Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Non-Definitive Guide to Japan

I recently returned from Japan, and even though I feel embarrassingly unqualified to write any kind of advice on the experience, since I was a terrible person at visiting Japan (I missed out so many things! I spent way too much time in Loft! I got so lost! I ate deep fried fish paste (!!) from street vendors instead of having proper culinary experiences! I lost all my money! I visited a total of 0 museums! I slept in! I got drunk and cried in a Beatles themed bar! I forgot to eat sushi!) I still had an amazing time and loved the whole experience - tears and all. So maybe that makes me the most qualified of all??! Yes! Yes it does!

So here is a list of places/ things that caught my eye, for your reading pleasure. If you plan on visiting Japan read a million other actually helpful things and then maybe return to this list. Theres a 3% chance there may be something useful in it. And if you don't plan on it, here is a picture of a DOG WEARING A NECKERCHIEF IN THE SNOW, just to make this worthwhile.


Japan - My favourite things

Kichijoji, Tokyo
Kichijoji is famous for being the home of the Studio Ghibli Museum, but even if you don't manage to get tickets well in advance, I reckon it's worth a visit. First of all, Inokashira Park has swan boats, let's just get that out of the way. Swan boats! 


I don't know about you, but that's half a day gone taking photos of these majestic vessels ;)

Kichijoji also has some awesome craft and paper stores, and if that got you a little excited then you should really get your hands on the wonderfully useful Tokyo Craft Guide. It helped me find so many gems. Paper Message was a total highlight. There are beautiful illustrated paper goods, calendars, funny paper cut outs, wrapping paper and so much more. Paper heaven.

The world's cutest cafe is also in this suburb; think rustic wooden windows, twinkling lights, big leafy trees, a view of the swans cruising by and a hot cup of cocoa. All you need to know is it is in Inokashira park, it's adorable and you have to go there. You can also hear the beautiful cacophony of all the various musical pursuits that take place in the park. I was there on a Wednesday and already there was a violinist, a four person choir and an awesome dude playing toy ducks

There's also a bunch of rad alleyways near the station, with bars and food places and shops. 

Another blogger has written a guide to this area with some useful advice and proper pictures, have a look :)

Zen Foto Gallery/ Seiji Kurata 
I managed to miss all the biggest galleries, mainly through laziness and spending most of my time in 100 Yen shops. But this is a winner for photography fans. The gallery is small but they have a fantastic collection of books which they have published/ republished. The exhibition at the time of my visit was of the work of Seiji Kurata

From the Zen Foto website... "Exposing the habits and life of the people squirming through the amusement quarters, like gay cross-dressers or women working in brothels and their customers, to his intense strobe flash, this work discloses the desires of those who sink in the darkness of the city and has been highly assessed as cutting through a whole new territory of documentary photography." 

His work is intense, eerie and fascinating, and depicts a side of Japan you wouldn't typically get to see (unless your holiday was veeeeeeeeery different from mine) 

If yakuza and prostitutes aren't your cup of tea, they have some beautiful works published, go find your own favourite new Japanese photographer here

Swamp Monster Bar, Shimokitazawa
This bar rules, in fact it's so great I can't remember if this is even it's name. Here's a photo anyways.

What you need to know: it's on the second floor, it's tiny, the bartender plays old soul records, there are books on film and art everywhere, and if you a lucky there will be drunken Japanese Bill Murray type at the bar singing along to the tunes. It's rustic as fuck and you will wish your local felt as much like a hug as entering this place does. 

Shimokitazawa is awesome in general and another suburb you should add to list if you like vintage clothes, coffee and eating delicious things. The streets are cute and narrow. It's very likeable. Here's some pics:

Here's a handy guide to Shimokitazawa with the kind of useful stuff this blogger is personally far too lazy to provide. Though I will say Bear Pond Espresso is good. Very good.

Starbucks, Harujuku.... I can explain!!!

