Tag Archives: Japan

Stationery Tour on the Chuo Line

I randomly started following a few Japanese paper shops on Instagram last year. When we were planning this trip, I told Naoto I wanted to visit some new places, and it just so happened that three of my top choices are situated along the Chuo line, out to the Tokyo suburbs. Our first stop was Hachimakura, a vintage paper shop.  Hachimakura is tiny and smells of old wood and paper. It is packed in every nook and cranny with vintage papers from all over the world. I spent so much time in there sifting through tiny envelopes and packages of labels, stamps, magazine pages, and patterned papers. It was a dark and moody shop, but oh so perfect for the wares. I ended up buying some new screenprinted patterned papers, some old deadstock Taiwanese labels, and some vintage Japanese beauty labels. Next up was Tonarino, a tiny stationery store located a little further along the Chuo line. They carry a lot of standard Japanese stationery brands, but also a lot of independent designers and they have so many cards and stationery that are designed in-house.Tonarino was so white and bright inside, making their colorful array of products pop off the shelves. It was such a cheerful little shop. I ended up buying some Halloween cards (which I sent from Japan) and a house-designed postcard and stationery set. The last place we went was Yamada Stationery. Yamada is in the suburb of Tokyo, Mitaka. Sadly, it was dark by then, so I don’t have any pictures of the outside or inside. I loved this shop, and probably would have bought so much more if we had visited later in our trip. They sell everything from basic Japanese office supplies, to craft supplies, and unique lines of washi tape and stationery. I ended up with a library themed purchase: library cards and pockets and stickers, library card washi tape, and a tube of lotion that looks like old school glue.

Each shop on their own had a lot to offer, but I’m glad we spent some time mapping out the visit so that we didn’t spend an hour on the train hitting up one shop…I always love a stationery adventure.

 

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Maruzen

Naoto found a fun new stationery place to check out this trip. Maruzen is actually a book store, but they have a whole floor devoted to stationery. Their shop in Ikebukuro has three floors of books and stationery and a small cafe decorated with out-of-commission train cars. I didn’t buy very much, just a few fall postcards that I sent from Japan and some washi tape, but I really loved the experience of this location. We ended up having a little snack just so we could sit in the cafe and check out the trains. I got an iced tea and Naoto got a beer and we shared a prosciutto and brie sandwich. Let’s just end with this cheesy picture.

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mt Halloween Pop-Up at Tokyu Hands

Next week, I’m hoping to finally work on my little “scrapbook” from Japan, so I figured I could start blogging about it as I go through pictures to print and ephemera to paste. It’s going to be weird talking about Halloween in January but, I think we’ll be okay. Halloween has become a pretty big deal in Japan. In fact, thirteen people were arrested in Shibuya celebrating Halloween…it was a huge scandal and all over the news. (We watched from our Airbnb in Osaka.)

But I digress…

I found out about an mt pop-up shop at the Tokyu Hands store in Ikebukuro before we left and Naoto made sure to add it to the stationery tour list. We decided to check it off the list on our first day in Tokyo.   The whole front of the store was “wallpapered” with mt’s Halloween tape and the first floor was mostly devoted to mt. They had all of their limited edition Halloween and fall tapes available and tons of other packs and single rolls set up in bins for easy perusal. In the middle of the shop, there were Halloween patterned streamers hanging down…the picture doesn’t do it justice…we really needed a selfie stick to show off the full effect. They also had a game where you could pay ¥500 and blindly reach into a bin and take out as many washi tape as you could grab in one handful. I decided not to partake because most of the tapes were pretty basic and I have plenty of washi tapes. I sort of went into this trip deciding not to buy too many washi tapes because I already have so many, but that plan flew out of the window when I landed in Japan.I did try to buy just the ones I truly loved……but really, what’s not to love? I ended up getting the Halloween washi tapes (and duplicates for friends,) mt Halloween monsters wrapping paper, Bande Halloween roll stickers, tiny jack-o-lantern stickers, and some other stationery. Oh and Naoto got Presley a cat treat…at this Hands, there was a whole floor devoted to pet supplies along with a cat cafe. I am looking forward to THIS Halloween when I can use some of the things I bought. If you’re in Japan, I’d highly recommend checking out mt’s website and Instagram to see if they have any pop-ups near you. Thanks to Naoto for starting our trip out with a bang.

