Friday, 21 June 2013

Japan Part 2

One cannot go all the way to Tokyo and not check out the craft side of things. At the very least I needed to find out how availability and prices compared. I wasn't disappointed. My first stop was Tokyu Hands. Pooch was the one to hear about this and had been there before. This gives you an idea of what is on offer.
Tokyu Hands Store Guide
It was all pretty cool with lots of yummy things. This took me back to my childhood.
Tokyu Hands Stickers
Then there was fabric - not a huge selection but some nice ones.
Tokyu Hands Fabric
I was also surprised how much leather was available.
Tokyu Hands Leather
And this caught my eye!
Singer Sewing Machine
Isn't it beautiful?! They also had a little bit of yarn but overall nothing really leapt out at me. It was kind of like John Lewis - all very orderly and well chosen. It wasn't until we got to a place I'd seen online that that changed.

The place in question is Okadaya. It was AMAZING! Unfortunately they didn't allow photos indoors although this photo on Flickr is of one aisle on the yarn floor. Yep - whole floor. When the life doors opened and I saw it I felt I'd found a new home. I felt a bit frantic that I didn't have hours to spend there and had to tear around all the floors. It was all nooks and corners and so many types of crafts and so many variations. Delicious. I managed to come away with just this...
3 balls of each for a shawl, and these:
I have already made the heart one which is for a swap. The other is also a present but I suspect the recipient would prefer to make it themself.

Lastly there was one less successful outing. I had heard some time ago of a button museum in Tokyo and so I looked it up and resolved to go there. It was quite off the beaten track, it was pouring with rain and howling with wind and Pooch and I were both tired. Pooch was a miracle worker and got us both there despite multiple set-backs. This is him when we arrived.
Pooch crying with laughter
Just to clarify he's wiping his eyes after crying with laughter because of all we'd been through to find it and the sign behind him says the museum is closed for renovation.
Tokyo Button Museum
Such a shame.

So thus concludes my tales of Japan. It was an amazing few days and I'm looking forward to spending more time there in the future.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Japan Part 1

I was in Tokyo last week. It was a real eye opener. There were lots of subtle cultural things to pick up on as well as some downright insane things. For instance - they stand on the left on escalators!!!
Tokyo Escalator
How mental is that?!? But actually it was really good. It was a fact finding mission with the odd touristy thing thrown in. One beautiful escapade was to a fairly minor garden in the general scale of things but still a pretty decent size - say two football pitches? 
Tokyo Garden 4
It was extremely odd to be in so beautiful a place with all these sky scrapers and traffic around you. You could zone it out though, and it certainly was very soothing. And soooo Japanese. 
Tokyo Koi Fish

It was a very useful trip for me. I took in as much as I could and made quite a few observations that will help me prepare for a potential move there. One is the weather. We were on the edge of a cyclone for two days and it POURED with rain. 
Tokyo Train tracks in the rain
Umbrellas are a key part of everyone's outfits and are carried everywhere. Then there is clothing. Pretty much any style of dress goes but it always seemed to be demure and neat. Cleavage is a no no and it's not like I wave my potatoes around the whole time but a number of my tops I happily wear to work will not be suitable for general wear. Then there is the humidity. It was hot for the second two days and when it is warm it is amazingly humid so lots of cotton is called for. The outfits in which I can rock the what's-that-in-the-distance-pose in are currently limited. 
Lixie at Kamakura Shrine

Then there is the food. Sushi I'm down with. Choosing which fish will become that sushi...
Sushi Restaurant
Er nooo. Wimpy I know but we all have limits. Ice cream? Yes please! Sweet potato ice cream?
Pooch with Baked Sweet Potato Ice cream
Er nooo. Pooch loved it though. And it is best not to develop a melon craving. 
Wrapped Melons
Melons are very expensive - watermelon especially. I'm talking about £12 for one of those pictured. They are commonly gift wrapped and taken as a gift when you are invited to someone's house for dinner. 

Tokyo is an exceptionally noisy city. London doesn't come close. It has all the neon and videos of Piccadilly Circus but they all have audio attached. 
Tokyo Street Corner
Then there are trucks driving around advertising boy bands with their latest single blaring out. 
Tokyo_June_2013 010
Then the tube stations all play jingles when doors are opening, closing, trains are arriving, leaving and so on. 
Subway Sign
That is a lot of competing noise. Fortunately though I am not bothered by any of this so it is all looking good for the future. 

Part 2 of this will include what I expect you will find least interesting - a small matter of craft shops..!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Swap Sign Ups

I am somewhat bleh with jetlag after getting back from Tokyo yesterday but before I post properly about that I have news of two sewing swaps you can sign up for.

1. Super Swaps: A surprise item made with embellishments such as buttons...
Buttons? I'm in. This is done through the Flickr Group Super Swaps. Sign ups open until 30th June. This is my inspiration mosaic for it.
Inspiration Mosaic for Embellishment Swap

2. Modern Scrappy Bits: Mug Rug, Coasters or Cup Warmer
Sign ups close on Thursday. My views on cup warmers are not as well known as those on guerilla knitting and have never generated any death threats but I have indicated a preference for one of the other two. You also send a FQ worth of quality scraps. No inspiration mosaic for this one but a cat picture instead.

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