Precious is the time we spend with family. 

I remember watching on as Hiro's grandmother unexpectedly begun to play cat's cradle and proceeded to rope other members of the family into the game. All the while she chuckled with unfeigned glee. 

It occurred to me then that I was watching the hands of three generations ducking and diving and weaving the soft rope into all manner of shapes between their fingers. 

I was deeply touched by the moment and right then, nothing else mattered more than the precious sight before me. 

As I savoured the moment, my eyes came to rest on his grandmother's pots. I wondered how long she'd had them. Her generation don't throw things away as easily as we do. I wonder how many of her children and her grandchildren she's nourished with the magic she's created within them. Wash after wash and they still have a gentle gleam to them. A satisfied glow.

As I write this post we are preparing to take our son to Japan. I cannot wait to take him to meet his great-grandparents. I cannot wait to soak my soul in the sight of 4 generations basking in the glow of each others smiles.

View Post



Since my last collection of photos, it's become increasingly apparent that my eyes likes how independent establishments dress themselves. Maybe it is because they have to really work hard to get our attention when the big budget brands are always right up in our faces. 

Yet somehow, all that familiar 'branding' seems to have had the opposite of the intended affect on me. I've begun to grow numb to their shouts and blind to their visual presence and ever more attentive to the personality shown by small businesses.

Good for them for breaking up the monopolies!

View Post


| Eye Spy | Barruntando

Much to Hiro's dismay and my amusement, there is a part of me that just melts at first sight when I come in contact with ceramics with sleepy faces.  I just cannot handle the guileless cuteness of it all.

The most recent objects that made me STOP- STARE-SQUEAL-BOOKMARK, are these handmade ceramic dinosaurs by Barruntando Ceramica who form all these creations out of white earthenware clay from their small workshop in Avilés, Spain.

Photo from Barruntando

Photo from Barruntando

Photo from Barruntando

Aside from the adorable dinosaurs and other figurines, you can buy equally adorabubble sleepy faced food bowls and even yarn bowls from their Etsy shop. I never knew yarn bowls were a thing but I sure do feel like I could do with one of Barruntando's one day.

| Barruntando's Etsy Shop | Barruntando's Instagram

View Post


| Table Top | 8

Every morning, the little man and I go for a walk. We walk through our local market and stop at the grocers to buy fresh fruit and veg. Sometimes we breeze through the aisles of the supermarket for essentials. Sometimes, when my little shops's been busy, we join the queue at the post office. Sometimes. Sometimes, if we are feeling lucky, we buy a lottery ticket at the corner shop. 

Our morning walk nearly always ends the same way, in a huge loop around our park before heading back home.

Our grocer is great and he does his best to find the freshest produce. Often the vegetables still have soil attached to their roots or little stones hiding between the leaves. For some reason I take comfort from the act of washing away the mud from our vegetables. Perhaps it is because it reminds me where our food is from and the great effort it takes to bring it to our tables. Convenient though it is, spinach ready washed, drained and bagged in shiny plastic is so disconnected from the land. So disconnected from the farmers. So sterile, cold and unfeeling.

One of our most made spinach dishes is a Japanese home favourite called 'Hourensou no Ohitashi' which is basically seasoned blanched spinach.  

  • 2 bunches of spinach
  • 1 Tbsp tsuyu
  • 6 Tbsp water 
  • Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)


  1. Wash and trim off the roots on the spinach
  2. Mix water and tsuyu together in a small bowl.
  3. Boil water in a large saucepan, blanch the spinach for about 15-30 seconds and drain water.
  4. Chill the spinach in a colander or large sieve by running it under a cold tap.
  5. Squeeze water out from spinach - be as thorough as you can. 
  6. Cut spinach into 2" sections and place into the bowl of tsuyu.
  7. Chill or serve right away with a good sprinkling of katsuobushi.

View Post


| Everyday People | Mr & Mrs Chouchin

Once upon a time in Japan, we were on the hunt for a traditional, handmade paper lantern. We came across a little shop and within it, an old couple worked silently in harmonious synchronicity amid the gossamer web of dust that hung across the dim room. When they saw us peering in, they downed tools and shuffled towards us. 

Hiro explained his obsession interest and respect for traditional Japanese lighting forms and asked if there was anyway that we might buy just one of these lanterns.

The couple were bemused. They explained that they are wholesalers and so don't normally sell singular lanterns.  They said how peculiar it is to hear a young man speak so passionately about these old forms of lighting before they agreed and very kindly modified it so that we can have it free-standing in our home. 

We spoke about how the role of the lantern has changed in modern years. How flickering candles have been replaced with the flat light of LED lamps.  How safer lighting is today but how the romance of the warm light is ever rarer in the big cities of Japan. How the lanterns serve a more decorative purpose rather than pragmatic one. How things change.

I will always remember their expressive mix of bewilderment and congeniality towards us. We left the shop with not only a beautiful lantern but handfuls of boiled sweets and a pair of strikingly retro mini umbrellas that they had made for their participation in an expo back in 1970!

Japanese paper lanterns are handmade with a  bamboo skeleton upon which washi (Japanese handmade paper), is carefully sculpted over. Illuminated washi exudes a rich warm glow that reveals all the intricacies of the paper like art. The skills required to make one reach back hundreds of years are a million miles apart from the tawdry things you may pick up for a few pennies in IKEA. 

