Saturday, 9 November 2013

Last day in Tokyo

It was my last day in Tokyo today, after a fab few days at the International Bazaar. I managed to fit a lot in, including a trip to Kuramae to buy clasps, a trip to Nippori to buy fabric, a trip to my favourite ramen shop for tan tan men, and then a final trip to Loft, where I found some dubious machines to help lose weight.....

The day was finished off by dinner at a superb yakitori place in Naka Meguro. The perfect end to a perfect trip!

 Something to help tone up the mouth muscles....

Even the eye muscles get a workout

And if you really fancy it, a sweaty face

The gorgeously spicy tan tan men

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Tonkatsu dinner

A trip to Tokyo is not complete without a visit to a tonkatsu restaurant. Tonkatsu is a dish consisting of breaded pork that is then fried. So naughty but so nice! I went with my friend Tatsuya who is a bit of fiend when it comes to ordering. He went a bit over the top with the variety of choices, but they were all good. The cultlets are tender and crispy and served with shredded cabbage and sesame seeds. The seeds are handed to you  with a pestle and mortar which you use to crush the sesame seeds. You then pour a layer of thick tonkatsu sauce over the cutlet, followed by the sesame seeds. Needless to say, I will not be not be needing to eat for a few days....

Year of the horse

Next year is the year of the horse and there are some fab New Year cards in the shops here in Tokyo at the mo. Here are a few I picked up. I love the simple imagery and vibrant colour.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Tokyo Designers Week 2013

The afternoon was spent at Tokyo Designers Week, a yearly event for designers to display their latest designs. It was held in a series of tents and cargo containers and there was quite an array of different products to see. The choice was overwhelming!

 It was held in the grounds of Meiji Jingu Gaien Mae.

Vinyl toys

 Cuddly toys

Giveaway bags

Decorated toilets (only in Japan)

Canvases that change to seats when you rest on them

Oedo antique market

This morning was spent at one of my favourite antique markets in Japan, the Oedo market at the International Forum near Tokyo station. There is always an amazing selection of items, from antique bowls and artefacts, to kimonos and obis of all colours and prices, all situated in the shadows of the awesome ship-like building. Needless to say, I was on the hunt for fabrics and came back with some lovely pieces to make bags with. You can see some of them here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

I'm back!

I'm lucky to be back in Tokyo for a week, which is very exciting. I've only been here for an afternoon and already managed to fit in a trip to the crazy twice yearly Design Festa. Here are some things I saw.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Sayonnara Japan!

Goodbye Tokyo! Thanks for a fabulous four years. X

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Kimono lesson

Yesterday I was very lucky to experience my one and only kimono lesson, just days before leaving Tokyo for good! It was arranged by a lovely woman called Kyoko who I met at Machida antique market. Her daughter Yuki has regular lessons and she offered to show me how to put a kimono on herself, and then she and her lovely teacher showed how to put one on me. It was a very special experience and I feel honoured to have ben invited along to participate in it.

I was amazed at the amount of layers that are used. Yuki started by putting a thin cotton under kimono on, and then she put this thin, silk under kimono on. This is tied tightly closed and then a thin red obi is tied over that.

The kimono is then put on. Note how the collar has to be away from the neck as it is more attractive that way. It is held centrally in place with a clip. Yuki took time to measure the kimono so that it was the exact length off the floor. The kimono is then folded over at the waist and held in place with elastic straps.

Another thin obi is then tied over the folded kimono at the waist, and it is only then, that the proper obi can be added. Yuki's was a beautiful one that complemented her soft pink kimono.

Yuki started by tying her obi at the front (so that she could see what she was doing) and then swivelling it around to the back. It was stunning!

The obi is finished off with a hot pink obijime. This is a rope or cord that comes in many varieties, colours and ways of tying and often has a bead added too.

It was then my turn to have a go and the ladies chose a beautiful blue and white shibori kimono for me to wear. It felt surprisingly comfortable having it put on.

The obi was just as stunning as the kimono and a turquoise obijime was added as the finishing touch.

Look how amazingly they tied the obi! There are many variations on tying the obi - such an art.

The finished result. Yuki's lovely teacher Fukada Masae is on the left and Yuki is on the right. We even got to have a mini tea ceremony with scrumptious green tea and sweets.

Thank you ladies for a truly special afternoon!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Our last night in Ishigaki

We spent our last night in Ishigaki at Kabira Bay, which is about a half hour walk from our hotel. It is a beautiful place, and even better when the 'crowds' have gone. The beach is stunning and we found a fab place to have okonomiyaki, one of our favourite Japanese foods and probably the best we've ever had! I definitely recommend going there if you are in Kabira Bay.

Snorkelling in Sukuji bay

On Monday we went snorkelling in Sukuji bay, near our hotel. The water was beautifully clear and we saw some stunning bright fish - no manta though!


On Sunday we went to Taketomi, a tiny island ten minutes by boat form Ishigaki. It is small and quiet with beautiful old low-rise houses with terracotta tiled roofs. We spent some time wandering around, but it was bloody hot!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Last stop, Ishigaki

We are now on the last leg of our Japan trip in beautiful Ishigaki, a rather remote island far south of Okinawa and closer to Taiwan (about 111km away) than the mainland of Japan. You would never think that Japan had such a tropical environment, and it's lovely! We are staying in our own little villa which has a hot tub on the verandah.