Summer Yukata: Obi Decorations

yukata kimono obi decorations

I have put off making a lolita inspired yukata for many years.  Which now means I am overloaded with ideas.  Even so, I still haven’t completely finalized how to decorate the obi.  This lead to a bit more research on styles, materials and terminology for the various cords, laces and other decorations that can be applied to obis. Here are the search terms I have been using to research and which have resulted in some very good Google image finds.

  • 飾り帯板 = obi ita/obi ban, an oval board, stiffener, that is used underneath the obi to keep a nice flat sharp surface.  For a cute touch, it can be topped with lace which will peek out of the top of the obi
  • 帯飾 = obi-kazari, a strap or decorative element that can dangle from the top of the obi (alternative 根付け netsuke)
  • 飾り紐 = kazari himo, ornamental braid that can be tied around the obi (alternative 帯締め obi jime)
  • 帯揚げ = obi-age, a tie or sash that tucks into the top of obi.  It is worn more prominent for younger women and hidden for older women as it is considered part of the “undergarments”
  • プチ兵児帯 = puchi heko obi, fluffy obi tie worn with an obi to give it extra flare, or the whipped cream on top of the dessert so to speak

Like I said, once the right kanji search terms were in hand a whole new world opened up and I think I am getting a better idea of what I want to make.

Obi Front

obi ita obi kazari kazari himo obi age

Originally I was going to attach some rose lace directly to my pre-tied obi, but I am not sure now.  The lace is very similar to the one used above in the blue coordinate with the cherries.  If the lace can be attached to a ribbon in a way that it will keep its shape when draped over the obi, it will mean more options for changing the look on different occasions.

Might have to get out the shrinky dinks again and make my own custom obi-kazari with an Obon theme perhaps.  The kazari feels to me like the wa lolita equivalent of wearing one of Angelic Pretty’s sweet lolita necklaces.

Obi Back

puchi heko obi decoration flare

puchi heko obi options

These very fluffy puchi heko obis kept showing up all over my Google search.  I am not sure if I want to make one or not yet.  The obi knot/bow already mimics waist ties on a lolita dress.  I don’t want to go too over the top.  Goal is to keep it refined and well edited.

Here are a couple of sites that had the most inspiring obi decorations during my search:

  • – An amazing selection of kawaii kimono’s and accessories for young girls.  Was the closest I could find to wa lolita that still stayed true to classic kimono traditions
  • – Selection of puchi heko obi and good instructions on how to tie it
  • – DreamV always comes through with very cute fashion.  I don’t like the lace on their yukata but they do have some super adorable hime and gyaru optionss
  • – Great selection of obi kazari for women as well as other kimono and kimono accessories
  • – Japanese shop blog with pretty photos of kimono coordinates for a daily dose of inspiration

Wow, so many choices.  How would you style your summer yukata?

Japanese Yukata & Jinbei Pattern Book

cover and title page japanese yukata book

There was a turning point some where between 10 to 15 years ago.  Thanks to eBay and improved eCommerce tools from the likes of Amazon, goods from Japan started to become more readily accessible in the US.  I remember vividly buying my first 2 bolts of yukata fabric from Ichiroya.  Back then I ran a small eBay store selling craft fabrics.  Yukata was always a big hit.  Alas, while the store was profitable I just didn’t like the “always on” customer service that eBay auctions required.  For me personally the value of the time I had to invest in responses to inquires exceeded the financial return on investment.

So where was I going with this. Oh yeah.  Yukata.  For my summer festival coordinate I am taking a departure from the traditional yukata and spinning it Harajuku style.  But if you are interested in making your own traditional yukata a great book just came out in May.  It is simply titled Yukata & Jinbei to Wear (着るゆかたとじんべい).

japanese yukata pattern instructions

Instructions do abound on the web for making yukata and kimono.  After all most of the pattern pieces are simple rectangles and it is primarily a math equation more than a pattern challenge.  But having a physical pattern with multiple size options, especially for a jinbei, is so much easier in my opinion.  I would rather spend my time thinking about trims and details instead of measuring out centimeters and what not.

different shapes for womens kimono sleeves

Like so many Japanese instructional books, the illustration based instructions are super easy to follow.  I am fond of page 43 where they give you the 3 variations of curvature for women’s sleeves based on age.

japanese jinbei pattern instructions

The book has a good balance of illustrations and actual photos.  I think this is fantastic.  While the illustrations make it easy to follow along, seeing the real deal in photos grounds the projects in reality.  Photos are just much clearer to know exactly how it should look when you finish.

how to tie yukata obi

There is a section dedicated to how to wear your yukata.  It includes several pages of different options for tying an obi.  The book includes patterns and examples for both women and men, girls and boys.  So basically if you are ambitious enough you can make matching yukata for your whole family!!

fold out pattern in back of book

Back to what I was saying about access to Japanese goods being easier to come by these days.  This book is ideal for those who really want to personalize their summer robe.  You can very easily purchase yukata and yukata sets (with obi and geta) online these days.  So this book is for those who are very particular and want to make a yukata out of that just right fabric and with that just right fit.


