Category Archives: My Love Affair with Tokyo

mt labo

mt laboIt took two tries (thanks to new year closings) but we made it to the mt lab (mt labo) towards the end of our trip. The shop is so spare and clean…it was seriously a dream place to shop. walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labowalls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboAll of the washi tapes were organized by color. (You know how I love to ROY G BIV things!) The regular tapes were in clear cylinders all along the left side of the shop. It was so hard not to buy every single one. limited edition mt tape, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThere was a whole table of limited edition tapes that can only be bought at this store. walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThey had these new clear sheet stickers that can be used to add a pop of color to clear trays, phone cases, or whatever you want. I didn’t buy any of them, but they were neat! mt bags, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo mt bags, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThey also had these fun, one-of-a-kind collage bags made of mt banners from different special mt events throughout Japan. Isn’t that such a cool way to reuse something that would normally end up in the trash?limited edition mt tape, cut in the store,, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo, mt tape cutterOne of the other cool features of the store was the tape cutter that cuts rolls of washi tape into different thicknesses. They were nice enough to do a demo for us. First they rolled the tape onto the cardboard tube.

After that they cut the tape into thin, medium, and thick rolls. It was neat to see the pattern of the master tape change based on the width of the tape.

limited edition mt tape, cut in the store,, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThey sold all of the different widths at the counter. walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labowalls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThis is the face of someone who was shopping in her merchandised zen.I think I was pretty restrained in my purchases!

Tagged , , , , ,

Italian in Tokyo

Every year we explore Sangenjaya more and more and find all sorts of great little gems in our hotel neighborhood. We always talk about staying someplace else but I really just love going back to the same spot and since we’re still finding things we love there, why not?

This time we found this cute little Italian spot and it was one of the best meals of our trip. (I know I say that a lot…but seriously, the food in Japan is almost always amazing.)dried fava beans with cinnamonFor starters, we got these cinnamon coated fava beans that were delicious and weird and just a tiny bit sweet. salad with yuzu dressingAnd we got a salad with chicken and yuzu dressing…it’s hard to ever say no to yuzu. Italian gyozaWe were really intrigued by these Italian gyoza on the menu. They were filled with regular gyoza fillings (cabbage, pork, garlic, ginger) but were topped with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan. When we ordered them, I thought they’d have a different filling, something more…Italian? But they were really good and we want to recreate something similar at home. butter shoyu pastaAnother dish we want to perfect at home is butter shoyu pasta…this one had cremini mushrooms and chives on top…it’s umami heaven. If we ever find a good recipe, I’ll share it here. margharita pizzaAnd of course we ordered margharita pizza…Japan really does a charred crust so well.

sparkling wineNeither of us remember what cocktails we had to start…we really need to be better about writing our little food diaries down since it’s something we enjoy so much on our travels. But my second drink was this filllllled to the brim glass of sparkling wine and it was delightful. We also had tiramisu for dessert and failed to capture it, but it was the perfect end to another perfect meal in Tokyo.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Traveler’s Factory at Narita Airport

Traveler's Factory Narita AirportI’m always so happy when we fly out of Terminal 1 at Narita Airport so I can shop one last time before we get on the plane! We didn’t get any good pictures of the Tokyo Station Traveler’s Shop, but I thought I’d share the airport pictures while we’re on a TN kick. Traveler's Notebook stickers, Traveler's Factory Airport, narita airportThey had a huge selection of baggage stickers at the airport. Traveler's Notebook stickers, Traveler's Factory Airport, narita airport, limited edition refills Traveler's Notebook stickers, Traveler's Factory Airport, narita airport, Pan Am accessoriesSeriously, how did I not buy it all? Traveler's Store Narita AirportThis is what I did end up getting…which is plenty. I love the little Narita facts postcard. And…I can’t believe I’d resisted the reading bookmarks for as long as I did!

