Monday, February 24, 2014

At the Theater: 土竜の唄

Camera focused on Toma. Not that I mind.

This movie promises to be sheer chaos. Can't wait. Not expecting much at all.

Just Toma. :)

DARK! is gone for the season.

Amazing what a difference a week makes.

On today's agenda:
Teach three lessons, possibly watch Toma's new movie, write podcast script, do laundry, attempt to clean room, and make grilled cheese sandwiches.

And take a nap.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

OSD: Kyoto Epic Stationery Haul - Part 2


Obsessive Stationery Disorder

Part 2 of the Kyoto Stationery Quest. These three shops are away from the Teramachi shopping arcade, but well worth the visit. (Click here for Part 1)

鈴木松風堂 Suzuki Shōfūdō

Possibly the biggest of the stores I visited, though that isn't saying much because all of the stores were pretty cozy. They sell loads of colorful washi of different patterns as well as items like notebooks, boxes, and all sorts of other goodies adorned with this washi.

There is also a workshop upstairs where you can make items like lights, kaleidoscopes and boxes. I was tempted, but self-control won out this time. Though I will definitely keep it in mind if I am Kyoto with friends from overseas. The store is quite aware of foreign tourists and most of the items had English explanations that weren't half bad, which is actually quite a rarity.



I was most afraid of this store when I was planning my trip, but I was able to keep my cool, knowing well enough that if I bought paper, I'd never use it. No, this type of paper must be searched out for specific purposes and as a result, I thankfully went home with just two items.

  1. Accordion-style notebook - I am in love with this print. I bought a card of it earlier and I wanted more. Instead of buying a sheet of it, I dug through three baskets of designs until I found this one. I already had a purpose in mind for it and I'm still working on it, of course.
  2. Card case - I was originally only going to buy the notebook, but between Day 1 and Day 2, the store rearranged their displays and started a sale of items with slight defects. I found this one in a huge basket full of card cases. I figure this will come in handy at the Creators Market in June.
Website

ROKKAKU

Just around the corner from Shōfūdō is Rokkaku. It's very chic and refined and, to be honest, I found it intimidating. It's not a place that typical tourists would enter. But their products are gorgeous.


One of the items I was most drawn to were the cards, envelopes, and envelope inserts which you could mix and match to your heart's content. I was quite tempted, but I couldn't think of a reason to get them, so I passed. They also had various postcards and letter sets as well as a business card service. Many of their products are letterpress or embossed and really quite simple and pristine. I did feel a bit out of place, but I still bought lots of stuff.

  1. Striped envelope letter set - This was an item I knew I would be getting. I love the colors and how the lines are embossed vines. The simplicity and color combination speaks to me.
  2. Set of Round Kyoto-motif cards - I like how a different side of Kyoto is depicted on each card. Each corresponding envelope has a symbol embossed on it as a finishing touch. Not sure if I'll conjure up the guts to actually use them, but I'll try.
  3. Winter scene with a woman and her cat - The scene is delightfully Kyoto, but mainly, I simply love the cat. This was one of a set of four, one for each season. I thought about getting the set of four, but went with just the winter one. It may be a subconscious effort to give myself an excuse to come back each season.
  4. Mini card with pearly dark brown envelope - I allowed myself this combination because it was well-worth the 100 yen. I have no idea what I'm going to use it for, but I'm glad I have it.
  5. Thank you card - The store gives a thank you card for purchases over 1000 yen. I love when stores do little things like this. I could write an entire post on how I judge stores by their packaging. Cool products are cool, but service is what keeps me coming back.
Website

嵩山堂 はし本 Sūsandō Hashimoto

This store is down the street a bit towards Teramachi. A small printing press with a choice of seasonal stationery and some year-round items. A bit old-school and I'm sure what my supervisor was imagining when I told him about the stationery trip. But I liked it. Not sure what drew me to the place, but I really liked it. Then again, my taste has always been older than my age. I bought three five packs in the hope of actually sending some cards after this trip (still have yet to do that).

