Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ginkgo trees

Today I went up to Maranouchi and the weather was stunning. I had to spend a minute taking in the stunning ginkgo trees that are in full vibrancy at the moment. We are heading off to England tomorrow for christmas (very excited about it) and this will be our last glance of blue skies for a while I fear! This will be my last posting for a while as I won't be back in Tokyo until 21st January - in time to get a picture of the January morality poster! Watch this space.

Accenture Christmas Work Party

On friday night, Accenture had their annual christmas party at the ANA hotel in Akasaka. This was the first one I'd been to and I have to say, I wasn't quite prepared for the extent of it. The whole of the basement level was taken up and apparently 2,800 people came - out of the 5,000 employees! There was a massive array food, endlessly flowing drink and (rather strange) entertainment put on for us all - all compered by a man wearing a reindeer hat!

We had a Kabuki-style show put on - the costumes were amazing and I kept thinking they would make nice clutch bags.

 The compere was wearing a reindeer hat and took his job very seriously.

Neil and Richard enjoying a drink.

The food was good and there was an amazing array. We were tempted to go straight to the chocolate fountain and skip the main course......

The Accenture baseball team were asked to see how 
many people could jump a skipping rope at once......

Heiwajima Antique Fair and sushi lunch

 On friday a group of us went to the Heiwajima Antique market. It was really a pilgrimage for our friend Jane who is leaving Tokyo for good and wanted one last fix! There are over 250 vendors selling everything from armour and weapons to beautifully painted screens and wonderful textiles. Of course, we went for the textiles and I had a rather fruitful day - in fact so fruitful I had to get it delivered back to my apartment! See some of the finds here.

As a reward, we decided to go for sushi lunch and ended up at this gorgeous little place in Ginza. We were so pleased that our friend Michicko, who is Japanese, found it for us and was able to negotiate a table etc. The food was melt-in-the-mouth and a lovely way for Jane to spend her last day in Tokyo.

 The sushi was artfully placed out on the counter in front of us.

The chef was a lovely gentle man who was willing to explain each fish to us (through Michiko, our interpreter) as it was placed in front of us.

This was what the outside looked like - somewhere I would never have dared to go into if we hadn't had a Japanese person with us.....

Heiwajima Antique Fair

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Irving Penn and Issey Miyake

For over a decade, fashion designer Issey Miyake and photographer Irving Penn, collaborated to create posters of the designer's work, and an exhibition of these posters is showing at the beautifully modern 21_21 Design Site gallery in Tokyo's Midtown. Yesterday I went along to check it out. The main piece in the exhibition consists of an ultra-high definition projector, which projects changing images of Irving Penn's photos in gigantic scale onto the wall. The effect is amazingly dramatic, with the combination of stunning, sculptural clothes and vivid photography.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A colourful sunday

We decided to take a walk in Shinjuku park today - somewhere we hadn't been back to since blossom season. Amazingly the leaves were still a wonderful colour and with the bright sun and brilliant blue sky, it was stunning. Everyone was out, enjoying the afternoon, and when we got home, we had a stunning view of Mount Fuji from our balcony.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

December morality poster

It's that time of year when over-indulgences tend to happen and Tokyo Metro is obviously onto this. December's morality poster shows (yet again) a very cute furry friend, this time a grey cat, splayed out on a bench. The caption reads "Even if you've had a few drinks, please don't lie down on the train seat".......

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Autumn/Winter at the Mori Tower

I was rushing through the garden at the Mori Tower yesterday afternoon and just had to stop and take it in. The foliage was beautiful and the awesomeness of the tower combined with that was quite stunning. We haven't done much leaf-viewing this year and I forget how late the autumn leaves last here, and how amazing their colours are.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Friendly Fires

Last night we headed over Chiba way to go to a Friendly Fires concert. It was a freezing night and so we were wrapped up warm. The problem with this usually is that you then get to the venue and have to shed your layers, but have nowhere to put them.....not so in Tokyo! In a very civilised manner, they have lockers provided, so that all your bulky items can be stashed away and forgotten about as you enjoy your evening - love it! The band was really good and we had a fab night out - as did most of the audience. Another nice thing about going to gigs here, is that people around you respect your space, so there is no trampling and no "beer down your back".