Tokyo Omiyage: Grilled Shrimp Crackers

Wasabi mame, sesame peanuts, kokeshi rice crackers… if you thought that was all I brought back from Asakusa, guess again.  Add to the list shrimp crackers.  I pulled out my kanji book and these beauties are called 千枚焼 えび, which means a thousand sheets of grilled shrimp.  The package includes 9, ridiculously delicious and crunchy, shrimp crackers, each individually wrapped.

asakusa tokyo market shrimp crackers

thousand sheets of grilled shrimp crackers

I just adore Japanese packaging.  So simple and yet so complex.  The lettering on these crackers is handwritten, which took me a while to decipher in order to understand the strokes for translation.  But I love the charm that the scribbly font brings to the otherwise very minimalistic and crisp package.

I wish we had bought more than one pack.  One cracker went for a taste test.  I asked the house chef if he could whip up a topping that would pair nicely with the crackers. That left just 8 for a happy hour snack.

japanese ebi crackers shrimp flavor

And here is the result.  Shrimp crackers topped with a goat cheese and herb spread and adorned with a miniature stir-fried shrimp.  We enjoyed them with an ice cold glass of gin and tonic.  A refreshing pairing for what was a scorching summer afternoon.

goat cheese and shrimp spread snack

shrimp and cheese on japanese crackers

Goat Cheese Spread Recipe

While my better half who is blessed with mad cooking skills whipped this up, it is so easy even I could do it.


  • Small package of goat cheese
  • A little milk
  • A few pieces of fresh herbs
  • A small amount of chopped cucumber
  • A small amount of chopped shrimp
  • Crushed garlic, salt and pepper to taste

You start by leaving the goat cheese out on the counter for a few minutes.  Just enough time for it to soften slightly.  Then slowly add a tiny bit of milk and mix with a fork.  Keep adding a little splash of milk until the cream cheese is a creamy consistency and easily spreadable.

Next mix in the finely chopped herbs, the cucumber bits and the chopped shrimp.  We had an ironically shrimp shaped cucumber that came from the garden.  The cucumber adds a little crunch and different texture to the mix.  For herbs, we had fresh basil, mint, sage and parsley that went into the mix.  There is nothing like fresh herbs from the garden.

As for the shrimp, chef always has a couple of varieties in the freezer.  He broiled and peeled the ones that were added to the spread and stir-fried the mini ones that were used as the garnish.  No need to mix it up like he did.  Costco almost always has a shrimp cocktail if you want a short cut.  Pick one up and just chop a few pieces into small bits.

The cucumber might give off some extra moisture.  If the spread gets too runny pop it back in the fridge for an hour or so and it should be fine.

fresh goat cheese and broiled shrimp

cucumber and herbs from the garden

You can make the spread a few days ahead of time if you want.  You might just need to add a tiny more milk before serving if it hardens too much between the time you make it and when you are ready to enjoy your horderves.

recipe goat cheese herb shrimp spread

So there you have it.  A triple shrimp delicacy all inspired by a pack of crackers from our vacation in Tokyo.

Summer Festival: Kitsune Mask Barrette (Part 2)

japanese fox mask hair barette

hot glue the barette clip to the back

Finished the kitsune mask barrette after work today.  Only had a couple of steps to wrap up.  Painted the top with some clear nail polish to protect the design.  Added some embroidery floss to imitate the mask straps.  Then some hot glue and a barrette clip finished the job.  Ready to go!

shrinky dink size difference before after


Summer Festival: Kitsune Mask Barrette (Part 1)

kitsune mask diy mood board

Yesterday I squeezed in enough time to get started on one piece of my summer festival coordinate.  The DIY Plan: create a kitsune o’men (fox mask – 狐のお面) barrette.  I want to incorporate as many traditional elements as possible but give each one a twist.  The key is to keep it from going too costume/cosplay.  I am aiming for that fine line where wa + kawaii meet.  The first step was to find the right image to use as my inspiration.

shrink plastic sand-paper surface preperation

This painting really caught my attention.  I like the angle of the mask as it reflects how many people pull up their festival mask and wear it on the side of their head.  I only want to make one barrette.  So that angle I think is a nice way to mimic real life, but in this case a minature version.

