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An Inksperiment

Some of you might know that I have a Thing for stationary. I could spend hours in Papersource looking at all the different cards and thick, crisp cardstocks; stamps, stickers, expensive washi papers, you name it I've probably gone through a phase where I was (or still am, who am I kidding?) obsessed with them. 
Inks, however, have always been a bit of a challenge to me. I love the concept of ink and fountain pens, but as a lefty actually using said pens is a bit hit-or-miss. Sometimes the angle at which I write means a fountain pen won't even work for me while other pens end up smearing down the side of my hand instead. Go figure. 
But when I heard that there was a place in Tokyo you could mix your own custom ink, I was sold. 
So a few Saturdays ago I made my online reservation and headed over to Inkstand by Kakimori, in Kuramae. 

The process is pretty simple. At your designated slot you sit at a counter. In front of you is a pad of paper, several small glass cups, a glass mi…
Recent posts

Letting my Inner Granny Out

Sometimes it feels like Tokyo has more fashionable areas than you can shake a stick at (side note: where does that idiom even come from??). The most well-known, at least from an international perspective, is likely Harajuku, the "kawaii capital" of Japan.

But did you know that there is, in fact, a "second Harajuku" in Tokyo?


Several stops north of Ikebukuro on the Yamanote Line is Sugamo, an area colloquially known as the "Harajuku for grannies." Sugamo is a shopping district where everything moves at a slower pace. The main street is lined with stores, many of them specializing in things that, well, old people would need or want: specialty Japanese ingredients, visors, canes, and special red underwear. (I'll come back to that in a moment.)

One really interesting thing I noticed walking up the street was how accessible each of the shops was. All of them were wheelchair and walker-friendly: there were no steps and the aisles were wide and free of obst…

Himeji

Sometimes, when I'm looking at old monuments, I try to imagine what sort of impression they might have left on people during their "heyday." Usually that's a somewhat difficult prospect, because the building in question has either been sufficiently integrated into its new (in comparison) surroundings that I can't imagine it out of them or it's in a state of such disrepair that I couldn't imagine it in any former grandeur whatsoever (the one exception to this is, perhaps, the Forum).

Himeji Castle, in Hyogo Prefecture, is so well-preserved and such an imposing structure that, even in the midst of a decently large city, it's easy to imagine the impact it must have had on the surrounding area during the 1600s when it assumed its final, expanded form.


Even before the bullet train finished pulling into the station, you could see Himeji Castle rearing out of the distance and towering above the apartment buildings. Without any mountains immediately surroundin…

Miyajima and Itsukushima

I've realized that I must be a bit of a harsh taskmaster--I just looked at my phone, and apparently over the 10-day trip I made my family walk over 15,000 steps a day.
I maintain that it's good for you.

Our second day in Hiroshima was no exception, when I brought everyone to Miyajima, the "Shrine Island" on the Seto Inland Sea. Not only is it only a short way away from Hiroshima City, it has one of the most beautiful shinto shrines I know of, Itsukushima.

The shrine has likely existed on the island in some form since the 6th century (and, like so many structures in Japan, has been burnt/destroyed and rebuilt several times-- what is "authenticity" anyways?).

The current structure of Itsukushima is similar to the shinden architecture--a main building connected to other smaller structures via corridors--that was often used during the Heian Period (794-1185) for aristocratic mansions.

The island overall was controlled by the Taira, a major samurai clan. Miyaji…

Hiroshima

Hi guys, long time no see. Haven't had much time to write, recently, but I have a slew of (hopefully) new material to show you guys. 
Two weeks ago my family came to visit for my brother's spring break, and I had planned a (pretty epic, if I may say so myself) cross-Japan trip for them. Over the course of 10 days we were going to visit Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji, Kanazawa, and Tokyo. After the fam arrived, we took the bullet train all the way over to Hiroshima (a 5 hour affair) and then worked our way back east towards Tokyo.
Our first stop, Hiroshima, dawned bright and warm. We started the morning at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which is at one end of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The museum is, in a word, heavy. It's one of those museums where you feel like you should read every single bit of text and look at every photo and bear witness, albeit 70 years later, to the utter horrors that the atomic bomb wrecked on this city. 
As I walked through the exhibits, …