Tuesday, September 29


exploring gion’s rain-soaked alleys was a magical experience. the machiya architecture with its lovely lanterns, bamboo inu yarai, and ceramic roof tiles all add to to the mysterious beauty of this well-known geisha district. i was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of both geiko and meiko—two in the back of a black car, and i passed another in a narrow alley. i do not have photos of these encounters as i decided to constrain my gaijin instincts and respect their privacy, but i was excited to find that they are even more stunning and graceful in person. hopefully these traditional artists continue to perform in the future. i have a lot of respect for women who brave the rain in a kimono.

mysterious geiko.

Saturday, September 26

himeji castle

we took a day trip to himeji to see himeji castle, also known as the white heron. its the most impressive castle ive seen, complete with moat, stoney fortress, super steep stairs, and secret doors. and if that werent enough to remember, my first cup of matcha was served at the koko-en garden tea house. it was hot, frothy, and my favorite hue of green. i even learned how to make it using a bamboo chasen! and although my sugar handicap prevented me from sampling the wagashi, i was able to capture the handmade confection forever. banzai!

matcha castle.

Wednesday, September 23


arishiyama is an area in northwest kyoto. we went for two things—the sagano bamboo forest and tenryu-ji temple. walking through the bamboo was quiet and surreal. the forest was cool and wet—we were completely drenched by the time we reached the temple. tenryu-ji offered a rest on tatami mats, beautiful color-changing flowers, meticulously-maintained gardens and additional views of the bamboo.


Tuesday, September 22

fushimi inari

fushimi inari is one of the first places i think of whenever someone mentions japan. you may recognize the shrine from the movie, memoirs of a geisha. there is a scene where chiyo runs through the toriis after meeting the chairman. i was happy to find it even more stunning in person. endless rows of red-orange toriis winding through the damp, green forest along inari mountain. some of the toriis were seasoned, while others were shiny and new. there were maiko praying for good fortune, bibbed foxes, and the scent of prayer. id say the only non-charming thing about the experience were the frequent encounters with large spiders. i wish i could share a photo, but thanks to my arachnophobia i was too freaked out to take one.

halloween shrine.

Sunday, September 20

64 colors

64 colors is an extremely talented pair of creatives named laura and eric. you may know them if you are active in the toy scene. their little marshall has traveled all over—here he is in tokyo! in addition to toys, 64 colors also designs prints and paints wonderful worlds that feature their characters. some of my favorite prints are miso tippy and noodles, which i appreciate even more now that they are a daily part of my diet in japan. the paintings i cant get enough of are control freak, sweet dreams, toast, and destination unknown. if you love 64 colors and need a place to sketch, you should check out their new artist chubby book, which is now available on pinkghost!

and, as you can imagine, with a name like 64 colors it was
torture choosing just 5, so they would like to add a lovely black—
60 | 70 | 70 | 70—to the palette below.

our version of a soft palette, picked from 50/60s books and prints. we really need 6 colors to complete our set. break the rules!

Friday, September 18


pontocho is a narrow alley known for its geisha houses. i didn’t see any geisha, but i did see lots of restaurants and tourists. i found the area visually charming because of the multitude of lanterns and illuminated signs, window decor, and welcoming spaces. the people were also very friendly, despite the many tourists arguing loudly about where to eat. i was glad to have eaten udon at my favorite noodle place before we arrived.

pretty pontocho.

Thursday, September 17

nijo castle

nijo castle is surrounded by the most gorgeous greens ive ever seen. the foliage, the moat, the aging metals, are all lovely shades of midori (green). the best part for izaak was the ninomaru palace—an audio technicians dream with its singing nightingale floors.

natures song.

Wednesday, September 16


we took a day trip to kamakura to see yabusame, or japanese archery. there is a festival at the hachiman-gu shrine twice a year. it is apparently very popular because all we ended up seeing where the shinto people praying and the grounds as we ran through the forest looking for a better view. i finally lucked out and was roped off by a police officer where i got close enough to capture the archers making their way to their horses—the costumes were elaborate and worth the wait.

yabusame wardrobe.

Tuesday, September 15


we ended up spending two days in yokohama because there were so many fun things to do. we went through chinatown—the largest in japan—where we were surrounded by all sorts of panda souvenirs. the atmosphere was enchanting—lanterns overhead, narrow streets, ornate facades, until my husband was yelled at (his first time here…not mine) for opening what he thought was a trash can. were not sure what its actual purpose was or if we just misunderstood the woman yelling, but we decided it was a good time say sayonara. we ended up at cosmoworld around dark, for a spectacular view of the famed ferris wheel, and we were able to get a panoramic view of yokohama at night from the landmark tower. it was the best view ive seen to date.

a view for lovers.

Saturday, September 12


i stayed up all night in nearby ginza just to visit the tsukiji fish market—the largest wholesale fish market in the world. i dont even like seafood, but i HAD to see the tuna auction that takes place from 5 to 6:15am. it was cold, fascinating, and quite disturbing to see the sellers slide the mammoth frozen carcasses around the floor and then jab them with a metal pick. they were bluish silver with a bright pink circle on the back where the tail fin once was. i was in a state of delirium as i stumbled through the rest of the market on my way out, trying to photograph the multitude of sea creatures, many of which were still moving. as far as recommendations, id say go if you love to eat fresh seafood, but otherwise the photos will suffice. i say this because we felt like a huge inconvenience to the hundreds of people working that day, from the vendors setting up their stalls to the men racing around on the miniature trucks. and yes, they WILL run you over.

bloodbath on ice.

Friday, September 11


my favorite part of tokyo so far is probably asakusa, pronounced uh-sock-sa. why? because i was in kokeshi heaven. everywhere i went, kawaii kokeshi! and there were other things such as wagashi, umbrellas, and washi. if youre not into shopping, you can relax at the sensō-ji temple, with this man, or go check out the five-story pagoda next door.

is there a kokeshi temple?

Monday, September 7


we are big fans of odaiba, a large artificial island in tokyo bay. we arrived by a train that runs alongside the rainbow bridge. our first stop was the miraikan (future museum), where we saw our favorite little robot, asimo! another highlight was the real-time weather globe thats used to explain environmental problems. once we had our science fun, we ended up at yet another arcade—izaak couldnt have been happier, but he got his later when he accidentally ordered shrimp spaghetti. we rode the hello kitty ferris wheel, watched all the cute dating couples, and ended the evening with a night view of the bay, sprinkled with colorful yakatabune boats.

nerd love.

Sunday, September 6


after all of those deafening games and flashing lights, we were ready to see the quieter side of tokyo, so we made our way to the neighborhood of yanaka, located near ueno in the taito ward. first, we stared pensively at the tenno-ji temple. it was sublime until we spotted the giant black ants marching toward us and decided to move it along, through the picturesque yanaka cemetery. then we got lost in a lovely neighborhood and ended up at the choan-ji temple, where we saw an apple tree, mating butterflies, and were bitten by what appeared to be little black and white mosquitoes—they especially loved izaak. it was just enough nature to remind us that we prefer chaos to quiet.

where tanukis frolic.

Saturday, September 5


i received my first dose of sensory overload in the bright and ever-
blinking shinjuku, one of tokyos 23 special wards. the fun began at the train station—the busiest in the world—and ended hours later as i drug my drooling husband away from the never-ending rows of pachinko, just one of thousands of games to choose from. it was fun with a bit of dizzy, cute with some scary, and an overall magical first look at the great city of tokyo!

neon night.

Wednesday, September 2


konnichiwa from japan! its taken me quite a while to complete this post as i have been enchanted and distracted by this lovely island nation, but here goes—enjoy!

asaborake is run by two sisters—junko dono, who lives in japan and mari, who lives in orange county. junko dono designs and hand-makes these gorgeous bags out of kimonos and leather, while mari handles all of the important miscellaneous details that arise with a new company. some of my favorite pieces include the pen case, expression bag, and small tote bag. for new items and other interesting commentary, check out asaborakes blog.

from junko dono:
1—i believe i look the best in this color?! it is a cool color, but also gives me warmth. 2—good to blend this color into my skin color. 3—color of denim / aizome (japanese traditional indigo-dyeing). my basic color. 4—color of the sun. i like to put this color on denim. 5—the color of forest.

from mari:
by the way, i saw your plan to travel to japan. it sounds really exciting! japan is full of colors!!! i like the colors being used in old shrines and temples, and the color of the surrounding nature. i hope you can find very special colors in japan! have a nice trip!