I am a child of the 70’s, so the first material to come to mind when figuring out how to diy this was Shrinky Dinks!  Still a favorite after all these years.  I used the type that goes opaque once shrunk.  You start by slightly roughing up the surface, just a little bit, to help the colored pencil stick more easily.  I used an old nail file (because I couldn’t find where I put our fine sandpaper in the cellar.)

shrinky dink kitsune mask colored pencils

Step 2 is to apply your design.  I like to work with Prismacolor colored pencils as they produce a nice thick color and you can play with blending.  Extend your coloring a little bit beyond where you will cut the shape so that the color fills the full piece.

cut the shrink plastic with exacto knife

Next, carefully cut out your piece from the plastic sheet.  Your basic Exacto knife works best in my experience.  Go slowly and if there is an area you are worried about cut it larger at first and then slowly trim it down to the size or shape you want.  Very sharp scissors work well too but are difficult for sharp corners and indentations.

shrinky dink ready to bake

Next prepare your baking equipment.  I use my toaster oven.  I like that it is higher up so I can be comfortable watching as the plastic does its magic. Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your shrinking plastic.  My toaster over works best at 350 for just under 1 minute on this size piece.  I cover a small backing sheet in tin foil.  Try to not get too many wrinkles.  Big ones can be indented on the back of the shrinky dink. I also wrap a flat spatula in tin foil to press down on the plastic as soon as it is done.  This gives it a good flat finish.

Next step is add the hardware to convert it into a barrette… but I ran out of time.  So we will pick up with that next time in part 2.

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)

Project Kickoff: Summer Festival Yukata

japanese summer yukata essentials

Getting ready for my next big DIY adventure.  This project is going to require more of my sewing skills than my hot glue prowess.  I am ready to take a big gamble and create a summer yukata, but Wa Loli style.

The Wa, or traditional Japanese, style of Lolita fashion is hard to pull off.  It can go very wrong very fast.  So not only will I have to test my sewing aptitude but also ensure my taste level is in check.  A careful eye and attention to editing will be key to success.

The plan is to finish the yukata in time for the Mitsuwa Summer Festival.  I don’t have a pattern so I have invested more than some might into this project.  I bought a Bodyline coordinate that I will use to create a pattern from.  I wanted to get a pair of rocking horse shoes and another blouse anyway, so was worth the shipping fee, even if 60 bones for the dress might be a loss.  What could prove to be a challenge is timing.  Bodyline can take a long time to arrive.  I put my order in on the 1st of July and I believe the festival is on the 17th of August.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I need at least 2 weekends to complete the actual yukata.

pre-tied obi diy decoration project

Normally I like to have all the materials on hand before starting, but deadlines being deadlines will need to roll while waiting for the postman.  In addition to the yukata “pattern”, a pair of geta from Japan should arrive soon.  Most of the other fabrics and trims are ready to go.  A bolt of  traditional indigo yukata fabric has been waiting in a drawer for years so will be happy to finally be put to good use.  A few laces are also lying about that will coordinate well.  And picked up a pre-tied yukata obi last year that is screaming for some deco!  What was I saying about hot glue earlier?  Well I guess this project isn’t immune. (^_-)

 Wa Loli Inspiration

There are so many different sources of inspiration that come to mind. I’d like to pay tribute to each individually instead of collaging a mood board.  These range from an artist who sadly disappeared from the web, a little hime and gyaru, and good old fashioned festival fair like uchiwa fans and kitsune masks.

little apricot wa cute lolita chisami

lolita artist apricot8585

etsy keelyvh Keelys Cute Kimono

kawaii japanese festival masks illustrations

metamorphose kimono print wa loli

hime gyaru yukata coordinates

dream of lolita wa coordinate

Credits:  (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (Tsuchiya Chisami “apricot8585” illustrations)   (Keely’s Cute Kimono dolls)   (Anime illustration)   (Festival Mask illustration)   (Metamorphose kimono print series)   (Hime Yukata Sets)   (Gyaru scan)   (Dream of Lolita coordinate)


Tokyo Day 5: Ohiyo Gozaimasu

We woke up on the fifth day of our trip refreshed and relaxed.  The sun did its best to make its presence known between a few soft rain showers.  Birds were singing a sweet song in the mountains and the bubble of the onsen whispered good morning to us.

onsen flora after the rain

I wandered the grounds of the ryokan to take in the fresh morning air.  Spring flowers and boughs of maple glistened all around with fresh drops of rain sparkling in the early morning sun.

japanese maple after the rain

We would be leaving Hakone later that morning, but time managed to slow its pace.  Almost as if the pause in the rain was a pause in time itself.  All was quiet and calm and it would take little imagination to envision yourself living in an era long gone by.  The click clack of my straw zori pierced the air, as I made my way back to our suite.

kusari doi japanese rain chain

japanese garden tsukubai water feature

Only one thing for it before breakfast is served.  Time to slip into the hot spring bath.

