Nov 26, 2007

Tsumami Kanzashi for Maiko in Autumn season-Momiji (Japanese Maple)

Red, Yellow, Green, Gold

Momiji (Japanese Maple)leaf:Approximately 1.5 inches=4cm
Width of entire Kanzashi:Approximately 4.75inches=12cm
Height of entire Kanzashi:Approximately 4inches=10cm
Length of entire Kanzashi:Approximately 7=18cm

Habutae(羽二重)silk dyed by Atelier Kanawa
Aluminum Hairpin made by Atelier Kanawa
Aluminum Chirikan/Ginbira
Metallic Yarn

* Momiji (Japanese Maple) Tsumami Kanzashi for Maiko-san during Autumn season.
* You can enjoy the beautiful color change of the Momiji.
* This design can be found exclusively at Atelier Kanawa. Please don't miss it (^-^)
* The Chirikan/Ginbira beautifully swing according to your movement. You will love it!

Atelier Kanawa has been making both traditional & modern Tsumami Kanzashi since 2004. In the Summer of 2007, she was accepted as a private pupil and was professionally trained by one of the ONLY 15 acknowledged Tsumami Kanzashi artisans in the whole world.

A plain woven silk textile of authentic Japanese vintage Kimono.
Habutae silk has a very smooth textures as soft, light and shiny, so they are used as Kimono linings. In Japan, we say "the best silk starts with Habutae and also ends with Habutae". Habutae silk proudly represents Japan.

TSUMAMI (pinching) is the technique which to pinch/pick up a two dimensional piece of silk fabric to construct a three dimensional object. TSUMAMI consists of only two types of method called MARU-TSUMAMI (round pinching) and KEN-TSUMAMI (sword pinching).

Traditionally, we use Habutae silk to make TSUMAMI, but there is an artisan who uses Chirimen silk. Atelier Kanawa uses both and some other types of silk:)

Since the middle of Edo period(1603-1867), this handcraft technique has been traditionally utilized by maidservants in the imperial court as their hobby. Eventually, this beautiful technique was recognized by the Japanese society, then it began to be used to produce KANZASHI hairpins, sticks, combs and so on. You can see TSUMAMI KANZASHI in Ukiyoe picture. During that time period, Beethoven was quite active in Music industry.

Today, not only MAIKO wear them, but they are worn by Japanese women for new year celebration, celebration for children called "shichi go san", a coming-of-age ceremony, wedding, and those people who perform traditional Japanese dance.

TSUMAMI KANZASHI are made to show the beauty of four seasons. For example, MAIKO wear plum flower in February, cherry blossom in April, and chrysanthemum in October.

Today, there are ONLY 15 acknowledged artisans of TSUMAMI KANZASHI in the whole world. They don't really have anybody who will carry out this traditional art. I will take a class from one of them sometimes this year because I strongly would like to preserve this artwork and carry this out to the future generation:) IT MEANS A LOT TO ME TO HAVE YOUR PURCHASE because YOU ARE SUPPORTING US and YOUR PURCHASE COULD BE A VERY PRECIOUS CULTURAL HERITAGE.

People tend to have a hard time distinguishing MAIKO, GEIKO, GEISHA, and OIRAN. So here are the descriptions about them for you.

MAIKO who wear these beautiful TSUMAMI KANZASHI are the age of between 15-20 years old young girls to add to the fun to banquet by singing, dancing, and playing Shamisen. They are under the training to become GEIKO.

GEIKO are advanced version of MAIKO that you can become after 5 years of training. They also add to the fun to banquet by singing, dancing, and playing Shamisen.

Both MAIKO & GEIKO are registered in "Okiya" in "Hana-machi" in Kyoto, such as Gion, and sent to "Ocha-ya".

GEISHA means a person who entertains with her artistic skills. GEI means art, SHA means a person in Japanese.
The root of GEISHA goes back to Heian era. There were harlots and Shira Byoushi performing songs & dances that were in fashion during that time period. Eventually war era started so they had to disappear. But peaceful Edo period came. The waitresses at Mizu-Chaya for visitor of the shrine/temple in Kyoto imitated Kabuki, then performed Shamisen and dance.
This custom was handed down to Edo(Tokyo of today) and gradually formed the style of GEISHA.
Today, GEISHA add to the fun to banquet by singing, dancing, and playing Shamisen. Even though GEISHA system was constructed in a licensed quarters, they are strictly distinguished from harlot. For example, they wear Tabi socks (harlots don't wear Tabi) and hold the side of Kimono by folding to the left so that the man can't slide their hands into GEISHA's kimono.

