, like these lavish Coming-of-age Day furisodes that break all the rules in the best possible way

The entire collection can be seen on the Shito Hisayo website, but all the latest designs and coordinations can be glimpsed on the @shitohisayo_official Instagram

JOTARO SAITO

Jotaro Saito red and black and gold kimono and obi
Jotaro Saito may be the king of modern kimono designers, with his luxe runway shows in Tokyo and New York
Jotaro Saito gray and purple and yellow kimono and obi
His fabric designs and color combinations are untraditional—but timeless and not tied to any season—and they all do that classic kimono thing of looking fabulous on women of any age
Jotaro Saito men's kimono and coat
He makes men of any age look dashing too

Photos of his runway show at Tokyo Fashion Week 2020 are on the Jotaro Saito web shop page and his Instagram @jotarosaito

Do you have a favorite designer who I left out? Tell me in the comments, because I never get tired of discovering new looks and this won’t be the last time you’ll read about modern kimono here!

And now the only thing left to say is, TAKE MY MONEY!

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll scroll down and subscribe to Only in Japan, and if you’d like to get an extra special dose once a month, don’t miss all the amusing stuff that you’ll only see in

It’s my new monthly newsletter, and when you join, you’ll be automatically entered to win the monthly book giveaway, get directions to a fabulous Beyond Tokyo destination, learn to make a Japanese home cooking dish & more! And best of all, it’s free・° ♪・☆ 

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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Six Surprising Reasons Japanese People Wear Masks, Even When There’s No Pandemic

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If you’ve been puzzling over why Japan is such a “mask-wearing society,” it’s not because they’re all super-OCD about germs. Here are six excellent Japanese reasons to wear a mask that have nothing to do with the dread COVID:

1 – You overslept

Because if this is your typical morning routine…

Japanese makeup how-to

…you can cut your makeup time in half

Japanese woman wearing face mask

2 – You woke up with the Godzilla of pimples

Japanese man with pimple wearing face mask
Let’s face it, some blemishes are even too gnarly for coverup

3 – Introverts gotta introvert

Naturally, the country that invented otaku culture is gonna embrace hiding in plain sight

4 – You have to commute in this every day

Morning commute crowd at Shibuya Station

In a country where commuters spend as much as an hour and a half, twice a day, smashed up against five strangers in a subway car, you need all the virtual privacy you can get. Whether you pretend to be asleep, buried in a book, or mesmerized by your phone, wearing a mask adds another layer of distance to the least private part of anyone’s day.

5 – It’s allergy season

Hey, wait, why do you have wear a mask if you have allergies? Allergies aren’t contagious!

Author Jonelle Patrick wearing face mask

But the people around you don’t know that. If you’re sneezing and sniffling, it’s considerate not to worry them. Even when there are no deadly pandemics around, Japanese people tend to consider other peoples’ comfort before their own.

6 – It’s the best fashion accessory ever

Fashionable japanese man wearing cool face mask
Be honest—which looks more badass?

There’s definitely a mask for every outfit…

Fashionable face masks from Gofukuyasan
…be it ghosts, curry rice, woodblock prints, or summertime goldfish
Fashionable face masks from Gofukuyasan
And a look for every spirit animal, be it cat, cephalopod or salamander…
Fashionable face masks from Gofukuyasan
You can never have too many!

These last ones are all from @gofukuyasan and are only available in Japan, but there are super awesome ones on Milanoo (who sell the introvert mask) and Etsy too!

(A special tip o’ the pandemic mask to William Chandler, for reminding me of the otakus!)

And by the way, don’t miss all the amusing stuff that you’ll only see in

It’s my new monthly newsletter, and when you join, you’ll be automatically entered to win the monthly book giveaway, get directions to a fabulous Beyond Tokyo destination, learn to make a Japanese home cooking dish & more! And best of all, it’s free・° ♪・☆ 

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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