Tag Archives: Tokyo

Japan D2.8: Temple

My trip to Japan continues ……..

After our visit to the Amuse Museum we went on to the Asakusa Kannon Temple in the city, it was heaving!d2

So many people on their public holiday visit the templesd4

to prayd3

and to see some of the statues that are only on show on these special days.


It was too much of a crush for me so I went back outside to explore the surrounds.

People burn incense and waft the smoke over themselves as a cleansing ritual before going to the temple. How I love that smell!


Others buy fortune telling cards. You pick up a metal holder with holes at one end and shake it until a rod with a number falls out. This number corresponds o to one of the drawers above – open the drawer and take out a card….

apparently there can be bad news as well as good on those cards.


I can’t help thinking that all this seems a vast distance from the simple teachings of the Buddha – what would all those prophets in all the different philosophies and religions make of how things have evolved I wonder?


Japan D2.7: Boro

Here is the next instalment about my trip to Japan in November, it’s so cool having you along with me as I retrace my steps ……


I first came across Boro on Pinterest a few months before I left for Japan, and became quite fascinated by it. The Amuse Museum in Tokyo has a very good exhibition of Boro itemsB2

Old work clothes patched and repatched, darned and redarned do carry a beauty and a story. B5


The hardship of the poorest of the past seems to have been romanticised and the more I found out about it the more uncomfortable I became. These pieces of cloth and clothing now change hands for thousands of pounds in stylish galleries around the world. They seem to  have become yet another expression of modern acquisitiveness, and exploitation. Click the link to this article on the website Design Sleuth to see how interior design stylists have been fuelling this fairly recent craze.

There is undoubtedly a beauty to these pieces, but when people are prepared to spend extraordinary amounts of money to own old rags, it has a touch of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ about it for me.

We now live in an era where there is a drive to constantly buy new things to be IN FASHION. Electrical goods have ‘inbuilt obsolescence’ and we are given the impression that the only way for our economy to survive is to get more people spending more in the shops, buying more and more things. This is a path of self-destruct for our species, so if patching and preserving comes back into fashion, I’m all for it, however I fear the Boro-craze has nothing to do with that! I do hope we humans WAKE UP before it is too late.

As a farmer myself I used to patch and mend and darn work clothes and kids clothes and still patch my own clothes. I grew up in an era when we did not waste things, we valued, preserved and upcycled as a matter of course. I like the idea of ‘mottainai’53

which in this context, I was told, means : ‘too good to waste’.

I’m looking at darning and patching my clothes in a more decorative way – I guess this ‘look’ might be called Boho (Boho is the new Hippy).

The thought of patching and darning some old clothes and pieces of cloth of mine into a piece of textile art full of history, story and memory, also appeals. Boro to me is an inspiration to use up old bits of textiles that I can not bear to throw away and create something intriguing, with it – ideas are bubbling ….

…. I will let you know when they come to the boil!

Whist searching for inspiration and via the wonder that is Pinterest (I’m more than a bit addicted to Pinterest – yo might have noticed!), I have just come across a Japanese modern textile artist Junko Oki. I would like to have seen more modern textile artists like this whilst in Japan – next time!

Would you like to see my Boro-esque Pinterest page? just click on the link to visit. I will be collecting pictures there as a reference for a future textile piece inspired by Boro


PS. the painting arrived yesterday – EEEEEEEEK! So exciting to hold the Panda in Platforms and Hare in High Heels in my hand, I nearly kissed the postman! – uh oh! My own acquisitiveness shining through here! The irony is not lost on me – that it should arrive whilst I was putting this post together! Ha!

I will take pictures of the painting and share them with you when the weather cheers up and the light improves – I LOVE IT!!!!!!!

JP2.6: Doors and Windows


Joining in with Cee’s ‘Doors and Windows’

Tokyo, Japan.

The photo isn’t great in quality as it was taken with my little Fuji pocket camera as we were scudding past on the way to a craft shop.

See our group below, marching ahead following our guide’s distinctive yellow hat, making her easy to see amongst the crowds


A little shop window spotted along the way, with a typically sweet window display……J2a

and a street scene in another part of Tokyo, showing the narrow side street and the tangly telegraph wires that abound, all kept above ground because of their frequent earthquakes.DSCF7206

Japan. Day Two 5: Crazy Cats and a Hare in High Heels

……I am so enjoying sharing with you my trip to Japan, here’s the next instalment ……

If you have only just joined in you can read previous posts by clicking on these links:

First evening in Japan ringing the bell

Day Two: 1    Bonsai ,     Day Two: 2     3/5/7 ceremony,  Day Two: 3   shopping,   Day Two: 4   Craft Centre

After the Craft Centre we were back in the coach seeing the imposing modern architecture go byJ1

till we got to the  Amuse Museum

There were many wonderful displays in this Museum, but the exhibition that captured my attention was one of whacky, glitzy, fun paintings by Kaneda Hanaki. I just LOVE them.J5

I didn’t quite know what to think of them at first, I don’t usually go for paintings with animalsJ15

but those grumpy cats got me and wouldn’t let me go!J13

I’m so glad I took so many photosJ6 because the more I look at themJ7 the more I like them – they are funJ9

and ridiculousJ8

and funnyJ10

and crazyJ12

and I felt a little uncomfortable at the time taking all those photos without buying something, but back then I had not really got to the point of loving them enough to take that step. Going through the photos again now, I realise how they have stayed with me and might well inspire some textile work in the future.

