Saturday, August 21, 2010

Haneto Postmortem

Haneto Truth #1: Aleve is your friend.

Oh. My. God.

I walk several miles a week. I can survive all 4.5 days of Comic-Con with almost no soreness. But this week was the most muscle pain I've ever felt for any length of time (nearly four days worth of I-can't-get-out-of-bed stiffness). Make no mistake, this parade is a marathon for a haneto - and I was bouncing til the very end. Which leads me to unofficial rule #2...

Haneto Truth #2: Save your energy.

My first warning should have come from the guy with the megaphone. He said it would take 5-10 minutes to get to the hotel endpoint. I said, "That's it?" and he replied, "That's it."


Looking around, most people seemed to have expended their energy by the halfway mark and were walking the route without shouting the traditional 'rasse rasse rasse ra!'. If you must take a break, maneuver toward the middle away from the onlookers and cameras. The organizers from Aomori cleverly took turns at the megaphone and alternately bouncing. So be conservatively energetic.

Haneto Truth #3: Stay hydrated.

Nebuta-LA site says a water tin or gagashiko is part of the costume. Unless you brought your own canteen, most participants just got a bottle from the water attendants. And maybe some beer...

Haneto Truth #4: Footwear matters.

I've read that the standard footwear is white tabi and zori, and you use to the polka dot towels to fasten the zori to your feet. But I've also seen plenty of 地下足袋, jikatabi with rubber textured soles that contact the ground. Mostly people wore sneakers.

Haneto Truth #5: Bring your own accessories...

I strongly suggest wearing a kimono slip. It's the nature of aizome (indigo dye) to run and stain the first few times you wash or wear it. Even my very modern, machine-sewn aizomo haneto yukata stained a bit at the neck where I sweat and my slip didn't cover. It's not a defect, but it can ruin the clothes you're wearing underneath if you don't take precautions. I'm sure those who went commando left the parade looking like Smurfs when they took it all off.

So yes, wear nagajuban. It will impress your dresser.

Haneto Truth #6: ...but make sure you're presentable.

The haneto yukata is a one-size-fits-all, stiff white cotton, dyed blue with specific nebuta motifs - not at all like a regular yukata. The sleeves are shorter, squared off, no underarm hole or miyatsuguchi. It's possible to alter a regular yukata to look like a haneto costume, but not the other way around, so consider it an investment for future parades.

There was at least one guy in the crowd wearing a passable blue-white yukata, but it was kinda dingy and gray. I suppose it was comfortable and fit him best, but if you must go the mix & match/DIY route be sure to get the best possible look.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Haneto of Aomori Nebuta (青森ねぶたのハネト) - Anatomy of a costume

If you were fortunate enough to see the nebuta in their fully-lit debut glory during the 2007 Nisei Week parade you might find yourself itching to join as a crazy, leaping, chanting, haneto dancer. Angelenos are lucky that 2010 is the third year the Aomori Nebuta will be in town. And it's easy to sign up for.

You can buy or rent these indigo-dyed costumes around August in Aomori, Japan or online at Homura Matsuri. They're damn near impossible to pick up secondhand or used unless you know someone. I picked mine up at Zenshuji for cash :p

The official kit includes:
-花笠 [はながさ] or hanagasa (flower hat)
-浴衣 [ゆかた] or yukata (summer robe)
-襷; 手繦 [たすき] or tasuki (sleeve tie)
-しごき帯 [おび] or shigoki-obi (soft belt)
-お腰 [おこし] or okoshi (underskirt)
-腰紐 [こしひも] koshihimo (waist cord)
-手拭い tenugui no mame-shibori (polka dot towels)

The diagram above includes a velcro 'magic belt', but they're made of non-slip rubber and non-breathable polyester so they instantly add 10 degrees. It's been a cool summer, but I personally didn't go this route. This often comes standard if you own kimono accessories. You can used a contrasting koshihimo as well, or a hanhaba obi if it doesn't restrict your movement.

Common motifs for haneto yukata include:
-the words 青森ねぶた祭 'aomori nebuta'
-bijin or beautiful women
-bells on cords
-flowing water or waves
-bunny rabbits (because 'haneru' means bounce)

It's common in pictures to see people wearing non-standard costumes (like regular non-haneto yukata), as long as they were dressed 'properly', but I think it defeats the spirit of the float. Plenty of volunteers were wearing only the 2010 Nebuta shirts. Otherwise, you can always join in at the end of the parade on First Street.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yelp LA invades Little Tokyo

From Monday, August 2 to Sunday, August 8!