I always say I’m going to share my Traveler’s Notebook here, but I never do because it’s kind of just a bit of a scrapbook and a journal and there are way better examples on Instagram. But maybe someday I’ll share anyway…

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Traveler’s Factory

Traveler's FactoryBecause we got to Japan on New Year’s Day, we had to wait for some smaller shops to open after the new year break. At the Traveler’s Factory, it was worth the wait. Traveler's Factory lottery lineWe ended up going on one of our last days in Japan and we were surprised to see a line out the door when we got there. This was our third visit and in previous trips, I’d been the only one in the store! They were having a special lottery for the new year! We were 111th in line, so the gentleman at the door told us we could walk around the neighborhood and come back in an hour if we wanted to…so we went to the grocery store down the block. (Visiting grocery stores is Naoto’s favorite Japanese pastime.) Kimberly and Naoto, Travelers Factory visitWe came back close to our time and had a good time chatting with our line neighbors. Everyone was in good spirits, patient, and friendly. It seemed like people came from all over for the event. Every so often, the crowd inside cleared out enough that they allowed another group inside.  shopping at Traveler's FactoryIt was very crowded inside! I’m glad I had been there before and kind of had the lay of the land enough to know what sections I wanted to spend the most time shopping. shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory Naoto took some pictures around the store while I shopped and caught me at the stamping station, which is always one of the highlights of visiting the Traveler’s Stores. There was a special stamp for the new year, of course. I stamped it in my Japan book where I kept track of our trip. About the lottery…for every ¥1000 (about $10 USD) spent, I got a ticket to take upstairs for chances to win limited edition Traveler’s products. Each ticket was a chance at the vintage gumball machine, which was filled with little capsules that held the prize. It was seriously so much fun!Traveler's Notebook limited edition, new years lotteryHere’s what I won: three limited edition passport-size refills, a big 2020 sticker, and a little Traveler’s sticker pack. The 2020 sticker is currently adorning my 2020 refill. Traveler's notebook refills, 2020 refills And, here’s what I bought. I used the lottery as an opportunity/excuse to stock up on refills. I got three limited edition ones, and three plain ones. Traveler's Notebook accessoriesThe Traveler’s accessories are my favorite things. The letterpress cards and stickers were new this year and every Traveler’s shop has a limited edition washi tape. (One of those pictured above is from the Tokyo Station store.)

Tomorrow, I have a quick post about the Traveler’s Factory at Narita Airport. Then maybe some foodie posts? Or some current life posts! I can’t believe it’s already the middle of February!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Bar Lariat

We celebrated Naoto’s birthday in Japan on January 5th. I found this local craft cocktail bar, Bar Lariat, in “our neighborhood” near our usual hotel and I insisted we try it. bar LariatFive years ago, we went to Mixology near Tokyo Station and we had a great time…all the time not knowing that this tiny gem of a bar was within walking distance of our hotel! There is no menu. You just let the bartender know what kind of drink you’re in the mood for and he creates something for you. I will admit that this kind of stressed me out. I didn’t want to drink something terrible…but it turns out, the bartender is a great listener and he hit it out of the ballpark all night! With our first cocktail, we were given this little amuse-bouche, cheese and a dried apricot. To start, Naoto ordered something like a Moscow Mule. And I requested something bright and gin based. The bartender muddled a ginko with gin and some other mixers and I was handed a refreshing, delicious cocktail. When Naoto told me a ginko would be part of my drink, I was scared. Have you ever smelled a ginko tree? It’s not good!  But the fruit was really delicious! Kind of sweet and orangey? For his second drink, Naoto had a vodka and kumquat. I finished the night with a yuzu cocktail. Everything about this drink, and especially the delicate chilled glass, was perfection. I felt so fancy drinking here! Naoto had a coffee liquor drink for dessert.  bar lariatWe definitely want to go back on our next visit. The bar only has ten seats and it’s dark and cozy inside. The owner, Masahiro-San, is an expert in his craft and he really creates a relaxing ambiance in his shop. Thanks to him, we ended Naoto’s birthday on a high note!

Tagged , , , , ,

My Kakimori Journal

Kakimori notebook, red leather, gold accentsHere it is! (Was it worth the wait?) Kakimori notebook, blue book clothAfter much deliberation, (You can ask Naoto how many times I picked up something and put it back, only to end up with something really basic!) I decided to go with a red leather cover and I stuck with the peacock blue book cloth for the back. I didn’t think the yellow and white book cloth would hold up well over time. Plus, I love red and I love blue, and the yellow doesn’t really fit my vibe…I couldn’t see myself really loving it once I got it home. kakimori notebook kakimori notebook, gold accents kakimori notebook, gold accentsPlus, I really wanted gold accents and that didn’t seem to fit with the yellow pattern vibe. I forgot to mention yesterday that you can also choose your binding colors and other accents for your book. We didn’t get a good picture of those options, but you can see them here. I didn’t add a pen loop or an elastic because I like a simple notebook, but seriously, you can have so much fun adding all the accouterments you like! Kakimori notebook, red leather, gold accents, blue bookclothIf everything in my life could be these two colors, I would be happy. kakimori notebook, fools paperI ended up going with Fool’s Paper for my insides. It’s also a fountain pen friendly paper and when I tested it at the store, I loved how it worked with a 2B pencil, a fountain pen, and a regular thin gel pen. It’s so smooth! kakimori notebook, fools paperkakimori notebook, fools paperkakimori notebook, fools paperBecause I could, I got a mix of lined, dot grid, plain, and grid papers. kakimori notebook, fools paperI also added an envelope to the back, because why not? kakimori postcard, black paper notesIn addition to my notebook, I bought a Kakimori postcard and this notepad.

The notepad has ten different kinds of black paper inside, with all sorts of textures. I sampled it in the store and thought it was fun, and I’m looking forward to using it in my Travelers Notebook and for little notes here and there. kakimori, letterpress birthday postcardsAnd I couldn’t pass up these cute birthday postcards that came with a tiny pencil so you can draw in flames for the number of candles the recipient is celebrating. Genius, right?

If you’re in Tokyo, I highly recommend Kakimori for stationery lovers. I made a small (A4 size) notebook, but they also offer A5 which would be an amazing size for a scrapbook if you filled it with one of the heavier paper options. It’s just such a neat experience to make something just for yourself…now to see if I can get into the habit of using it! I’ll report back!

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Kakimori

Kakimori It feels like we just got home from Japan…which could explain why all of our Japanese snacks and stationery treats are still sprawled across my desk and Christmas isn’t completely put away yet…but I digress.

Kakimori was one of my favorite stops this trip. It’s a notebook boutique where you can create your own completely custom notebook. Kakimori’s goal is “to re-evaluate the importance of writing.” Their philosophy is if you can build the perfect notebook, you will spend more time using it. That’s my goal…to use this notebook. kakimori custom notebook paper wallThere is a wall of cubbies where you choose your covers and guts. From book cloth covers, to fancy waxed paper covers and leather covers, the combinations were endless. I had such a hard time deciding. Kakimori notebook coversYou can kind of get a peek of the options here. There is really something for everyone, and also their stock seems to change a bit over time. There were some samples with this grid book cloth that was so fabulous, I think it affected my decision-making because I was so bummed it wasn’t in stock for me to use. Kakimori book cloth coversThis was my choice…or so I thought. kakimori paper samplesOnce I decided on my covers, I moved on to choose the insides. At first I was dead set on Tomoe River paper, but I write on that every day in my Hobonichi and when I tested some other papers, I decided to go with something new. You could also choose black or kraft paper, book journal paper (where it had boxes to rate books and write mini synopses,) and other guided papers.Kakimori paper choices
Kakimori pen selection
In addition to making your own notebook, Kakimori offers a wide range of fountain pens, pencils, and other writing utensils. I am not really a fountain pen user…I can’t get my handwriting to look nice when I write with one, but I always enjoy checking out various inks and pens while I’m shopping. Kakimori pen testingThey had a well-curated selection of other specialty pens and markers. I’m always on the look out for a good white or silver pen. kakimori pencil station kakimori pencil stationI don’t neeeeeed any pencils, but I really loved the script on this French pencil. (I did not buy it because I have a lifetime supply of pencils and then some…) Kakimori finished journalsOnce you choose your journal materials, it takes a bit of time for them to put it together. There is a little waiting room with finished journals you can purchase. Instead of sticking around the store, we decided to go to Dandelion Chocolate for a treat while we waited. Dandelion CoffeeThat s’more thing on the right…I still dream about it.

I’ll be back tomorrow to share my notebook and the other stationery I bought at Kakimori!

Tagged , , , ,

Spending the Yen: Christmas Stationery

I found this Christmas stationery last year at Loft and it was pretty pricey…like way more than I usually spend for stationery in Japan which has so many things for cheap. But Naoto slipped it into my basket and told me to buy it…it’s hard to argue with him in Japan. It’s really lovely washi paper with a nice texture that makes me wish I used a fountain pen more. And the tree is embossed with red and iridescent ink. I hope I can make time to send out a Christmas letter or two this season!

Have you started your Christmas (or other holiday) cards yet? I haven’t…hopefully next week after my last show of the season I can make time for some mail and other holiday cheer!