I'm mortified that the next thing on the list is Starbucks. I mean, really! But this awesome rooftop garden in Harujuku has such neat views that I swallowed my snobbish Melbourne ways and ordered a ventifrappemochawhatever they are called and savoured the cosiness of this little tree lined refuge in the sky. I mean look, so pretty!

Also in Harujuku is Design Festa, a big old building with a rotating roster of up-and-coming young artists spread over several buildings. Kind of hit and miss, but I did discover Kozue Yamamoto, whose delicate line drawings and poetic musings I really liked. 

There was some other interesting work...

All in all it's worth checking out if you are in Harujuku (if the golden phallis didn't convince you I don't know what more I can do)

I needed a palate cleanser after all that chain-coffee action (/phalli) so found this cosy, twinkly delight:

It's next to Takeshita Dori so you can pop in after stocking up on the latest in gothic lolita chic. Someone named The Rainbowholic Me (can't get much more "Harujuku" than that) has written a wonderfully thorough"DIY Kuwaii Tour" guide to Harujuku and it's pretty cool, so if you like all things hello kitty/ fluro/ super KAWAII click here!

Okay, that's enough for instalment one. Hope you liked my rambling guide to all things... well a few things... Japan! More soon xx

Monday, April 8, 2013

These days occur

I'm back! Both literally and... literally. I've been away on holiday in India, and one thing I want to get back into now I'm home is this poor neglected blog. So I'm back, back home :)

So, story and pictures time. Bear with me on this. It gets better, as they say. 

Years ago, many now thank goodness, I was struck with a depression so deep I never actually thought I would claw my way out. And though I was never suicidal, I would so often wish just to... not exist. I just wanted to fade away, to no longer feel the sadness I thought would never end. It may seem selfish to wish away a life, but that's depression for you, the fucker. It doesn't think like that. It seeks to destroy, not appreciate. I didn't care that life was valuable, worthy, precious. I just wanted it gone.

Nowadays, there are still some days that I think back on those times. But not sad days, happy ones. I look back and think that if that had happened this day could have never occurred. And it seems so crazy, and hopeful and amazing. That I am a person having such a day, when once I wanted all days to end. It's the most beautiful thing, to be so grateful and happy. And alive.

My afternoon at the "Beatles Ashram" was one of these days. It's such a surreal and lovely place, so peaceful and rich with strange history. As I sat with my new friends, letting the sound of the music and the sun wash over me, I realised "This day could have never occurred". And suddenly the day felt more like a miracle than a moment in time.  This day could have never occurred. How sad, and how wonderful. 

The thing is, there are so many days that could never have occurred. Not because of death, but because of fear, of shyness, of whatever, whatever holds you back. Because you didn't take that chance to do something new, didn't tell someone how you felt, weren't paying attention, didn't say yes. I think of the things I did to make that day exist; got on a plane, smiled at a stranger, asked a new friend to join me on an adventure. How close I could have been to doing none of those things, how scary each one was, in their own way. But I did them and this day occurred. There's the miracle, right there. These days occur. 

"Beatle's Ashram", Rishikesh:


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cabin Porn!

The best kind! Apart from this kind, of course.

All images from Cabin Porn aka my "happy place" :)


Damn I Love You

I am currently obsessed with the slightly creepy, raw and beautiful sound of Keaton Henson's voice. There's something very goosebump-y about his music which reminds me of Sufjan Stevens (maybe mixed with Lou Barlow? I'm not very good at this)

Here are some still from his haunting (literally, there's a ghost!) video for "Party Song" (note: I wouldn't actully advise playing this at a party, unless you want all your guests to start crying, then leaving to go and sit alone in a dark room writing poetry) (which actually sounds like my kind of party)

The song that actually kills me though is the amazing "Sarah Minor". I think it's youtube hits have doubled since I discovered it :)

"And god you love to argue and you can't play guitar,
But still let me tell you that I love who you are,
But still let me tell you that I love who you are"



Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I Wore Today

... is a great flickr group where people... well, you should have figured that out already. There are so many talented illustrators (and fashionable ladies) in this pool, here are a few of my faves: