The enduring appeal of cherry blossom

Here in Tokyo, yet again we’ve been anxiously glued the the cherry blossom forecast, with the peak predicted to hit around the end of March in the Kanto region. But why do we love these delicate little flowers so much?

sakura2.jpg

Cherry blossom ( sakura), cousin to the early-appearing and more richly coloured plum blossom, has long been seen in Japan as a metaphor for the transience of life, the pale and fragile petals quickly falling to the ground almost as soon as they bloom.

It’s no wonder that this imagery has given inspiration to countless poets, as it’s a sight to inspire even the most stony-hearted.

kay me staff love to spot the tiny chartreuse-green mejiro, Japanese white-eye, birds sitting among the branches – if you’re lucky enough to be in Japan this month, see if you can spot one too!

sakura3

The highlight of spring sakura season for many people is hanami, or cherry blossom viewing picnic, under the trees, usually in park and with friends, family or coworkers.

Needless to say that with drinks both hard and soft flowing it’s a chance not only to wax lyrical about sakura and the coming spring but also to appreciate the people we surround ourselves with.

To celebrate one of our favourite flowers, here’s a charming haiku written by Matsuo Basho around the 17th century:

Very brief –

Gleam of blossoms in the treetops

On a moonlit night.

If you’re in the mood for all things pink thanks to our flutter with sakura, take a look at our pink dress gallery, and our unique Japonism prints inspired by authentic Japanese kimono.

sakura1.jpg

Six Japanese Proverbs for Inspiration and Motivation

Statistics say that only a mere 20% of new year resolutions are kept by February, and less than 8% of people achieve their full new year goals, which everyone can agree is pretty low.

At the kay me atelier in Tokyo today we’ve collected some of our favourite Japanese proverbs (諺 – kotowaza) to keep us motivated this January and well beyond:

proverbs1.jpg

案ずるより産むが易し (anzuru yori umu ga yasushi)

Translation: Giving birth to a baby is easier than worrying about it

Worrying never helped anyone! Don’t put off that big project because you’re worried about, instead dive in and start working – you’ll feel much better.

虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず (koketsu ni irazunba koji wo ezu)

Translation: If you don’t enter the tiger’s cave, you can’t catch its cub

He (or she, or they) who dares, wins. If you don’t even try, you’ll never have the chance to succeed…

雨降って地固まる (ame futte jigatamaru)

Translation: After rain falls, the ground hardens

Difficult experiences can toughen us up – sometimes in unexpected ways. We love learning from mistakes, and try our best to treat everything as a learning point.

proverbs2

花より団子 (hana yori dango)

Translation: Dumplings over flowers

Or, substance over style. At kay me we’re so lucky that we can share substance and style with our amazing customers around the world!

七転び八起き (nana korobi ya oki)

Translation: Fall seven times, stand up eight

It’s a classic for a good reason – when our print designs have to be reworked or a pattern isn’t quite right, we get right back on track (sometimes after a soothing green tea or walk around the atelier!).

継続は力なり (keizoku wa chikara nari)

Translation: To continue is power

Similar to the above phrase, it’s possible to find power in perseverance, whether that’s learning a new language, sticking to good habits or even starting your own business just like kay me’s Junko Kemi.

Join us throughout the year as we continue our journey from Japan to the world! 

Autumn Festivals in Japan

There’s nothing better than marking the changing seasons with a good festival.

Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, Japanese festivals offer a unique chance to experience the sights and sounds (and often tastes) of traditional Japanese culture in a modern setting. With friends old and new, family or attending by oneself, at kay me we’ve rounded up a few of our autumn favourites from around Japan.

festblogjp.jpg

(Japonsim print dresses)

Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival

October 4th – 6th, Nihonmatsu, Fukushima

Enjoy the spectacle of beautiful paper lanterns being paraded through the streets of Nihonmtasu in Fukushim,a northern Japan. Explore this 300-year-old tradition at one of Japan’s greatest lantern festivals.

