Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tokyo in winter

30th December 2010
We spent the day in Ikebukuro, and Akihabara looking at the shops, the crowds and the computer and Cosplay crowds. Each doorway has a rice stalk decoration for New Year. Here are some examples

 Here are some of the dolls dressed as characters in Japanese comics or  Manga.
 If you want to get a new hairstyle for your doll.
 Here I am outside the Gundam Cafe in Akihabara
Getting ready to count down the New Year in Ginza with a giant sparkly clock.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Here we are in Tokyo, It is pretty cold and very quiet. The airport wasn:t buzzing with tourists like it usually is and the locals are getting ready for New Year so are getting ready to go home to spend time with their families. We came straight to our guesthouse from the airport so havent been anywhere much yet but it is great to be back in japan. This time I have brought my laptop so can load photos onto the blog as we travel around instead of doing it retrospectively when I get home. Our Guesthouse is a little gem. It is called Family Inn Saiko and the owners invited all the guests to eat a meal with them last night which was fantastic as we had just arrived after a 10 hour flight and didnt want to go looking for food at the convenience store.
We stayed there 8 days altogether and thoroughly recommend the place. Although it is a little far  from the station, it is wonderful to stay in such a friendly place and nice to be there over New Year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Books, kids, Symposium, exhibitions

Hi everyone
If you are in New Zealand don't forget to enter your quilt for the Quilt Symposium exhibitions. I had completely forgotten about them till someone mentioned that the deadline for entries is 14th of January. This is right in the middle of the New Zealand Christmas break so it is easy to miss.

Minerva Gallery still has the Cash and Carry exhibition 'Something Special' on till Christmas Eve.

This year's participating artists include Ruth Meier, Melissa Anderson, Jill Maas, Helen Back, Sue Tyler, Lesley Rawlings, Anne Buckell, Michelle Irving, Lou Nicholl, Rosemary McLeod, Angie Cairncross, Chloe Keylock, Maureen van Dam, Anneke Cottle, Clare Smith, Bridget Sanders, Janet Ryan, Rosie White, Nancy Millichamp, Anne Scott, Eloise Evans, Elizabeth King, Anne Weinbrenner, Marie Walters, Marge Hurst and Barbara Hercus.

I've been finishing off quilts to try and see if I have anything suitable for the Symposium exhibition but got distracted by this book:
 A Glimpse of Eternal Snows by Jane Wilson-Howarth.

It is the story of an English family and how they brought their children up in Nepal. One of the children had severe medical problems and I found it fascinating to see that this seemed less of a problem in Nepal where people accept that not everything can be cured, than it had in the UK where doctors were constantly trying to test for various 'syndromes'.

Music and Bike rides
It is school holidays here till the end of January. Number one son is into free jazz, Japanese Noise music and is currently experimenting with trying to wire up a bell to make nasty twangy noises which he can record. I just hope he is using batteries and not mains power. Then I have to transport his whole drum kit into Wellington for a 'gig'.
Number two son is preparing for a major bike ride for the Duke of Edinburgh award, and I get to be 'shadow party' so for three days I have to follow them around the Wairarapa in the car. Hope it stops raining soon.

Due to my employment as a taxi driver, very little is actually being made...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Todays best blog find

Today's favourite blog is Needleprint which is a blog about needlepoint samplers. I really covet the perpetual diary but am trying to limit the number of credit card purchases after we went over our credit card limit yesterday - eek!

Today I have two teenagers in the lounge playing StarWars on the Playstation. One in the kitchen getting a cooking lesson as part of his Queen's Scout Award and another playing drums in the bedroom. They aren't all mine however.

Whats on this weekend?
Craft 2.0 at the Dowse gallery

Frank Kitts park markets 10-4pm - lots of stuff for xmas

Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Lots of very nice costumes in beautiful fabrics.

Enriching Fashion: An Eye For Detail

Come and take a closer look at some of the distinctive, exquisite details in fashion with Enriching Fashion: An Eye For Detail, on at the Eyelights Gallery in Te Papa from 17 September 2010 - 26 August 2011.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Todays best blog find

The Textile Blog is a great place to find out all sorts of textile information. I was looking for lace when I stumbled upon it. I'm currently looking at Reticella lace and a modern version - Guipure. The Reticella lace is what Elizabethan ruffs were decorated with.