Today our little lantern sits patiently in waiting for the evenings when we light it. But its story hasn't finished yet! One day, we shall take our lantern back to Japan and seek out a particular lantern calligrapher that our friend the shoemaker told us about and we will ask him to set his brush to work upon it. 

View Post



The original London Bridge was quite different to what we know and see (and often confuse with Tower Bridge) today. Before it was demolished in 1831, London Bridge stretched over the Thames with all manner of buildings spiking over its back. At one stage there were over 200 of them, some of which stood 7 stories up, some overhanging the bridge or the road making it more of a darkened tunnel than a bridge. Conditions for those crossing the bridge became ever more congested and so the bridge was demolished after a new London Bridge was built. 

Remnants of the old London Bridge still lurk around London today. Take the 2 pedestrian alcoves that stand watch at the east edge of London's Victoria Park for instance. 

Mock shirt from COS + Jumper from John Smedley + Trousers from Uniqlo & Lemaire + Trainers from Converse

There were once 14 of these along the bridge poised to shelter pedestrians from the rain. Today these two old guys curiously each have their views obscured by a large tree. Nevertheless, I fancy that they still manage to watch the comings and goings in the park. They have undoubtedly seen it all before,  but I'd like to think that they enjoy their view across the park towards the tower blocks of Bow, and once in a while when the mood takes them, they still pass comment between them on what they make of the people of today.

View Post


| Photo Diary | Valley of the Dolls

In April 1983 NHK aired a 15 minute drama each morning whose story would unfold over the course of a year. The drama was called 'Oshin' and it told the tale of one girl's journey into womanhood. She would face trials, tribulations as well as happier times . Swathes of people tuned in each morning for the 15 minute segment of the past-time bittersweetness. Japan laughed and ached along with Oshin. When the drama concluded a year later, the tale was imported to about 70 other countries around the world. Oshin's story spoke to the hearts of so many globally and such was its effect that even today, people will exuberantly exclaim "OSHIN" in our direction when they learn that we are Japanese. 

Part of the drama was filmed on location in Ginzan Onsen that we visited HERE. A place steeped in Taisho-era nostalgia it also is home to a rather special type of Kokeshi doll. The 'Oshin Kokeshi' who is very much the mascot of the drama and the location. It manages to  encapsulates the feelings that resonated with the show. 

Perched right up against the river's bend is a kokeshi workshop. A thousand painted eyes gazed nonchalantly at us when we stepped inside. Today the shop is run by the third generation doll-maker from the Izu family.

Ginzan Onsen is a place that has really stayed with us. It's like a little time loop hidden within the mountains of Yamagata province. The architecture tells of a time when western influence infiltrated old Japan and begun to make its mark. The Taisho-era, short thought it was,  must have been a fascinating time. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to wear a western style dress, cut one's hair into a fashionable bob let alone wear a pair of leather shoes for the first time. Looking back at the style books of the time, even the kimono showed stark changes from tradition as new styles emerged. Ginzan Onsen seems to have remnants of these feelings lingering in the air and the waters that rush through its heart.

SEE MORE | See more of our adventures in Japan HERE |

View Post


| LINKS | 2

I like buildings that are coated in plant life! I would like to see more plant domination, especially in our large cities. I spotted this in Tokyo last time I was there.

Other things that I have spotted more recently include: 

/ FLOW MAGAZINE / A Dutch magazine that celebrates creativity, unhurried ways, imperfection and life's little pleasures. I am DETERMINED to get hold of one of their weekly editions soon!

/ LIFESTATIONERY / One of my favourite notebook makers in Japan has recently joined Instagram. All LIFE Japanese notebooks are made by hand by specialist craftsmen. The wonderful thing is that LIFE notebooks are not considered niche items in Japan and are readily available and common in countless households. See my previous blog about it HERE

/ JOEY LONDON / When I see another blogger visit a place that I know and love, it makes me shiver with happiness. That is how I felt when I saw these pics of Joey London's trip to Jozi.

/ BUCKETS AND SPADES BLOG / Catch me on Mat's awesome blog chitter chatting about why I like to stare at walls. Join in our mission!

View Post



When the wind begins to wear its teeth and sends shivers to bite at our skin, hot soup is a balm for nippy goose flesh. Vegetable soup is our current favourite. Chunky, seasonal, simple, quick to make, a great way to clear out the fridge and curiously never the same twice. Our recipe is Hiro's mums and it oozes warmth.

The best way to serve soup in our home is in one of our cork cloaked bowls. They feel good in the hands. They fit just right and have a comforting weight. The insulating cork makes these bowls cosy by nature to hold and stops the bowls scratching our fussier surfaces.

Amorim Soul Mate Cereal Bowl + Sori Yanagi 18/8 Stainless Steel Spoon 

Cork is removable for washing.

The Portuguese Conspiracy 

We bought these from a little place close to where we used to live called, The Portuguese Conspiracy. I remember the day so clearly because of the way shadows emerged when light spilled into the shop.

The bowls are part of Amorim's 'Soul Mate' collection designed by Raquel Castro. Based in Portugal, Amorim are established world leaders in the production of cork components for the construction, aeronautical and wine industries, only recently have they turned their know-how to everyday items.

We love good quality cork, humble though it may be in appearance. It is a super nifty natural material with a shed-full of benefits. It is reusable, completely biodegradable and environmentally friendly. And that's not all! In the home it is heat resistant, has fab insulating properties and easy to clean and take care of.

Take a look at Amorim's website HERE
Available to buy from UK from The Portuguese Conspiracy and Homearama

View Post