This is the one I particularly likeJ11There is something about a hare in high heels! And it is so obviously Japanese as they are both wearing kimonos, and then there is the glitter! Oh I do SO love it.

Writing this post inspired me to email the Museum and ask if this one is still for sale. They got back to me and it is!!!!!

They have spoken to the artist and she will send it to me – I’m very excited! And I am so pleased to be supporting this fabulously talented artist. I’m hoping they will send me some information about her and her work. I’d really like to know the stories behind the paintings.

Japan Day Two: 3 – Shopping

Continuing taking you with me on my recent Textile Tour to Japan…….

We were asked if we wanted to go to the street with all the famous designer shops, but none of us were very interested in that, so we just drove through it past all the big names like Dolce and Gabbana.

I would have been interested to look inside Vivienne Westwood’s shop,


as V.W.  is one of my all time heroines and it would have been fun to see what goes down well in Tokyo.st7

Instead we chose Tokyo’s equivalent of Carnaby Street in London and walked through it, standing out as European tourists of a certain age! (You don’t see many grey haired people out and about in Japan.)



and enjoying the weird and wonderful




I can’t help wondering why the Japanese aren’t all overweight with pancake shops like these doing a roaring trade.
st3 st3a

All the samples on display are plastic and wonderfully garish.st3b

Look what’s on the menu: ‘Strawberry Chocolate Brown’, ‘Blueberry and Whipped Cream’,’Custard Chocolate Special’ and yes, of course, ‘Tuna Curry’!


I wish I had tried that strawberry one now.

A mountain of candy floss anyone?st3c

And this, can you believe it, is a boutique for dogs!

I was surprised to see a lot of English signage around. It pleased me too as it made me think that Japan is a place I could go to without going in a group, I feel confident I could find my way around.

When I needed to go to a camera shop as my camera was playing up I could communicate via a translation App on my iPad and the shop assistant replied to me via a translation App on his phone – brilliant! st5

‘Moshi moshi’ means ‘Hello’ especially when answering the phone, or trying to get someone’s attention.


I love this wonderfully mad clock – would love to make one!st5b

After this wander through the shopping street – no time for shopping, just looking! Our wonderful guide, as usual, assembled us all on the pavement and call up the coach driver to come and collect us.

The pelican crossings in Tokyo all had electronic bird sounds tweeting as you crossed – (ours just go beep-beep here in UK) – one even sounded like a cuckoo – sweet!


back in the coach watching the modern city go by.st8

and off to a craft centre ……….

Japan Day Two:2







As I understand it, because of a high infant mortality rate in the past, in Japan, before the age of 3, a child is considered to be in another realm. Once they have survived 3 years they are welcomed into the realm of human existence on earth. They dress in kimonos and are given presents to wish them long life, health and good fortune.

Many of them go to the shrines and temples for special ceremonies to celebrate with their families and are often attended by very proud grandparents.

For boys there is another ceremony when they are 5 and girls when they are 7.


The kimonos are bought or hired for the occasion

And they try to walk in the ridiculously difficult special wooden sandals.


They seem very happy and proud to be photographed by anyone and everyone, 24little princes and princesses for the day.DSC_0033

Parting the crowds there were the occasional processions on their way to ceremonies in different parts of the shrine


All looking very important in their ornately embroidered robes


If I had had time to think, I would probably have written a prayerDSC_0041

and left my donation.

It all felt very busy and colourful and rather a lot to take in on the first day out and about in Tokyo.

Just a few shots of the architecture and a door carving and it was time to leaveDSC_0050 DSC_0052 DSC_0051 (1) DSC_0053

…..Off to see some shopping streets – similar to Carnaby Street in London we were told ……………

Japan – Day Two:1

riceBreakfast was a huge buffet with just about everything on offer from salads, both fruit and vegetable; rice, sago, noodles and taro dishes: to carbonara and brocolli. I’m usually an adventurous eater and will try almost anything, but it was really good to have something familiar for breakfast, so I went for the sausages, egg and bacon, with a little bit of rice seasoning.

And I would have loved to trybeautybar

a beverage from the Beauty Bar, which promised to be “Your Partner for Inner Beauty and Health from Within”, but it was a Nestlé product, and I have not knowingly had any Nestlé product for nearly 20 years because of the company’s terrible unethical practices all over the world.