Craft 2.0 . Craft Fair

The Dowse Art Museum
45 Laings Rd, Lower Hutt.
Craft 2.0 is a modern day craft  fair.

Costume Construction Course

Not sure if anyone reads this blog. I am not the best at updating it.
I have been accepted for a one year course in Costume Construction next year at the drama school here in Wellington. I am really looking forward to it. In the meantime I am getting another chance to go to japan, this time from December 29th to late January. Carefully timed to take in the Tokyo Quilt Show. There is a small group of people from Wellington going over for the quilt show and I will catch up with them in Tokyo after staying in Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa with the family.
In case anyone else wants to go , you don't have to stay at the Tokyo Dome hotel, there are other cheaper hotels in the area.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Finding Textiles in Kyoto, Arimatsu, Osaka, Kurashiki

If you click on the blue words it takes you to the website for each textile place. That is where you will find the address. The tourist information centre at Nishijin will help you find textile workshops and classes.

The Japanese Tourist information people have made this useful tour guide to textiles in Japan. Click here for the PDF

This is the big Kyoto centre for textiles which the tourist information centre sends everyone to. You can  arrange to do a class. They also have kimono fashion shows at 2 pm each day i think. Best to check on their website by clicking on the word Nishijin (the heading).

Aizenkobo Indigo
Ask at the Tourist Info or at Nishijin for the instructions.  Lovely fabrics.

Kyoto Shibori Kogeikan
A small museum with amazing huge multicoloured shibori panels. Has small silk peices for sale as well as scarves and kimono lengths. Video is in japanese but easy to follow the steps. I think you can arrange to do classes with them but would need to sort this in advance.

This group of shops sells clothing items based on traditional Japanese crafts. They sell the most bizarre sneakers which have split toes.

From Kyoto you can get to Nagoya and from there to Arimatsu to see the shibori museum.

Click the word above to take you to the website for the Arimatsu Shibori museum which does workshops. The website is in English. To get to the shibori area cross the railway and turn pretty much straight left into a really old looking street. If you find yourself climbing up hill you have gone too far.

I haven't had a lot of time to explore Osaka itself for fabrics but really enjoyed the Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) which has loads of lovely costumes and textiles and a great gallery which has temporary exhibition, often textiles. You have to walk through the park to get there which is lovely. Go to their website by clicking on the blue writing and then click access on their web page to find public transport to get to the Museum.

Kurashiki is worth a day trip from Osaka, Kyoto or Hiroshima.
There is a covered shopping street which has 5 shops which sell hand dyed clothes which I really like and which fit me :-)
It also has lots of lovely canals, cherry blossom, galleries, shopping, pretty stuff. I go there every trip as it is a favourite. From the station front entrance - go to your left, cross the road via the pedestrian over bridge, turn left and the entrance to the shopping street is on your right not far away. There is a quilting shop in that covered street too. At the end of the covered street turn right and you get to the old area of town.

Here is Robyn Burch's blog which also discusses Kurashiki

Finding Textiles in Tokyo

Here are some of the places I found in Japan as well as links to other people's blogs, websites and information. Please feel free to let me know of other places to find fabric or craft materials in Tokyo.

Amuse Gallery
Closed Mondays
2-34-3 Asakusa, Taito Ku, Tokyo, Japan 111-0032
- East side of the Sensoji Temple compound,
adjacent to the national important cultural property "Nitenmon Gate"

The gallery has a permanent exhibition of Boro.
Special exhibition on working women's clothes till April 2011.
Amuse Gallery is very close to Sensoji temple in Asakusa. Go right down the shopping street, Nakamise Dori then at the main shrine turn right into a side road. Amuse Gallery is on your left opposite a Duty free camera shop.

Blue and White Shop.
Azabu Juban.

Bunka Womens University Textile Museum
Closed Sundays and public holidays
Instructions and map on the website.
Shinjuku Station South Exit. Turn right, walk about 5 minutes, museum is on the other side of the road.

Bunka Fashion School
Click for info.