This week long promotion showcases select local Little Tokyo businesses that are offering exclusive discounts to Yelp passport holders.

Discounts galore:

Aloha Café (
"Buy one, receive one 1/2 off" special on the following items:
Shave Ice
Spam Musubi
Hawaiian Breakfast

Blue Whale Bar (
Free entry all week long (no cover).

Bunkado, Inc. (
Receive a free gift with purchase. ($8.95 value)

Chado Tea Room (
Receive 20% off your bill or 35% off "Champagne Afternoon Tea." (regularly $28)

Cube Boutique (
Receive 20% off any item.

The Far Bar/Chop Suey (
Receive a free Cali-Yelp Roll with your purchase of $10 or more. (Limit one per person.)

Four Leaf - Tea and Crepes ( Receive a free Green Tea or Black Tea Latte with the purchase of any crepe/waffle.

Fugetsu-Do (
Receive 10% off your total purchase.

Hold Up Art (
Receive 12% off any piece (from $20 posters to $1,500 originals).

Izakaya Fu-ga (
Receive 15% off your bill.

Kimski Makes (
Receive an exclusive Kimski designer t-shirt with the purchase of $20 or more.

Kinokuniya Bookstores ( Receive a $5 gift certificate towards your next visit with the purchase of $20 or more.

Kushi Shabu (
Receive 20% off of the Kobe beef AYCE (regularly $38 per person) or the Marbled beef AYCE (regularly $45 per person).

Lazy Ox Canteen (
Receive 20% off your bill. (Excludes Friday and Saturday dinners.)

Mitsuru Café (
Receive a free imagawayaki (famous red bean cake) with the purchase of a menu item meal. (Dine-in only. Valid only on Tuesday, August 3 to Friday, August 6.)

Nail Service (
Receive 15% off OPI's new Axxium Gel 14-day manicure (regularly $35) and/or a half-set lash extension for only $110 (full set regularly $300).

N°A - Number A Boutique (
Receive 15% off your entire purchase.

Oiwake (
Receive 15% off your bill. (Excludes alcohol and specially priced menu items.)

RIF Los Angeles (
Receive a free t-shirt with any purchase.

Six Taste (Food Tours in Los Angeles) ( 20% off Little Tokyo tours on Friday, August 6th and Saturday, August 7th, 2010.
(When booking online, please use Promo Code: YELPPASS10)

Spitz ( Receive a free order of street cart fries or cinnamon sugar pita strips with the purchase of any sandwich, wrap, salad, plate or döner.

Suehiro Cafe (
Receive 15% off your bill.

Threads Café & Lounge (
Receive a free snack with the purchase of $3 or more.

Tofu Village (
Receive 15% off the total bill. (Not valid on All-You-Can-Eat menu.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con 2010

I returned from San Diego on Sunday evening. Made some emergency dinner for my lovely boyfriend, and proceeded to rub his back in gratitude after the marathon 3 hour drive home. He's such a trooper for indulging me and my comic-obsessed antics.

The weekend highlights included:

-nostalgic signings by the oh-so-kind Michael Zulli
-meeting all FIVE of the Mythbusters (Adam, Jamie, Grant, Tori, Kari)
-a doodle by famed Italian illustrator Milo Manara (whose erotic-themed works I know best, but publicly I shall admit only X-Women)

-the Fables panel overlapped with the Mythbusters, so I missed it (shh! Bill Willingham is not a man to slight)
-DC has a habit of not announcing their guests and signings until the artist checks in at the booth, so it's anyone's guess who is attending and what a fan like me with limited duffel bag space can bring
-some panels & signings are too popular for their own good so I had to forfeit them with the certainty that they will return in the future (True Blood & Charlaine Harris, JJ Abrams, Joss Whedon, anything Seth MacFarlane)

-on-site registration for next year's 4-Day + Preview Night was sold out by approx. 3:30pm Sunday, which may lead to a mass panic whenever online reg goes up, even though most people are simply hedging their bets as to whether they'll even go to Preview Night if cost is not a factor...

