Weaving a fine mess

A friend invited me to try saori weaving. Excited by new crafts and adventures in Japanese, I happily accepted.

I spent about 2 hours seated at a loom and came away with 2 table mats. Up close, I think they look pretty darn good.

If you step back to admire the view, you might think, “Eh! Not bad for a beginner!”

And then you step back just a little bit more, and … oh. Well. That’s quite a mess.

I’m not sure what happened. I’m a pretty handy person, usually. But weaving is hard. Well OK, the truth is it’s simple but I lack coordination. It also might have been useful to ask questions, which I couldn’t.

I wanted to ask the instructor why the edges were so wonky, and what could be done to prevent that from happening? In Japanese, I said: “It’s not cute! Why?”

Her response: “Nice job!”

And so, I trudged ahead and with plummeting expectations, finished my mostly-crooked table mats.

I was disappointed over my failed attempt until I started doing a little more internet-peeping. I learned that saori style weaving is known for its imperfections and celebrates the beauty that evolves from mistakes.

Perhaps I did get it right.

If you’re in Tokyo and interested in trying saori weaving, you can visit Jota in either Kichijoji or the Seibu department store in Ikebukuro (7th floor). Contact them in advance to schedule use of the loom, cost is 1000 yen for 3 hours plus 15 yen/gram for yarn used (my table mats were less than 500 yen each). More photos of my weaving adventure coming soon!

When button dreams come true…

Yesterday I bought a $20 button.

Actually, it cost ¥1,470 — with the current exchange rate, that’s $18.28 USD.

Worth every yen:

I’m not sure if this is a case of succumbing to Tokyo’s inflated prices or embracing the rare gem this city sometimes offers you.  It doesn’t actually matter, because at the moment I’m in button-love.

I’m working on a special project that needed one special detail — thankfully, a place like & STRIPE exists. A button and notions shop in hip Nakemeguro, & STRIPE has really neat stuff.  That’s right — neat.  Neat-o.  Rad.

They have a strict no-photos rule inside, so you’ll have to trust me.  & STRIPE is easy to find — from Nakemeguro station, head northwest until you hit the river.  Follow the river west and the shop is on the left side, about a 5 minute walk from the station.  (Need help getting to Nakemeguro station?  Try this site.)

1-25-3 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042   Tel. 03-3714-3733   Open 11:30 to 7:30, closed the first and third Tuesdays of each month

〒153-0042 東京都目黒区青葉台1-25-3

A second shop is now open in Kichijoji: 2-7-4 Kichijoji, Musashino, Tokyo 189-0004   Open 11-7, closed the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month

〒189-0004 東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺2−7−4川谷ビル1F

Looking for other craft shops in Tokyo?  Check out my Tokyo Craft Guide

A Day of Eating

I’d like to invite you along on a day of gluttonous behavior.

Last weekend Dan and I explored Kichijoji, hip place for living 15 minutes west of Shinjuku on the Chūō line.  Our plan was to take a walk, find some lunch, and perhaps do a little window shopping.  We really didn’t get too far before the first snack attack.

Round 1 landed us in a vegetarian restaurant, which can be hard to find in Japan.  A nod to its hipness factor, Kichijoji has a few, and the result was lunch at Deva Deva Cafe.  Dan went for one of the six veggie burgers on the menu and I, predictable as always, chose curry rice.

Next we found Bakery Café Linde and picked up some fresh pretzels.  Showing a little bit of self restraint (the last of the day), we put these in our pockets for later.

Our walk through Kichijoji ended at Cafe Zenon, a manga cafe where, rumor had it, some amazing lattes could be found.

And a mid-afternoon coffee in Tokyo just wouldn’t be complete without an accompanying dessert set.

That’s one beautiful pudding you’re looking at (Dan’s feelings about pudding are summarized here).  I had the Autumn Special — waffle, chips, and cream made with sweet potato together with fresh pears and fig, all dusted with fresh chestnut.  Mmmm.

On our way back to the train station:

That is one scenic 7-11.  On the train home Dan said to me, “We have to transfer at Shinjuku station?  How convenient!”  The exclamation point in that sentence doesn’t do justice to the creepy weird look on his face.  I knew this meant only one thing — ramen.

Is this round 3 or 4?  I’ve lost track.  One of the most famous ramen shops in the city, Men-ya Musashi is located just outside of Shinjuku station.  It has awesome samurai decor and is packed.  Since it was Sunday evening, the line stretched the length of the restaurant but hadn’t yet gone out the door, a lucky break for us.  Here is my bowl of ramen before:

And the sad scene after:

I just couldn’t finish, and left a lone soldier behind.  Sorry, you beautiful piece of pork, there just wasn’t room for you in there with all your friends.