Nuno Corporation

Nippori Textile Town
A road of textile shops.
Check out Floating World blog for instructions on how to get there.

This is a craft/hobby/textile shop.
Shops in Kamata, Kichijoji, Yokohama and more, click on link to see a list.

Kichijoji store
Go to Kichijoji Station, exit via Park Exit, walk out the station exit and straight ahead. Yuzawaya is on the 7th and 8th floor of Marui Kichijoji store (head for the store with the big OIOI on it).  It is no longer in the station building (which I found out by wandering around for ages). Click on this link to see a picture of the logo.

Tokyu Hands
Mega DIY/craft shop with shops in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro etc. Branches in cities across Japan.

Kinokuniya Bookstore
Has a good range of English books, craft books in Japanese and English as well as calenders and magazines. The best one I found was in Shinjuku but there are other stores in cities across Japan.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Coast to Coast Open Day 21st Nov

Head to COAST TO COAST - the Quilters Day Out at Lower Hutt Horticultural Hall, Saturday from 10-4.

Tickets at the door, $10 entry includes morning/afternoon tea.

Lunch packs available for purchase (and there's a number of munchie places within a short walk).

Guest speaker: Robyn Burgess of Patchwork Passion, Onehunga. Specialist in Japanese fabrics and stitchery.

Merchants Mall + Scissor sharpener (remember to nametag your scissors!)

There is a change of speaker, see the blog listed below for details

Last Chance to See
This is an exhibition of textile work at Mahara Gallery on till Sunday 21st November. There are some lovely quilts/cloaks by Katherine Morrison. She has them displayed hanging as if they were cloaks around people and inside there are baby clothes, as if the adult cloak is keeping the baby safe. The cloaks are beautifully stitched and the lining/backing of one of them shows the black stitches as if they are pen drawings.

Expressions Gallery in Upper Hutt
Till Sunday 21st November
Mark Lander's paper exhibition. He has the huge sheets of paper hanging in the gallery and you walk through it as if it was a stage set. I did a workshop with Mark years ago and we made huge sheets of paper which we used to make costumes and print on.

DRIVEN: Whitireia Polytech student show till 9th January 2011.
Pataka Community Gallery. Wide range of mediums including textiles.

Aotearoa Feltsisters 'Earthwaulks'
13 January - 30 January 2011     
The Aotearoa Felters or Feltsisters hail from the islands of Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand

For more info on Aotearoa Feltsisters go to


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Textile Events for Wellington

Coast to Coast Open Day - 20th November

Quilts from around the Wellington Quilt groups. Show and tell etc.
Horticultural Hall, Lower Hutt,

Back from japan

Hi everyone
I am back from Japan and planning to go again in January, this time to Okinawa. I have even timed it this time so I can go to the Tokyo Quilt Show. Although currently I haven't actually got a plane ticket back as all the 'airmiles seats' are full at the moment. I have managed to book to get the whole family home to NZ except myself.

The latest trip included Kyushu Island including Kurume (splash dyed ikat fabrics), Kanazawa (fancy stencilled kimono) and Bunka Womens University textile museum in Tokyo.

The next post wil have the textile related events for Wellington.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

kansai airport

Im on the move again and cant easily update the whats on pages. Nor can I find the key which does apostophes. The one I found gave me a smileď˝™。
Will do my best to add info as I am travelling first one week in Busan in Korea then Kyushu Island, Japan and then HOnshu. clare

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Fabric-a-brac is happening in Wellington on 13 November.
Sat 13 Nov, 9am-1pm
St Anne's Hall, end of Emmett St, Newtown, Wellington

Details on Thought you might be interested as there's lots of great fabric for sale. There's still tables available for those who want to sell too!(actually I have that in the side column too, maybe not visible enough)

Bookmaking exhibition
Toi Poneke (Wellington Arts centre, Abel Smith St)
1-24 October
9-7.30 weekdays, 10-4 weekends

Meissen Kimono Exhibition
Expressions Gallery
Upper Hutt

Pinestream Quilters Show
Expressions Gallery
Upper Hutt

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wellington Quilters exhibition

Wellington Quilters exhibition
Fri 1 to Sun 10 Oct 2010
10am - 4pm daily 10am - 8pm Thursday 7th October
St Patricks College , Kilbirnie $5

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yoshiko Wada class

Yoshiko Wada recently taught a class on Boro and indigo dyeing in Nelson and  is currently teaching a class in Porirua. Today she showed a method of removing the sericin from silk and then dyeing it. The dye takes in the areas that are degummed in a different way to the gummed areas. Tomorrow she will be talking about shibori on wool and 'fulling'.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Changes to my blog

I have not been a good blogger so have decided to change the theme of my blog to more of a 'Whats On' in New Zealand. Please bear with me if you are reading this while I rearrange the format and get the 'What's On' section up to date. I also hope to add to the permanent 'Things to See and places to go' section bit by bit.

Currently in Wellington - WOW show. The Wearable Art Awards.
I missed the date to buy tickets and found they were all sold out. However, I found there are still a few tickets if you go up to the counter at the TSB Arena in Wellington and ask if there are any tickets available. I got a seat for the awards night and was so close to the stage I could almost touch the garments. Pretty good for such short notice.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Teaching In Whakatane

I went to Whakatane to teach for the weekend . I  left Wellington at about 7.30pm on one of those flying pencil cases. Then the pilot said that the de-icers had broken down on the propeller and the crashing sounds on the side of the plane were bits of ice falling off the prop and hitting the plane as they flicked off. They landed us in Palmerston North and couldn't fix it so stuck us on a bus to Whakatane. It took them ages to find a driver who hadn't gone to the pub so we finally got to Whakatane at 4.30am. I am not sure that the person who billeted me was expecting to have to get up in the middle of the night to let me in (I did tell her just to leave the door unlocked and a note on the bedroom door).

I really enjoy teaching and it was a great class, I really enjoyed it.  It was a terrible weekend for weather though. They had 300mms of rain over the weekend and parts of the town were flooded and some of the people in the class had to leave early because the town went on 'code white' (whatever that means) and they were told to go home to Ohope and Opotiki now or be stuck in Whakatane overnight
All the quilts made in this class - called 'The Next Step' are different. This is one of the quilts made in the class, thanks to Pauline for letting me put it on my blog. She has called it 'Living Outside the Square' and she has quilted and bound it since the class finished on sunday - that is less than 2 days ago! Well done Pauline.

Now back in Wellington and we are gearing up for the workshops with Yoshiko Wada, the author of the book 'Shibori: the art of shaped resist'. She is doing 3 public lectures in New Zealand.

Public Lecture - Yoshiko Wada
2pm on 23rd September, nelson School of Music, $20 per ticket.

Floortalk with Yoshiko Wada
30th September 
Meissen Kimono  11 am Expressions Gallery Upper Hutt

New Texture, new material, New Thinking
Yoshiko Wada
24th September Friday 5pm, Massey University, Buckle st, 10A02

Monday, August 2, 2010

Possum Merino felt

The textile students are working on a commission to test possum/merino wool. At the moment they are trying to felt it and then will dye it in natural dyes and acid dyes. At the moment the sliver (carded wool) is palest beige but I hope to be able to change some of that tomorrow!

The Australian Brushtail possum was introduced to NZ in the 19th century and they have been chomping on our forests ever since.  To get rid of these pests they are shot, trapped, deliberately run over or poisoned. Woolyarns factory devised a way of mixing possum fur (which is a hollow fibre) and merino wool to make the most beautiful knitting wool. It is incredibly warm and soft.

If anyone has anything possum related for the students please get in touch. This could be possum skin offcuts, scientific papers, anecdotes about possums or names of people they could interview.

Photos of possum felt samples tomorrow


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quilt Symposium , Queenstown 2011

I haven't made a quilt all year. I probably need to start thinking about quilts for the New Zealand Quilt Symposium exhibitions next year.

I am really looking forward to the Symposium in Queenstown . The last Queenstown Symposium was probably my favourite ever Symposium. It is such a beautiful spot. Dijanne Cevaal and I got very brave and flew down to Milford Sound on a light plane. VERY SCARY but amazing.