Ginza Matsuri

October 10th – 17th, Ginza, Tokyo

Home of our flagship and HQ, Ginza is Tokyo’s historic shopping district with high-end designers and department stores as well as fantastic cafes and restaurants. Since 1968, in mid-October the Ginza area plays host to parades, live bands and special events. Pop in to kay me while you’re here!

festblogsolid.jpg

(Solid colour dresses)

Health and Sports Day

October 9th (second Monday of October)

It’s time to get stretching for Japan’s annual sports and health day – let this be your motivation to try something new this year. Whether you’re climbing a mountain or starting a new yoga class, there’s an activity for everyone.

Jidai Matsuri

October 22nd, Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto

Over 1700 participants representing figures from Japanese history take part in this five-hour parade through Kyoto, all impeccably dressed in period costume. Take in the best of Kyoto culture and cuisine while you’re here, with many local temples and shrines also getting into the spirit of the season.

festblogfloral.jpg

(Floral print dresses)

Made in Japan by our team of skilled artisans, kay me dresses are the perfect partner for special occasions. Choose from our Contemporary Kimono line featuring authentic prints from Junko Kemi’s grandmother’s kimono boutique, floral and nature-inspired patterns, and rich colours that capture the beauty of Japan.

Inspired by Japan

As readers of our blog and followers of the kay me story will already be well aware, brand founder Junko Kemi started in 2011 with her search to find beautifully-made work-appropriate clothing that suited her busy lifestyle.

Having been unable to find any clothing that met her needs as a professional working woman, Junko was inspired to start her own new story, and kay me was created. With a background in consulting, and time spent as a child in her grandmother’s kimono shop, Junko was well-placed to kick start kay me and bring instant elegance to women worldwide.

japaninsta01

Needless to say, the whole kay me atelier team is highly influenced by our home here in Japan, from print design featuring authentic traditional kimono motifs to the artisans using specialist techniques to bring kay me patterns to life in 3D.

japaninsta02.jpg

(All photos: Lorenzo Barassi)

You can see more from kay me’s journey from Japan to the world on our Instagram, and read more from Junko Kemi on her blog (Japanese).

 

kay me Contemporary Kimono and Japanese Summer Festivals

As the weather continues to heat up here in Tokyo, we’re talking a look at just a few of the many summer festivals in Japan, as well as some of our favourite Contemporary Kimono dresses to match.

k-toki

(Tokiwa-Midori 100% silk asymmetry dress)

Tanabata – July 7th

Also known as the star festival, this celebration is named after the legend of a Japanese weaving maiden who  was believed to create clothes for the gods themselves. In early July, you can often see displays of bamboo branches with small slips of paper hung from them – written on these papers will be wishes, dreams and aspirations.

k-belvedere.jpg

(Belvedere waist-gathered dress)

Toro Nagashi (Floating lantern festival) – July 19th

A traditional Japanese custom to mark Bon festival, small paper lanterns containing candles are let go into the air or set on lakes and rivers to guide the spirits of ancestors.

k-coral.jpg

(Coral Water waist-gathered dress)

Sumidagawa Fireworks festival – late July

One of the most popular summer events in Tokyo, the fireworks display over Sumidagawa river in Asakusa is an annual favourite. Expect dramatic displays lighting up the night sky and large crowds to match.

k-ice.jpg

(Ice Water waist-gathered dress)

Bon festival – mid-August

Important in the Buddhist calendar, Bon festival is the time to honour the spirits of ancestors. Many people in Japan take this as an opportunity to visit their hometowns away from the big cities and spend time together with families.

k-quiet.jpg

(Quiet Garden cache-coeur dress)

Awa-odori – late August

Koenji is the modern home of one of the largest awa-odori festivals featuring traditional dancing and music, plus food and entertainment to match, but other smaller festivals can also be found around Tokyo.

k-aka

(Aka-Michelle waist-gathered dress)

Here at kay me HQ we love to get into the spirit of the season, and summer is a lovely chance to explore more about Japanese culture and traditional dress. For those who are looking for dresses with all modern comforts and high-tech materials but with a uniquely authentic Japanese influence, our Contemporary Kimono dresses are the perfect match.

With print designs based on brand founder Junko Kemi’s grandmother’s kimono, fabrics including our unique washable 100% silk jersey and flattering styles suitable for a variety of occasions, there’s never been a better time to discover the beauty of Japanese kimono dresses from kay me.

k-japan.jpg

Celebrating Golden Week in Japan

Welcome to May! The days have started getting a little longer and certainly much hotter here in Tokyo, and at kay me HQ in Ginza we’re looking forward to Golden Week – a collection of national holidays that fall close together at this time of year.

