Thursday, April 29, 2010

day 3 Japan - Nikko


On day 3 we headed for Nikko. The cherry blossom 'front' had only just started  in Nikko as it is colder up there so there were a lot less trees covered in blossom.  The photos are from around Toshugu Shrine. On the left are a newly married couple in wedding clothes.
The papers tied to the wires are fortunes. If they are good fortunes you keep them but if they are bad you tie them to the fence wires instead of taking them home. My fortune was good so I kept it.
There was snow on the mountains and still some piles of snow on the ground around the temples.

These flags were flying in advance for boys day (5th May) when people celebrate manly endeavours and small boys get given carp flags to fly. Often called 'Children's Day' these days I'm told.

Day 2 Tokyo, 8th April.

We spent the morning in Yanaka cemetary taking photos of the cherry blossom and exploring the Yanaka shopping area which is a lovely place to visit.
Catch the train to Nippori. From the station it depends which exit of the station you go out of.  The  cemetary is on one side, walk through it to head towards the old style shopping area.  The 'Textile Town' is the other side.

I think most of these photos are mine. I win the cherry blossom photo comp today.

This is the window of a paper shop in Yanaka. The cats are all paper mache and they are sitting on sheets of hand printed paper.

Chris then headed off to have a look at the castle and I spent a few hours in Nippori Textile Town. I used information from a blog called 'Floating World Views' which has information on the best shops and a copy of the map. It was very useful. I didn't buy much till I found a shop selling second hand kimono and some old pieces of fabric.

Chris and I met up again in Shinjuku where we went up to the top floor of the Shinjuku City hall tower (free). I like the building on the right, the patterning may have been inspired by sashiko stitching?

Chris had arranged to go on a Jazz tour with Mr OKJazz (aka James). James runs tours on Thursdays to some hidden Jazz clubs, bars and coffee shops. He was incredibly helpful and gave Chris a lot of ideas for Jazz related places to visit around Japan. Chris didn't have the camera but says they went to a Jazz bar which had thousands of Maneki Neko so inspired by that we have started our own collection. The music scene is pretty big in Japan. We went to one area where we couldn't believe the number of guitar shops in the same street.

There is lots of interesting architecture in Shinjuku including this building which has tiles on the side which look like a jigsaw puzzle.

Japan trip 2010 - day 1 Tokyo

Hi everyone
We are back from Japan but I am going to write up the journey now , day by day. I wasn't able to load photos while I was away so this seems the best way to do it.

6th April we flew to Tokyo after a really early flight from Wellington. We had to be at the airport at 5.15am. Above is a picture of ice that formed on the window,  looked like a bullet hole! This trip t Japan, I  travelled with my 17 year old son.

7th April we spent in Tokyo. In the morning we went to Asakusa Senso-ji temple. Chris and I were in competition to see who could get the most classic shot of cherry blossom. Chris won this round!

Above are some photos from the Amuse Gallery in Asakusa. I went there last year but was only allowed to see a small section of the museum because it is closed on a Monday. This time I was able to see the whole museum which included a collection of Boro clothing, Kogin clothing (sashiko stitched) a temporary exhibition of wool embroidered aprons and these amazing salmon skin boots (see above). There was also a young girl demonstrating 'sakiori' weaving which is done by ripping up old clothing and using the strips to weave new cloth.

The museum also has a collection of sashiko embroidered clothing. It has a really nice shop and a few publications available for sale. It is worth a visit and easy to find.

From Asakusa Senso-ji temple. Face the front of the main building of the temple. Turn right (East) and go to the side street. On one side is a duty free shop and on the other is Amuse Gallery.

Drum Museum
My son plays the drums and the Drum museum is also in the Asakusa area. He was able to try out the steel drums, Japanese Taiko drums and all sorts of percussion instruments from around the world. The curators close themselves into their office and just let visitors 'go for it' on different drums.
Face the main gate of Asakusa Senso-ji temple. The gate is called Kaminarimon. Ahead of you is Nakamise Dori, a long shopping street filled with tourist souvenirs and strange food items. To get to the Drum museum turn left and walk till you get to the next really major street. The Drum Museum is straight across the road in front of you.

In the afternoon we went to Studio Ghibli Museum. I went there last year but wanted to take my son there as he and I really like the Ghibli Movies, such as 'My Neighbour Totoro', 'Nausicaa', 'Spirited Away'.
You need to book this via the internet before you get to Tokyo. I booked my tickets through JTB in Auckland when I bought our JR Rail passes.

Here is a picture of a single room at Hotel New Koyo in Tokyo. Minami Senju area (up near Asakusa, Yanaka area.)  This is a 2 mat room. I could lie across it and it was exactly my length so 1.6metres wide. My son had to lie across the room diagonally or sleep with his feet either out the door or in the microwave. His room was the gold painted 'Samurai room' with swords decorating the walls. Mine was a much more boring colour! It was nice to have a single room rather than sharing with 7 other backpackers :-)

Saturday, April 17, 2010


We just arrived in Takayama which is in the North. Yesterday we went to Naoshima Island in the rain. Although it was horrible weahter we managed to juggle cameras and umbrellas to take photos of the Yayoi Kusama pumpkins on the beach and to have a look at all the arthouses and one of the art galleries. All wonderful modern stuff - great.

 Today we managed to see the final museum/gallery and get to Takayama on three trains. Its a very long way but seems closer because the Shinkansen are so fast. Photos to follow in a week or so.
See you

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


We are staying the night at a hostel on the mainland near Miyajima Island. I stayed there last year and they remembered me and I am also staying in the same bed!
I have a small collection of dyed and printed fabrics now but have courired them off to a friend as it was getting heavy to carry with all the postcards and books I have acumulated. My son has also managed to collect a whole load of second hand Jazz CDs. Apparently Japan is the world centre of Jazz.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Quick post, I am in Yokohama. Went to visit a lady called Haruko today at Gallery Tsumugi. She is an antique fabric collector/dealer. Bought some nice paste resist and shibori pieces. Photos later. Check out her website by googling Gallery Tsumugi.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Off to japan

Hi anyone?
I am off to Japan in the morning. One of those nasty flights which make you get to the airport at 5.15am. I'm not sure whether I will get a chance to write anything and it is pretty hard to upload photos when you are emailing from an Ipod touch :-)

Will catch up when I get back,