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Here Kitty, Kitty

Welcome to fall in Japan! It IS technically fall, right? (No, wait, I just checked and the Almighty Internet says the first day of fall is technically September 23 so I'm a smidge off...) Either way, I love fall. Japan is great because it has all of the joys of fall (beautiful leaves, warm days and cool evenings) and none of the pumpkin spice.

Today I went to visit a temple in another part of Setagaya ward called Gotokuji, which I discovered via the Instagram of one of my friends who was in Japan for the summer. Even though I also live in Setagaya (fun fact: Setagaya is the most populous ward in Tokyo) it's so big that it STILL took me 40 minutes to get there. Being in Tokyo really redefines what I consider to be a reasonable commute. When I was looking up train schedules to get there I thought, "Oh it's ONLY going to take me 40 minutes to get there? Great!"

Gotokuji is located in a sleepy, charming residential area of Setagaya. It's a beautiful temple comple…
Recent posts

Almost-100 Aspects of Omotesando/Harajuku

I've spent a lot of time in the Omotesando/Harajuku areas the past few days. While some of the time was spent doing specific things--I had a lunch date with a friend, for instance--a lot of the time I just...wandered around. Despite the incoming typhoon, the past few days have been as near perfect as I could imagine and I enjoyed just being able to walk around without any solid commitments. I could pop into any little boutique or gallery that caught my eye (even though I know I don't have the budget to buy anything I could at least look) and admire the quirky architecture.

I know that in some respects spending time in Omotesando and Harajuku is not actually that exciting. It's quite a touristy area and has its share of shopping experiences that aren't unique at all (it is, for instance, where many major international brands like M.A.C, Valentino, Chanel etcetcetc. have stores). But the area will always be special to me because it's where I first solidified what I l…

Caffeine is my Idea of Fun, Now

Hey everyone. I just realized it has been about two weeks since I've last written--sorry about that. Allow me to present the usual excuse: I was busy. In the last week of August I had what was called "Follow-Up Training," which was three days of training that focused on Nitori's elaborate system of ordering custom curtains, a refresher course on the cash register (albeit one that did include some useful tricks I didn't know), and a crash course about Nitori's furniture offerings, namely what the furniture is made of (hint: the answer 90% of the time is "medium-density fiberboard"). From that training I went into five straight days of work, including the weekend which means the store is always packed to the point of insanity; I haven't had that many consecutive days of work in a long while so, to be perfectly honest, they wore me out. 
I have managed to slip a FEW fun things into the mix, albeit a mix that is leans heavily on the coffee end of t…

It's Beni-Good Day

Ok so that was a horrible pun. Awful, truly. I shouldn't have exposed you precious readers to that, except I couldn't really help myself.

But what, you may ask, is "beni"?
Beni is the word for safflower, a thistle-like plant that looks like this:


It's a flower that actually has quite a long and cultured history in Japan. Murasaki Shikibu, the Heian-era courtier who wrote the saga "The Tale of Genji" even had a character who was referred to (not always flatteringly) as the "Safflower Princess" because her nose was somewhat large and often red.

Other than this delightful reference, safflowers have been used to create a beautiful (and expensive) red dye in Japan, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries. The flowers originated in Egypt and came to Japan through China via the Silk Road. Even though the flowers are yellow, 1% is, in fact, a red dye. Now, however, there's only one beni company remaining, and they have a small museum in the O…

Coffee, Old Books, and Nationalism

Why, long time no see everyone! It has been a while since I've written. After my mom headed back to the US (just in time to join my brother and dad on the multi-day trip back to college) I returned back to the daily work grind and spent my next few off days taking care of "adult" business like paying bills and grocery shopping and binge watching Outlander online. 
I did write a cool travel article for Time Out Tokyo though which you can read, in a shameless plug, HERE!
However, at some point after returning to "normalcy" I had to have some proper fun again so today I went to Glitch Coffee & Roasters (hinthint expect to hear more about this later) and the surrounding Jinbocho area. 
Glitch Coffee & Roasters was low-key super cool. For [insert surprise reason here] I was able to talk with the shop's founder and current manager, Kiyokazu Suzuki, about his coffee policy and Glitch in general. He also ran a small coffee cupping for us: 

Cupping is basic…

Art in All Forms and Media (The Museum Saga Continues)

Today was my mom's last day in Japan, and the weather gods blessed us with a day that was, for once, cool. It was the first time in days I felt I could be outside without melting into a Claire-shaped puddle and we took advantage of the change in temperature to walk quite a bit. Also I'm so sorry you guys must be so sick of reading about museums, but I can't help it...

So. Our first stop was the Sumida Hokusai Museum.


It's a small museum that exhibits works by Hokusai, particularly those that involve scenery of the Sumida area, where Hokusai live for most of his life. The building is supposed to be shaped like one of the artistic jags of lightning from this particular print of Mount Fuji, which some of you might recognize:


We were fortunate--the museum was currently exhibiting most of Hokusai's well-known "36 Views of Mount Fuji." Not only did they have the three most famous ("The Great Wave off Kanagawa," "South Wind, Clear Sky," and &…