Y'know, I'ved worked SDCC for 4 years - was even offered a minion-staff position, too - and in years past I always heard the phrase "Comic-Con has the best attendees in the world." I certainly didn't hear it this year. But please, don't get me wrong - I had a great time and I'm pleased with where I spent my energies.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

PMX Meeting

Yay Pasadena!

Lots of seating areas and space to gather (and have a drink). Outdoor patio area for smokers.

A Starbucks inside the hotel, plus a mini-market for snacks and convenience.

I think people will be really happy here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Zocalo at MoCA


The furoshiki workshop was so much fun. Any time you have to partner up with someone you've only just met to try something you don't know much about really gets the room in an extroverted mood.

And as a bonus gift, we all took home our own furoshiki to make good use of our lessons.

Thanks Kyoto no Furoshiki Kenkyu Kai (Furoshiki Study Group of Kyoto).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Celebration on the Colorado Street Bridge

Selling t-shirts to increasingly drunk people. A moral dilemma or clever non-profit? You decide.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Barista competition

The good thing about being on the Coffee Bean mailing list is that you sometimes hear about Barista competitions. Enjoy free coffee while watching some of the most unique drinks being made on stage. And if you're lucky, you can snag a sip or two from the competitor's table.

Creamy vanilla soft serve with a shot of espresso poured over. The empty cups are not mine, I swear.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Anime Expo 2010

There was quite a bit of controversy prior to the start of AX this year. Rumors of a greenhorn, micro-managing, power-hungry new CEO and lackeys. Mass resignations (or firings) of division heads, managers and assorted veteran staffers. Lack of top-bottom communication to even the attendees. All of this has happened before, and will happen again... (Remember Mike Tatsugawa anyone? Anyone?)

VolStaff seemed crippled by their paperwork demands (no computers this year). I'm told every department had staff and budget cuts, and if you were in the company of a staffer for more than 30 seconds they could easily recite a list of grievances (even on Day 0). I do know that volunteers aren't guaranteed meals at AX any longer. On one day they were able to scrounge up some sandwich packs from a generous nearby hotel. All-Con-ers had it rough (housing wasn't finalized until past 11pm the night before Con started), which means the nerve-wracking potential that poor, tired, hungry people could have been sleeping in the streets...

The weather was good, temperatures were mild for this time of year, even overcast at times. Not as many GOOD cosplayers as in years past, exhibit hall seemed smaller, vendors not offering the best discounts. Lanyards were cheap and badges were very, very hackable. Some interesting panel and workshop choices, despite the irritating practice of room clearing. While I heard all sorts of things about autograph line mismanagement after, I had no problems whatsoever with Yuu Asagawa at BOTH of her signings, where she stayed overtime to finish out her lines.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sun Valley Obon

First Obon of the summer

Nice weather in the valley, bright & sunny, relatively cool temps, and an almost chilly evening.

Had a great time seeing fellow PMX-ers. Helped Paula put her mannequin together at the Swap Meet. Picked up a volume of Vampire Miyu I hadn't read before. Ate some tea sweet with some kind of yellow bean I don't like, washed it down with hot green tea.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Alice in Wonderland @ FIDM

Disney & Burton: Alice in Wonderland Design Exhibition @ FIDM
May 27, 2010 – September 30, 2010

Exhibition includes Colleen Atwood’s original costumes from the film as well as Alice–inspired clothing and products designed by a variety of celebrities, designers, and fashion icons, including Sue Wong, Tom Binns, Avril Lavigne, and FIDM Alumni.

This free exhibition will be open to the public Tuesday – Saturday during the exhibition dates from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Special Exhibition Events

All events are free to the public.

Tea Party

Wednesdays, June 9, 16, 23 & 30
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
FIDM Museum Foyer
Tea & Cookies and a tour of the exhibition.

Los Angeles Campus
919 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1421
General: 800.624.1200

Monday, June 21, 2010

Swapping with Julia, the Bargain Hunting Babe

When I was a cheap college student I used to read the Bargain Hunter section of the Daily News. Now, I read from Julia's Bargain Babe blog, and I finally got to meet her in person at the 2010 Frugal Fe$tival Summer Swap.

I've often wondered what the volunteers at Goodwill stores go through, weeding and sorting all their donations. Now I understand. The key: lots of hand sanitizer.