  1. Pack of strawberry postcards - They looked sweet. That's the only reason I have for buying these. Though I'm going to have to use them soon because Japan is in the middle of strawberry season right now.
  2. Pack of yellow rose postcards - These I bought with a vague idea of what I wanted to do with them. Not entirely sure, but they won't be going out in any regular way.
  3. Pack of purple gorgeous postcards - These have a very specific purpose. Anyone who knows my fandom history and sees this pattern and color will know who I'm talking about. Not even my 'favorite" any more, but I still think about what he might like. :) (Totally random, but I almost bought a purple sequined fedora just for concerts. Yep, deep end.)
Website


Well, that's about it for Part 2. Will do my best to get Part 3 up next week.

Mel

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Obsessive Stationery Disorder: Taking the Plunge (i.e. I want a fountain pen!)

You guys know me well enough to know that "obsessed" explains me more accurately than "addict". This is the core reason I didn't go near fountain pens. That, and my regular handwriting is atrocious, but again, obsessed; I'm willing to try writing more neatly.

Fountain pen possibilities, as anyone into them knows, are essentially endless. The moment I found out that people mix their own ink cocktails, I knew I had to stay away. I don't buy things because they aren't perfect. Fountain pens mean perfection is continuosly possible even as I change over the years.

Yeah, that's not good for my sanity.

But with the Kyoto stationery haul, I now have a load of kick ass paper. I want a kick ass pen to match. I've found my excuse and I can't turn back.

With all the options and me being the analytical person I am, I've started gathering information. Japan being Japan, there are magazines on the topic and I picked up an earlier edition of a mainly fountain pen magazine my mother previously sent me. This one has interviews of fountain pen users as well as a simple beginner's Q&A.

Planning on asking around the net as well. And I need to make a simple Japanese pen glossary for different parts of the pen and such.

As for shops, turns out there's a small, but awesome fountain pen shop in Hama, so now I want to go try out some pens with Samancha who expressed interest in getting a fountain pen as well.

Down the rabbit hole to Fountain Pen Wonderland. I may never come back...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A long day

It's my week to take out the trash so I woke up at 5 after about 4 hours of sleep because I was finishing up volunteer work. I went back to bed, but overslept 30 minutes. So I texted that I would be late, sent the documents, got ready for the day. After volunteering, I've got lunch with the volunteer folk and then I have work until 10.

All of this I've put on myself and I can do it but I am really going to have to take a break somewhere today, even just to take some deep breaths to re-adjust.

In all honesty, I can barely stay awake. This should be fun.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yep, still DARK!

But getting lighter.

I think I'm getting used to this new schedule of mine now that I've implemented a few policies, namely for the most part Monday afternoons and Friday mornings are "me" time. No meeting up with people. As much as I enjoy it, it eventually stresses me out.

This will work for now.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

OSD: Kyoto Epic Stationery Haul - Part 1

Obsessive Stationery Disorder

So here's the first of four posts chronicling my stationery quest in Kyoto. These are listed in the order that I made purchases on Day 2, which is pretty much the opposite order of Day 1.

芸艸堂 Unsōdō

And first off to contradict what I wrote above, this was the first place I visited on Day 1. A small printing press specializing in woodblock prints, with a store out in front. It is pretty obvious when you walk in that their primary business is the printing and not the store. But nonetheless, there was a decent selection and being the first store, I bought a few postcards, which ended up being a good thing because they were closed on weekends and Day 2 was a Saturday.

  1. Japanese Art Nouveau postcards - These are replications of late Meiji era (turn of the century) postcards carved by Japanese artists influenced by the Art Nouveau movement. I'm a sucker for design from this period in Japan. Western influences had begun to mix with traditional Japanese design and awesome things were born.
  2. Sekka Kamisaka postcard - One of a series of postcard prints called 海路 or Sea Road. I love the colors, lines and the pure simplicity of it.
  3. Teruhide Katō postcard - I love this artist's use of color and space and his depiction of Kyoto. I wanted to pick up a lot of these, but in the end, I exercised some self-control and just got one.
 Website

ぴょんぴょん堂 Pyon-Pyon Dō

I initially missed this store. It was in the back section of a building with many stores and my guidebook simply marked the building. Found it on Day 2 and almost went overboard, but with some self control, damage was kept to a minimum.

