Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category


February 14, 2006

For those of you waiting eagerly for the next installment (hahaha….), know that I’m home, and de-jet-lagging.  I got to my house around noon on Saturday, Maryland time, and slept most of the day.  Yesterday was transitional, and I took today off ’cause my dad had foot surgery (he’s doing really well, etc….).

I will be finishing my Japan updates with pictures shortly, and updating on my non-back-burner knitting projects–the FLAK knitalong, the Knitting Olympic Challenge from the Yarn Harlot (I’m doing the Fair Isle Sampler Hat, from Interweave Knits, Winter 2004), and a Clapotis shawl (which was my relaxation knitting on the plane–I’ve worked a little over one skein of Noro Iroha, which I found, on sale, at Okadaya in Tokyo).

Photos to follow.  🙂



February 10, 2006

This is the area in which I’ve been working. Odaiba is right on the water. First, some photos of the Telecom Center, which is an architectural landmark.  The lobby, shown here, is also sometimes used by the TV studio nearby to shoot airport scenes.  There are three or four restaurants, a convenience store, and a coffee bar.

These are all shots of the lobby/inside area. I’m hoping to get one of the outside as well.

Also, Aqua City, home of Toys-R-Us. 🙂 It’s a little mall. These are exterior shots, of both Aqua City, and from the side of Aqua City of the Rainbow Bridge. And there’s a Statue of Liberty there, too.


*slightly* too much sake…..

February 9, 2006

Went out tonight with the fellows I trained on the system, and the guys I worked with while I was here tonight.  I had a *little* to much sake.  🙂  But it was a lot of fun…..I enjoyed it.  Except for the fact that I smell all smoky now.  😦  The food was interesting–we had something called nabe, which is more a style of food.  The main part of our dinner cooked in an iron pot on a portable gas stove for most of our meal.  Veggies and meats and tofu cooked in it for awhile, and then we dished some out into little bowls containing egg and some kind of sauce.  Aside from that there was tofu, and sashimi, and noodles, and salad, and even french fries and deep-fried oysters (that plate looked like chicken nuggets and fries to me for awhile….).  Everything was quite good.  🙂  And, despite the language barrier (only two of the guys with us were very proficient in English, two more are okay with it, and the rest knew very little) we had a lot of fun.  🙂  I do have pictures, but at the moment I’m feeling a little lazy so I won’t hook up the digital camera till tomorrow.  🙂

I have the TV on in the room and I think I’ve been watching the Japanese equivalent of the Carol Duvall show.  I just watched a lady make very realistic-looking baskets using magazine pages and wire–the papers were wrapped around something to make little tubes, and the tubes were put over wire, and used to make baskets.  Once they were painted, you had no idea they were just magazines……

The bulk of our work here is done, and it went quite well.  I’m pretty happy with it.  Glad to have things come together, but sorry to go home so soon.  I could spend another week sightseeing and still not have enough time.

Now I’m starting in on repacking the suitcases…..I’m a terrible overpacker to begin with, so this is always a struggle for me…..

I’ve been watching much too much CNN–mostly because it is in English……usually in the evening there’s an American/English-language movie on one of the channels here–tonight it’s something that maybe could be Laurence of Arabia?  It looks like it could be, anyway.  I watched most of Casablanca the other night.  But sometimes the movies are dubbed, rather than subtitled in Japanese, and that isn’t good for me.  I think I’ve increased my 12 words to 25 or 30, but still it’s not enough to enjoy a movie in the language. Just enough to torment me when I watch Japanese cartoons over here.  😦

I’m going to work some more on my FLAK sweater before I go to sleep–hopefully the sake won’t cause *too* many mistakes…..  🙂  I made a bit of progress while at the Tokyo Stitch-n-Bitch Tuesday night (which was *great*!  Lots of fun!).

More later, with some pictures–I figure those of you who are reading are over-pictured at this point, anyway.  🙂

Sunday in Harajuku…..

February 8, 2006

Okay, so I know I’m posting a lot, but I’m trying to compartmentalize and to share pics and info with a lot of people at once.  So, try and keep up.  🙂  I’m only here for three more days, anyway…..  🙂

 Spent the early part of the day Sunday in Harajuku. Went with the intention of seeing the Togo Temple, and the flea market they have there a couple Sunday mornings a month. From the Harajuku station, we wandered down the street with all of the trendy and punk shops……

From there we went to the Togo Shrine, which was lovely, despite the extreme cold. There was also a couple getting married–I got a picture. And I met a lovely family from Chicago, and took their picture with their camera-in return they took a picture of me with mine.

