November 24, 2011

Pickups from Japan: Part 4 - Small Items

I have finally reached my last post about my trip to Japan this past summer. School has been extremely busy, which has led to these posts being very spread out and delayed. Here are some small items that I picked up on the trip. Some as household items and some as keepsakes of the trip.  The sunny hot days of Japan from the summer may have long passed but I've been enjoying the transition to a mild rainy Fall in Vancouver. 
Clockwise from top left
1. Wilkinson's Ginger Ale Bottle - A delicious ginger ale with the spiciness of ginger beer. It's a shame it's only available in Japan. Now the bottle serves as a decoration on my mantle.
2. Daibutsu Buddha statute from Nara - This was from inside Daibutsuden, the largest wooden building in the world 
3. Green tea cups - from a street market in Nara
4. Mt. Fuji print from a vendor in Asakusa and a frame from Muji
5. Tools: Real Stuff for Future Classics 
6. Muji pencil sharpener
7. North Face socks - A nice marled red blend
8. Sou-Sou tabi socks - I forgot to include these in the picture for the Sou-Sou post
9. Muji linen coasters
10. Lamy Safari fountain pen - a gift from Andrea after we spent hours at Loft 
Below. Dinex Mug - from Bamboo Shoots; one of the stores I was most excited to visit

October 31, 2011

Pickups from Japan: Part 4 - Truck

One of the stores I was most excited to visit in Japan was the Truck Furniture showroom in Osaka. I think it was in an older issue of Monocle that I first heard about the brand. Getting to the store was quite the adventure as it was nowhere near our hotel, it was a scorcher of a day, and we struggled to find it once emerging from the subway. First thing we did was take a number for the cafe they run, Bird Coffee, before heading to the showroom to cool down. The showroom was as nice as I hoped, with all their furniture, smaller items, and zakka on display. After taking my time to sit on the couches and chairs, flip through their catalogues, and raffle through the clothing, I did manage to grab some memorabilia. Pictured above is a small ceramic bowl, a wooden tray (where I keep my keys), and a simple blue bracelet. 
After we had finished shopping, our number had been displayed for the cafe and we headed over for lunch. All the furniture and housewares used at the cafe are from their catalogue and it was a great opportunity to see if in action. Not to mention that the food, coffee and doughnuts were all delicious as well. 
Inside Bird Coffee
Inside the Truck Showroom

October 10, 2011

Pickups from Japan: Part 3 - Uniqlo

A while ago I reduced my wish-list to a handful of items and was fortunate enough check off three during my trip. This is my first navy blazer and it has lots of the features I was looking for: natural shoulders, 3/2 button roll, a trim fit, and long enough for my lanky frame. The grey sweatshirt fits me well and was for a good price. I knew I was going to need a raincoat for when I moved to Vancouver so it was something I was looking for on the trip. This one fits me well and also has a quilted removable liner for those extra cold days during winter. I was also gifted a heat-tech top from my friend Tomoya and it has already come in handy for the cooler days playing soccer outside. 

September 29, 2011

Pickups from Japan: Part 2 - Magazines

Next up on my recap of items that I picked up in Japan are a bunch of magazines. Many people know that Japanese mags are incredible when it comes to how much detail they provide. The cost of buying them in Japan is, not surprisingly, much cheaper than buying them in Canada so I stocked up. Now, while I can only read a fraction of the text (my kanji skills are lacking), these magazines still provide great visuals and lots of inspiration. Clockwise from top-left the magazines are 
1. Casa Brutus: a design magazine mostly focused on interior design
2. Il Bisonte: gives a little tour of the factory, pictures of Il Bisonte's Japanese retail staff's gear, and a catalogue of new items. Andrea got this as it came with a Il Bisonte tote bag and bracelet, but she gave me the magazine after flipping through it.
3. Brutus: I grabbed this back issue when I was in the Truck store as it focuses on Tokuhiko Kise and Hiromi Karatsu's house, the couple behind the brand.
4. Beams Man A/W 2011 Style Guidebook: This was free from the Beams store I visited in Shinjuku. Nice editorials and it showcases some of their new items.
5. Outdoor Style Go Out: a magazine dealing with outdoor style and all that goes with it. Street style shots, gear reviews, trip recaps etc. It's one of my favourites
6. Leon: a magazine focusing mostly on Italian style. I also happened to see the man who runs the magazine outside a cafe in Nakameguro and some Japanese dudes in suits stopped to take a picture with him.

September 19, 2011

Pickups from Japan: Part 1 - SOU・SOU

In the next little series of posts I'll be documenting some of the items I brought back from Japan. First up are some goods from Sou Sou in Kyoto. For those who don't know what SOU・SOU is here is a little blurb from their US site 
"Based in Kyoto, Japan, SOU・SOU was created in 2002 by Katsuji Wakisaka (textile designer), Hisanobu Tsujimura (architect), and Takeshi Wakabayashi (producer). While modern and edgy, the brand is dedicated to preserving the best traditional techniques by using skilled craftspeople and time-tested materials."
I purchased a dotted/striped blue tenugui and two handkerchiefs, which will and have already been used as pocketsquares. All three of these are made from Ise cotton. Ise cotton was one of the most praised fabrics in Japan from the 14th century until after WWII. Although there is only one manufacturer of Ise cotton left in Japan, due to the shift in demand for cheaper fabrics after the war and a move towards western clothing, it is still made on the old looms using traditional techniques and only 40 feet of fabric is made each day by the 20 sewers. Over time as the fabric is washed the starch comes off and the lightly twisted fabric begins to soften making this cotton extremely soft to touch. 
There were around 5 SOU・SOU stores scattered around a small area in Kyoto and Andrea and I visited them all. Each one focused on one aspect of the brand whether it be the textile store, the shoe store, the home goods store, etc. Each store was beautiful and the workers were fully kitted in SOU・SOU attire. The above picture is from outside the textile store. I highly recommend visiting the brand's stores in Japan and if not check out their online store. 
One of the items Andrea picked up from SOU・SOU was this pair of sweet cloth sandals in a dotted/striped indigo pattern.

September 13, 2011

Tokyo and a little Yokohama 2011

We wrapped up our trip to Japan with 7 nights in Tokyo. The first 2 nights we stayed at a family friend of Andrea's place in the area of Kyodo before spending the last 5 nights in Nakameguro. Just a few of the highlights included yakitori in Nanba, lunch made from our gracious host Miru, meeting up with my former host family the Takaos for dinner, walking around Nakameguro, spending hours in Loft, Afuri ramen, Disney Sea, visiting a mexican soccer bar with Taka, and hanging out with my friends Tomoya and Shunkichi in their hometown of Yokohama. Cameras often did not accompany us but here are a few photos that we ended up taking.
Odaiba and the imitation statue of liberty
Meiji Shrine gate
Getting poured on in Disney Sea
The sheer number of cool restaurants in Japan in staggering. One of the main things I miss after coming back to Canada
The view from Tokyo tower.
Me and Taka at Once 11
Cosmo Clock 21 in Yokohama. I didn't know it used to be the biggest ferris wheel and clock in the world until writing this post.
Andrea, Shunkichi, and Tomoya. They stayed with my family for a few weeks when I was in High School on exchange.
Vending machines
Yuzu ramen from Afuri. It was so good we had to go back a 2nd night.
Two of my favourite beverages, melon soda and ginger ale. At Journal Standard burger cafe
Wandering around the street of Kyodo with no aim in sight. Writing this post is making me want to go back already

September 10, 2011

Ito 2011

While we were planning our trip we knew that we wanted to spend some time in a smaller town, preferably somewhere with a beach. After a little research looking for places with affordable accommodation we decided to visit the town of Ito. The slower pace of life was much appreciated. We spent our days relaxing at the beach and sleeping in.
We stayed in a 100 year old building that had been converted into a hostel last year. Every room had tatami flooring and futons that you rolled out every night.
Most people had a tent set up at the beach to avoid the intense heat of the sun. We weren't so fortunate
More manhole covers
I am a big fan of the melon drinks in Japan. This was an afternoon snack one day from 7-11
One of the Izakayas that we visited on our trip. This one had a great special set for those staying at the hostel
Every afternoon after visiting the beach we would stroll around the seaside taking in the fresh ocean air

September 8, 2011

Kyoto 2011

After Osaka, Andrea and I took the train to Kyoto. The talk of Japan being unbelievably hot in the summer was true. Hauling luggage around multiple train stations is a sweaty affair. However, once we were settled  I had a great time. We visited some cultural sites including the golden Kinkokuji temple, Kiyomizu-dera, and the imperial palace grounds.  One of my favourite things to do in Japan in wander down streets with no goal in site. Kyoto's historical buildings intertwined with more modern ones provide a great atmosphere for these walks. 
Cafe Independants was located in the basement of an old building. We liked it so much our first visit we had to go back a few days later.
Where I discovered Wilkinson's Ginger Ale
Imperial Palace Grounds
Bike lockers
Conveyor belt sushi 回転寿司
Bamboo grove. 
On the train leaving Kyoto