It was a tiny little booth selling kaishi (paper used during tea ceremony and such), hana meishi ("flower name cards" basically business cards used by geisha and maiko), mini-envelopes for various occasions (an important part of Japanese customs), and a few other items. The name of the store is the sound associated with rabbits hopping and as the name would suggest, a lot of the items had rabbits on them. I ended up getting stuff that was completely different.

  1. Pack of flower name cards - Hand-carved and hand-printed, the selection was huge, as well as the temptation to buy handfuls of them. Most had flower motifs, as the name would suggest, but I went with this one. Blue being my favorite color and while I'm pretty sure the pattern is snowflakes, I've decided to believe they are stars. I'm still brainstorming how to write my name on it. The possibilities.
  2. Pack of 寿 mini envelopes - 寿 is the first character of my Japanese name, so I've always been drawn to it, but it is also an auspicious character meaning longevity and celebration, so it is commonly used on envelopes used for weddings, so it's quite common in stationery. These seven mini-envelopes each have a different interpretation of the character and I just couldn't resist. Not sure how I will use them or even if I actually will use them, but I couldn't leave without them.
  3. Set of knives for Japanese sweets - These were not in the budget and also not stationery, but I had to get them. My grandmother and I have tea when I visit and I always bring sweets. I was thinking about getting a nice fancy metal one for my grandmother, engraved and everything, but I know her, she'd say it was too nice and not use it. These, however, are plastic but still look nice and work like a charm. My grandmother and I are both quite happy with them.
 Website

KASANE KYOTO

This was the store that I originally thought was Pyon-Pyon dō because it was in the same building. The designs were cute and even after I found Pyon-Pyon dō, I decided I needed to get at least one thing.

A mini letter set - I love how the colorful chidori (the little birds) lattice (千鳥格子) design on the back shows through to the lined side. The pattern just makes me happy. The regular sized letter set was tempting, but I have lots of those so I went with the smaller one, though I may have limited my use of this set since it might be smaller than postal allowances. I'm sure I'll find something. After I did a bit of checking online, I found this company has a shop! Another place to go for my next Kyoto trip. (washiclub.jp)

Website

And that's it for Part 1. I'll try to have the others posted in decent time.

Mel

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

At the theater-After thoughts: Thor: The Dark World

That was quite satisfying. It's rare that I enjoy a franchise movie this much, but there was nothing disappointing about this movie and I honestly can't wait for the next one and the next Avengers.

Normally I would go into why I liked it and fave scenes and such, but everyone who I'd recommend it to has already seen it (damn Japan's delayed releases) and you all already know how awesome this movie is. And if you haven't seen it, well, go see it.

I want to go see it again. I enjoyed it that much and with Japanese movie prices, that's saying a lot.

Ooh, I've got coupons that'll get me movie tix for ¥1000. Mmm, tempting. Maybe after watching Toma's new movie coming out this coming weekend. And Smaug at the end of the month.

But yes, Thor was awesome.

Mel

 

P.S. The pic is Thor stickers and my new Ieyasu-kun towel. Hama Pride!

 

At the theater: Thor-Dark World

Yay!

Sleepy holiday

Taking advantage of one of the odd holidays that doesn't gave an observed Monday off, I'm making my way to Hama to watch Thor with Samancha.

Massively sleepy and inside the train is comfortably warm. Fell asleep writing this about 5 times.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Meh

I decided to take advantage of my 7am canceling and took it easy this morning. Still have two lessons, but after that I'm off until Friday evening. Spending that time in Enshu, as always.

I kinda wish I had more to say right now, but I totally don't. Meh.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

OSD: Work Pen Case #2

Obsessive Stationery Disorder

Still working on the Kyoto post I promised, so this week, a back-up post.

I introduced one of my work pen cases in December. Here's my other work pen case at my other workplace.

It's pretty much the same thing as the other pen case: Frixions in 0.7 Black, Green, Purple, Light Green, Light Blue, Pink, and Orange, 0.5 Blue and Red, a set of Frixion highlighters, and a Frixion eraser. I've noted what I use each pen for in the other post.

