| Photo Diary | Feeling Ordinary

Japan is a country that poses an endless procession of sights for a visitor or vicarious onlooker to marvel at. Away from the travellers and tourists, is the evermore hushed everyday life and that I enjoy falling into (as much as I can) as much as possible. I like observing life in Japan from this perspective. 

It's while traipsing through these lulled streets that I learn a lot about the less clichéd Japan. There is a palpable stillness cushioning the residential areas of suburban Tokyo that I've wondered through. There is also an honest harmony here. The sort that comes from a mutual respect and consideration for each other. Things can be left unlocked, unhidden. Placidity is maintained and cleanliness carefully regarded.

Imagine taking a broom from your cupboard and then going out to sweep your street, or even the path in your local park. Sounds quite crazy doesn't it? But in Japan it is perfectly normal. Everyone seems so willing to do their bit. Not sure what it is like where you live but it's unimaginable where we are in London. 

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| What I Wore | Red + Black

Isn't it good, in these days when so much seems monotone and subdued, to see a splash of vivid colour? 

I couldn't resist but position myself and my gregarious red skirt before the primary colours of this section of wall. Suddenly, I feel myself looking forward to Spring. May it be gloriously sunny and bright!

| Details |

Skirt from COS + Slip ons from Office + Quilted jumper from GAP + Scarf was a gift from Hiro's Aunt in Tokyo. 

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| Stationery | Kikusui Stories

Kikusui Story Tape masking tapes are just beautiful and I am so pleased that I have this happy trio in my ever growing collection of decorative masking tapes. Kikusui is a Taiwanese company that specialise in manufacturing industrial packing adhesive tapes . Though they were established in 1949, they only began venturing into more creative sticky tape realms in 2012 when they introduced their Story Tape range to the market. 

I have to admit that these are some of the most beautiful tapes that I own. They are of a gorgeous quality and are a pleasure to use in my journaling and deco projects. They are lovely to work with. They are easy to tear, handle and reposition. Each generous 15 metre roll is printed on exceptional quality Japanese paper using soy ink (MT Tape contains 10 metres and Masté 7 metres). The designs are really interesting and detailed and feel almost as though they have been hand illustrated.

If you ever come across them, buy them! If you are on the look out for new decorative masking tapes, these are worth getting. I doubt any tape junkie would be disappointed.

You can find these on Etsy via the Taiwan based LightLife shop. If you are looking for a UK seller, you can find them on Lovely Desk

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| Table Top | 10

Today I've taken some time out of my usual routine to be a bit quieter than normal, while I just sit for a few moments and remember.

Architettura Negativo Candle by Fornasetti 

Today, would have been my mothers 60th birthday, if she was still alive. I wonder what she would have been like now. She was such a mild mannered woman. She had a great gift of treating every one the same regardless of where they came from, their upbringing or their circumstances. Everyone was uniquely equal to her. I wish I could emulate this as well as many other of her virtues but I am far too selfish and protective of my family to be so thoroughly open hearted. I wonder if that would make her frown.

It's been 26 years since she died. 26 years and not a single day has passed where I do not think of her for at least a fleeting second. Some days I still still talk to her in my head. Sometimes I can imagine what her response would be. Sometimes I draw a complete blank. 

People used to tell me that time will heal. It doesn't and it hasn't with me. It has dulled the pain but not healed it. Every birthday that passes the pain is there. Every Christmas, every new year, every special occasion too. I've come to realise that pain is not always negative. Pain is how our body keeps us from harm after all. So,  I have accepted the pain of missing my mother as a positive response to life. It reminds me to live and push on and to grab life with all I can and to set an example for my son. 

Hiro has bought me a candle to mark this day every year. Light is such a beautiful gift and a wonderful way to commemorate her birthday.

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| STREETS | Things Nicely Stacked

We admit that we like a bit of chaos, a bit of uncontrollable stuff that refuses to be restrained by the efforts of people.  We can even find some sort of beauty in the most convoluted of mess that comes as a consequence of civic living . Perhaps this is exactly why we cannot help but like the little examples of tidiness that see quietly demonstrated our cities. 

Along the parameters of mess, there is always someone who won't just dump things willy-nilly in the street. A person that refuses to be sloppy and slap-dash about their less celebrated of tasks and will instead take the time and trouble to pile things up. Nice and neat. We appreciate that effort.






| For the curious |

We collect numbers from the street

We are also keen on shop fronts

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| Home | I Have A Moon

I have a moon of my own and it makes a brilliant pot mat. Actually it makes a great coaster, dish and photo prop for my shop too!