OIRAN is the highest rank of harlot in a licensed quarters, with the highest education of classical scholar, calligraphy, tea ceremony, a 31-syllable Japanese poem, Shamisen, the game of go, and also entertainment accomplishment. In order to be steady with OIRAN, men needed to spend a vast sum of money.

Aug 30, 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha-my second opportunity

After regretting that I could not really greet Mr. Ken Watanabe the better way when I met him through my first background work for Memoirs of a Geisha, I passionately hoped that I would be given the second opportunity to work for this movie.

I thought it would never happen again.....But I still hoped.

And it did happen. I was very lucky, or it meant to happen or I don't know.
I was booked again for this movie for the Sumo match scene, if you remember the scene.

I remember that my call time was really early in the morning, about 3:30a.m. This is because when the production deals with many background, they have to make us perfectly ready before they start shooting. That day, I think there were almost 500 background people.

I got to the wardrobe department, and they dressed me in Kimono.

After we waited all morning, we finally moved to the studio to shoot.

I was very amazed how art department built Kokugi-kan, the Sumo match field. I thought I was in Japan.

Assistant directors began to place us to sit at the audience seat. I was told to sit where nothing was special about it which was fine for me, and I started to chat with other people.

And a little later, this dignified lady came to me with one of assistant director or something, and kept looking at me, and finally told me to come with her. Later on, I found out she was Ms. Colleen Atwood, a costume designer who won the academy award from Chicago.

I just followed her, and.....

I was placed right next to Principal booth, where Ken Watanabe, Kouji Yakusho, Michelle Yoh, and Ziyi Zhang.

Wow! How lucky I was!

Not only I got to observe and learn how they act right by them, which is a great opportunity for actors, but I was given the opportunity to once again, to possibly say "hi" to Ken Watanabe IF he smiles to me again (I don't talk to celebrities unless they talk to me).

Many people told me that I will be seen when the movie comes out to the theater since I was right next to these principals and camera was right there aiming this way.
And the hair, make up artist, and wardrobe people kept coming to me frequently to retouch.

Well, do you see me in the movie?

Unfortunately NO (haha)

They cut the frame right at the tip of my shoulder. (haha!) You can see two gentleman sitting right next to principal booth on their left, and I was right next to these gentlemen in that booth.

This is what happens in making movies, you never know how they edit the movie.
Everybody thought I would be in it, then I was not.

On the other hand, when I didn't even know when the camera was shooting me, later I happened to find out I WAS featured.

You can not seem me in Memoirs of a Geisha, but you can in the movie Flight Plan starring Jody Foster, and also Common's music video called Testified.

In Flight plan, there is a scene towards the end that this female flight attendant gets arrested at the lobby of the airport.
I was a passenger there coming back from Russia wearing a thick brown coat & green sweater with Long beige skirt. You can see me talkng to some other people at the right corner of the frame and
removing globes and stuff starting at 2:38 in this YouTube video clip:)

Then interestingly, I jump from behind the male principal actor to beside the wall reading a book, when Jody Foster stands up and carries her daughter in her arm around at 3:51. This is the editing error, but most people don't notice, I guess.

This scene was shot in extremely hot studio, so everybody wanted to go home as soon as possible. This is why I did not even know I was featured since only thing it was in my mind was "I want to take all these clothes off, and go home!"

In Common's music video "testify", you can see me in Jury section in the front row, second from the left. I was the only one Asian female jury, so you won't miss it.

You can visit

*I was fat back then. So please don't laugh! (^_^)

I have heard I was in "Gilmore girls", and Disney TV show "Life" by my friends before, but I have not watched them yet and do not have the video.

If I can think of other things, I will post again in the future:)

I hope to have much bigger role sometimes soon!!!

Aug 17, 2007

IMPORTANT NOTICE about my Etsy shop


Thank you!

Aug 15, 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha: An Exciting Background Experience

Do you have a list of famous people that you would like to meet one day in your life? They could be actors, musicians, and artists.
It doesn't have to be any time soon, but one day, before you leave this world.