And there was a cat which I had to immortalize for my cat-loving friends.  There were actually several, but this was the only one that was cooperative…..

I guess there is a resort of some sort next to the shrine? 

A wedding couple in traditional clothing……wish I could’ve gotten a better pic of her kimono, it was beautiful……

And, in an area next to the shrine, was the flea market! A lot like the antique show/flea markets I frequent at home. Except for the language barrier…..

The booth where I got two kids’ kimonos and a kids’ vest….to display or use for silk fabric, haven’t decided……anybody have silk laundering tips?

This is where I found my boxed Ichimatsu doll. 🙂 And some used silk childrens’ kimonos, and a small $1 bobblehead kokeshi, and a $5 1930s-ish Japanese cloth doll. Very Lenci-like, actually. 🙂 It was neat–they had a lot of china, and household goods, and interesting furniture with lots of little drawers. And netsuke, but I restrained myself on that count–not to mention being out of cash. 🙂 I barely had enough to get me back to the hotel…. 🙂 We also had pizza at Pizza Express, which was lovely, after being without pizza for so long. 🙂

Then we went to *KIDDYLAND*! I got some doll books I’d wanted, but nothing else. It was mobbed, as it was a Sunday and the young people were out in full force.

And, for those of you who are worried, no new dolls from Kiddyland. Couple of books, but no dolls. 🙂

comic relief: the Hamamatsucho dude.

February 8, 2006

My coworker and I were on the train one evening, looking out the window. The train stopped at Hamamatsucho, and we heard water running. We finally realized there was a fountain on the platform, and turned to look.The fountain was one of those little cherubs peeing. I think the original is in Belgium? In any case, there were lovely flowers planted around it, and someone had dressed the little guy like an Olympic skier! Check it out!


Saturday Evening at Yuzawaya……

February 7, 2006

Saturday after my doll excursion I returned to the hotel briefly to drop off packages and get some water. Then I was off again. This is a view from the walkway between the hotel and Shimbashi station.

Then, a view up one of the longer escalators, in the Tokyo train station.

And a view of the washi paper selection at this great craft place called Yuzawaya. It was so overwhelming and fun that I forgot to take more pictures! They had to kick me out when it closed at 8:30–coincidentally, just as I found the yarn section. I played dumb and acted like I was looking for the elevator…. 🙂

Found some amazing fabric, which I think I’ll use to make some kind of a throw. It depicts Japanese-style 1930s rag dolls. Aren’t they cool? One fabric is square panels, the other is an all-over print. I also got some (heavily clearanced….) regular quilting fabric with a Japanese print. That picture didn’t come out–will have to re-take that one.


Saturday’s doll excursion……

February 7, 2006

Saturday I also went out in search of dolls–traditional and otherwise.I started at the Azone store in Akihabara–I knew it was there on the last trip, just never managed to locate it. I bought a ‘kit’ doll–a body, and a separate prerooted/prepainted head, both by the Obitsu company. I got the version with magnets in her feet and a stand to stick to. She’s got pink hair, as well. And I got a Rune doll, by Sekiguchi:

I think she’s very cute. 🙂 She’s also quite posable, and can share clothes with Barbie and Jenny and similar dolls. 🙂

Then I ventured to Asakusa-bashi. The home to Totoco (where I didn’t go on this trip…) and Yoshitoku, which is (one of?) the oldest doll stores in Tokyo, dating from the 1700s. I couldn’t find my notes about where to find Yoshitoku. But there were department stores and doll shops and all sorts of places on the main drag through town selling dolls, in preparation for Hina Matsuri. I visited two lovely shops before finally going in a convenience store for a snack, where I asked the shopgirl where to find Yoshitoku. I had her draw me a picture–that was the most expedient. Turns out I went the wrong way coming out of the train station……

Anyway, first the displays in the two stores prior to Yoshitoku (I apologize to the stores, but their names were in Japanese, and I have no idea what they were called…..

First, a Licca and Licca’s boyfriend (I can’t remember his name….) Hina set:

Then, the rows of Hina sets at the first store. The first picture shows an entire wall of sets–in the second picture it’s more obvious where one ends and the next begins–there are lamps at either end on the top level. That’s the best separator, anyway.

