Below are the seven first season designs that first became available in July, at Otakon '07. This first line was, other than two shoes, based almost entirely on design work from Momoyama and early Edo Japan. The exceptions to the rule were Tatsu ne and Neko, both of which will be explained in their own sections.

Just a touch of background on terminology...

Kamon - family crest; Kamon are ornamental emblems used by Japanese families. They are generally found on ceremonial clothing and costumes and worn during formal occassions. During fuedal Japan, they were commonly found on standards of war during campaigns. A great resource for Kamon is the book "Japanese Design Motifs", translated by Fumie Adachi and published by Dover.

Maiko - found only in Kyoto, maiko are apprentice geisha

Kanji - Chinese characters; the third of the Japanese alphabets



Kanso's design has changed rather significantly from its original look. The design lines themselves are based on the makeup lines found on a maiko curing her initiation ceremony. At the base of the neck, two lines are left where bare skin shows. During a maiko's initiation, three lines are left. The design on both the side and back of Kanso reflect those makeup lines. The kimono print fabric represents the decorative kimono accents that are seen on the standard geisha attire.

The name Kanso means "simplicity."


The design for Hana came from a kamon. At the time of designing this shoe, I was really looking for something in velcro and the flower lent itself well to that need.

The name Hana, in ths context, refers more to the petals, than to just the flower.



Neko is one of the two shoes that didn't evolve from fuedal Japanese design. The design for this shoe is much more modern day pop culture and relates, specifically, to what is known as the kawaii culture in Japan. Kawaii culture revolves around, as the name suggests, cuteness and cute image that is so often used in kawaii culture items is a chibi, cute cat form. Cute items are a staple of Japanese culture in the modern day.

The leather itself was the basis of this shoe, and the design lines were created to fit that cute look. The assymetric lines, blue-backed tongue, and the plastic-molded kanji on the back give the shoe a slightly whimsical air.

The name Neko is simply for the word for "cat".



Chinpin's design also came from kamon, but was an amalgamation of two very different ones. The unique way in which the shoe laces (the eyelets on the inside and the hidden loops on the outside) stemmed not so much from a design perspective, but more from irritation that eyelets covered up the sun and bird design. In the end, it turned out to be a great look for the shoe and has since been altered for use in several other designs.

The name Chinpin means a "curio" or "rare article".


Take no ko

The design of this shoe was based entirely around the brocade. In Japanese art, bamboo shoots appear quite frequently, both in modern and fuedal day, though they rarely bear any kind of meaning and are prized more for their aesthetic beauty. The use of the bamboo shoots on the brocade is what really struck me, and I wanted to create a shoe that showed off the delicate beauty and detail.

The original design was based on the brocade pictured below. Design-wise, it is exactly the same as what is found on the final shoe...the only difference is the color. In sourcing brocades, I found that I liked the current version we use even better than the original and thought that the red leaves in the blue really complimented the red toe, tying the shoe together.

The name Take no ko means, quite literally, "bamboo shoots".



Kakkoii is another shoe based on a kamon design. This shoe has both an abstracted version of the kamon, as well as a version of the actual kamon itself pictured on the toe of the right foot. The gold areas are taken from the loops and angles of the kamon's bird.

Originally, the shoe was meant to be laced in a pattern that imitated the lines of the bird, but, unfortunately (and possibly for the good of everyone out there trying to tie their shoes), the factory put their collective foot down on the idea. The eyelet pattern, however, stayed, which is why there are three eyelets on each side, with an alternating pattern...the hidden loops were added in during the final fit testing stages where the missing eyelets are.

The name Kakkoii means something "stylish" or, in modern-use Japanese slang, "cool".


Tatsu ne

This was another shoe, like Take no ko, that was based around the brocade. This is also the second shoe that moves away from fuedal Japan, but, unlike Neko, this shoe isn't goes WAY back and is actually something of an homage to China. In very early Japanese history, Japan took a lot of culture and art from China to influence its own culture, including the dragon’s association with the imperial institution. It was from this borrowing that dragons came to be included, as indicated by the Nihongi, in Buddhist temples, paintings, carvings, etc. Over time, the design of the Japanese dragon came to differ from its original style, developing its own unique characteristics, but that association of the dragon will always remain with China.

The name Tatsu ne is a bit slang for "it's a dragon, isn't it..." and stemmed from Sarah shrugging her shoulders during a naming session and going, "Eh, tatsu ne?"



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