Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Please let me hold your bag

Kaban wo motasete kudasai

Year of Requirement Part 8

In my high school in Suburbia, I was on Math Team. (I was also on Speech Team, but I never competed because Japanese Saturday School got in the way of tournaments.) I didn’t even think of trying out for athletic teams (which really really makes you wonder why on earth I thought joining an athletic team in university was a good idea). Like most high schools in the US, you tried out pre-season, and you were picked to be on the Freshman, JV or Varsity team (or you didn’t make it and sulked about it or did a club team somewhere or signed up for classes at the YMCA to up your proficiency for next season).

In Japan, especially in junior high school, clubs, or bukatsu, were (and are) a big thing. Everyone can join, but not everyone gets to play. My Year of Requirement was spent in a fairly small school, so there were only a limited number of clubs. My homeroom teacher gently nudged me away from the athletic clubs and band when he found out I had no experience in any of the available clubs. (I was O.K. in gymnastics, but they didn’t have that, and swim team either practiced in their own clubs or hid behind the equipment shed and smoked. They didn’t have choir.)

I chose the drama club. I had some experience in speech, and we did musicals in junior high, so I figured I was in pretty good shape. And I was. There was no dramatic brilliance in our group. We did exercises in projecting our voices (which I’d always been good at, see also: coxing a sternloader four with a microphone is for wusses) and little skits, and the big annual event was a performance in our school festival. No competitions or anything. We were a low-key group, up there with the home economics club and science club.

One thing that drama club had that all the other clubs had was a strict system of hierarchy. First years had to answer to second years who had to answer to third years who ruled the school (of course there was hierarchy within years as well). You had to use formal language when addressing your upperclassmen and address them as “Senpai” which means “one who is ahead of me.” (This varies between schools. Most people in my part of the country used “Senpai” exclusively, but some schools address upperclassmen with the standard issue honorific of “San.” And when I was in university, you addressed upperclassmen as “Tanaka-san.”) Underclassmen fetched and carried. In athletic clubs, especially ball sports, they chased after stray balls. In band, they carried trombone cases. In drama club, they carried the lights. The peak of absurdity was underclassmen carrying the 3rd year students’ school bags from the AV room where we practiced to the main entrance of the school. It kind of falls into the whole system of seniority that runs through the core of Japanese society. It’s moronic, but that’s how the world works, so I guess you’re getting an education when you go to a junior high school in Japan.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Finished in an instant

Sugu dekita

This one took a total of 15 minutes, including the time it took for me to get my sewing box out of the closet.

Behold, the Uniqlo quasi-straw hat from last season, with ambiguous quasi-jute tie.

And here is the same hat with the tie ripped off and 300 yen of cotton grosgrain ribbon in its place.

Thursday, May 5, 2016



Yane yori takai koinobori
(Carp streamers, higher than the roof)

Ookii magoi ha otoosan
(The big black koi is the father)

Chiisai higoi ha kodomotachi
(The little red koi are the children)

Omoshirosooni oyoideru
(They look like they are having fun swimming)

DV Force

Little adjustments


(The word "kozaiku" has somewhat negative connotations, as in, "you should really get down to the root of the problem instead of just patching things up" but I'm all about little hacks for trivial things like clothing.)

I crocheted belt loops on my batik shirtdress. I was given this dress as a gift. It’s the right size, but the cut is a bit boxy for someone my build.

I thought about adding darts or slimming the sides, but the design of the dress made this difficult, so I decided to crochet belt loops to the side seams and tie it in the back with black ribbon. 

The dress also had a seam that was coming apart, so I stitched that up as well.

Apparently I have an H body shape.

Cinching the waist with a regular belt or tying a self tie in front doesn’t work for H bodies, but the tie in the back styling does. I can’t remember where it said that H types were supposed to tie belts in back. It’s not something I discovered on my own. I think it was a YouTube video. At any rate, it's simple (especially if the dress already has a self tie belt) and it works, if your body shape is like mine.

I chose grosgrain ribbon because grosgrain is resistant to fraying. Unfortunately, it doesn't slide as well through the belt loops the way satin might. If you use a satin ribbon, you'll need to do something about the edges like paint them with nail polish top coat and cut through it when it's dry.