The next pic is of some Ichimatsu dolls–these are the modern version. At home I have a composition Ichimatsu–I just bought an older gofun one here in Tokyo. I love these new ones, but they’re very expensive–however, the workmanship is amazing.

Another Hina doll grouping–this set was mainly a *large* emperor and emperess.

Two pics of the Ichimatsu type. The second pic is mainly in honor of the beautiful doll in the middle…..


Dolly from the flea market…..

February 6, 2006

May I introduce the Ichimatsu doll I found at the Harajuku flea market……..:


She’s got what I believe is her original box. 🙂 She’s absolutely lovely, and I believe gofun rather than the compo one I have at home. I’m thrilled. 🙂 For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ichimatsu dolls, they were traditional Japanese play dolls, in the image of a famous actor named Ichimatsu. Head, hands, and feet are covered in gofun–a thick white paste made from crushed oyster shells. The body is actually (traditionally, I haven’t undressed her yet) mostly paper. Kimono is silk.

pics from Saturday’s excursion…..

February 6, 2006

This post will mostly be pics, relevant to the last post.  First, pictures as I walked from the hotel to the Shimbashi station.  The first is looking down from the walkway toward some restaurants (the center one is Nathan’s hot dogs):

Looking upward at the hotel:

Looking horizontally at the hotel:

This is the view from the Shimbashi Yurikamome station, up the Chuo Dori toward Ginza:

This is me, Starbucks tall-skim-no-whip-mocha in hand, with my back to Ginza.  It was here I met two young girls, off for a day in Odaiba, who were taking pics of themselves.  I offered to take a pic for them, and they took one of me in return.  They had limited English and I had limited Japanese, but it was a pleasant interaction.

Telephone booth, outside the Shimbashi post office (which houses a no-fee ATM). 
Despite the prevalence of cell phones in Tokyo, there are still public coin-operated phones all over the place.  The red box next to it is a mailbox.

This cat detail was above a little garden/shrine area, also outside of the Shimbashi PO.

You can just see the cat detail on this wider shot–it’s above the ledge on the building.  This picture shows the scope.  Keep in mind this is the *city*.

And, panning left:

The view as I walked back toward the Shimbashi station (the JR this time, rather than the Yurikamome).  Note the Starbucks sign.

And the view, looking back the way I came, from the train platform:

Now, a train ride later, I am in Akihabara.  This shop sold mainly Re-ment sets–little toy sets with a piece of candy in them.  Boxes are opaque, so you can get any of a selection.  I was looking for little doll accessories for friends.  Akihabara used to be the electronics area–now it’s much more into anime and manga and dolls and figures.

More later…..  🙂

quick update…..

February 4, 2006

Making a pit stop in the hotel room before going back out.  Hit the main Azone store, Yoshitoku (doll shop dating from 1711), and Akihabara.  Also went to the PO to get money, and managed to *finally* get my phone card situation handled.  🙂  More later, but will leave you with my observation of the day…….

Right now is Hina doll season.  Kind of like tax season, except with doll shops as the accountants and every family with a baby girl under two converging on Asakusabashi.  *Extended* family.  It was *packed*.  And mind-blowing–after a couple of minutes, all of the Hina displays ran together……

Don’t get me wrong–I love kids, and babies especially.  There were babies laughing, sleeping, looking around, etc.  But that area of town was *packed*.  I was both the only person there alone (rather than a baby with an entourage or an employee of the store).  I went in four stores.  Yoshitoku, once I found it, was the best–and the only one with Gosho Ningyo, which are apparently mostly ignored during Hina Matsuri season.

I can’t say enough good about the Yoshitoku staff–there was a poster for some sort of event in October (not even sure *which* October?) with all kinds of dolls on it.  I asked the token English-speaking fellow if he knew where I could get one, and he said he’d find out.  While I was waiting at the cashier, a young Japanese gal comes out with a rolled up poster, opens it and shows it to me, and presents me with it.  🙂 

Now I’m headed out to find Yuzawaya, which is supposedly a lovely and *huge* needlework/fabric/yarn store.

I’ve also been taking photos all day (even some surreptitiously in stores where I wasn’t *quite* allowed).  Will post later–losing time.