Taisho Haori–Purple Maple

Bright Maple Leaves On Soft Purple Silk.

All snow no sun makes Becky go something something. It’s still trying its hardest to be somewhere in the vicinity of spring here in Chicagoland, and so I continue showcasing my kimono jackets. I’m doing this between editing a few upcoming tutorials. Today, I have this delightfully soft and fantastic haori from the Taisho Era. I know that I’ve mentioned that it can be hard to date things like this because provenance is rare, but when it comes to items that I have ordered from Japan, I tend to have that provenance. Indeed, most of the items that I can confirm are actually haori. The kimonos themselves are all over the goddamn place, someone help me. The horror. …what?

This one qualifies as a restoration. I had to take her completely apart with the exception of the back seam and half of the collar. There were soy sauce stains–guess how I determined they were soy sauce, I dare you–and some other dirt here and there that were easy enough to remove. But as tends to be true with jackets of this age, which see a lot of use, the panels were coming away from each other because of broken threads. The fabric itself is in good condition with no fraying, holes, or signs of shattering, so it wasn’t a particularly difficult repair. Just lots of sewing, stain removal, and ironing. I didn’t take any pictures, really. Not just because I wasn’t even thinking about anyone being interested in my restoration efforts back then, but there was another…oddity…with this one that changed permanently the way that I handle it. I’ll get to that.

To remove the soy sauce, I used the vinegar method that I detailed in this post. Some of the dirt could be just scratched away and picked up with a kneaded eraser. I employed colourless dish soap and baking soda to remove a white stain that I couldn’t identify, but the vinegar wouldn’t touch. I’m not sure I’ll make a tutorial on that one because it’s a bizarre process and I don’t know that I recommend it. It’s not particularly damaging…it’s just that it’s very effective but only for specific kinds of stains, and it’s VERY unfriendly to specific kinds of dye. You have to be really goddamn careful about how you use it. Then again, I detailed using the bleaching agent, sooooo. I dunno. Ideas.

Anyway! Who wants to hear some weird shit that might just fucking annihilate my credibility as a lover of science? You do!? Cool.

This haori is goddamn haunted.

Why would I say that? Well when I started taking it apart, a vase I had on my shelf broke. A vase that was placed at the back of a shelf, with items in front of it, shattered on the floor a good three feet from the shelving unit, without having disturbed the items in front of it. So that was fucking weird. Also, since then, shit has started moving around in my room. The vase breaking was the only particularly “violent” thing that has ever happened. The dropping of things stopped when I started cleaning it and putting it back together again. Probably the weirdest thing that still happens is that when I receive a new piece, if I leave it on my bed in my room, it’ll move around. If I hang it on the ikou (kimono stand) I built, the clips may change. If I clip it open, it might come undone–which could just be the clips releasing, they’re not vice grips, after all. But if I leave it unclipped, sometimes one or both sides will be clipped open when I come back. Sure, maybe I just forgot how I left it–but I’m told I don’t have a history of forgetting such things.

I have a collection of little Satsuma bells I have a ton of basically the same one, and I would like a thousand more of them please. They wander. The blue here one decided that it lives on top of a candle now. If I take it down, it will be back there when I leave and come back. I’ve stopped trying to move it. Okay, follow your dreams I guess, haori ghost.

Pictured: Sure! Why not!

Yes, I realize that’s not OMG PROOF or anything, but that’s not really why I shared that picture. I just thought it was funny in a random kind of way. Bell on a candle. That’s pretty much all I’ll say about it, because let’s be real, that kind of stuff is pretty polarizing. It’s not particularly scary to me, and I don’t really mind it. It’s not that important to me whether or not you believe it, because it’s not your room that it happens in. I’m also not looking to change anyone’s mind about anything, or hell maybe it’s been a gas leak that’s followed me between three different houses. Damn you, big natural gas.

Moving on!

I spend a lot of time gushing about how indescribably soft antique kimonos are, and this one is no different. The silk is just milky smooth, and I’m once again torn between wanting to shove it in the hands of anyone and everyone and shriek about it, and being ready with the bear mace because personal space is a big deal. Why is life so complicated? Haha…problems. The decadent purple is arranged in a soft pattern of kasumi (haze) with both momiji and kaede (different Japanese maple leaves); the momiji in a lighter purple, and the kaede in candy sweet orange. The lining is also made of silk and it has a rinzu (woven) pattern of sayagata with actual kinsai (gold paint) dusted on the lining on top of the orange stylized ume (plum blossoms), and the lining silk is every bit as soft and smooth as the shell.

I don’t wear this one much because…reasons. Leaving with it pretty much guarantees something will be weird when I get back. Maybe I should put up a shrine or something. Well, that sounds like an excuse to research those, doesn’t it! NERD POWERS, ACTIVATE.

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