The difference is that since I teach kids more often at this workplace so I also have a set of Tombow Playcolors and a set of Sakura Coupy-Pencils so I can draw my stick figures and other awesome (?) drawings. See below.
What is it? It's a...
Awesome, right?
The Frixions are stored in a Kokuyo NeoCritz pen case and everything is stored in a Dr.ion caseThere's also a clipboard in there but I forgot to take it out for the picture. 

It took me a relatively long time to buy a second set; I was carrying one around with me all the time, but somewhere along the way, I got tired of carrying 9 pens and 6 highlighters around. So I bit the bullet (as if it were that painful for me) and bought a complete second set of pens. It was the right choice because of the sheer number of pens.


Mel

Saturday, February 8, 2014

SNOW!

Nothing like what my friends in the States outside of California are getting, but just enough to justify my snow boots.

These poor things see the light of day maybe once a year. Weather forecast says the rest of the day is rain, then sunshine tomorrow, so today is my only snow boot day.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Japan Restaurant Week - Pre-meal thoughts: なだ万茶寮

With the Kyoto trip and everything, I wasn't up for organizing Restaurant Week trips for Winter 2014, but a good friend asked if I was going anywhere and we ended up planning lunch at Nadaman Saryo.

Nadaman is one of the old school names in Japanese cuisine, so I have rather high expectations. Which is usually when I'm disappointed most.

My highest expectation is the presentation. We're talking Japanese aesthetics here; how it looks is just as important as how it tastes. In fact, all of the senses matter.

Not that I go to nice places often enough to be an expert, but that's how it's supposed to be.

Well, this is all talk before the meal. I'll write more later. And probably have pics too. :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Turning Pages: 会長はメイド様-18

Sure, there's TV to watch. Sure, I should go to sleep early.

But the last volume of Kaicho wa Maid-sama came out today, so, you know, priorities.

Wrong line of work?

Not that I ever felt teaching English is my calling, but the fact that I closed three lessons so I'd have time to finish a Valentine card project, says something.

2014 may be the year to do something about it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

To work!

Still DARK! but surprisingly not COLD!

Got a morning shift then making gyoza and nikuman with a friend. And I've stopped working on Monday evenings because I'm volunteering every Tuesday and the schedule was killing me.

This weekend was spent essentially doing nothing. Typically I unwind after coming back from a vacation, but this time, I volunteered until 3, then rushed to my grandmother's where I veged a bit, then stayed longer than usual because of the rain. When I got back, I quickly got ready for work knowing I could collapse once I got home. It's all worth it, but it also takes its toll. I still haven't found a balance that works. Just gotta keep trying.

Anyways, putting that aside, today is going to be a fun day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

#MelKyoto2014: Epic Stationery Quest


If you've followed me on the blog, you know I went to Kyoto for a very specific reason, but since I gave myself four days in Kyoto, I thought about different things to do with my time and I looked into stationery stores in Kyoto. Being the traditional cultural center that Kyoto is, I knew I'd find some nice stores with history and beautiful paper.

Obsessive Stationery Disorder

After a bit of research, I found a lot of stationery stores just in the central shopping area of Shijo and Kawahara and I knew this would be a bigger undertaking than I originally assumed. Considering my collector and impulsive buying tendencies, I planned for two days of stationery shopping: one day for reconnaissance and one day for actual purchasing.

On Reconnaissance Day, I checked out the eleven stores on my list, jotted down the prices of things that really caught my eye, then spent a few hours in my hotel room, creating a shopping list and a game plan. On Shopping Day, I retraced my four hour walk from the day before and visited three more stores that I missed (would have been four, but it was closed on the weekends, my bad).


Each place had its own character and style. It was so much fun and with a little self-control, I kept the damage to my wallet to a minimum. I still came back with a lot of deliciously beautiful items.

I was going to continue this post with a picture from each store, but I was stupid and lost the rest of a very long post. So I will break up details of the haul in a few posts over the next few days.

I also want to look back on my Kyoto trip with a few more pictures. That may or may not happen. But the stationery will. (^_^)

Mel