So these won't be your typical Tokyo photos. I had plans, big plans for visiting Tokyo. Visiting trendy neighborhoods full of creative shops, hitting all the fabric stores, finding more books that our local Kinokuniya can shake a stick at, so much more. They just weren't meant to be. And I've realized that's okay by me. By the time we made it to Tokyo, my eight year old daughter who hates traveling, was pretty much done with the whole vacation thing.

She made it through, not without getting sick a few times. It did mean I had to let go of all the crazy, realistically unrealistic plans. It also didn't help that when we did get out, I forgot you really, really need good maps to actually find the places you want to go. Look at that lovely street grid ... not!

By the end of the trip, I was looking forward to a few good hours of contemplation time on the plane. I knew I'd learned something about myself and my expectations on the trip. But I had also realized that back in the US, there's something amazing going on in the craft world that I hadn't noticed before. It was really inspiring and exciting. I couldn't wait to get home to ponder it. And I still am.

There certainly were some incredibly creative ideas flowing around the design and craft world in Tokyo. The picture above was taken at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT museum. There was an incredible exhibit called Design AH! Here's a little blurb about it which is quite a bit heady. All I can say is the visitors were eating it up!

The exhibition theme is "Design Mind." Along with clairvoyance and creativity, the physical ability to unconsciously determine the adequacy of the things around us is an integral element for carrying on with our daily lives. Here, we call the capabilities honed by these two aspects as the "Design Mind."

There's also this strange dichotomy in Tokyo between nature and urban-ness that is especially apparent during the cherry blossom season. We timed Hanami perfectly.

It seemed as if the entire city would pour out into the parks to enjoy lunch alfresco. Even the widest angle photo doesn't even begin to capture the sheer quantity of blossoms so I managed to snap a video this time. Let me just say that path went on and on and on. The blossoms never seemed to stop!

My latest revelation about our trip occurred just yesterday when I went back through my photos of Tokyo. I think you can see the common theme here is me missing nature.

I was so longing for my garden by the end of the trip. Even though we live in a city, albeit a tiny one compared to Tokyo, I can't wait to dig in my vegetable garden on the weekends. I realized I need to embrace that more in the coming year.

 We made it home and are so happy to be back. I do miss Japan already but have found ways to admire it from afar again. In the meantime, back to the interesting observation about the craft scene in the US. We seem to have an advantage of trying anything and just playing with our work and seeing where it takes us. Not that other countries don't have that, it was just strangely apparent while I stepped away and looked back towards home.

It's always nice to appreciate what's at your feet. And it's got me thinking again ... which was something I was missing before this trip.


Kyoto : Part II

Oh my, it feels like yesterday that I shared part I of my Kyoto images. Let's just say since I've been home, I've been insanely busy. I think we all seem to wish there was an extra day in the week right now. I'll explain soon what I'm working on. Yes, there's been a lot of studio time and a lot of progress but have been too busy to actually photograph the progress! So for now, more photos from the Japan trip!

Of course, we visit the Golden Pavilion. My daughter couldn't wait to see this one. When we told her there was a Silver Pavilion across town but forgot to mention there was no silver on the building, she insisted on seeing it only to exclaim "Where's the silver?! I came all the way here and there's no silver?!"

And of course the cherry trees were in full bloom here and there in Kyoto.

We took a stroll down the Philosopher's Walk. Last time we took this walk, it was in the fall which was just as spectacular.

At the end of the walk and after a wonderful warm bowl of yodufu in broth, we took a wrong turn and discovered a small group of shrines all with little porcelain cups that stood out against the stone.

We toured a quiet little garden that the crowds seemed to ignore. Fine by us - the crowds were getting to us.

I thought the incense ashes were beautiful. Call me crazy.

And then a visit to Rozan-ji temple in the center of Kyoto.  So many cherry trees in full bloom there.

I loved the red text and red fabric here.

I've always loved seeing the stacked sake barrels. I'm still not sure what that signifies but I think it's beautiful.

And as usual, I find beauty in strange things. No one could understand why I wanted to take a picture of this old stone writing. I love how nature intervenes.

And we saw a lot of dogs. This one was one of the largest we saw on the trip, which looked huge to us after seeing so many the size of your hand! I love how he pops his head out of the bars. Notice how his owner has so lovingly removed one bar, just for him?

Next comes Tokyo!


Kyoto - Part I

Japan was amazing, the cherry blossoms, stunning! We returned last week yet I needed another week to recover from jet lag and the typical cold you pick up when traveling. Plus, it was nice to have a solid weekend at our cottage with no phone or computer with looming deadlines over our heads. I know you've been waiting to hear about the trip! We timed the cherry blossoms perfectly in Tokyo and Kyoto. I had no idea there were so many cherry trees in Japan. I'd been before but in the fall (which was amazing in itself) when the leaves were so many beautiful colors. This was a particularly amazing tree and most Japanese were busy photographing it but I loved its' relationship to the building behind with the red trim.

And here in it's full glory ...

One of the things that always surprises me about Japan is how many bikes there are in the  big cities. The bikes, pedestrians and cars all seem to be a well choreographed art. In Kyoto, pedestrians share the sidewalk with bikes ... and it works! I wanted to rent bikes but no tandems could be found for my daughter to ride along with us. The other nice thing is you don't have to worry about having your bike stolen so nobody locks theirs up.

We visited quite a few temples and shrines, this was taken at Kennin-ji temple in the Gion district of Kyoto.

It is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto (founded in 1202). We happened to visit it on a Sunday, which was the perfect day to go as a lot of locals were visiting, many of the women wearing kimono.  I snuck this shot below. I love how modern the ladies are with their Iphones and peace signs. Everyone was happy that day as it was sunny and warm for a change.

Everything is so beautifully thought out. I loved the material transition in the temple between the tatami to the outside walkways. So much history lies in those scratches and marks made over the years.

 We continued our stroll through the Gion district, which was near our ryokan. I snapped a few pics of the lovely hemp signs that cover the restaurant doors. Of course I have no idea what they say.

We strolled past an antique shop, which I regret not spending more time looking through. Look at all these amazing dolls. They were tiny, most not more than 4" high.

And missing my garden, I fell in love with this one. If you're a gardener, you'll do anything to make a garden. The owner was lovingly tending the other half of her garden wedged in a 1' wide space between her car and a wall.

We did a bit of shopping too. Z found her favorite treat of the trip, this strange somewhat soft, brightly colored candy that comes in tiny little pieces. Apparently, it's a traditional Japanese treat for kids and my friends from Japan got all nostalgic on me when I showed them the picture. ps-she's actually wearing a dress I made for her!

No trip to Kyoto would be complete without a visit to Teramachi Dori, one of the popular covered shopping arcades. We kept visiting it in the early morning for some reason, before the shops opened.

This was my favorite shop, only because of the signage.

I mentioned earlier we stayed at a ryokan in Kyoto. If you visit Japan, at least a couple of nights in a ryokan is a must. It's such a treat. My daughter loved wearing her perfectly sized yukata the owners left out for her. 

I have so many more pictures of Kyoto that are soon to come. I think those were just from two days!


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