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Spending the Yen: Year of the Boar

new years cards, japan post, itoya, We really hit the sweet spot during our trip to Japan this year. I was able to shop for Halloween and fall things, as well as planners, Christmas, and New Years. If you’ve been around for awhile, you may remember this post that explains the Japanese tradition of sending nengajo, or new years postcards.  We found the regular New Years postcards (the two on the right) at Itoya. Many stationery stores offer printing services for New Years cards. We could have ordered something personalized if we had more time (and wanted to send a bunch.) And on our very last day and our very last trip to the post office, we saw the Japan mailbox postcard with the boar. There were Christmas ones too. I just love these cards…it’s always fun to visit the different neighborhood post offices to see what they have available. There’s usually a seasonal one and sometimes regions have their own styles. new years stickers, japanese stationery, year of the boarI picked up a couple of styles of stickers with Japanese new year symbols and the little boar. From left to right: a paddle (I thought it was a bottle of sake, which is why it’s upside down in my picture) for hanetsuki, which is a game like badminton played on new year day, a drum that brings good luck, the boars, and an ema, a placard where you can write a new years wish and hang it at the shrine. new years stickers, japanese stationery, year of the boarA kite, the boar, and kadomatsu, a bamboo arrangement common for new year. new years stickers, japanese stationery, year of the boar, mail artI put all of the postcards in envelopes because of the odd shape of the post boxes and because Japanese postcards are oriented vertically instead of horizontally. I didn’t feel like making weird adjustments on the cards to meet USPS standards, and also this way, I could decorate the envelopes, too.

Happy New Year! May your mailbox be full in 2019!

 

 

P.S. If you’re interested in seeing our New Years cards from the past, here’s a link to those posts.

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Stationery Christmas Gifts

snail mail christmas gifts, baum kuchen, greer, constellation co, office supply giftsNaoto hit it out of the ballpark for me this Christmas. He went with the always popular stationery theme. snail mail christmas gifts, greer, office supply giftsHe did a lot of shopping at Greer, THE best stationery store in Chicago. He found a couple of enamel pins, a travel eraser, and a tiny matchbook notebook. He also got a calendar, but I’ll talk about that in my annual calendar post. Japan post enamel pin, Japanese mail stampHe gave me a post box enamel pin (which I may have directed him toward.) And this very sweet Japan post rubber stamp of a girl mailing a letter. Niconeco Zakkaya is one of my favorite online places for Japanese stationery. They offer so many unique things from indie designers and small makers. He also gave me some letter socks from Constellation & Co. This makes my third pair of mail-themed socks so maybe a sock post is overdue. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborAnd he gave me a cherry blossom stamp and a gorgeous Superior Labor pouch from Baum-Kuchen. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborI’ve been trying to use my Travelers Notebook more for the past couple of years…there’s still work to be done to get into a good habit, but I’ve found that using nice things is a great incentive. I bought a matching pouch by Superior Labor when we were at the Traveler’s store in Japan, so I’m very excited to get everything set up for 2019. I’ll share more about Travelers and my notebook soon!

Now, I’m working on getting my desk organized so I can get back into the habit of making things again. A fresh desk for a fresh start in 2019…that’s the goal.

We are going to a New Year’s Eve party at our friends’ house tonight–same as last year. And tomorrow, hopefully I’ll have the energy to take down some Christmas decorations…I LOVE the lights during the season and I’m always sad to see them go, but I also love how fresh and bare our house looks with all of the extra stuff put away. But, even still…it’s one of the more depressing chores of the new year.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

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Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour

 

Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Omotesando, Tokyo, JapanTraveling to Japan in the fall meant it was “planner season.” All of the 2019 planners and calendars were out and huge planner displays were featured at all of the big stationery stores. Naoto was in the market for a Hobonichi this year. He’s doing freelance translation work now and needs something a little more detailed than his tiny planner from 2018. We made a little pilgrimage to the official Hobonichi shop, Tobichi, in Omotesando one afternoon. The facade of the shop is pictured above, an amazing patchwork of weathered wood that distinguishes it from the other houses and buildings in the neighborhood. Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Omotesando, Tokyo, JapanWe didn’t take many pictures inside the shop because they were filming for something, but Naoto took this one of me checking out the accessories. We ended up buying our 2019 Hobonichi Techos at Loft because Loft offers tax-free shopping*, which saved us several yen on each of our planners and accessories. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Hobonichi stamp, Frixion stampBut I bought a little Hobonichi stamp (pictured above with two new Frixion stamps) at Tobichi and it was fun to see all of the Hobonichi products in a bright little shop. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, When we got home, Naoto was excited to open his planner up and get started. So, we held our first annual Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour on “Black Friday” and it was so much fun! Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Calendar CocktailWe ate leftover veggies and dip from Thanksgiving and pretzels with blue cheese mustard and I made Calendar Cocktails (which were really just Cynar Manhattans.) I showed Naoto all of the bells and whistles of the Hobonichi and he started filling out December.  Naoto has seen my Hobonichi before, but he was really impressed with how flexible it is to use. Also, I have to say, the layout of the Japanese version is way better than the English version. The hourly timing is better and there’s a small area for a checklist, still leaving plenty of room for journaling or other notes on the main pages. I may have to get the Japanese version next year, or use my vast collection of washi tapes and stickers to define areas on the daily pages for myself. I’ll have to experiment and report back. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Calendar layoutNaoto refused to use washi tapes and stickers on his monthly pages…but I think I made up for it with my December. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, PresleyI sort of feel like recreating this party with some friends who like to decorate their planners. I like to get birthdays and other special days documented on my monthly pages at the start of the year, so I can use my old planner as a reference. I still need to set up my 2019 planner, so Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour Part 2 could still happen.

Cheers to an organized December!