Note the early starting time, and when they say it starts at 7pm, they mean it! No hanging around....

Girlie night out

Thursday night was a good old girlie night out with 7 lovely ladies. We started off with a bubbly cocktail at the bar at Salvatore in Omotesando Hills and then trotted downstairs to see the fab Vivienne Westwood shoe exhibition, which is showing until 9th Jan and displays 200 pairs of weird and wonderful shoes. There was an amazing array of footwear, ranging from the mid 70s to today, as well as film footage of her past fashion shows, which included models such as Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Carla Bruni! You forget what an influence she had on so many aspects of fashion over the years, and it was great seeing each item up close.

After soaking up the exhibition (and being glad I was only wearing 2" heels!) we headed on for a slap up dinner at Mosaique. A lovely night all round!

The shoes that Naomi Campbell famously fell over in, in one of Vivienne Westwood's fashion shows.

It was great to see "normal" model-sized shoes with sizes I could relate to!

Love the buckle and lace-up combo.

This is a great colour combination.

These shoes make the shoes I wore to the ball last saturday positively flat in comparison!

"Shoes must have very high heels and platforms to put women's beauty on a pedestal"
Vivienne Westwood

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mastering the art of the kimono

Since coming to Japan, I have fallen in love with the kimono and spent many hours foraging in antique markets and tiny kimono shops for the perfect design to use in my bags. Although you are often aware of women wearing kimonos here, they are usually only worn by the older generation for tea ceremonies or weddings, and the sad fact is that the art of kimono-making is diminishing. We recently came across an interesting piece on Radio Four that reports on the efforts being made to revive the popularity of hand-crafted kimonos and ensure that the ancient skills are not lost. You can listen to it here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Washi washi

Yesterday I did a lovely class in washi paper-making, something I've wanted to do ever since I got to Japan. It was a simple class and just a taster of an hour and a half, but was a lot of fun. It was held in the beautiful washi paper shop called "Ozu Washi" in Nihonbashi.

We learnt how the pulp is formed from the inner part of the Kozo tree branches. The branches are cut and steamed in a cauldron, and while the branches are still warm, the bark is removed by hand. The inner layer of the bark is what is used for washi paper. The inner layer is then washed and boiled with soda for a few hours. The soda helps to loosen the binding of the fibres of the branches.The bark is washed again, and then mashed with a wooden hammer. The mashed bark is then put into water in a large container called a sukibune and a slimey liquid called Tororo-aoi is added to help bind the fibres. This is where we joined the process......

First of all the teacher showed us how to use the "sugeta", a sieve-like structure that scoops up the fibre in the water. You have to swing the sugeta backwards and forwards about 20 times (twice) to disperse the fibres evenly across the structure.

You can then open the sugeta frame and take out the "matting" that holds your newly formed fibres.

The newly formed paper is then rolled out onto a mesh screen to dry.

 We were given an array of paper items to decorate our washi paper with. These get sandwiched between two pieces of paper.

I loved the pretty colours of the washi paper so decided to arrange the cut paper in rows. It is placed on the wet paper which is still sitting on the mesh screen.

Once it has started drying (and with the help of a big hoover contraption) the paper is then taken off the mesh screen and placed on a heated plate to completely dry, using a big wallpaper brush.

 Once taken off the hot plate, the paper is slightly curly so is then flattened for a while.

We were then each given the chance to "display" our creations in front of a light ........

Monday, 28 November 2011

St Andrews Ball update

Well, the St Andrews ball was a raging success! Neil and I got our glad rags on and trotted off to the ANA hotel in Akasaka for a night of good food, lots of drink and a host of reeling to live music, performed by bagpipers, drummers, a pianist and some fiddlers - one of which was my friend Sanna who did an amazing job. Much fun was had by all and it was a great excuse to get dressed up.

Note the use of a Cheeky Leopard clutch bag! I was able to fit all the essentials in it, including some sensible dancing shoes.....

I think we'd had a few drinks by this point........

The evening began with an amazing performance by the Tokyo bagpipe group.

Our friend Naoko played the piano while we ate.

Not a bad looking bunch!