Friday, 10 January 2014

Shinjuku Shop Windows

On the whole, I am not a devotee of shop window displays. I used to occasionally stop to admire Liberty's but that was about it. But following Rachel's guest post about christmas windows I have been a bit more aware of them, and the ones in Shinjuku this week definitely caught my eye. I was on one of the main roads near the station and the juxtaposition of the Louis Vuitton opulence with the Oioi (I think) department store nearby was very effective*.
Louis Vuitton Window Shinjuku
The one thing that does always occur to me with these windows is logistics. For example, were the flowers shipped to the store as is and over how great a distance?
Louis Vuitton Window Shinjuku
How were they packed to ensure they didn't get crumpled and bent? Are those cherries vacuum formed plastic, and what about the balloons? Or sprayed polystyrene perhaps?
Louis Vuitton Window Shinjuku
Could they even be inflatable? And what happens to it after this display is done with? Does every LV shop have the same display or were these designed specifically for this space?

Moving on I admired the contrast of old culture (kimonos and kabuki make-up) with new culture (comics and manga - although comics are also a little bit old school having now been around for decades) and very new culture (the cutting edge fashion).
Shinjuku Shop Window
With this kind of thing it is the timeline that interests me. Clearly someone had to come up with the concept, get that approved, then choose the items to be displayed, the arrangement and which window they'd be in, have the artist make the drawings, finalise the designs, get them made and then set it up to coincide with having the dresses etc in stock.
Shinjuku Shop Window
And unless that was all done quite quickly, the clothes and things would have been in store for weeks before the windows were in place, which seems pointless.
Shinjuku Shop Window
But then I guess they get previews of the clothes months in advance so that probably explains it. Still - you need a skilled kind of mind to envisage this kind of thing before you've got the real stuff in front of you.

*To put this in context - this particular road is kind of a New Bond Street type bit of street in central Tokyo. Posh shops in abundance which then break off into not so posh and scraggy ones. If you know London think South Kensington tailing off into the Tottenham end of Oxford Street. I constantly get Shinjuku and Shibuya confused, although they are very different in feel. Shinjuku is more for wealthy business types while Shibuya is more teenage. There is a phenomenon known as 'Shibuya Girls' who are the ones who dress all cutesy with ringlets and frills. You see them in twos and threes, usually giggling.
Maid in Shibuya
There is also the Shibuya Scramble - the most mental pedestrian crossing you'll ever find. There are about 5 crossings together which you would have thought form a satanic pentagon from the number of people involved. When the green man lights up, *thousands* of people cross at once.
Blurred, Shibuya, Tokyo

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Normality Has Been Achieved

My facebook status a few days ago read
Every now and again, I look up at all the neon and so on, and think "Holy shit, I'm in Japan."
This happened to me again on the train this morning, and again while I was pottering around the kitchen. I have concluded that this means I am finally used to being here. Being on the metro, walking around the streets, using ingredients whose labels I can't understand, is all quite normal to me now - it doesn't seem obvious that I'm in a different country. A pretty good thing after just 7 weeks on this side of the world.

Normality coincides with my first finished knitting project since I arrived (there was the blanket but that was crochet). It is a Multinomah Shawl (rav link to free pattern) with a beaded cast off.
Multinomah Shawl
Multinomah Shawl
It also coincides with my acquisition of this FQ bundle in very japanese colours.
Polka Dot Fabric Bundle
It also coincides with another visit to my favourite cat cafe in Shinjuku. Prizes were awarded for...Cutest Feet:
Cat Paws
Most Variegated Eyes:
Green Eyed Cat
Fluffiest Face: (can you imagine what this lady looked like as a kitten - omg cute overload)
Fluffball
Most Freaky Looking:
IMG_3395
And finally, Most Likely to Become an Evil World Dictator:
Mastermind Cat

As I was leaving I looked back into the room just in time to catch this crazyness...
Sideways Cat
I love these cats!


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Japanese Craft Books

I have been having a lovely time over New Year, tucked up on the sofa under the new crocheted blanket next to Pooch, looking through a selection of Japanese Craft books. Not only do I have access to the usual bookshops (photos in this post) but also the Book-Off chain who do second hand books. And not only am I able to buy books and magazines BUT I have a library five minutes away which has a monthly quilting magazine you can read there AND a big craft section upstairs. I really am pretty lucky.
Craft Books
Those of you not familiar with japanese craft books, their usefulness lies in their extensive use of diagrams, charts and symbols. This makes them highly accessible to non-japanese speakers. There are a number of websites helping you understand them too. There is a brilliant collection of resources here and I have bought new books from Pomadour on Etsy before.

A few favourites from recent reads:
Round box pic
Fruit purses by akemi shibata pic
Hexagon patchwork bags pic
and this is the kind of instructions you get for the hexagon bag.
Hexagon patchwork bags instruct1
There are also usually templates either within the pages or on a fold out pattern sheet like you get with mainstream sewing magazines.

I know these books can be pretty expensive in the UK (actually they are expensive here too!) so I'm looking into setting up a little Etsy shop selling on the second hand books I can find that are at least half the price of the new ones and which are in good condition. If you'd like new copies I'd recommend Pomadour's shop, but otherwise watch this space for updates!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Washing in Tokyo

Space in Tokyo is really scarce. However, a lot of apartments have a small outside space or balcony - even if only because you need somewhere to stick the outdoor bit of the aircon unit which is standard here. On the majority of balconies you will see something I've only rarely seen in the UK - and which I've just found through googling described by an ebay seller as a "Plastic Fold Hanging Rack Peg Dryer Airer Wash Drying Hanger Indoor Outdoor Clip" which is quite a good name, or by Lakeland as a "Magic Hanger". These often hang from laundry poles for which there are standard fittings on most balconies. A la these in the flats I can see from our balcony.
Peg Hangers
I made myself foolishly happy this morning by using mine to hang out my knitted socks.
Socks Drying
Eleven pairs in all. All made by me except for the pinky red ones second from the right which were a present and are lovingly cared for. They include the first pair I made using ProbablyJane's Bracket Fungus pattern (rav link and fourth from right in above picture) which remains one of my favourite patterns. In fact looking at Ravelry those are now more than 6 years old - Go Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock Multi! Although they are reserved for bedsocks nowadays since they have gone quite baggy. These are not all of my knitted socks and the presence of the Fungus ones is not my only reason to think of ProbablyJane. In fact the reason why hanging them out like this made me happy is because I remembered her photos of hers hanging on her washing line back in London!

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