Saturday, 19 December 2009
Well, it seems we are off! Our car is coming for us in an hour and we will be charging off to Narita airport to hop on the plane - Upper Class with Virgin I might add!!!!!!! It's been a wonderful three months and I am really looking forward to coming back and experiencing more weird and wonderful things. I am also really looking forward to seeing family and friends back home. See you all soon!
Friday, 18 December 2009
Well, I am gearing up for my trip back to England tomorrow, and getting very excited about seeing family and friends. Little lila is now 6 months old and has really changed since I last saw her. While I am thinking of Christmas Day with the turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings, the Japanese are thinking of New Years Day (which is when they celebrate) and a box of fish! This is a very traditional thing and not used as much nowadays, but is called osechi ryori. They are dishes packed in layers of lacquer boxes and each dish and ingredient has a meaning such as good health, fertility, happiness etc. In the old days, women would spend days making up these boxes, but today they are pre-ordered and ready-made for you. I can't help thinking the box could smell a little fishy when you open it up!
I couldn't resist putting this monster on my blog! After I had been to the textile museum, I headed off to meet my friend Suzy and her mum. I know Suzy through Stitch and Bitch, and we did karaoke together last week. Her mum is visiting for xmas, so we thought we'd meet up one last time before I went home. We headed straight to a warm cosy cafe (it's started getting pretty cold here now, but beautiful blue skies) and went for the biggest sweet thing on the menu, doused in ice cream and caramel sauce! Woo hoo!
I was invited, in a round about way, to go to a textile museum yesterday. I have to explain how this came about, as it is very typical of a lot of my experiences in Tokyo so far. A month or so ago, I went to my first Book Club, held at the Tokyo American Club. I met a lot of very nice people there, including a woman called Tracy. She accidentally put me on another book club email list and I was invited to that by mistake. She invited me to come along anyway, and it was held in a woman's apartment on the 38th floor, where I met some more lovely people. While I was there I met a Japanese woman called Michiko. I told her I was a textile designer and she said she'd just heard about a fab new textile museum opening and would I like to go. Of course I said yes, so yesterday I went along with her and her friend Bonnie, who is from New York and publishes a newsletter about Asian textiles! I just love how open everyone is here, and one fab event leads to another. I hardly knew these women, but we hit it off straight away, went for a gorgeous lunch and then headed to this gem of a museum - the Iwatate Folk Textile Museum.
It is owned by a Japanese woman and is a lifetime's collection (over 40 years) of textiles that she has collected from around the world. She has thousands of pieces, and will be showing different themes each month. This month is hand woven pieces, which were exquisite. The lovely thing is that if you call up in advance and let her know you are coming she will come down and tell you about each piece (she lives upstairs). It made it extra special having a commentary from her on how each piece was individually created, so lovingly, knowing that she had found these pieces herself and, in many cases, watched them being made. Sadly I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but I will definitely be heading back there for the embroidery exhibition in February.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
I forgot to say that I popped up in an article in a Japanese publication recently! It is a free magazine called Metropolis which is English speaking and used by most foreigners here for listings, events etc. I guess it's the Japanese equivalent of Time Out. A journalist came to one of our Stitch and Bitch events and interviewed a few people as well as taking photos. There I am, at the far end, grappling with my knitting. Oh dear!
I went to my last Stitch and Bitch meet up of the year last night. It was actually much quieter than normal (only about 8 people) as a lot of people have already gone home for the holidays, but it was nice to see everyone before heading off to England. One girl brought her spinning with her - as you do! She uses a little hand spinning wheel and makes it look very easy, although I'm sure it's not!
Monday, 14 December 2009
I went to my last pottery class of the year today and was so surprised when I turned up and there were all my babies, lined up, fully glazed and ready to take home! There were seven in all, including a nabe pot (in which I can cook stews on the hob) as well as some rather wobbly tapas bowls, a leaf-shaped bowl, and even some for dips or soy sauce when I have my sushi!
After we had seen Cirque du Soleil, we went for a wander in Yoyogi Park which was beautiful with all the leaves a deep shade of red and orange. We ended up at our favourite place - the dog run. It is an endless source of amusement and we could spend hours watching the dogs of all shapes and sizes, most with some sort of fetching outfit on. We even saw Santa Claus. He looks like he's threatening to clobber these kids! Maybe he's had enough of xmas already...