My moon is designed by Fine Little Day. Have you heard of them before? It started of as Elisabeth Dunker's blog, and before long, droves of people were falling in love with her posts. Today the blog is accompanied by line of lovely things for the home, that are sold across the world, as well as directly from their online shop. I really like their description of themselves;

"Fine Little Day is a sprawling and happily inconsistent company and blog based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Our ambition is to create and offer quality design and crafts for children and young-at-heart adults. "

I love my moon. It feels strong and sturdy and didn't chip when I accidentally dropped it. I like that it is so detailed and I can stare at it for long moments getting lost for a while in the craters scattered across it. I've always enjoyed the moons lambent glow and thought it no wonder that the ancient Japanese built moon watching pavilions where they could contemplate its beauty and lustrous shadow play. I quite fancy a moon tray now. Or perhaps, I shall have a mountain tray! A mountain of my own.

| Details |

Designed by: Fine Little Day in Sweden
Size: 21cm
Made of: Laminated MDF
Made in: Sweden 
Where can you buy the Moon Pot Mat: Fine Little Day Shop

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| Architecture | Nakagin Capsule Tower

Architecture definitely plays a big part in our adventures both near and far. Lots of time has been spent seeking out and gazing at structures that have intrigued us from our sofa and iPad back at home. The buildings that catch our imagination are seldom classical. More often than not, they are modern, imposing and divisive.  

It is difficult to word why we are drawn to such structures. Doing so seems to paint the variety of architectural styles we like with a singular brush stroke when there are elements that we like from a range of architectural movements. Quite frankly, we care less about the categorisation of architectural styles, and more about the design of the building from a more basic aesthetic opinion. 

We find ourselves drawn to a particular building because of its proportion, scale, rhythm, material and context. We enjoy a piece of architecture because of the way that it reveals itself in light. Ultimately, we like a particular building because of the feelings that it provokes from us. 

While we were staying in the Shiodome area of Tokyo (HERE), we sought out the Nakagin Capsule Tower. As luck would have it, it turned out to be just around the corner from our hotel. 

Nakagin Capsule Tower's irregular and strange appearance naturally disengages it from the look and feel of the buildings around it. It's a bit of a loner peering out from a dark protective mesh, it seemed somehow sheepish and shunned to us. 

Nakagin Capsule Tower was designed by Kurosawa Kisho. It was completed in 1972 and is a mixed use building serving as a residential and office block.  In essence, it consists of a stack of 140 capsules all of which were designed to be removed and replaced if and when needed. Unfortunately the building has gone over 30 years with little or no maintenance and though it is a rare surviving example of the Japanese Metabolist architectural movement it is now falling apart from within and is an ailing building. in 2007, the remaining residents voted to have it demolished and replaced with a new 14 storey building. We are personally pleased to see that it still stands today despite it being marked for demolition. (A lot of places we like seem to be facing demolition). 

| For the curious |  

If you fancy staying in one of the capsules, airbnb has got you sorted.

Here's the architect's page about the tower.

Wikipedia's general outline of info.

Take a look inside, meet some residents and a dose of reality from Failed Architecture.

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| London Stories | Algha Works

This year I've set my heart on getting a new pair of spectacles. I've been thinking about it for some time now. Thinking, thinking, thinking. And now, I know exactly what I want......sort of! I know that I want something hand crafted and well made. A durable, timeless pair that are a bit special. I don't care about mainstream big brands. I care about the story behind my chosen pair of specs. Then one day last week, I found myself gazing over the ramshackle rooftops by our home and realised that Algha Works was staring right back at me. 

It's decided. I want a pair of spectacle frames made here. Just here. And I shall tell you why.

This Georgian steel framed building is the unlikely setting for spectacle making magic.  John Lennon, Johnny Depp, Audrey Hepburn and more have worn frames made behind these doors. Glasses made iconic on the big screen by bespectacled characters such as Harry Potter or Gandhi were also made right here. You wouldn'thavethunkit would you?

It all begun in 1932 when Max Wiseman literally uprooted his factory in Germany and moved it to Fish Island, in Hackney Wick.  It's been here ever since, seeing one era into another and trend follow trend. Today Algha Works is the only remaining spectacle frame makers in UK and still faithfully specialising in frames of timeless style like their eternally popular 'round eye'. Hundreds of processes, hours of work and years of experience go into each frame made here, some of which are carried out with machinery originating from 1898. I want my future pair to be one of these pairs.

Useful links for the curious:
Take a look at Algha Works' brand Saville Row frames
Take a look behind the doors via Spitalfields Life Blog

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| Photo Diary | The Night in the Sky

Last year, we found ourselves dishing out travel tips to readers visiting Japan like never before. It was a real pleasure to be asked for advice and it was a real pleasure to share what we know. The best and most rewarding part of it all was seeing everyone's Instagram accounts fill with wonderful shots of Tokyo.

