Hobonichi Journals Plus Pens Equals Nirvana

Today, we went to Tobichi to get a couple of Hobonichi planners (one for me, one for gift). We also went to the luxury department store, Daimeru, to pick up two pens, one is a gift for a family member, the other was a souvenir for me.

I liked that we got a couple of gifts with my Hobonichi planner.

Tobichi is Hobonichi planner nirvana. It’s on the fifth floor of its building but it does a lot with a small space and the staff members are extremely friendly and helpful.

At Daimeru, the 6th floor has a nice selection of pens, papers, and sumi-e supplies. I got a vermillion Pilot to match the Torii gates in Kyoto. Note: Many blogs suggest that department store stationery sections are in the basement. The ones we found tended to be higher, usually around floor 6.

I was tempted but didn’t get any sumi-e brushes as our dog Owen has developed a taste for them and these were quite high end.

In Japan, I always feel like a big spender!

Surprise Amemities

We were a bit surprised by the amenity mix in Japanese hotels. There was no hand lotion anywhere, but the hotels provided some things that our hotels don’t.

Typically, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and foamy bath wash (for a total of four years bottles) came in big containers with pumps.

One hotel provided the little bottles we’re accustomed to in the states, but they were cute little glass bottles.

One hotel provided washing net balls. It’s hard to tell from this picture but the bathtub wall is about a goot higher than we’re used to.

Along with the fancy toilets came toothbrushes and toothpaste, plastic hairbrushes, shower caps, hair scrunchies, and razors.

So pack lotion and skip the rest!

Kimona Party at the Tea House

Bento Box Lunch

Nine generations after a village money lender moved to Kyoto to establish a kimono tailor shop, the family still carries on that business and operates a traditional Japanese tea shop. The ground floor hosts their businesses; the second is their residence.

Chopstick rest

Built long before the advent of electrical lighting, the rooms are oriented around two gardens open to the sky in order to admit sunlight. The smaller garden is about 6’x6’ and the larger is about 15’x15’ with a pleasantly sounding trickle of water from a hollow bamboo tube.

Patio at teahouse

Closed Bento box

Two small separate alcoves shelter both a Shinto and a Buddhist shrine. An alcove denotes great esteem, so being seated near an alcove reflects one’s high status.

Safe from original money exchange business
The founder designed a room for Noh theater performances. Tatami mats covering most of the floor to suppress sounds. However, a 4’ wide section along a wall was covered by a thin reed mat so the the Noh actors could stamp their feet according to the classical format.

Spectacular mother of pearl table in Noh theatre room

Sweet served before matcha tea

The traditional tea service begins with a hostess whisking powdered green tea into solution and pouring the tea into a handle-less cup. Upon receiving the cup, the guest rotates it so that the decoration faces the host as a gesture of respect. Two small sips, followed by a third slurping gulp to demonstrate the guest’s appreciation.

Our teahouse experience included a kimona try on. There are lots of layers under those kimonas!

They even had “wigs” to go with the kimonas

Department Store Pen Heaven

Even department stores have nice selections of pens , stationery, papers, and watercolors. We went to Takashimaya on our first day in Kyoto. They give you a 5% off card for purchases over 3000 yen (approximately $30 USD) if you show your passport. It’s good for a month so my pen collecting friends can go wild. Here are a few pictures. Sorry there aren’t more. I was fading fast. Kyoto is hotter than the rest of Japan and humid. I was melting.

 

Lawyers and a Spy

A collaboration blog with Ray Shortridge

img_20180915_1107411691906836.jpg

The city of Matsumoto reconstructed the all wood district court building of the Edo period as the center of a regional historical museum. The law court has a familiar layout, with the panel of judges sitting on a raised dais, lawyers on a lower dais, and the public at ground level.

img_20180915_1054401486400817.jpg

Deeper in the complex, a room is set aside as a memorial to Yoshiko Kawashima, a Japanese spy executed by the Nationalist Chinese government in 1948. Her remains are interred in Matsumoto, where she lived as a child for awhile.

In the 1930s, she led a counter insurgency cavalry troop that rounded up anti-Japanese forces in Manchuria. A Chinese princess, she was an influential member of the Manchukuo imperial court, featured in the movie The Last Emperor. She was called the Joan of Arc of Manchukuo and the Asian Mata Hari.

Miniature Japanese Works of Art

Japanese postcards are often reproductions of exquisite pieces of art so they make lovely souvenirs and gifts. Here are a few of the ones I’ll be sending out. I originally planned to send them from Japan but it looks like I’ll be too busy to address and annotate them before I get home.

Matsumoto Towers

Guest blog by Ray Shortridge

The famous Black Crow Castle has loomed over Matsumoto, Japan, since 1504. Over the centuries, several successive warrior clans ruled the region from the eponymous black wooden fortress until 1868.

Black color was used to intimidate enemies

Swan in moat by Matsumoto castle

Another equally tall structural steel tower now looms over the city, facilitating voice, data, and video digital communications.

During dusk, a flock of black crows cawed their way from the sixteenth century to twenty first century one, and back, circling from the past to the present.