as it is gift-giving time, i can unveil the little presents i bought at the kamigamo handmade market. there were so many kaitei charms at each booth, it was difficult to choose just four. they're all just too kawaii.
one of the things i'm incorporating into my daily life is japanese incense; it smells lovely unburned, exotic while burning, and lingers for several days in a pleasant way. i hope it will freshen up the air in my studio as well. further updates on that front soon.
i knew of kumihimo before i went to japan, but it was still a charming surprise to come across it and find that i liked the fresh colors and modern aesthetic.
i've been home for a couple of days now, and quite busy. between laundry, cleaning, eating, and sleeping, i've managed to work on setting up my studio and taking notes on what i need in order to get started.
the first things are definitely dyestuff, a source of heat, and lots of experimentation. i want to create more kasuri weaving, and before my dedication and creative juices have time to wan. i would also like to start drinking green tea on a regular basis, so i'm thinking of having a tea station in my studio (i've got heat, water, and space).
the new toys i picked up in japan fit into the space beautifully and so does my loom. it will be nice to have a space i can go to that's dedicated to dyeing and weaving. i'm thinking of calling it my "dye lab and weaving studio". ohh, nice. or maybe there's space for "laboratory" a la dexter's lab; thus, "dye laboratory slash weaving studio". now we're getting somewhere.
i've compiled a list of some really neat shopping and eating places while in kyoto. it's the non-touristy, things kyoto really does well type of shopping.
mina perhonen; beautiful! check out the 4th floor for remnants
basement level of takashimaya; pan
6th floor of takashimiya; wooden bento
basement level of daimaru; tea sweets, honey
basement level of fujii-daimaru; organic produce
nomura-tailor; floors 1-3; fabric, pinbacks, sewing notions
lisn; really modern and incredible natural japanese incense
itoh kumihimoten; just gorgeous silk kumihimo
sou-sou; really awesome tabi shoes
gallery kei; amazing unique textiles from japan's past, ramie, banana fiber, shifu
ippodo; matcha tea, ocha tea, tea tasting and brewing demonstration
kamiji kakimoto; washi store
malebranche; delicious matcha and white chocolate cookies, matcha icecream
la droguerie; buttons, ribbon, liberty tana lawn, sequins
kamigamo handmade market; 4th sunday of the month
shijo-dori to oike-dori, btwn karasuma-dori and kawaramachi-dori:
lin-net; linen fabric, linen clothes, linen bias tape, linen thread
avril; love habu textiles? you'll like avril.
kyoto design house; fabulous locally made things
ippudo; yummy fresh ramen, i ate here four times
konnamonjya; tofu doughnuts
as this was my last day in kyoto, i did some new things and revisited some old favorites. needless to say, enjoying matcha soft serve at malebranche in kyoto station, slurping my favorite bowl of ramen at ippudo, and listening to the lovely incense at lisn were the old favorites.
as for the new; i walked amongst the torii gates at fushimi inari-taisha, found where all the cats of kyoto hang out, and browsed a used book store i pass whenever i ride the bus to kokusaikaikan station.
inari was incredible; amongst the forest and hills were paths of torii gates, lined up like dominoes, their orange red hue a striking contrast to the cool greens and mellow browns of the landscape. every now and then a stone shrine dotted the path, some in groups and some solitary, most accompanied by fox guardians and miniature torii gates.
while following the path, i came across a single meowing cat, gave it a pet and continued on amongst the raven cries. then several minutes later another tabby cat walked solitarily by, not really craving attention (perhaps it was on a mission?). as i continued onwards i came to a fork in the path and turned right, happening upon several more kitties basking in the dappled sun coming through the trees. i make note of this, as one of the things i noticed in kyoto is a particular scarcity of cats. this can mean one of two things; cats are well taken care of and are not abandoned to roam feral in the streets, or they are, but not anywhere i've gone. i can't imagine that they aren't popular pets here in japan.