Constitution Memorial Day – chosen to remember the implementation of the Japanese constitution, many people and media outlets take the chance to reflect on the meaning of democracy and government in Japan.

goldenw02.jpg

Greenery Day – how lovely to have a day to celebrate the beauty of nature! The timing of Greenery Day couldn’t be better, as early May sees all the flowers in public parks and private gardens in full bloom. kay me team members like to take this opportunity to head out of the city and into the countryside: Mt. Takao a short train ride from Tokyo, or Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture for a longer stay amid the trees.

Children’s Day – also known as Boy’s Day (like Hina Matsuri or Girl’s Day), but now seen as a celebration of children and parents, this annual festival has been recognised since ancient times. Children’s Day is one of our favourites, as we love to see the brightly coloured carp streamers (koinobori) swimming in the beautiful blue sky – each carp represents a member of the family.

goldenw01.jpg

Celebrate in style with kay me, from Japan to the world.

Japanese spring sweets

Those familiar with Japanese cuisine will know well that there’s much more to traditional Japanese food than sushi and cute candy! Today on the kay me blog, we’re taking a closer look at wagashi (Japanese sweets) for the spring season.

springsweet1.jpg

Sakura mochi – pink-coloured rice cake wrapped in salted cherry leaf

With styles differing between Tokyo and Kyoto, nonetheless sakura (cherry blossom) mochi is perhaps the most iconic spring sweet to be found at this time of year. The soft pink sweetness contrasts with the salted cherry leaf for a unique balanced flavour.

Sakura dango – steamed bun with bean paste, some with cherry blossom decoration

Another cherry blossom-themed sweet, sakura dango are soft and delicious, a seasonal sweet that pairs perfectly with a simple cup of green tea.

Hishi mochi – pink ,white and green layered mochi

Often used purely as a decorative offering for Hina matsuri, some hishi mochi are edible too. Layers of pink, white and green mochi capture the subtle pastel colours of the season.

Higashi – dry sweets made from flour or sugar paste in different shapes

There are many different types of higashi, but the sweet sugary variety are a favourite of the kay me team! The first bite is truly with the eye – look out for seasonal shapes and colours all year round, with cherry blossom for spring.

Of course we couldn’t resist pairing some of our favourite dresses with these pretty sweets…

springsweetdress.jpg

(Toki Michelle 100% silk dress, Peony wrap, Comet drape dress, Optical Pink dress)

From traditional Japanese motifs to classic florals and retro prints, we’ve a got a pink dress to match your spring event.

Hina Matsuri in Japan

Every March 3rd in Japan, hina matsuri (also known as girl’s day or doll’s day) is celebrated in Japan.

Visitors and those living here in Japan will be familiar with special displays of traditional Japanese dolls representing the Emperor, Empress and court of the Heian period, placed on tiered platforms.

Each doll represents a different member of the imperial court from musicians to ladies-in-waiting, with the highest tier being occupied by the Emperor and Empress dolls and the lowest tiers of the display usually reserved for representations of items from within the imperial palace.

hinablog.jpg

The practice of celebrating hina matsuri dates back to the original custom of hina nagashi (doll floating), where straw dolls are sent floating downstream to take negative spirits away with them out to sea.

Complete sets of hina matsuri dolls can be incredibly costly, and are often passed down through the generations.

Here at kay me, we love to celebrate traditional Japanese festivals, especially hina matsuri. Our philosophy of placing women at the centre of our business and designs ties in perfectly with the beautiful annual celebration of hina matsuri.

Spring Flowers in Japan

It’s a chilly February day here at kay me HQ in Tokyo, so what better time to take a quick look at beautiful spring flowers in Japan? With a few matching dresses, of course!

Plum Blossom (February to March)

plumblossomblog1.jpg

One of the first spring flowers to be spotted, plum blossom can be found from February. With petals ranging from white through to deep pink, plum blossom is often overshadowed by its cherry cousin, but is certainly equally as charming and brings a smile to one’s face on cold days when spring warmth seems far away. You can find plum in parks across Tokyo and Japan.

