Taisho Era Houmongi-Sasa Sunset Fire

Flaming Red Silhouettes Of Bamboo Stalks And Leaves On Decadent Silk.

This week has been kind of wet and miserable, so I’ve taken some time to start photographing some of my absolute favorite “full kimono” pieces in my collection; meaning pieces that aren’t a jacket (haori, douchugi, michiyuki). I’d also like to point out that for me, the word favorite is almost meaningless because as I have refused to turn this into a business of any kind, I just buy things I like. Which means they all get to be my favorite! Fuck the police!

But in this case, I mean that I have several specific pieces that I like to pull out every now and then when it’s late and nobody’s around, and I put them on. I take great care in dressing, then flop around in them gracelessly and enjoy the feel of them. I take no pictures and I share this experience with no one, because honestly it’s a little embarrassing. These are beautiful things and I don’t often feel worthy of them in that regard. But that doesn’t stop me from rolling around in them and squealing like a pig when nobody’s around. Oink oink, motherfuckers.

I create and repair beautiful things. But I often don’t feel like they’re “for” me. Some of you felt that. It’s a struggle, huh? I’m trying really hard to break out of that. Because when I’m dying, I’m sure as fuck not going to be sitting there going “thank Cthulhu I wasted years not enjoying a passion because I was worried about appearances.” No one dies thinking “Hurray, I was an insecure fuck.”

Well that got dark. I’m in a mood today. I’m feeling aggressively supportive. You know that beautiful thing in your closet? Put it on. You’re enough. You’re worthy. It’s a thing, you’re a person. Make it your bitch. Eat a cactus. Aggravate a honey badger. Blackmail a rattlesnake. YOLO.


This homongi (semi formal kimono with a continuous pattern) is a beautiful antique that has been loved and even updated over the years. It’s made of a sweet, decadent chirimen silk that flows like cool water over the skin. The softness is another one of those things that’s hard to describe without tackling someone and demanding they rub it. Rub it, you fool. It’s also a rare beast in that I have to do very little in terms of color correction of the photos to represent it properly. And if you’re seeing the same crazy fire-in-the-sky sunset I am, then I know I’ve done well. It really is that perfect shade of red to cream. And as an artist, can I take a second to talk about the goddamn textures in the painted bamboo stalks and leaves? Hey baby, are you a beaver because DAM.

As I had mentioned above, this beauty has been updated. It’s an example of things that just give me the warm fuzzies, too. Because I have provenance on it, I know that the original owner has had it since 1925, making it a late Taisho Era piece. I also know that the hakkake (lower inner lining) and the upper lining had been replaced in the 1980’s. (As an aside, it’s weird to think that someone decided to update this garment for more contemporary tastes the decade I was born.) It has a few very small and faded stains on the body. They’re smaller than a fingernail, and it seems to me that they have been treated. This kimono was properly loved and cared for. The only thing I needed to do for it when it came to me was repair a few broken threads in seams, particularly in the arm holes on the main body. I swear those almost always need a touch up. There are otherwise no tears, no snags, no runs in the fabric. She’s just perfect.

I do think I would have loved to see her with the original red lining, though. There’s something about that luscious red that just gets me every time.

In this case I don’t miss it that much, because–I mean look at it. LOOK AT IT.


Oof. Here I am just staring at that picture for like five minutes while writing this out, just lost in that heavy contrast between the red and the perfectly shaded black on the bamboo stalks. And the further out of the red and into the cream the stalks go, the more fiery red that they become. I could stare at this thing for another five minutes and not feel like I’ve lost anything. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but set a damn timer for five minutes, and see how long it took me to stop staring at that. I’m not obsessive. Me? No. Get off my lawn.

Random art nerd aside here–when the black of the bamboo poles start sticking out of the red, you can also see them transition to shadow green. I clapped my hands with my mouth open like a circus sea lion when I first noticed that. It’s the little things, you know.

Sometimes the best things in life are the things you can wrap yourself in that also make you squeak like an idiot. I know what I said.

Later this week, I expect to have this piece done–that is if the second COVID shot doesn’t kill me first. Weeeee. So I guess we’ll see what happens.


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