Wednesday, February 25, 2009

quick thought...

"most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste, that they hurry past it." ...kierkegaard

this is the sugar for my tea. i thought it was beautiful. & more art!

another magical weekend has flown by & honestly, japan keeps getting better. 

doyobi (saturday):  right after work i hopped on the train & met anthea in numazu. she was waiting with food & wine in her apartment--what a dear! from there, we went to an extremely cool underground bar with a hilarious bar tender, who knows us by name. our friend, yukashi, (she works at my favorite coffee shop) met up with us & brought her incredible art portfolio along with awesome paintbrush/ink pens (which i, of course, have purchased & am loving). the entire night we were drawing, painting, learning each other's language & drinking amazing beer. it was magical, & everyone else thought i was crazy to be drawing in a bar (but i loved the pen!).

the notebook (i was learning weather words)
my first look at yukashi's portfolio--i was so impressed!

nichiyobi (sunday): anthea & i took a trip to the moutains of mishima & went to an incredible sculpture garden/art museum called clematis-no-oka.  this place was breathtaking! although it was cold & the grass was brown (i'm SO ready for spring), it was gorgeous. the gardens were teeming with sculptures by guiliano vangi, calm ponds, quaint tea houses & rare plants.  there was also an indoor museum, with more sculptures (some were a little odd) & 
beautiful paintings. it was such a 
serene experience, i wish you all could've been there! 

paintings from inside the museum

a tranquil pond (filled with moss!!)

our afternoon tea spot

Thursday, February 19, 2009

quick thought...

just wanted to share this picture i took in gotemba...its true, ne? 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


to linda (who laughed) & katie (who encouraged)...i miss you both more than words can say.

i love different writing styles & am constantly working on new font inventions & unique monograms. i guess my dad, who is an incredible calligrapher & painter, sparked this obsession. if there is a pen in his hand & a spare moment, he'll design a beautiful monogram or an abstract sketch. he is truly amazing! a couple years ago i started to borrow his calligraphy pens & teach myself the different strokes of each alphabet. i fell in love. ever since then, i've always dreamed of mastering this gorgeous art form. 

when i decided to move to japan, i promised myself that i would learn to write japanese kanji characters (which are the most intricate form of calligraphy). little did i know how difficult & time consuming this is! i gave up for a while until last weekend, when i had an actual lesson from the tiniest, most precious, japanese lady. i learned so much in such a short period of time: the terms of the strokes & names of the brushes, which way to angle the brush, how to apply ink & the natural rhythm of kanji. it was amazing & has opened my eyes to this ancient artistry, called shodo.   

i only did one character, the word ai, which means "love". the woman guided me initially, by holding my wrist & directing the strokes of my brush. it was quite complicated, so naturally i panicked when she took her hand away & gestured that i finish alone. but--i did it! here is my final product. in the bottom left hand corner is my name (liiiii-ahhhh & a red, year of the cow, stamp). i must admit its pretty terrible, but hopefully after more practice i'll improve! 


Friday, February 13, 2009

be my valentine?

amazing valentine cards via: papercrave:

tandem bicycle card by lark press

spitfire girl's cherry wood sparrow card from urban outfitters: 

although tomorrow is valentines day, i have yet to see a store overly decorated with pink & hearts & fake red roses. there are no love songs playing in the supermarket & my students aren't making valentines boxes or giving out little candy hearts that say, "be mine" or "hug me". yes, the japanese do celebrate this holiday of love, but in a completely different way. february 14 is deemed a day for girls to give their loved ones some chocolates (which, they typically make themselves) or a bag of candy. in return, on march 14, white day, boys are expected to give back a more expensive or significant gift. interesting, ne? 

regardless, i've been in the valentines spirit all week. i've been constantly listening to love songs & classical heart breakers from my older albums, newer purchases & of course, the radio (thanks to my new internet installation). i can't get enough of npr's valentines specials: make out mix, &  lesser known love songs as well as the holiday love selection from my favorite boston radio station. here are some of my top picks for valentines day!
  •  "Debra" from Beck's Midnite Vultures album
  • "Samba da Bencao" from Bebel Gilberto's Tanto Tempo album
  • "Danny Says" from The Ramones' End of the Century album
  • "Love is the Reason" from Blossom Deary's Soubrette album
  • "Anytime" from Brian McKnight's From There to Here: 1989-2002 album
  • "Anti Love Song" from Betty Davis
  • "My Sweet Hunk O' Trash" from Billie Holiday
...i also had the hankering to make valentines day cards for my coworkers.  the cards turned out really cute, even though i didn't have any modpodge (hah!). 