*Many larger chains and even some smaller stores offer tax-free shopping to tourists in Japan. You usually have to spend a certain amount and you always have to present your passport, but it’s a great savings if you are buying a lot of stationery and other souvenirs. So, pro-tip: carry your passport with you everywhere in Japan!

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To Japan & Back

Argh! It’s been a lifetime since I’ve blogged and real life has taken over. In October/November, Naoto & I took a trip to Japan, our first vacation in over two years! So, getting ready to travel and then adjusting to time and jumping back into craft show prep (I had 2 shows in November) and then Thanksgiving and now Christmas preparations…well, I haven’t had time to share much. But almost everything in our apartment is decorated and cards are done, so blogging will happen again!

I have so much to share about our trip and obviously Christmas preparations…I hate to be away from the blog this long, as it really has become a nice way to connect with people and to remember what I’ve been up to in previous years…kind of my own Facebook memories.

Anyway, thanks for sticking it out with me. I’ll be back this week with a holiday season update and then we’ll see…maybe Japan fits in better in January when the Christmas glow has worn off. We’ll see what happens and how much holiday goodness I can round up around here.

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Summer Book Report, Part 2

summer reading, a good man is hard to find, we have always lived in a castle, a country doctor, consequences, convenience store womanI gave myself until the technical start of fall to finish my goal of reading ten books, and I’m going to call it complete. I finished my last book on Tuesday, and one of my choices is technically a short story, but…it’s all good. I’ve been reading up a storm, finishing all of these this month. (Don’t be too impressed…one book was a layover from August and the others are quite short!)

A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (1884): This was for book group and it was kind of meh. The writing is really lovely, but many parts were too verbose and I didn’t feel the same connection to the characters that I have in other books. Oh, and it’s another single woman, finding her way in the world, struggling between career and marriage…I’m not complaining. I love those books. This just wasn’t my favorite.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor (1953): It’s a short story that I can’t believe I’ve never read. I can’t tell you anything. Don’t read about it. Just get it and read it. It’s perfection.

Consequences by E.M. Delafield (1919): Another spinster novel…I loooooved this. It took me almost a month to read it and I had to take a break from reading it to read for book club. But, every time I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It is a tale of a misunderstood child turned single woman who makes many bad choices in life (a life constrained by society’s expectations and restrictions) and has to live with the consequences.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (2016): Oh look! It’s a book written this century! Naoto’s sister recommended this book to him a couple years ago and it was the book that got him back into reading. He read the Japanese version and I was a little bummed because it wasn’t available in English when he told me about it. Then, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Work Over Easy, and I was reading this post thinking “huh, this book sounds like that one Naoto read!” and sure enough it was! I immediately ordered it from the library and read it in one day. I loved it so much, but it’s hard to explain why. Weirdly enough, it’s another book about a single woman who has made some “non-traditional” choices. I loved the main character and I loved how the author paints the perfect picture of life in a convenience store. (Sidenote: convenience stores are way better in Japan…perhaps I need to write a new Japan Does It Better post.)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962): I haven’t read enough Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” is one of my favorite short stories ever. This was the perfect introduction into my spooky October reading. The book was creepy and captivating and funny…and the first paragraph is one of the best ever written:

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

For book club next month, we are reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and I just started Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, another Japanese book that I read about in the New York Times review of Convenience Store Woman. Perhaps I’ll be back with a fall review soon! In the meantime, here are some of my favorite book club reads from October!

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Tanabata Time Again

tanabata, cats watching fireworks, japanese postcardsIt’s Tanabata time again! Naoto and I are throwing another mini Tanabata party, complete with Japanese picnic foods and sushi. And I’m making spumonis for the first time all summer. The weather is perfect today for another summer celebration! Hopefully I’ll have some pictures to share next week. Have a good weekend!

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12th Anniversary Gifts

japanese paper gift wrap Every year, Naoto and I exchange gifts based on our anniversary year. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before…) We use this list as our guide, just to keep it consistent. Some years, we are spot on, and other years we leave things open to interpretation. I follow the modern gift guide for Naoto and he follows the traditional for me. The modern gifts for the twelfth anniversary are silk or linen. So I bought Naoto a linen shirt and a chef’s hat. I wrapped his gift in some paper from a shop in Kyoto. (It’s their shop paper that they wrapped our purchases in. It’s been in my paper hoard since…2015?) There was a Kyoto link in our gift-giving this year, as you will see. I think this proves that we are both itching to go back to Japan again. chef's hat, naoto's 12th anniversary giftSadly, the chef’s hat was too small…even for me! But the shirt fit nicely and there’s a new, larger hat on its way. vintage brooch, blue stones, fireworks brooch My gift was supposed to be pearls, but Naoto found this vintage “fireworks” brooch and I love it. Pearls are lovely, but really, I have some pearl earrings (from our wedding) and a necklace (from Naoto’s Hawaiian host mom) and I think that’s plenty of the most fragile “gems” on earth, so this was a good substitution. kyoto gin, ki-no-ri distilleryAnd he gave me gin from a distillery in Kyoto! We’re finally opening it tonight so I’ll have a full report soon. Stay tuned.

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