The committee have asked me to teach a fabric printing and painting class, a sashiko class, a design class and a class using recycled materials. I don't want to spoil the fun for everyone of seeing the registration book which should be due out fairly soon.

On sunday I helped Sue Wademan pack up her exhibition wall at the New Zealand Art show (used to be the Affordable art show) in Wellington. She reminded me about exhibition opportunities such as the Silk Road Exhibition in Queenstown and the symposium exhibitions.

For details of the Silk Road Exhibition in April 2011, please email Sue Wademan



I am not very good at this blogging, I forget to update it for weeks at a time.

Over the last few weeks I have taught 2 screenprinting classes. One was for the public and one for digital design students who had the designs all ready to go and just needed to get them onto a t-shirt. One was very low-tech, the kind of process I use at home where I don't have access to all the fancy equipment. One was high-tech in that we used the vacuum table and special exposure unit.
Both classes were great fun but I was shattered at the end! I didn't even take any photos.
 Over the 8 days I managed to coat about 20 screens with the photo emulsion and help students coat about 20 more, and help about 15 students with their designs which required at least 3 colours per print. Pretty full on.

I have also been making scarves for a shibori exhibition at Barometer Gallery ,13 Gurner St., Paddington, NSW. The exhibition will be opened by Yoshiko Wada who wrote the bible for shibori artists 'Shibori: The art of Shaped resist"

- contemporary shaped resist dyed scarves/shawls

Barometer Gallery will open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week from the 8th September to the 3rd October, 10am to 6pm.

Here is a detail of one of my scarves that will be on the sale table. We each have one major piece and up to 5 for sale. This is the first time I have entered a shibori exhibition. It feels funny not entering a quilt which needs a hanging sleeve etc. I don't even know how they display them.

This scarf is made of 100% merino wool jersey and has been clamped and bound and dyed about 6 times in acid dyes. Dyeing wool is also something new for me and I have been experimenting with both acid and fibreactive wool dyes. They react differently to Procion dyes on cotton and I am just learning how they work.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wool, wool and more wool

I have been dyeing fine merino wool and have been making tubular scarves and shibori dyed shawls and wraps. I am just discovering what the wool dyes can do. If I heat the pot too fast, the dye takes very quickly and unevenly. I really like the effects but some people might see this as a negative and call it 'tie dye' rather than 'shibori'. The wool retains a bit of shape from the resist method (shibori is 3D, rather than flat). I'm also trying to work out a good way to finish the edges of the shawls.
So far I have tried using the overlocker, attaching a binding as for quilting, adding an edging of organza and just leaving the edges to curl. I actually prefer the naturally curled edges but am worried that some potential buyers might think they aren't finished.

I have never really dyed wool before. I have played around with dyeing skeins of my own handspun wool when I lived in Australia but haven't used Acid dyes up to now, but they are terribly easy to use and only need household vinegar as an additive so are a bit safer than cotton dyes which use soda ash. They also 'exhaust' so washing at the end is easier as you don't have to rinse and rinse and rinse as for Fibre reactive dyes on cotton (Procion).

I will put some photos of the finished scarves on here when I find my camera.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Screenprinting class

Hi everyone
I am teaching a  screenprinting (photographic and paper stencils) and dyeing class at Whitireia Polytechnic's Lindale Campus from 19th-23rd of July. It costs $180 per person. For further information please contact Deb Donnelly Or phone 04 237 3103 ext 3828.

This weekend I am 'timekeeper' at The Costume and Textile Symposium in Lower Hutt. I get to ding the bell to remind people about keeping to their 30mins. So far there have been some interesting talks. One on early explorer clothing in Antarctica was very interesting and another on how families managed in wartime Germany when fabric was in short supply. I also enjoyed Rosemary McLeod's talk about the contents of a leather hassock (we know that kind of footstool as a 'pouffe') which may have been brought back from the middle east flat by a soldier and was filled in New Zealand with the contents of someone's ragbag including old undies, mended socks, ancient stockings and worn out nighties complete with shoe polish stains where they had been used as shoe polishers.

I have been experimenting at Whitireia with trying to make wool fabric shrink. This has not been terribly successful with merino. Ideally I want a wool fabric which shrinks by about 50% (even 30% would do) but most fabric these days is shrink proofed, which is a shame for my purposes. I want to shrink it in some areas but not others using shibori techniques but am having to change my plans. This was for an exhibition of scarves in Sydney in september.

- contemporary shaped resist dyed scarves
Barometer Gallery
13 Gurner St., Paddington, NSW

from September 8th to October 3rd, 2010
Opened by Yoshiko I. Wada

Sunday 12th September at 4pm

Monday, June 7, 2010

The slow blogger

I am writing my websearch article for New Zealand Quilter and saw someone else call themselves the slow blogger. It applies to me too. I forgot I had a blog.

Since I last posted I have learned a really cool skill. The whole textile class at Whitireia learned how to make a toile to fit their own body using a method outlined in the book 'The Medieval Tailors Assistant'.

Each person took 2 pieces of calico and then someone else pinned them into it, over the shoulders and along the sides.
Then the excess fabric was cut off and further pinning was done.
Yes they are two different people!
After it was as close fitting as possible, it was cut down the dotted line in the middle and made into a pattern. A toile was made from the pattern which was adjusted again, then clothes can be cut using that as the basic pattern.
I made a tunic which fit perfectly (except for the armholes which are a bit tight and which I need to adjust again). I have discovered I have very sloping shoulders. I can also see why commercial patterns don't work for me - darts end up in the wrong place, shoulders too wide etc.

It was good fun and a great 'team building' exercise. Now to make some clothes that fit!

Whilst I am procrastinating about completing the Websearch article, I am going to mention a website I found while looking for wool quilts. Rebekah Farr lives in Carterton. She has made 4 wool quilts which is how the search found her site but she is an animator and painter. Her 4 minute animated movie is called Real World and her paintings are lovely too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recycling recycled quilts

In 2000 I made a whole series of quilts using recycled clothing. I liked them and galleries liked them but nothing really translated into sales so now 10 years later my airing cupboard is overflowing and when I was asked to take part in an 'Eco fashion' show as a graduate of Whitireia Polytech, I decided to use one of the quilts to make a coat. I hadn't quite worked out exactly how much fabric I would need.  I ended up using 3 quilts but I am pleased with the results.

 It is amazing how good it looks on the size 12 model who wore it for the photos, it makes me look like a mushroom. It weighs a few kilos though.

The fashion show is on the 22nd of May at Pataka Museum/ art gallery in Porirua. Tickets are $75 and profits go to Child Cancer Foundation

Sakai and Osaka, our last night

We spent our last day in Sakai and Osaka with friends. Sakai is Wellington's sister city and my son James and I went there last year as part of a sister City official visit with the Wellington - Sakai friendship group. We stayed with a host family last year and stayed our last night on this trip with them again. My mother will stay with them for a week as well, she is currently in japan with the wellington Potter's Association.
This is not a painting, it is a photo I took in the Sakai gardens.
 It was getting close to Children's day (Boys day) and there were lots of carp kites flying.

In the evening we went to Osaka's Dotonburi area which is real sensory overload. There are lights flashing and pachinko chinking and recorded voices telling you stuff. Chris found it exciting and I find it a bit overwhelming.

We also managed to arrange to meet James there with the host family he had been staying with all week while attending Hannan High School in Osaka. James is easy to see in a crowd. It was a also a chance for our friends to catch up with James before we all flew back to NZ the next day.

If you get a chance to go to Japan, make sure you go for at least 3 weeks. Last year I went for 2 weeks and it just wasn't long enough. I felt like I had unfinished business there. A couple of unexpected commissions for quilts meant that I had enough money to go back this time which was only 6 months later,  and I feel a bit better now. I still want to go back but it doesn't feel as urgent :-)

James was also in Japan at the same time with his High School Japanese class. Chris, and I travelled to and from Japan with the school group then we went off on our own and me them at the end of the trip.

I hope I haven't bored everyone too much. Now back to normal life


On one of the days in Kyoto I managed to visit the Shibori Museum. The Nishijin Weaving Centre and Aizenkobo Indigo Workshop. I also managed to get to the Nishiki food market (in a street which runs parallel to the main shopping street).
On my wanderings I found a Jazz Cafe and Chris and I went there. From there he found out about a jam session being held at a jazz bar and disappeared off for the evening leaving me to go on the walking tour of the Gion area where we learned about Geiko and Maiko (called Geisha in Tokyo). It was a really nice little tour, not expensive and you don't have to book , you just turn up.

On another day in Kyoto we had arranged a free guide through the Kyoto free Guide service. It needs to be booked in advance, the guide is free but you pay for their lunch and travel expenses. We also paid for our guide to come with us to see the Cherry Dance by the Maiko (Geiko in training) which only happens in April. After the show we staked out the back of the theatre like paparazzi to try and take photos of the Maiko leaving the theatre. It felt a bit mean so we didn't stay long. The above photo is of a Maiko leaving the theatre after the show (she is moving FAST)

These are school girls dressed up as Maiko and visiting Kiyomizu temple where they are admitted for free because they are in Kimono. Something fun to do with your friends on a Saturday.

Icecream flavours near Kiyomizu. Chris had sesame, honey and green tea and I had cherry blossom and green tea.
Maneki Neko (lucky cats) near Kiyomizu. I wish I had bought the middle one but that would have been $90.
 Chris and I at the bamboo forest in Arashiama, Kyoto.

This guy above is Daruma, a Zen priest. He is always shown with big eyes because he wasn't from Japan and he always has a beard.Some of the pictures and sculptures of Daruma look a bit like David (my husband)

Its always good to look at the plastic food in the windows of restaurants.


We did a side trip to Nara from Kyoto but it was a miserable day. My son James went there the next day with his school group and the weather was fine and they also got to see the Crown Prince.

These deer can be a menace

Kyoto 20th April - 25th April

We went from to Kyoto via Himeji where it rained all day.

Himeji castle is the cutest little castle but it has incredibly steep stairs inside. Probably this kept invaders from getting to the top floors but it is pretty hard to climb up while carrying handbag, raincoat, umbrella and shoes (inside a plastic bag) whilst trying to hold onto the handrail because it is so steep.


Zen temple.
The end of the cherry blossom season in Kyoto.

Well just about the end, we still saw some different varieties which blossomed later. I claim this shot above.

Even samurai go to MCDonalds.

I planned the trip to Kyoto to coincide with both the big flea markets but in the end I went to both but didn't buy anything at either of them as the prices were much higher than I had expected. I found a jacket I liked which was marked at 28,000 yen  (NZ$437) and decided just to take photos rather than bother to shop. There were lots and lots of second hand kimono at around NZ$10-$15 if anyone is looking, in fact the markets were flooded with kimono.  

 J'Hoppers hostel in Kyoto is handy for the Toji temple flea market on the 21st of each month as it is about 15 minutes walk from the hostel.

Shirakawa-Go and Hida Furukawa

In the morning we went to Shirakawa Go to see the Gassho Zukuri Houses. It was about an hour by car from Takayama and hard to get to by public transport so we took a tour run by the hostel. The houses are all hand lashed with no nails. They need to be re-thatched every 30 years or so. The biggest fear up there is fire so each year they have a fire drill and test the fire hoses.
Top photos are the Gassho Zukuri houses. In the middle - A digger kept nice and cosy with it's own patchwork quilt.
The bottom photo is silk worm cocoons up on the top floor of the Gassho houses. Silkworms provided an income when the weather was bad outside. It is also hard to grow crops in that area with a short summer and poor stony soil. It was obvious that the lifestyle must have been pretty dire up there in winter.  Deep snow outside and hard to keep the giant houses warm.

In the evening we went to Hida Furukawa which is close to Takayama, to see the festival.
Tall festival floats are towed around the old streets of the town.

Above - My son Chris who took many of the photos and now it is hard to work out who is winning the cherry blossom classic photo competition because we can't member who took what, as we were both fighting over the big digital camera.

Everyone from the town seemed to be involved somehow with this parade.
Including the teenagers and older guys who look like they have seen it all before.

Towards the evening, groups of young men started gathering, dressed in these white outfits. They started imbibing rather a lot of sake.

Which led to acrobatic feats at the end of what looked like a large cotton bud.