Tagged , , , ,

Japan Does It Better 25: Karaoke

In college, we took over a local bar every Tuesday night and sang bad karaoke songs and had a great time. Of course, I was young, drinking, and among friends, so it didn’t matter that I can’t carry a tune. I didn’t really care what the rest of the bar thought of me because I was a college kid out to have a good time. That’s the last time I enjoyed karaoke until I started going on our visits to Japan. Karaoke in Japan doesn’t happen in a dive bar among strangers; it happens in a tiny booth reserved for just you and your friends. Right upstairs from the train station by our hotel is a Big Echo, a karaoke chain in Japan. A couple years ago, we went karaokeing for the first time, just the two of us, which is kind of hilarious but also totally perfect.  Inside the Big Echo, you check in at the desk and tell them how many people are in your party and how long you’d like to sing. Then, they assign you a room based on your size. We’ve only ever gone with just the two of us, but even the smallest room is big enough for a cozy small crowd. Inside the booth, there’s a big screen, a couch, a table, microphones, menus, a device to run the karaoke, and a device for ordering food and drinks. The picture above it pretty much the room from the doorway…pretty small (as is everything in Japan) but big enough to sit and sing for awhile. Here’s Naoto, demonstrating the extensive sour menu. There’s also beer (obviously…it’s Japan) and non-alcoholic options. The food is mostly fried bar stuff, but there are healthier options too. We usually just go for late-night drinking snacks. Naoto loves singing old Japanese pop songs, so while I’m eating and drinking my sour, he warms up with a few of those. I have no idea what he’s singing about but the screen always has a fun little scene that may or may not go with the lyrics. It’s fun to see him getting all serious and nostalgic about the old music.  Once he warms up with Japanese songs, we perform duets of Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and Elvis. So, it’s pretty much like singing in our car on a road trip, except with a better sound system. There is a pretty extensive list of American pop music from all eras, so there’s never a shortage of songs. Once the time is almost up, the front desk calls to see if you want to add minutes. We usually add minutes because an hour goes so fast! I think by the time it’s all said and done, we usually end of paying ¥7000 ($65ish) for our food and experience. Not too bad for a late-night date.

As someone who doesn’t have great singing abilities, I love the private room so I can have fun with Naoto (or a bigger group of friends…someday we’d like to go with his sisters or our friends) without feeling self-conscious about picking a weird song or singing badly in front of strangers. So, to me, karaoke rooms are another example where Japan Does It Better! See how fun it is…

P.S. I haven’t done a JDIB post in so long! If you’d like to see more, go here.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Tokyo Tower

Toyko Tower, Tokyo, JapanNaoto was all about the touristy things on this trip. It’s good because I can’t come home from Japan having gone to only stationery stores on each trip! I’ve never been to Tokyo Tower and Naoto went when he was a kid, so we added it to our agenda when we returned to Tokyo. We had such beautiful weather during our whole trip…seriously it felt like summer most of the time. We tried to use the warm, clear days to our advantage just in case it rained later in our trip. But it turns out, that wasn’t a problem since it only rained a little bit on our very last day in Japan.Toyko Tower, Tokyo, JapanBuilt in 1958 and painted a striking “International Orange,” Tokyo Tower is the second tallest tower in Japan (and twenty-third worldwide.) At 333 meters tall, it’s only a little over half as tall as Skytree. (But it was the tallest structure in Japan until the Skytree was built in 2012.) Still, about three million people visit Tokyo Tower each year…it’s a classic! Toyko Tower, Tokyo, Japan, viewThere are two viewing levels for the tower. We totally cheaped out and only paid for the basic level. We figured, we’ve seen the view from Skytree so we didn’t need to pay ¥2800 to go all the way to the top. Toyko Tower, Tokyo, Japan Toyko Tower, Tokyo, Japan, mailbox Toyko Tower, Tokyo, JapanThe views were still quite good and we had fun roaming around trying to spot other familiar things in the landscape. It was so hot though–we had to keep stepping away from the sunny windows to cool off a bit! Toyko Tower, Tokyo, Japan, mailbox Toyko Tower, Tokyo, Japan, mailboxI bought a few postcards to send with the special Tokyo Tower postmark. Naoto and I send ourselves postcards from our travels so he was in charge of sending this one since it was his idea.

I still have a lot more Tokyo to share, but next week, I think I’m going to take a little break to talk about current life, reading, mail, food, Valentine’s Day…in the meantime, have a great weekend!

Tagged , , , , , ,