Capture the vibrancy of plum flowers with our Amaranth dress in bold pink, in a cross-over style new for spring 2017. Let this dress shine on its own with minimal block-colour accessories in monochrome.

Cherry Blossom (March to April)

cherryflowerblog.jpg

Perhaps Japan’s most famous flower, cherry blossom is known for its short-lived fluffy flowers in all shades of pink. Don’t miss out on Japan’s hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties, and kay me recommends a stroll along Meguro river in Tokyo to see countless trees draping their boughs and blossoms in the water.

The perfect dress for spring occasions, our Cherry Flower dress was created with hanami in mind, great for spring events. Soft and feminine with a strong traditional Japanese kimono influence, style with a kay me jacket for more formal occasions.

Tulips (April to May)

tulipflowerblog3.jpg

A non-native flower, tulips have been growing in popularity in Japan, and with their bright colours and variations, it’s easy to see why these bulbs have captured imaginations. Gunma Flower Park in Gunma prefecture, north-east of Tokyo, is famous for its beautiful floral displays throughout the warmer months and nightly illuminations in winter.

Our Perfect Lila dress is a riot of floral petals and brushwork in cool blues and lilacs. A wonderful dress for the transitioning seasons, Lila can be worn with matching kay me jackets and knitwear and looks equally gorgeous with a simple string of pearls.

Wisteria (April to May)

wisteriaflowerblog4

Known for its delicate purple flowers and winding branches, wisteria trees have a long history in Japan and in artwork too. kay me recommends Tokyo-based wisteria hunters visit Kameido shrine (see how many turtles you can spot in the pond!), and those after a dramatic experience should head to Ashikaga in Tochigi prefecture.

Blend in with the flowers in our classic cache-coeur dress in violet, a deep purple that flatters many skin tones. Keep it spring-like with floral patterned accessories, or take a more urban approach with metallics and a kay me biker jacket.

Made in Japan, by kay me

Previously featured on our Facebook, learn about the story of “Made in Japan” with our five-part series exploring the factories and the inspiration behind our luxurious silk dresses…

final-map004resized.jpg

Silk from Kyoto

kay me’s washable 100% silk jersey dresses have been designed to be the ultimate in luxurious daily wear.

We’re passionate about the quality of texture and fabric, and use high quality silk jersey which weighs in at 170g per metre. Using specialist techniques from our Kyoto dye house, we have been able to create fully machine washable silk that doesn’t compromise on print colours or luxurious texture.

Our silk processing technique has been patented by our Kyoto partners, and is made with their outstanding craftsmanship.

Sewing in Toyko

kay me dresses are sewn by experienced artisans, predominantly working in Tokyo in factories that far exceed minimum standards.

A high level of technical skill is needed when sewing jersey – three different types of stretchy threads are needed for different parts.

With our belief in making a wholly good product, we put all our heart into creating each dress by keeping close communication with our team of expert artisans from start to finish.

factory1.jpg

Printing in Gifu

kay me uses some unique prints originally from a Premiere Vision Paris-award winning design team in the UK, and we recompose the colours and patterns according to the fabric and design concept of each dress.

For part of our iconic Contemporary Kimono series, we use designs and patterns inspired by antique kimono, without losing any of the beautiful texture of silk.

For printing, kay me decides on the best method of hand-screen printing, auto-screen printing, ink jet printing and transfer printing, depending on the fabric and pattern of the dress.

Knitting in Niigata

All our knit items are all made in Japan and are fully machine washable, using only the highest quality wool available. Designed to be specially shaped to fit, our knitwear uses the latest technology to create the perfect pattern of stitches.

kay me’s knitwear is thick, lightweight and is super soft, keeping you cosy all winter long – popular for days out and about as well as relaxing at home.

Kimono Inspired by the Beauty of Japan

kay me’s Contemporary Kimono series is inspired by the childhood experiences of Director and lead designer Junko Kemi – influenced by her grandmother, a kimono shop owner in Osaka, and fascinated by kimono and traditional fabrics.

The Contemporary Kimono series applies patterns inspired by antique to modern dresses, and features gorgeous prints with bright colours that express kacho-fugetsu, the beauty of Japanese nature.

factory2.jpg

Keep up to date with the latest from kay me on our Facebook.