Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why Japan is a Crafter's Paradise . . .

Japan has not given up on their crafting and sewing population.  Many normal stores have some kind of a sewing section for supplies for all kinds of crafts, hobbies and sewing.  While they have many hobbies that we do not in the U.S., they have many of the same.  I found a bead store that I briefly mentioned previously.  Today, I'm going to show you a five story fabric store that is about 3/4 mile from our apartment.  I didn't take photos of each floor.  I think I was too stunned and the place was hopping.  When I walked into the front door there were bolts of beautiful classic wool plaids right at my fingertips.  At the time I was way too hot to even think about buying any wool, but it has cooled off and I'm still thinking about some Royal Stewart plaid that they had. If this link doesn't work for you because I am in Japan, just Google Royal Stewart Plaid.  You'll recognize it.  
There was an entire floor dedicated to knits, one for evening wear fabrics and weddings.  I don't even know.  I'm going to have to return soon for more research.  One of my favorite fabric lines are Liberty of London Tana Lawn fabrics.  They are pretty pricey, but they are incredibly beautiful to look at and touch. It is possible to find them in the States, but not common. You definitely want to see and touch them before you purchase.  Check their website, but you just can't tell how beautiful they are unless you see them.  You can also buy them in the states from Purl Soho.  Again, better in person.  If you live in Southern California, Purl Soho has their shipping location in Tustin, I believe.  It's definitely worth a visit, but isn't fancy like a knitting/fabric shop.  

The three photos above are Liberty. 
I've been working on this embroidery piece.  I'm not sure it's completed, but now that I have my sewing machine here (yeah, sea shipment arrived yesterday), I can buy some backing fabric and get 'er done.  I am planning on Liberty yardage for the back.  
They even had a selection of Marimeko prints.  Check out the history of the company on their website.  It is a Finnish company that began in the early 50's and is still going strong today.  Their prints were highly popular in the United States in the 60's and 70's, you might recognize them.

This is a poor photo, but I was so excited to see this.  Cosmo is a Japanese floss that I had first purchased at French General in Los Angeles.  Definitely a store to visit if you're in the area. I read on the labels that it was made in Japan.  Of course, I had not come across any yet, only DMC.  Then I saw this! All the Cosmo I could ever want. It's beautiful floss with amazing color ways.  

Then I found the Indigo.  Oh, the Indigo.  I think I will have to do an entirely separate post about this subject.  Especially when I've learned a little more about it.  In the mean time, I'm going to plan a project with it.  If you're on Pinterest, do a search of Indigo.  Maybe even on Google.  It's a feast for the eyes.  I mean it.  Especially the hand dyed fabrics, Shibori, nui, Kumo, Hagime, and batik to name a few.  I don't even know what all of those are yet.  But, I am planning on finding out. 
 I did start trying my hand at Sashiko embroidery.  They sell little kits for beginners. When you buy the needles, it comes wrapped so perfectly and inside is also a needle threader.  I love that!
This photo is a collage of the different stages of opening the pretty little needle package.  
The Japanese have a gift of presentation. 
I was suppose to mark around the piece and trim it off.  I didn't have a ruler, let alone for millimeters.  Then I realized my Moleskine notebook had a page with a ruler on it. So, there you go! Very helpful for measuring. Yes, I did already have my fabric marker.

This is the beginning stages of my Sashiko. 
The store had samples available to entice you to buy a kit.  It didn't take much. 

The fabric store had a lovely section of yarn.  I understand that crochet more popular than knitting here. I brought several knitting projects to finish, so it may be awhile before I begin a new one. Especially since I've already started other projects and am dreaming about more. Japanese women evidently love their sewing and handcrafts enough to keep stores like this in business. Their clothes sewing is an entirely different subject worth it's own post. And yes, I've purchased two Japanese pattern books already.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

When Hubby's Away. . .

Hi there.  Time is flying really fast here and we have already lived in Japan for one month! I can't even believe it myself.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband went on a business trip from Monday through Saturday to Europe.  He went to Rome, Madrid and Paris.  I was not pleased.  Many people have asked why I didn't go.  The bottom line is, I cannot go.  So, I had some new, dear friends that kept me busy while he was away.  I am very thankful for these girls that have reached out to me and included me in so many things.  This post is about only two days of excursions.  

First we visited an Premium Outlet Mall in a nearby prefecture.  The kids were off of school and the place was packed!! It was a great place to people watch.  This "interesting" sculpture was outside the mall.  

