You may not have noticed unless you follow me on Instagram, but I was in Japan last week for a short and amazing break. Here are some of the colourful highlights.
All these photos were taken with my new fave camera Fujifilm Finepix X100. Most were taken on one of the various auto functions and have only minor or no post production. (not a sponsored post if you were wondering
I couldn’t resist sharing these amazing images taken by Ebony of Hello Sandwich, of the paper balloon installation at the mt Expo in Tokyo. Is your mind blown?
You can see more photos over here on the Hello Sandwich blog.
And if you want to recreate this installation (on a smaller scale) you can get your Japanese paper balloons here…
All images used with permission from Hello Sandwich
Yes, I’m still talking about Japan, bear with me…
Pilgrim and I were so lucky to catch this amazing Blythe Doll exhibition during our last few days in Tokyo, it was in the Parco Department store gallery space.
Called ’10 Happy Memories’ it’s a collection of every Blythe doll that has ever been released in Japan. WoW!
I believe it is touring some of the Parco stores in Japan till the spring of 2012 so if you are a Blythe lover and are going to be in Japan around that time, pop it on your to-do list.
Some of these gals are super stylin’ and probably so hard to get now. I wonder if there is a ‘Blythe HQ’ with a giant vault full of rare Blythe dolls?
Here is a link I found with more information about the tour and a few bits of interesting Blythe trivia.
I almost forgot to tell you about one of my last book purchases in Tokyo. It’s a Marimekko e-Mook. An e-Mook is all the rage in Japan apparently, a cross between a magazine and a book, with the kicker being a premium gift all for around $15. There were a heap of fashion labels doing them with some worthwhile gifts, but I liked the cheerful bag included in this one. We accidentally stumbled on the Marimekko store in OMOTESANDO, it was all gorgeous but a little expensive for my budget, so a $15 bag was a special treat!
The book is essentially a product cataloug with some lovely interiors and a free dress pattern. Here I am having some fun modeling my bag. It’s super fun, perfect for this spring and summer.
Have you ever bought a product just because of the ‘Gift with Purchase’?
I came back with only a handful of books from my trip to Japan, not because they were expensive or the choice was poor, on the contrary. The selection and prices were amazingly good, but unfortunately books are heavy, so I had to control myself. Our hotel was next door to a massive bookshop, so I spent plenty of time browsing.
This is what I cam home with:
Felt Goods by Tabatha Naomi, full of cute characters to make out of felt with instructions and patterns.
Mini Cross stitch book. Great for buttons and brooches
A couple of cute needle felting books
And this book about Cute Tokyo Shops which was really nice to look through to get an idea on places and areas to visit. It was all in Japanese so we had the concierge point out areas on a map. Google maps helped too. Both A-materials and pin’ups were in Kichijoji, a really great area to visit for quirky shops and vintage goodness.
Pop over to Pilgrim’s blog to check out the books she bought in Tokyo…
We were lucky that our stay in Kyoto coincided with the flea market that is held at the Toji Temple on the 21st of each month. It had it all, antiques, food, craft, clothing, new things and old, everything was so pretty and very reasonably priced. It was large and super busy so we only covered about half of it. I bought a pretty pincushion made from vintage kimono silk in a sake cup, and a cheap paper fan because it was hot! (So hot that unfortunately a lady had collapsed and was being taken away by paramedics.)
To cool down we had some tasty shaved ice with sweet, sweet syrup. I had green apple and Pilgrim had melon. The shaved ice guy was doing a rip roaring trade.If you happen to get to the Toji flea market, it’s a great place to pick up some handmade souvenirs and vintage kimonos inexpensively. There were lots of little food stalls too, mainly selling octopus balls on sticks and savory pancakes, mmm, octopus balls…
After all the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, I was excited to experience a little bit of the traditional side of Japan in Kyoto. I had booked a Ryokan, which is a traditional style inn, for our stay. It was quite the experience, and just what we needed to help us relax on out holiday.
The Ryokan was called TOWA, and even though I’d booked an 8 tatami mat room (number of tatami floor mats indicates size), we were upgraded to a suite, lucky us!
Upon check-in we were treated to a cup of matcha green tea and a sweet. It was the first time I’d tried this type of delicious tea, but not the last…
As you can see in the picture, we sat and slept on the floor. I must say the unless you sleep on your back, futons aren’t that comfortable, my big pokey out hips and boney shoulders were screaming out for a nice soft mattress and fluffy pillow.
The breakfast was amazing and was served in our room, you can see pics of it here (along with my terrible bed hair).
There was a large communal bathing room in the basement, which I probably didn’t take advantage of enough, but we also had our own private bathroom facilities. Phew!
I would definitely stay there again, and a suite would be ideal for a family.
Oh and no shoes allowed on the tatami mats…And here is my impulse buy, a secondhand kimono and obi. Bought on a late night walk home in a little hole in the wall shoppe that smelt like old stuff and cats. I can’t resist the smell of old stuff. I wasn’t intending on buying a kimono, but just thought it would be fun to try it on. Well after the lady fussed about getting everything just right and tied the obi so beautifully, I felt super special, and of course wanted to wear it home. I told her I’d never be able to re-tie the obi, and she just giggled and said ‘ You Tube’. Now who wants to have a costume party so I can wear my new (old) kimono? One traditional experience I would really recommend would be a Tea ceremony class at En. It was fascinating and mesmerizing watching our hostess prepare the tea. Every movement was mindful and controlled with meaning behind it. She described it as a kind of meditation which is part of her everyday life, it centers and grounds her. We even got to whisk up our own tea, mine turned out a little weak as the amount of powder I used was less than adequate.
I’ll share more of our adventures in Kyoto on Friday…
I couldn’t resist making Perty a kimono, especially after picking up these adorable Blythe sized Geta sandals and Tabi sock combo (Japanese flip flops with special toe socks) from Junie Moon in Tokyo. It’s technically a Yukata as it is made of cotton for informal wear.
I used some of my fabric scraps, and fittingly, I think the fabric I used for the kimono was a vintage Japanese cotton. I love using my scraps for making dolls clothes.
This was the pattern I based it on, but I had to modify the back and neckline as the back was a little narrow. The measurements were a bit hard to read so I just improvised. It’s not an accurate reproduction as ladies’ kimonos have open sleeves under the arms (men have closed sleeves, aren’t I a fountain of knowledge! ).
I’m particularly pleased at how cute her little Obi sash looks, fastened with velcro to make dressing a little easier.
What do you think, cute yes?