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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Etsy Update

The sewing machine is back from Bernina and has that nicely oiled hum.

I put 5 new bags in the shop including this green watermelon bag. (link is on the side bar) My plan is to make a few more this week.

Two hearts had a little set back, as I discovered 6 inches into the upper front that I had forgotten to bind off for the armhole. Yish. Now I have a bag of yarn vomit to knit up.
I still love the cables on the back.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Random Thoughts about Japan, WIPS

I'm nearly done with with front and back of Two Hearts, knitting in the round. Marlene (Cookie A sock from Knit 1) has taken a back seat to my Beaverslide cabling love for now. The sewing machines have returned home, all oiled up and humming. I've cut out some new bags, and finished one springy/pinky one. I have some Amy Butler martini dots fabric in the mail.

Two more Woodland Spirits were complete. The light grey one has gone off to the Pacific Northwest. The other guy is hanging out with Hello Kitty.

Randoms thoughts about my trip to Japan.

1. Men in Tokyo carry bags. If not a briefcase, then a small zippered purse. Some even have cell phone charms and little plushies.

2. Tokyo has really great manhole covers and as I guessed there is a whole Flickr group dedicated to them, many much more ornate then the ones I saw.

3. I like the greeting one gets when walking into a shop or restaurant and also the thank you and Japanese version of y’all come back when leaving.

4. Many of the delivery and maintenance trucks appear more compact then the ones in the US. They seem perfect for the narrow streets. I'm not sure our substantial US humans can fit in them. And, yup there is a flickr group for Japanese trucks, too.

5. Toilet paper and paper towels are not always provided in restrooms in temples or subway stations. The Toto toilet is a wonderful contraption that warms your seat and says hello by running water and heating it up when you sit down. If you are really lucky, the toilet seat cover goes up when you open the door and goes down when you leave. Birds may also sing. There are push buttons to freshen your bottom and flush.

6. After seeing The National Treasure ASHURA and Masterpieces from Kohfukuji at the Tokyo National Museum, I learned a little about how Buddhism came to Japan. I also learned the origins of some characters of anime and folklore. My son tells me he learned this in his high school art class.

It's amazing what I can learn from my children. Shhhh...don't tell them.

7. You can buy an amazing variety of things from vending machines in Tokyo, including beer. I wish the American vending machines had more unsweetened choices.

8. I wish I bought more of those tomato chips…yum, but unfortunately, fried, so maybe it’s better I didn’t.

9. This is an ashtray.

10. If you want temples and shrines, Japan has many many!! I learned the Daibutsu at Kamakura, the second largest in Japan, is hollow and has windows on the back.

Daibutsu is very photogenic when the natural light is perfect.

11. I love camelia and they grow on trees in Tokyo!

12. Godzilla better keep away from Tokyo, it is still wired to the hilt!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ghibli Museum

When I was in 5th grade I started writing to a boy in Tokyo. We wrote very little as I speak/read no Japanese, and his English was about the same. When he was 18 he came to Hawaii and my father sponsored him. He finished college in LA and moved back to Japan. He and his family have come to Hawaii many times so I was happy to have lunch with him and his mom this trip and....he arranged for us all to visit Ghibli Museum, a dream of mine. He speaks excellent English now, I still speak no Japanese. I found out I even pronounce my Japanese last name with a Hawaiian accent!

Ghibli is the animation company that brought the world Totoro! Disney owns the rights in USA to many of it's features.

The giant robot from Laputa stands over the museum...I decided not buy any big stuffed Totoros as I have many, but fell prey to many cell phone charms, cards and a pen. The museum showed a lovely short movie featuring Totoro, Mei and the Catbus. I was overwhelmed with the cuteness. I didn't not jump in the big Catbus as it was full of kids and I didn't want to hurt anyone, heh.

I couldn't resist Baby from Spirited Away. He is a giant baby, son of the main witch in the story, who gets transformed into a mouse. He is so heavy he can barely walk. One of my favorite scenes in this movie is when the fly has to carry him and can barely lift him off the ground.

I found Totoro items in this cute shop in..darn, was it Shibuya or Harajuku? I found some items in Narita Airport and also another Totoro shop in Asakusa.

I love Totoro!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Of ohagi and Craft Stores

To answer a couple of questions....
Tokyo is the largest city if one is thinking population, but not the largest geographically.
A manju, is an asian confection made of steam sweet bread, stuffed with sweetened beans. Typically the azuki bean is used, but other beans such as lima beans are also used.

While I'm on the topic of food, I must say, if I lived in Japan, I don't think I'd ever cook again. There is food everywhere!. Most of the large department stores have food in the basement ranging from deli stuff to omiyage (gifts). In and around every train station there are small grocery stores with prepared foods and drinks, and many specialty restaurants. Some make only soba or ramen, some make only tempura, etc. Since that's all they make it tends to be very good.

