Monday, August 29, 2011

And today's Prime Minister is...

Yoshihiko Noda, Japan's Finance Minister, will tomorrow become the new Prime Minister of Japan.  He will be the sixth Prime Minister Japan has had in the five years since I arrived in the land of the indecisive, politically corrupt, financially stagnant, rising sun.

Koizumi was in power when I arrived in Japan in 2006.  
This is a hat he was given by George Bush shortly before singing Elvis at Karaoke while on a diplomatic tour of the states.

This got me looking into past Prime ministers and Presidents and, as always, made me think where did all the hats go?

Presidents Lincoln, Kennedy, Truman and Coolidge
We all know that Lincoln was famous for his stove pipe hat (whether he really liked the hat or was merely trying to gain a little extra height, which at 5ft 2" was badly needed) and JFK is often blamed by milliners for causing the death of the hat by being the first President to rarely be seen with a topper preferring his flowing coiffed locks though it was actually Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1965, who became the first man to be sworn in as President of the United States bare-headed.

George Bush took the "call me Tony" casualness of head office to the next level by donning his 50 gallon hat more often than a tie.  Obama in a tactical move to distance himself from all things Bush encouraged all his top staff to adopt a more British approach to dress.

With David Cameron at the helm however even the Brits have started to throw their hats aside with both Cameron and his wife shunning tradition and etiquette by arriving at the Royal wedding bare headed (Gasp).

Prime Ministers Chamberlain,  Churchill, Cameron, Thatcher and Baldwin 

However the hat is not dead and I look to Prime Ministers and Presidents further afield for Millinery inspiration and peace of mind.

Jung Bahadur Rana - Nepal, Susilo Bambang - Indonesia, Sheikh Hasina - Bangladesh, Putin - Russia, Mandela - South Africa, Liauat Ali Khan - Pakistan, Manmohan Singh - India

So my advice to the new Prime Minister Noda is distinguish yourself from the many who have failed in quick succession before you and don a hat.  The pope wears one and look how long they hang around for!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Guerrilla Crafting

Today my new issue of New Internationalist arrived in the post.

"If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist."
– Emma Thompson –

For those of you who are friends on my Aka Tombo facebook page you will know that I don't only make hats.  Indeed I love crafting of every kind and alongside my chapeaus I make organic baby clothes, knitted baby booties, accessories and funky things for around your house. Thus I was super happy to find a small article in New Internationalist about knit graffiti and yarn bombing!

"Following in the footsteps of their guerrilla gardening counterparts, who go undercover to plant flowers and trees in concrete jungles around the world, 'knit graffiti' artists are brightening up our urban landscapes by decorating everything from telephone poles and abandoned cars to trees and statues with their colourful creations."
-New Internationalist

Some of the things these guys are doing are A-Mazing and have inspired me to hunt out my crochet hook and go decorate a little piece of Niigata.  For those of you who live in Niigata there will be a prize for the first person to find and photograph my little piece of guerrilla crafting.  Happy hunting.

Tank Blankie

This is a hat blog and all so...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obon and Stephen Jones

Sorry for my recent disappearance.  I am still alive, honest, I have just been super busy.  Last week was Obon holidays here in Japan.  Obon is a Buddhist festival usually celebrated around August 15th for three days.  It is sometimes referred to as the "Day of the dead" and some will describe it as the Japanese Halloween however this is a little misleading as the purpose of the festival is to honour and pray for the family's ancestors.  It is the time of year when the spirit of departed family members return to earth and the home for a visit.

Obon is also called the Feast of Lanterns.  Japanese people visit their family graves and wash the stones, place flowers and incense and pray.  They also light lanterns beside the grave for the three nights of Obon to show that the spirits have returned. these lanterns combined with lanterns around the temple and over the temple gates make this a really beautiful time to see Japanese temples and graveyards even if it is a little macabre.  In addition, in some areas of Japan at the end of Obon they light  small paper lanterns and float them down the river to send the spirits back home.

For us this meant a trip to visit our monk, a morning cleaning the Sugahara family tomb and lots and lots of food as the clan descended on mass for the long weekend.  Much fun, little blogging.

As well as Obon I was busy desperately trying to finish my entry for the Stephen Jones Millinery competition I mentioned a few months ago.  My finished hat (above) is called the resurrection of the lotus and was influenced by the MASSIVE lotus flowers in the pond at our local temple. The voting section of the competition finishes Today and Stephen Jones's decision will be announced on the 26th of August.  As much as I am happy with my hat and would love to win I would quite happily lose to any of the amazing hats from fellow entrants below. So many of these hats leave me thinking; how the hell did they do that?