I do.

I don't know if it is called "fan" which I never thought about being one for anybody.
I just simply respect the person as a great human being with stunning talent and effort to achieve that.
I have been singing, dancing, acting, and modeling, so I just look at so called celebrities as "human being". I meet many celebrities because of my job, but the one thing I realized was, they are the same, just like us.

When I spiritually grabbed by the person, I strongly feel that, one day, I would like to meet the person. And somehow, I strongly and certainly believe that I will be blessed to meet the person.
It doesn't have to be anything special, but just to say "hi", and to tell them how much I was moved by their performance.

When I first saw Last Samurai, I was intensely and deeply moved by the movie, especially by Ken Watanabe's acting.
I can not even describe how much moved I was.
I am Japanese, but I really did not know about him before I moved to the U.S. in 1998. I was not really into watching movies or televisions back then. But I saw him as Katsumoto in Last Samurai, and instantly fell in love with his role and his wonderful job.
So I decided that I would love to see him in person one day.

There is another person I strongly wanted to see.
when I first saw the commercial of a Japanese shampoo called "Asience", I saw this beautiful Asian lady.
She was dancing on the stage wearing a vivid red dress.
She totally caught my eyes.
I just stopped everything I was doing and looked at her beautiful dance, beautiful aura, and beautiful appearance.
I was very proud of her as fellow Asian woman.

When I saw the commercial, I strongly felt that I will see her one day.
And later on, I found out the lady was, Zhang Ziyi.

The years go by, and I moved to Los Angeles.
A friend of mine introduced me to one casting agency.
I have done some modeling and promotional commercial as principal in my life before I moved to Los Angeles, but interestingly, my very first "background work" was, Memoirs of a Geisha.

It was October 2004 when I was booked for this job, however, I did not even think about who the principals were.
I just went to Hungtington library at my call time where they shot the aristocrat party by the beautiful Cherry blossom.
Do you remember the scene that Sayuri and a chairman walk in the park by cherry blossoms, and Danna(Cary Tagawa) calls Sayuri because he wanted to show her a Kimono?
As I was walking by the cherry blossom tree, I felt so peaceful and beautiful. And I realized...The tree was artificial.
The art department did a wonderful job creating the artificial cherry blossom tree because I almost believed that was real though I am Japanese and very familiar with them.

Suddenly, assistant director came to me and placed me behind the principal actors.
They were, Ken Watabane and Zhang Ziyi.

What I was hoping, to meet them one day in person happened this fast.
I could not believe it, but I was really blessed.
When we believe something very strongly, that happens.

When I work on set, I never talk to principal actors because I respect what they do, unless they talk to me.
So even I was right behind them I did not even look at them or said anything. That is the way how we do as actors, to get the jobs done.

We were resetting on certain scene many times, then I found this hair accessory on the ground that many of us were wearing.
Somebody dropped it.
So I spoke out to the crowd to ask who dropped the hair accessory.
As I was walking with the hair accessory in my hand, this gentleman who is one of a background player moved away from my sight, and the person behind him looked at me and smiled....

He smiled.

My eyes are bad, so I could not recognize him for a while, but he was,

Ken Watanabe....!

Oh my gosh, can you imagine that Katsumoto, that you strongly admire and wanted to meet, is looking at you and smiling?!

I felt so embarrassed....

I just passed by him and said "hello".
That's it. I didn't even want to say anything.

I didn't expect that he will be right by me and looking at me and smiling.
That happened all the sudden, so I totally didn't know what to do.

It was my first day of Memoirs of a Geisha.

After this day, I hoped to see him again so that I could say hi the right way. I really hoped. And I was lucky.
I happened to be booked again for this movie.

I will write about it next time with my photos from the movie.

Aug 12, 2007

My Kimono life dramatically began since I worked for Memoirs of a Geisha

Yes, that was the beginning of everything, to have my Kimono life.
Something dramatically changed my life....That was, the movie Memoirs of a Geisha.

I understand that many people, especially Japanese did not like this movie due to following reasons:

1. Main three characters are played by Chinese who do not deeply understand the Japanese tradition and culture
2. Errors in how they are dressed in Kimono
3. Errors in how they were behaving in Kimono
4. Errors in how they were dancing
5. Ringing the Shinto shrine bell at the offertory chest.