This is a noodle shop. That's how big it is. It had 4 people working in it, and 4 seats at the counter. There were two other tables for standing and eating on the sidewalk and two chairs off to the left. They make tempura, but you can't buy it unless you buy a bowl of soup, too. It was very tasty. I marveled at the division of labor and the cheerfulness of these people.

If you need fishy stuff for cooking, there is an incredible variety in the stalls outside Tsukiji Fishmarket.

I wasn't sure what those eyeball like things were, but they turned out to be the beak of the octopus. I have no idea how to fix those, heh.

The little dried fish were very colorful.

The toasted rice cakes were everywhere in such variety. Some are grilled on hibachi's in the little shops along the way to Sensō-ji and smell so good.

My traveling companions and I got hooked on Ohagi and ate it everyday but one. It's a rice cake with the same sweet beans but on the outside. Good thing all that walking around burned off some calories!

But of course, the important question...what about craft supplies?

Tokyu Hands
I bought stickers, washi paper, some beads and a Totoro stamp. There were 6 floors of crafts and a restaurant on top. Don't pass this one up if you go to Tokyo. We went to the one in Ginza.

Yuzawaya in Kamata.
This complex has about 11 buildings. I went to building 10, 4 floors of fabric, and building 6 especially for the one floor of yarn. Now the rules I had about shopping was no yarn unless it was a really good bargain. They had a wall of Noro...but I resisted and bought fabric instead. I wish I had given more time to this place!

I love the blue and white indigo dyes.

There were many book stores and I found a couple of sewing books.

I hope my sewing machine comes back from Bernina this week...>news flash: Tom is working on it today!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tokyo, First Impressions

My first impression of Tokyo after passing through Narita and riding the the bus to the hotel in the dark was was....whoa! This city is HUGE!
Hugeness is difficult to photograph without some kind of wide angle lens, heh. With my little bitty camera from the 53rd floor sky deck at Roppongi Hills I only get a small slice!

I tried graphing population and density against Honolulu, Chicago, LA and London but it still doesn't convey the feeling.

Okay, how come I didn't know that Tokyo was the largest city in the world?!!!

Being 3/4 Asian, mostly Japanese, I felt oddly at home amongst the sea of black hair for the first few days. I could easily blend in as long as I didn't have to talk or try to listen to conversations. I had no jet lag and did not miss the day I lost going over the date line.

I was blessed with great weather. It was in the high 60 and low 70s (16-21C) while I was there and sunny every day but one.

The cherry blossoms were incredibly splendid! Much more so then I imagined! They line the streets and light up the gardens everywhere. I had no idea there were so many varieties. They truly deserve their reputation and I can see why they inspired so much poetry. I put a closeup of a double variety on my header. By the time I left most trees had lost all their flowers and were all green. I enjoyed watching the petals fall like snow when the wind blow and the gardeners sweeping them up daily at the hotel with their beautiful brooms.

I had to have a manju with a cherry blossom on it. I finished 1 1/4 of Cookie A's Marlene, using my Warm Amber targhee wool, hand spun by Akamai Knitter. I love the color! The yarn is quite fine and I'm using size one needles. I hoped to find the Clover Mother store to replace the needle I lost, but no luck.
I did most of my knitting on the plane coming and going, in the airport, or waiting for my Uncle and Aunty in the morning for breakfast. The manju was yummy:)

See more pictures of Tokyo here.

More later.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Totoro Parade Bento!

I'm off to Japan today but just had to share this bento. Too cute to eat, but very nutritious.
I don't think I'll have computer access during this trip.
Happy Knitting and crafting!!

(Click the picture to get to a bigger view)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Lancaster, the second son, randomly generated a number and, May has won my Blogiversary contest Thanks to everyone who played!

I have been blogging for 4 years now and what an adventure it has been. I have learned so much and been inspired by so much creativity, warmth and humor out there. Thanks to everyone out there who has read my blog and left comments! You are the best:)

Now to generate May's prize. Well... it will have to wait until I return from Japan. Sorry, May.

I'm so excited about this trip. Reading about Tokyo is a bit overwhelming! I know I will be going to Kamakura one day, and the Tsukiji Fish Market. I also want to visit the Ghibli Museum. A crafty friend, Ione, maker of santas extraordinaire gave me some directions to a wonderful craft store, where I would love to look for fabric and other craft items.

Tomorrow I start my actual job and work two days. I got called to fill in today, too, at another clinic, but had to decline, as I don't think I'm ready for a full day of patients without the computer tech training support with the medical record. When it rains it pours.

On the knitting scene, this odd little Critter was born.

Totoro (crocheted by Elleban is wondering what this critter is. It started off as a cat, but the i-cord legs did not come out like I thought they would, so he looks a bit like a kangaroo. So I'll call him Critter and he will live with the Totoros:)

I'm enjoying knitting Two Hearts from A Fine Fleece with the wonderful Beaverslide. I don't think I'll take this project on my trip as it is getting rather large. Hmm, what to take...socks?