i didn't get any cards in the mail, but i did email my loved ones these cards by kate spade,  which i thought were adorable! check them out (via creature comforts):

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the hole

i fell in a hole this morning. a bloody hole! here's what happened... i was walking along, merrily listening to ella & reflecting on my long work day ahead of me. i must admit that on that particular walk, i felt quite over confident: my pants were ironed, my hair was dry & i was wearing my favorite houndstooth blazer. for once i didn't feel awkward when people blatantly stared at me (mind you, i am only foreigner in fuji city, i get plenty of odd stares). as i strolled, i sang along with ella, glanced at mt. fuji against the pale blue sky & said to myself, "yes. this is my day." right. just when i let my optimism get the best of me--BAM! i stepped on what seemed to be a drain, which didn't have a very secure lid & fell, without a hint of gracefulness. my right leg, up to my knee, was beneath ground & in terrible pain. i screamed in german, was horribly embarrassed & struggled to fight tears. i literally thought my leg was broken & started to panic about insurance issues. far too many seconds passed when i finally noticed the people on the opposite side of the street staring at me with open mouths. excellent. eventually i gained my composure, picked myself up off the ground & out of the hole....& proceeded to work--humiliated. (go ahead....laugh.)

 of course i had to document.

 here's the drain/hole (wouldn't you step on it? it seems like a completely secure lid).

oh no. the lid was not secure.


on our ventures through tokyo, makensie, anthea & i found an amazing spot in the overpopulated city called daikanyama. this area, squeezed between shibuya & ebisu, consists of unbelievable architecture, parisian-like cafes, outdoor sculptures & adorable boutiques. we spent hours perusing couture & vintage boutiques, paper craft stores, small art galleries & pastry shops. the more stores i visited, the more shopping bags i collected & the more enamored i became. 

one of the vintage clothing shops we checked out, hanjiro, was down a small stairway, lined with flower pots & candles. the entry way was unbelievable! never before had i seen an interior designed like this. used, painted windows served as an impromptu wall. old soup cans with a single flower inside were sporadically placed on shelves along the walls. a random merry-go-round horse was semi hidden behind groups of ferns & unique chandeliers...& that was just the entryway! 

when i actually entered the store i was amazed at the selection of clothing & accessories (some, which were second hand). anthea & makensie were directly drawn to the women's section, but as for me, i couldn't put my camera down. in the center of the store were three, large, clawfoot bathtubs filled with koi (my favorite!). one wall was lined with bright, modern art paintings, displayed as if they were their own gallery. the clothes were hung by heavy, steel hangers & folded 

on top of antique looking tables.  the accessories were stored in hollow tree stumps or on wooden counters. the clothes, the display, the art & interior design was incredible!

unfortunately, i was so awestruck i couldn't pull myself together & purchase something. however! i plan on going back for a weekend to relish the beautiful daikanyama & my new favorite store, hanjiro. 

fyi: anthea did a phenomenal post about this store & daikanyama:

read it: her post is beautiful! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

my new nook

i stumbled upon this cafe with my dear friend, anthea. we were walking to the numazu train station, about to embark on another adventure, when i saw the cafe's advertisement on a small chalk board stand at the base of an ascending stairway. i wanted to go in immediately, but anthea (who always keeps me on track) suggested we continue with our former plan, & if time allowed, visit the cafe after our weekend excursion. so, after an exhausting weekend of doing my best to fully embrace this amazing country, i finally walked up those stairs & opened those doors....& came face to face with inspiration. 

cambridge cafe, a library cafe, is without a doubt, one of my favorite places on this earth. its theme, "old iz new" is a perfect explanation of the cafe's interior design flow. the antique door knobs & tables, refinished wood flooring, recycled chairs & crackle painted walls immediately lifted my spirits. the walls are lined with simple book shelves, on which, universal art & design books rest. the small table, where we sat, had a rough surface, but was warm & inviting.  we were served tea (by a woman who is now our friend!) in our own personal kettles with adorable tea cups & bamboo place mats. the cafe is simply amazing, for it is an experience in itself! 

the tea: rejuvenating. the food: unbelievable. the atmosphere: stimulating. cambridge cafe-no-mori: the best. i've found my new hiatus.