Tokyo Day 4: Gora Kadan Dinner

I took a bit of a detour from posting all our amazing Tokyo vacation experiences. Hard to believe that the trip was 2 months ago already.  But the memories are still fresh in my mind.  It was certainly a time in my life that I will never forget.

We last left off with arriving at the first class ryokan, Gora Kadan, in Hakone.  The rain was coming down in earnest, but as we were there to enjoy the hot springs, getting a bit wet simply wasn’t an issue.  After Taka-san, our personal attendant, gave us a tour of the suite and some tea to settle in after the journey from Tokyo, a dip in the private bath was priority.  After a soak (or two) we slipped into yukata and Taka-san began serving dinner.

adi and sheri before dinner

Kaiseki Formal Japanese Meal

japanese dinner place setting

Kaiseki cuisine  is a serious affair.  Chefs go to great lengths to ensure an exquisite level of taste and and an equally esthetically pleasing visual story.  This type of cuisine typically uses only the freshest of seasonal ingredients.  The presentation of the dishes are carefully crafted and will use real flowers or edible garnishes to resemble seasonal themes.

While not an official course of the meal, even our sake was delivered in a manner appropriate for the kaiseki style.  I took the flowers from the presentation with me when we left and they became a charming floral arrangement in the apartment for many days to follow.  There were several buds still on the branch and each blossomed in their own time.

kaiseki serving of sake during traditional japanese dinner

Hours d’oeuvre: Lotus root sushi, prawn, Japanese thicker omelet, water shield with dashi vinegar, masu trout with dengaku miso, broad bean, dried hoshiko, boiled Japanese pepper flower

gora kadan japanese dinner first course

Side dish: Green peas tofu, deep fried ainame (fat greenling) with dashi sauce

shrimp and tofu tempura dish

Soup: Clear soup with scallop dumpling topped grilled scallop, garnish with three color vegetables and pepper buds

japanese grilled scallop in broth

Sashimi: Catch of the day with tosa soy sauce and salt ponzu vinegar

uni sashimi gora kadan ryokan

Grilled fish: Dried ayu sweet fish, myoga ginger pickles in vinegar, simmered sweet potato {I clearly was too into the sashimi as I only have this one photo which includes the ayu}

takasan serving another dish

Steamed dish: Dried flowering fern, young taro potato, fried eggplant, boiled abalone, snap bean and a grated yuzu citrus

seaweed course ryokan traditional meal

Small dish: Grilled Japanese beef filet with starch power, boiled bamboo shoot, and Japanese pepper flower {as we don’t eat meat, they served us a lovely lobster instead}

lobster course ryokan dinnner

Rice dish: Seasoned burdock rice, anago (sea eel) boiled with arima pepper, assorted Japanese pickles, and dark miso soup with seaweed

unagi and rice course

Dessert: Loquat and warabimochi (bracken startch dumpling) with soybean flour

cherries and japanese jelly dessert

like a bowl of cherries

Surprise! While we finished dinner, Taka-san left a little treat for us.  On our bedside table was a note wishing us sweet dreams and a little something to be enjoyed as a late night snack.

sweet dreams note from taka-san

Tokyo Omiyage: Kokeshi Crackers

asakusa kokeshi crackers

If you are looking for something unique and enjoyable to bring back as gifts from Tokyo you MUST visit Asakusa.  We bought a bag of this and a bag of that – and so far every single purchase has been a hit.  Of all the omiyage snacks and goodies from our vacation, this particular treat gets top marks for being the cutest.

omiyage rice crackers from asakusa

rice cracker kokeshi dolls

I selected this treat to share with my team and colleagues at work.  Admittedly the chocolate items went first, but these also got high praise.  Each individually wrapped snack has a peanut in a coated shell for a head and a soy flavored rice cracker for a body.  They are designed to resemble a kokeshi, a very simple wooden doll that is usually handmade and decorated with simple lines to indicate a face.  They are unique and stand out due to their lack of arms and legs.  These crackers are equally as charming as their namesake.  And while they were meant for my mates, I had to try a couple.  They are delicious!!

asakusa kokeshi senbei

Kanji & Complicated Sentances

After having so much fun the past few months, it is time to get serious again.  I missed 2 weeks of class, the end of last semester and the beginning of this semester.  That meant missing plenty of kanji.  I am still playing catch up.


For homework this week we have to write a short story (eek) and really really really detailed description of an object for show-and-tell.  I am going with a furoshiki, wrapping cloth, to present tomorrow.  Rather nervous.  Hope I got this right.

gachyapon from ginza station below the kabukiza

これは 4月に ぎんざ駅の したかぶきざで かった かぶきふろしきの ガチャポンです。


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