However, I am Japanese, and I liked the movie.
Yes, I did recognize many errors, but the most remarkable thing this movie achieved was, to introduce Japanese beauty to people around the world, and be recognized from the rest of the world. Memoirs of a Geisha did the stunning job for that, and I deeply appreciate it.

And most remarkably, this movie gave me a dramatic opportunity, when I worked as a background actress.
The dramatic opportunity was, to meet my Kimono teacher.

She was a Kimono consultant for Okaa-san, the mother of Okiya.
I saw this Japanese lady in Kimono, and by the time I realized, I was talking to her. I asked her business card, and the end of the day, she somehow found me out of 500 background players. Then she handed me her business card. I was amazingly blessed.

I was always interested in learning Kimono, so I began taking her classes in January of year 2005. And now, I am preparing for the exam to become an official Kimono consultant of All Japan Kimono Consultant Association.

During that time period, I began learning how to receive tea at the tea ceremony, Geisha /Classical Japanese dance, and Bingata/Katazome.
Also, most importantly I began making things from Kimono.

See, all Japanese cultures/traditions connect to each other.
Once you learn one thing, then it connects to the other things. Your curiosity spreads endlessly.

Thanks to Memoirs of a Geisha for giving me an opportunity to meet my Kimono teacher, and helped me evolving my life as Japanese.

This is the great story to share with everybody as my first blog entry.
And for my next blog entry, I will talk more about the backstage of Memoirs of a Geisha.

Atelier Kanawa's Profile-Pursuing Japanese Cultures & Traditions

Atelier Kanawa (means "studio to play Japanese harmony & peace") would love to share her stories of her ancestors who were in Kimono business.
Her great grand father was an artisan to dye Kimono designs, mainly Yukata(summer Kimono), her grand mother was a Kimono tailor, and both her mother and her aunt graduated from Kimono school and her aunt taught Kimono classes in Japan.

She didn't know these remarkable histories of her family members for such a long time, however, without knowing these facts, one day she became inspired to learn about Kimono.

Since January in 2005, she has been studying Kimono to dress herself, and since March 2006, she has been learning to dress others.
Currently, she is preparing to officially become a Kimono Consultant/adviser through "Sodo" Kimono Academy, in Fall, 2007. She accomplished the beginner's level 1, level 2, and also the intermediate level. She is now in the advance course.
You can read the biography of her principal Mr. Norio Yamanaka (also an appointed chairman of the All Japan Kimono Consultants Association) at:

Atelier Kanawa also studies to dye Kimono designs by Bingata & Kata-zome which are traditional Japanese methods of dyeing fabric using a resist paste applied through stencil. These methods use all natural ingredient for ink, brush, and fabric.

Atelier Kanawa is also pursuing classical Japanese dance by Hanayagi-style, which includes Geisha dance, Noh, and Kabuki. She graduated from the beginner's level in June 2006, from intermediate level on June 30th in 2007, and currently in advance level.

Lastly, Atelier Kanawa passionately pursues Tsumami Kanzashi, a traditional Japanese long ornamental hairpin.
Today, there are ONLY 15 acknowledged artisans of TSUMAMI KANZASHI in the whole world. Most of them don't have anybody to carry out this traditional art, so it is RAPIDLY & CERTAINLY dying out.
Atelier Kanawa was accepted as a private pupil by one of them even though her master does not teach anybody due to critical symptoms of cancer. Her master was deeply moved by the fact the she strongly wants to preserve this artwork and carry this out to the future generation. She can not even put in words how much she was honored to inherit her master's spirit.

At the beginning, she was basically making things from Kimono because she purely enjoyed handcrafting, but most importantly, she could not afford them, so she had to hand make them (haha^^;) so that she could have them whenever she wore Kimono. And one day, people who saw her art work suggested that she sells. This is how she started Kimono handcraft business.

Beside Kimono handcraft, Atelier Kanawa has been selling Chiyo-gami accessories since year 2000, fused glass accessories, PMC jewelries, image transfer accessories, Japanese embroidery since year 2005.

Today, she deeply regards her ancestors who were in Kimono business. She passionately strives to pass this "disappearing culture" on to the next generation throughout the world.

Atelier Kanawa will be very happy if you enjoy her authentic Japanese art work.