If you're interested, search Google.  I did and I still have no clue.  
My friend Sharon and I checked out the Wacoal store. I really like Wacoal bras and so I wanted to see it. Well, bras in Japan are nothing like they are in the U.S.  NOTHING. There are a lot of frills, lace, flowers and ruffles.  Sizes are much different as well, as you may be able to see. There was not a plain bra in sight. 
 There were several strange store names.
This vintage Nissan was parked in front of us. Pretty cute! The next day Sharon invited me over and we ended up running some errands. I was able to check out her grocery store, which is nicer than mine. These are more "normal" prices than some you've seen me post from the specialty food stores.
Four big apples for basically $3.32. They are delicious too.  But you only have a choice of two kinds of apples from what I can tell, yellow and red.
 I can't really tell you how much hamburger this was in weight.  I would guess that it was around a quarter pound.  I think it would've made one hamburger.  The cost is $4.55.

I took a photo of this bread because it had the largest slices I've seen so far.  Usually the bread loaves hold 4-8 slices of bread which determines the size of the slices.  I think it's a pretty great idea.  I have found whole wheat bread but it's pretty wimpy compared to ours. I'm missing my 7 or 12 grain bread.  
I took this photo of Sharon in an attempt to be sneaky and take a picture of these two guys in their huge pants.  Sharon thinks construction workers wear them.  Seems like they'd be in the way and super annoying.  I think he knew I was doing it by the look on his face. BUSTED!

 HUGE grapes!  I was told they taste like wine, and I would agree. 
1280 Yen translates to $10.68.
 $6.66 per cantaloupe.
 I loved the tablecloth (laminated) fabric they sold in the grocery store!  Very cute. 
I was really tempted to buy these cute crocks.  Really, really tempted.
 We then went to Daiso which is a 100 Yen store in Japan and they are also in Los Angeles.  Maybe they are in more places in the US as well.  This is the biggest one I've ever seen.
 Look at these monster hangers.  They are evidently for towels.  HUGE.  Kind of cute, though.
On Instagram I titled this photo, "one of these is not like the other". Everyone BACKS into their parking spaces in Japan.  It's supposedly safer when you leave.  Maybe so.  Either way you have to back up sometime.  Here you can easily see which car is Sharon's.  You may also be able to see that it has a green and yellow "new driver" sticker on it.  We Americans have to put these on our cars.  On that note, I'm taking my driving test this Thursday!  If you think of me on Wednesday evening, breathe a little prayer for me.  Thank you! 

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

New Friends!!

I met two new friends recently who's husbands also work for Toyota. They've been really nice and have included me in a couple of excursions. Last week M needed to do some shopping for her daughter's birthday. The main shopping district (downtown) is close to my apartment. I met them in the subway and we walked around downtown. As you can see there are some very familiar stores in the area. She found just what she needed at American Eagle.  

This store is not an American brand, even though the name seems familiar.  It carries many things, with each floor being different.  There is an interiors floor, electronics, travel, etcetera.  My FAVORITE floor is the stationery supplies, journals, paper, pens, art supplies, and on and on.  
Here are some photos of that floor.
 Many, many rows of pens.

 Stickers and washi tape.
 Clips, like crazy.

 Oh yeah, baby. Lots of Copic markers at only $2.60 a piece. These are $7 at home.

 Even Martha made an appearance.
Journals for days!
Then we went to a wonderful Japanese restaurant for Shabu Shabu.

Fortunately these tables had spaces beneath them for our legs. 
Getting up and down was interesting, however.  

 Tofu with fish eggs. I tried it.
These sauces are for dipping the meat and vegetables into after they are cooked.  
The left one was not soy sauce, but it was salty.  The right one had a peanut flavor.
This is the thinly sliced beef that you put into the broth.  
On the right are a mixture of vegetables, noodles and tofu.  
This water boils and you put the veggies and meat in to cook. I can't tell you what everything is. The  yellow thing in the front is a mystery to me. But, it tasted okay. There is mushroom, bean sprouts, cabbage, parsley and beef in this photo.
These tables have no spaces for legs!  It was a great day and I'm so grateful for new friends.  If you've seen my "videos" on Instagram and Facebook, these are some of the same photos.  You can just see them better.  By the way, my husband tried the barber in the subway and they did a fabulous job!  This next week is my turn for a haircut! I have an appointment at a salon downtown.  We will see how it goes!


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