26 March 2011

Minna no Kobito: Novita of Very Purple Person

all photos by very purple person
A special Saturday post!  Novita of very purple person is here today to enlighten us with an intriguing tale.  I was excited when she told me she wanted to feature a Japanese Children's book.  [I love their family photo, don't you? What a beautiful smile she has.]
Novita's style could come from a fashion magazine, it's hip, cutting edge, and I always look forward to seeing what she's been up to, and I'm never let down.  We are all glad to hear that she and her family are doing well over in Japan after the earthquake that literally rocked their world.  
And on to cultural education!

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I'm so happy to be here! Thank you Katy for inviting me to this wonderful event and hello to all No Big Dill readers!

This is my favorite children's book, or rather my son's favorite book because he's the one who has all the children books in the house. The book is 'Minna no Kobito' by Toshitaka Nabata, or loosely translated as 'Everyone's Kobito'. It is the second book of kobito series and written in the form of  Q&A correspondence with a certain kobito expert.

But, what is kobito? Literally, it means 'little people'. In a way, kobito are similar to elves and fairies, only that they are not as sweet and cute. In fact, kobito are ugly, disgusting, and even unfriendly.*

*These kind of things are very popular right now in Japan, they are called 'kimo kawaii', which means something that is disgusting but somewhat adorable at the same time. Just like our pet beetle larva (don't click if you are squeamish!).

There are many kinds of kobito, but we are going to discuss about Shinobi ie kobito or the sneaky house kobito. It is said that Shinobi ie kobito lives in people's houses, they are usually quiet and rarely seen. So how do you know if there is a Shinobi ie kobito in your house?

Have you ever felt that someone is watching you even when you're alone at home?

Did you see that?! Have you seen a glimpse of small blue thing darting across the room lately?

Maybe glimpses of blue here and there?

Now you can be sure that there is at least one Shinobi ie kobito in your house!
Or probably three.

You can tell by the shape of the hood and the pouch that he always carries.

Our expert couldn't say for sure what is in the pouch, but some people say that the kobito use it to carry cockroach food.

Cockroach, you say? Yes, Shinobi ie kobito ride on cockroaches to roam around your house. Isn't that disgusting?

Shinobi ie kobito occupy the dark and narrow space in your house, and occasionally make strange noises. For some reason, they love to sneak in your toilet and fold the end of the toilet paper in triangle shape. How odd is that?

Just like human, some kobito are slightly bigger than the other!

But don't worry, Shinobi ie kobito might be sneaky but they're not dangerous. In fact, they love to live in peace. From now on, you don't have to be afraid anymore when you're home alone, because there are Shinobi ie kobito in the house with you.

That's our first lesson about kobito. Maybe next time we can learn about Kusamadara kobito (the smelly grass kobito) who live in grass fields. Notice that long tentacle on his hood? They use it as a disguise so birds would think that it's just grass and wouldn't prey on them. This type of kobito are pretty shy but be careful when handling them because they're kinda smelly!

There are many kinds of other kobito! They have different names, colors, hood shapes, and characteristics depending on where they live. Some live in the woods, some live in farms or rivers, and some live in cities. Several types of kobito can even fly.

I hope you had fun learning about kobito! I added a pointed hood to a basic long-sleeved T-shirt pattern to make the kobito hoodie. The fabric is soft and comfortable cotton knit. They make perfect addition to Sidra's spring wardrobe. You can see that my husband wants one too!

The cockroach is my own pattern, basically it is just an oval shape pillow with legs. The wings and head are made with leftover dupioni silk that I dyed brown. The original color of the silk was silver, and the shimmers would make a perfect cockroach. The body is made with cotton/linen fabric with interesting texture, leftover from my husband’s shirt.

Sidra calls his cockroach gokiburi-kun (gokiburi means... well, cockroach). It's his favorite toy now.  Kimo-kawaii!

If you'd like to make them, the tutorials and patterns for pointed hood (age 5-7) and cockroach plush will be up at my blog. Thank you!

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That's the first dupioni silk cockroach I've seen!  Novita, what a pleasure it's been to be educated on children's books from another culture.  So very fun!  Thank you for being here.


  1. That post was so fun and entertaining ... I love a mom who makes a big stuffed cockroach for her kid. I'm still a bit grossed out over that larva picture on her blog though! :)

  2. novita, what a great post! & thanks for introducing me to katy's blog (hi katy :)

    when i saw the first pic i thought, he looks like a smurf-- i wonder if they were inspired by kobito?

    if east coast kids here in the US were taught that cockroaches carried tiny pointy headed colorfully clad people around, there would be a LOT less adults living in mortal fear of the crawly things...

  3. wow - really cool post - but the larva is gross, happy my girls don't have that as a pet - love the sweat shirts. Tone

  4. i really enjoyed learning about the japanese kobito! who knew? and the cockroah novita made!? now that deserves extra credit!

  5. Can I just say how great that stuffed cockroach is? Soooo great! I love that it is huge. Cross-culturally, it reminds me of those plush "germs" you can buy in the US. Cute and cuddly vermin!

  6. How interesting is this? I love this post!

  7. I am so glad to finally see Novita's contribution to 'Once upon a thread'!

    As always, so creative, such beautiful work, and so interesting and fun to learn from her about a Japanese kids' book!

    Thank you Katy for yet another great featured crafter!

  8. Novita is AWESOME! And Sidra makes a super cute model!


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