Sunday, 13 December 2009
We went to Cirque du Soleil yesterday afternoon. It was my first time to one of their shows and I loved it! The sets were magical and the acrobats were stunning. I can't even imagine how they start to design a production like that. I now want to run off and join the circus....
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Well, I had my first experience of Japanese karaoke last night! It was arranged through a meetup group I joined and consisted of a bunch of rowdy British expats who were all lovely and up for a sing along - or should I say shout along! We went to a fab place in Roppongi called Lovenet which looks more like a day spa than a dingy karaoke bar. There were individual rooms all done out like a Balinese retreat, with incense burning and moody lighting strategically placed. There was wonderful food laid on and endless drinks - all you had to do was pick up the phone on the wall, place your order and it would be delivered by a waiter within minutes! We sang all the classsics - Abba, Madonna, Queen, The Beatles, and one of the girls even managed to sing a Japanese song, reading the Japanese subtitles. Needless to say, I have no voice left this morning, but it was a fab night.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
I went to another book club last night, organised by one of the women I met at the TAC book club a few weeks ago. I've never had so much time to read and it feels good! There was a lovely bunch of people there and it was held in Nancy's apartment on the 38th floor of a huge tower block. As you can see, the view was stunning! After a glass of wine and some lovely food, we talked about what we had just read, " A Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor. It was something that I wouldn't have normally read - non fiction, true account of a neuroscientist who suffers a rare type of stroke. It was interesting how she was able to perceive her stroke from a scientific point of view and observe how it was slowly affecting her brain. The most interesting thing was how she had to completely retain her brain from scratch and was able to almost mould it more to how she wanted to feel - cutting out the negative thoughts and focusing on the positive ones.
Monday, 7 December 2009
Well, I never thought I'd say this, but I've become an unofficial quilter! I bought some antique kimono pieces a few weeks ago from a fabulous kimono shop and have finally found the time to cut out all the pieces. I then spent a good time on saturday afternoon, laying them all together so that they made some sense. Luckily our apartment is big enough to spread out! Now I just need to sew them all together....
We had a good weekend, even though poor Neil had to work all of saturday and sunday. On friday I officially became a lady who lunches and met up with some women from the Club at a very nice restaurant in Omotesando called Beacon. On friday evening I went to another production put on by the Tokyo International Players, an xmas production which was actually very funny! I then met up with Neil and we headed to a "British" pub on the 5th floor of a building, and had a pint, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
On saturday evening we went to a New Zealand restaurant called Aotea Rangi. The food menu was very simple (meat or seafood) but the wine list had 100 wines!!!! We were served by a very nice Japanese lad who had a Kiwi lilt to his accent.
On sunday I met up with the movie meetup group to go and see "Up" at a cinema in Shinjuku. I really enjoyed it and then we all went for a beer after that. There were some people there from the last meetup I went to, so it was good to see some familiar faces. I then met up with Neil and we went for scrummy pizza at our local restaurant.
Friday, 4 December 2009
Neil gave me this beautiful kimono for my birthday. It is antique, silk, and has embroidery on it - I love it! It has been sitting in my wardrobe and I get it out every now and and glide around the apartment in it. Yesterday my friend Linda came round and showed me how to put it on properly. She has all the gear that you need, including a special under garment, several truss-like pieces, and then a beautiful embroidered obi that goes over the top and holds it all in. It felt great to wear, but you can see why the women shuffle in them and tend not to sit down/pick things up off the floor very easily!
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
I couldn't resist putting this on my blog! I love the way that things get lost in translation....or maybe they don't! Sometimes the Japanese seem to reserved and private, but maybe when it comes to using the toilet, that goes out the window. Many of the toilets have instructions on them, but I haven't seen "How to wash your buttocks" before. We have a similar toilet in our apartment where there is a special "ladies only" button. I haven't been brave enough to try it yet and have been informed it's best to try it after having a stiff drink! Our toilet at home has four settings so that four members of the household can have their own flush setting!