Looking at photos of where people stayed, did make me realise that there is a part of Tokyo that I had not experienced, and sorely wanted to. Staying in a central hotel with a bird's-eye view of the city would be fantastic! Tokyo is Hiro's hometown and, now my second home so naturally, each time we return, we've gratefully had accommodation waiting for us. A hotel is never something we've really thought about before. Oh, but to have a sky high panoramic view in private comfort. That would be special indeed!

Then, Hiro (with some help from his father) made it happen for us.

"House of Cards" nightshirt from Yawn 

Three of us made our way to Shiodome one afternoon. Our hotel, the Park Hotel Tokyo, takes up the upper quarters of the Shiodome Media Tower so we knew our room would be at the very least 26 floors up. We ended up on the 32nd floor, with a view that left us breathless upon entering the room. Once we picked our jaws off the floor, we relished every moment spent in our home for the night. We even slept with the curtains open so we could watch the sun fall away beyond the endless concrete horizon and then rise anew the next day. From where we were, bullet trains resembled squiggly white caterpillars, people were the tiniest of ants and cars mere beetles. Aviation warning lights blinked tirelessly by night, their angry red glow reminded us of the army of enraged Ohmu in Ghibli's Nausicaa.

Hiro picked the perfect location for us. From here, plenty of adventures lay waiting for the three of us. 

It is a curious feeling to stay in a hotel for leisure in your own hometown, just 40 minutes from home. Have you ever done this?

|Traveller Notes| 

Shidome is a great place to locate yourself in central Tokyo if being in super touristy Shinjuku is not your vibe. It's basically the  Liverpool Street of Tokyo in that it is largely a business area but really close to places like Tsukiji, Ginza and Tokyo Bay. It has good connections to the rest of the capital 
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| Streets | More Numbers

Back again with more numbers that have caught my eye. 

Our street side observations may seem like the edge of folly to many, but our habit has become a good way to make the mundane more of a visual adventure. It brings a new perspective to tired sights. Try it! Pick something on the streets that catches your eye and stick to the theme. Look for more examples of  whatever it was that caught your eye and eventually you realise how much you overlook in our rushed lives. 

You don't have to stop to smell the proverbial roses. Just take a step slower in your pace. Let's stop glorifying being busy. Life is short and what we have of it needs to be appreciated. Every tiny tremendous detail of it.  

P.S. If you do embark on my little challenge, please let us know. We'd love to add you to the blog if you let us.

Check out our previous NUMBERS here
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| Stationery | Diary 2016

I was really looking forward to buying my diary for 2016 in Japan. I had heard that some of the big retailers there have up to 1000 different diaries in stock to choose from and that sounded positively dreamy to me. 

Then I got to Japan and quick marched myself to the closest stationery shop. Yes, I was met with hundreds of diaries in row upon neat row just waiting for my consideration. Yes, it was everything I hoped for and more. Too much more! So much more that I bought the same diary that I had bought for the past 2 years. 

I must admit that I was at first slightly miffed to be back in UK with yet ANOTHER Midori Travelers Notebook Diary. 

Then when I unwrapped the familiar 2 part diary, and saw the leaflet that modestly celebrates the 10th Travelers Notebook Diary enclosed, I couldn't help but smile a satisfied smile. There is something deeply appealing about the group of uniform diaries pictured there. Distorted by age and adventure and packed with stories, they are beautiful in my eyes. 

Along with the diary in weekly horizontal format, I also bought some notebooks and a handy file to store them all when completed. All of which were very reasonably priced for the quality, (the diary was about £10, the notebooks were about £2.20 each). 

"We’d rather write our thoughts and ideas in a notebook, than type them on our pda or iPhone. Because we like our own handwriting, to encircle words for that extra emphasis and draw little doodles for all that we can’t verbalise." Travelers Notebook

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| Sewing | Daruma Socks

I've been watching the little man finally able to crawl around the flat, eager to get into everything he shouldn't and I cannot help but smile at his little feet looking so cosy in a pair of socks that I customised for him using my enthusiastically haphazard sashiko-like stitches. 

This set is a darling concept by Japanese thread makers Daruma Thread. Within the box is all you need to create a customised pair of toasty baby socks. Within the box there is a pair of blank super soft and stretchy terry lined jersey socks, an easy to thread embroidery needle and 2 balls of colourful and rather splendid thread.  

What you end up with is a pair of socks with a lot more heart and imagination than the mass marketed stuff. Something that we'd keep long after our boy has outgrown them. Something that will make us smile in years to come.

Daruma Thread caught my eye because I am crazy fond of Daruma  (these little guys) so it is no wonder why the logo jumped right out at me! Since then I have really familiarised myself with their goods and I have to seat that is a company that's really struck a chord with us.  I could whittle on at length about all the reasons why I like them, but for today I shall keep it short and will instead leave you with their own words....

..."For more than a hundred years, Daurma Thread has sewn together the feelings people have for someone special, and joined together people's love for the simple things in life'. 

We completely get it Daruma Thread. We really do!


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