today was a particularly blustery day, and though it did not rain, and the sun was out, i stayed cold for the better part of it. i admired many coats and cloaks in fuji-daimeru, and wished that i might acquire one; but that would be foolish, as it isn't really needed in mood swing savannah.
this morning i was quite excited to go to uji, the green tea capital of japan. somehow i thought it was in the country, surrounded by fields of tea, and quaint, with little shops and quit streets, and that the moment i stepped off the train i would be overwhelmed by the smell of green tea in the air.
i don't know what i was thinking or where i got this image from, for reality is strikingly different. while riding on the train there i never really felt like i left the city, and though i saw some small fields of tea growing between the houses it was rather underwhelming, and once there the only thing i smelled in the air was car exhaust.
this isn't to say that some parts of uji that i saw weren't beautiful; for i found that walking along one side of the river was peaceful and rather pretty, and while facing away from the city and into the surrounding hills the view was very picturesque.
the matcha sweets i ate while in uji were either delicious or so-so, and so too was the tea i drank. so, overall, i'm at a loss as to what i think of uji. but one thing is certain, the matcha that comes from this area is the best tasting stuff i know of.
did you know that a single stick of incense could smell so delightfully heady, sweet, fruity, musky, intense, light, and dark all at once? if that one stick was of the finest kyara agarwood, then yes. while at lisn today, i just wanted to keep smelling it, in its unburnt form. if they bottled up that smell and sold it as perfume i would definitely be in the queue to buy it. or if i had to choose one scent to smell in the moment before i passed on, that would be it (well, maybe; now that i'm thinking such macabre thoughts the smell of rich, dark, hot chocolate would be nice too).
well, i thought i would post photos of interesting things i saw today.
this building reminded me of a ship, or some massive gate from a sci-fi movie. it's kind of ominous, as if that stone is waiting to drop at the merest signal.
and, of course, my personal favorite and mecca to the japanese textile craft, gallery kei. bashou fiber, ramie, shifu, linden, kuzu, banana tree, pineapple fiber, all the lovely fibers japanese people have spun and woven for centuries. kawasaki kei has created such an amazing space filled with precious cloths from times past; each an artform in and of itself, each an incredible undertaking by unknown hands, all lovingly displayed and collected by her. one day i wish to create with such skill these things that women have always done.
japanese incense is really quite lovely to smell. not at all like the type which comes to mind when you say incense; the ones that are often found in hippie and crystal shops. those give me migraines. no, the finest japanese incense is much more subtle, and elegant, and made from natural sources such as clove, sandalwood, agarwood, and cinnamon.
today, there was a school festival and they brought in the president of shoyeido, the manufacturer of some of japan's finest quality incense. he discussed incense, and then we were able to create our own scents using sandalwood, patchouli, cinnamon, clove, sweet pine, andcamphor. there were two bases which we could use to make a sweet or a spicy overtone. i made one which is sweet and light in scent, and the other which is stronger and invigorating. it was such fun! some of the students and teachers wore kimono and they were all very pretty.
for dinner i had my first experience with a revolving sushi restaurant. it was so mesmerizing watching to see what sushi would come around next. the place was very busy, so the sushi was delicious and fresh. there was a plastic display sign outside which was very cute!
i came across a really fascinating book in the school's library about ikat, noshime: stripe, lattice and ikat in edo period. basically, a book with full color photos of existing cloths focusing on just the fabric, all arranged in a neat and orderly way. beautiful. here are some of my favorites:
considering that the edo period in japan was from 1603 to 1868, these ikat weavings feel very current and the colors quite modern. a really wonderful inspiration!
so, a very strange occurrence today: i was heading towards the elevators on the 1st floor of takashimaya, when i happened to glance to the right of me and what should be there but a mini laduree store! weird, and totally unexpected. i am in kyoto, right? it definitely wasn't there on saturday.
i have been seeing macarons in some of the bakeries, even kaitei charms, but laduree itself? i didn't even think twice, and stepped in line to get some of these pretty confections. okay, so it was more that i wanted one of the laduree boxes, but you can't get the one without getting the other. so pretty!