Still, there were lots of little gems, such as:
-almost-new dresses from Forever 21
-totally cute jewelry
-cropped jackets for evening wear
-collared business shirts

My choice:
a J. Crew white cotton tunic cover up (vaguely similar to the Djellabah style from several years ago)

I have my reservations because it's pretty thin/sheer, so if it doesn't work out for me I'll swap it back next year. And a copy of Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister, which I also plan to swap next year when I finish.

Our volunteer gift was some Starbucks Via mugs and gift cards (which I'm using at my neighborhood Thai place). After, we all went round the corner to a great outdoor lounge and shared Mediterranean appetizers - courtesy of Julia.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kimono update

It's been about... 2 years since I had to put on a kimono. That took about 10 minutes. The obi was another story...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fusion Friday - Pacific Asia Style

It's been a long time since I had to pick out an outfit.

I'm getting dressed right now for Fusion Friday's at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. It's June and the climate is delightful (high 70s, breezy). It's definitely hitoe season, possibly ro, not sha. My life would be a lot easier if I just wore a yukata with simple colors and accessories coordinate.

I just hope I don't spill Buttermilk on myself again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

DRAM: Aviation Day

It a time of impressive achievements - the era of the automobile, electricity, Einstein, Freud, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, art nouveau and Edwardian Baroque. It's hard to believe that 100 years ago most Angelenos had never seen an aircraft in flight. Today, passenger jets and cargo planes take off from every corner of the city, their contrails blazing long after they pass. I can't go a single day (or night) without hearing a helicopter fly overhead.

Here's what you missed:

-classic old cars (Model Ts, 1912 Silver Ghost Rolls Royce) and planes (Bleriot 1909 replica, 1883 Glider)
-lots of reenactors and period costumers
-military flyovers - they all started on time with precision accuracy
-vintage ragtime dancing with Yesteryears
-commemorative postage stamps and philatelic envelopes and cancellations
-Kogi & Tommy's truck, an authentic 1910 box lunch
-kids activities too numerous to name (though I did find lots of lost wooden gliders around the grounds)

Here's what you didn't miss - Mother Nature:

-too windy to have tethered balloon rides. A shame, really. Most people made do with the ferris wheel instead. Just ask one of the parachute jumpers that hit a tree.
-it was incredibly muggy and tempers ran a bit short, especially since the adobe has no air conditioning. The house never had a chance to cool off with tours running all day.
-on-site parking was too limited, so most people had to be shuttled in from CSU Dominguez Hills for $5, but the shuttle company was pretty terrible.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

AAM 2010 - Los Angeles

The annual AAM Meeting and Expo has come and gone, leaving its mark on Los Angeles. Overall reviews from attendees appear to be favorable. I was a volunteer at the Info Booth, advising people on downtown Los Angeles and the convention center itself. I didn't have enough time to visit the Career Cafe and have my resume looked at, but I managed to catch an educational session on exhibit design and narrative storytelling.

Of course there was plenty of swag:

-an official AAM flash light and tape measure (can't ever have enough tape measures, I must say)

-white cotton gloves from the Heritage Resources Management Program of Athabasca University in Canada

-reusable bags from the Registrar's Committee, Smithsonian Traveling Exhibits, the Packing, Art handling & Crating Info Network, Lexington (the design firm that makes the recycled material animals in the Skirball's Noah's Ark exhibit)

It was lovely to network with so many local LA museum volunteers and employees all week. And deeply illuminating to know that there are professional organizations right up my alley:
PACIN: the Packing, Art handling & Crating Info Network
RC: the Registrar's Committee
CAM: California Association of Museums
WAM: Western Association of Museums
American Society of Appraisers

The best gift was from the representative from University Products (we use them almost exclusively at the Rancho). About 30 minutes prior to the end of the Expo, he offered to give me any products from his show table that I liked. So now I have all these beautiful metal edged archival quality boxes and clear display tops, artifact tags, rare book protectors, a polypopylene textile storage box... I can't wait to share them with the museums I work at.

The site for AAM2011 is Houston. I believe a 4 hour volunteer shift will get you a one day free admission - saving you and your cash-starved non-profit hundreds of dollars at the door. Keep up with them on their blog.

See you then!

Monday, April 19, 2010