After breakfast our coach left at 9am. A photo taken from the window of the coach, showing the glorious blue sky and an example of the telegraph poles which were usually festooned with many more cables than this – tangling their way across Japan as all electrical cables are above ground due to the frequency of earthquakes.wires

Yuka, our lovely guideYuka got us to the Meiji Shinto Shrine before the main crowds descended, this being a special holiday.

She told us all sorts of fascinating facts about the shrine, which I held in my head at the time of the visit then – ‘poof’! They disappear!

It was a wonderfully warm, sunny day and the weather remained unusually warm for November in Japan for the whole two weeks we were there, with temperatures staying up in the 20s.


To get to the Shrine we walked along an avenue of Chrysanthemum displays, with some amazing exhibitsxmmxmum

I didn’t know you could Bonsai flower plants14

I would have loved to have been able to stop and get better photos


they were fascinating…..bonsai

intriguing…… surprising ……… beautiful………

and with more time I would have liked to ‘chat’ to the exhibitors and find out more about themmin gdn

but on – ON!16

there was more to see and I needed to keep up with the group….. (a bit of a recurring theme as it turned out!)

The Chrysanthemum is the flower of November in Japan, with many festivals happening all over the country. The plant first came to Japan from China as a medicinal plant offering special powers of health and longevity. The scent as we walked along this row of displays was subtle and strong at the same time, just perfect on a crisp sunny morning……

Joining in with Cee’s Flower of the Day

First evening in Japan

I have been really looking forward to sharing my trip to Japan with you all, so here goes.

This textile tour was booked through Arena Travel, who I am happy to recommend. We met up with our multi-talented and highly experienced quilter, tour leader Janice Gunner at Heathrow and after an hour’s flight delay, due to fog, we settled into our 12 hour British Airways flight to Tokyo over Finland, Russia, and Siberiafrozen-4 mts-3

I was delighted to be able to crochet a relaxing ripple whilst watching the in-flight movies and art programmes.

ripple crochet

This will be for my niece who loves all things mermaid, it is made mainly with Stylecraft Special DK with a couple of glitter yarns added in. (more about that in another yarny post).

We had a very smooth flight but for the last half an hour of pretty ghastly turbulence during our descent, which left me feeling rather queasy for a couple of hours afterwards. Safely at Narita Airport we were met by our delightful guide Yuka. Janice had worked with her before and two women in our group who had been on the Jan 2014 textile tour exchanged warm greetings and we were all made to feel very welcome immediately.

A 90min coach drive took us to our luxurious hotel,from hotel

The Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (view from my balcony) which has a beautiful large Japanese garden. Below is a map of the garden, with the hotel as the white rectangle at the bottom.map of gdn

One of the first people I saw was this kimono clad young woman hurrying through2-1

There is a large bell in its own roofed structure, bellthat is rung by striking it with the end of a thick piece of bamboo suspended on ropes.6

Since April 1st 2009 it has been rung 10 times, 30seconds apart, once each day, the sign says “our wish is for peace and happiness throughout the world”.
The woman who was about to carry out this daily ceremony as I was reading the sign, asked me if I would like to ring it. Of course I would!5
She counted each second silently then said to me,” 3, 2, 1 go”. 3She had pebbles to keep the count of 10 and moved each one along a piece of wood as the bell resonated above us, sending out the ripples of sound.
It was magical. What a beautiful start to the trip.

ringerWe had a lovely chat afterwards, she loved her trip to London 2 years ago, she had studied Shakespeare at university. Looking up at the hotel from the garden.


green teaBack to my room for a green tea and a spot of crochet before meeting the others for a supper of Tempura at a small local restaurant.



The end of an amazing day…… Goodnight Tokyo8-1

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along




a life of giving

carved in stone


This Haiku is inspired by 3 people this week.

Firstly Jamie and her Photo Challenge prompt word: REMEMBER

Secondly Ronovan and his Haiku challenge prompt words: LIFE and GIVE

And thirdly by Haiku Hound Denis who left a wonderfully encouraging comment in response to my post Windy Haiku

Each month I meet up with a bi-lingual haiku group that is organised by a Japanese Haiku master, (mistress). She encourages us to write 3/5/3 in English as this translates almost perfectly to 17 syllables in Japanese………Be adventurous and have a go at a couple of 3/5/3/ after 5/7/5 and see how you feel!!!”

I’ve had a go and it feels GOOD!

Thank you Denis!

The photo was taken in a cemetery in Tokyo, where I went to find a peaceful spot to have my lunch. The wooden memorial boards (Tohba) are carved to mark an anniversary, either of the date of death, or birth or a special occasion.

Whilst writing this haiku I realised, everyone’s grave marks a life of giving, each one of us gives something during our lifetime …….

When a close friend of mine died many years ago, I had the task of choosing the inscription for her headstone. I adapted a card that I was sent at the time and chose:

“Those who give of themselves live on within the hearts of others”

I had this in mind as I was writing the Haiku.