Friday, August 5, 2011


Every summer in Japan each little town & city holds a big summer festival (matsuri) and tonight is Niigata City's turn so I am busy getting my yukata (cotton summer kimono) out from winter hibernation and trying to decide which hat to wear with it thus a short blog today.  I will fill you in on all the details with pictures on Monday but for today you will have to make do with pictures of gorgeous Japanese inspired hats.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Baby Boom

HUGE congrats going out to my big sister Mhairi and her partner Neil who just announced that they are expecting their first little person in January.

Now with Fran, Jam, kayla, Kayleigh, Megan, Callum, Ella and the soon to be Texas Ranger (I really hope they stick with that name as it rocks) the newest generation of the Macdonald Clan really are threatening to take over the world.

To celebrate becoming an Auntie again I thought I would post a few pictures of babies in hats but the whole photo search process devolved into a cute fest and I am now hunting for my knitting needles and hoping for a girl as a baby boy is going to hate me in years to come when every photo of him as a baby has him sporting animal ears or huge flowers on his head.

On the upside it appears that baby hats have some sort of magical power, simply place one on a child's head and they fall asleep in the cutest fashion possible.

Baby Animals

Funky Punk Babies


Flower Babies

Baby Birds

Super plus is that all these hats were found on etsy,, and so even the knitting impaired can have cute as hell babies! Yay

Monday, August 1, 2011

Royal wedding take 2: Zara's turn

Royal Wedding part two saw Zara Philips wed rugby player Mike Tindall in a much more down to earth wedding ceremony than the previous London extravaganza. The ceremony may have been low key but the hats on show were just as impressive and I think that nearly everyone improved on their previous efforts. To compare the brides outright would be mean as they both looked amazing on their very different wedding days but I will be Crass enough to compare tiaras.

Kate Middleton's tiara was her "something borrowed" as it was loaned to her by the Queen as is tradition at royal weddings and though it was very princessy I must say I prefer Zara Philips almost celtic crown known as the Meander Tiara which was originally given to Queen Elizabeth by her mother-in-law, Princess Alice of Batternberg, who then passed it on to Princess Anne, Zara's mother.

Next up is Mother of the Bride, Princess Anne, whom after wearing a stunning purple hat at Kate's wedding opted for an almost Japanese looking small flower which matched her lovely red floral outfit. Though it can't really be classed as a hat I can't say anything bad about Princess Anne as she is one of my favorites so hat or no hat I think she looked lovely (and a bit like an older version of my mum).

Of course Queenie rose to the occasion with her lovely soft looking pinky/peach swirly, feathery hat (these are all technical millinery terms you know) to match her outfit which I think was a major improvement on the rigid yellow hat from the dress rehearsal.

Of course everyone was eager to see what The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate) would be wearing and she didn't disappoint with the ever popular big slanted hat with flowers blossoming out the back. Proving that she is still Kate from the block she teamed this lovely hat with a brocade coat by Jane Troughton which she wore at both the 2006 wedding of Laura Parker Bowles and May's wedding of Mel Nicholson and Oli Baker and finished the whole thing off with her trusty LK Bennet nude shoes and matching clutch which seem to have created a little fashion following all of their own based on the amount of nude shoes being paraded through the church doors.

Camilla was trying out a new version of her favourite side sweep hat and I think this is my favourite version to date as it is by far the biggest and gives her a May Queen look. The slightly miss matched choice of orchids at the base also seems like random opulance which I am all in favour of when it comes to head gear. Love it!

After the disaster that has since been daubed hat-gate I'm sure the sisters grim had many sleepless nights over what to wear to round two and came up with the sly plan of swapping colours to thoroughly confuse all of us who really aren't very sure which one is which. Both did a much better job this time however and I think that Eugenie (the one in blue last time, brown this time) should tell all those who are making fun of her new hat to take a hike as I think it looks fab (I also think she is starting to look a lot like her mother which is something no 21 year old wants to hear).

The winning hat of the day however was a tie between The Countess of Wessex' big slanty, swirly flower number and some bird from Corrie who wore an AMAZING big orange hat. Top marks to both.

These however were not the only hats on the day so below are some others that caught my eye on non-famous types.

This hat gets a spot of it's own for being one of the few big hats of the day.