Tokyo Craft Guide ebook!

I am so thrilled to announce that the new and improved Tokyo Craft Guide is here! Well, it’s over here, but you know what I mean.

Tokyo Craft Guide ebook!

Beautifully illustrated by Hana of ilikesleeping, and researched and written by myself and the lovely Frances of Miss Matatabi, the Tokyo Craft Guide is packed full of our favorite off-the-beaten-track craft shops in Tokyo. We’re giving you all of our secrets, my friends. Six neighborhood maps help you navigate our curated lists of craft shops and cafes. We also throw in a few parks, temples, a ramen shop, and a few bars. But mostly we talk about crafts: over 50 shop listings describing what is special or unique about each shop, where to go for paper or fabric or yarn, who speaks English, and a few words of Japanese to help you in case they don’t.

sneak peek! Tokyo Craft Guide cafes and shops

I’ll still be offering the same free content from the previous Saké Puppets guide, it has simply moved over to the Tokyo Craft Guide blog. Over there we will be profiling larger shops like Yuzawaya and Tokyu Hands, and also posting interviews and craft events happening around Tokyo. But we’ve reserved the special stuff for the book: small, independantly-owned places, young shop owners who stock their friend’s creations, old shop owners who have been around for 50 years and stock beautiful vintage glass buttons — those are the places that make craft shopping in Tokyo so wonderful.

The Tokyo Craft Guide has amazing maps!

I’m in love with the illustrations in this book. Each map guides you on a treasure hunt, sending you into the neighborhood to find secret craft-gold. Also, never have I looked so relaxed or my bun looked so perfectly huge!

relaxed! via Tokyo Craft Guide and ilikesleeping

A special thanks to everyone who helped us on this project, and to those that were so patient waiting for its release. I’m really excited! Maybe I’ll celebrate by … shopping for fabric.  (@⌒ー⌒@)

Stampin’ Tramp

One of my favorite stores in Japan is Muji. I want to be surrounded by linen and organizational shelves always. I was at the Yurakucho location last week when I wandered across this:Stamp dreams do come true, @ Muji"You can make original stationary"Stamps. So many stamps.

For those who aren’t familiar with Muji, their concept is brand-less minimalism. You can buy stuff to hide your stuff you want to pretend you didn’t buy.

I get a lot of stationary supplies at Muji because I like the kraft paper style I can cover in washi tape, and I have so much washi tape I have to put it somewhere. This stamp setup is a touch of genius on Muji’s part. They encourage you to buy your notebooks before stamping and then come back into the store to decorate them. The stamp table is next to the bakery which is next to the cafe. Before you know it you are there all day. Not that I speak from experience or anything.decorated kraft paper notebooks at MujiMy decorated notebook from MujiThe notebooks are inexpensive and the stamp table feels welcoming and accessible. My only reservation is that this whole thing is too similar to one of my favorite specialty stationary stores, DBROS. Check this out, from their website:Stamps at DBROS in TokyoStamp samples at DBROS in TokyoHrmm. I love DBROS, but admittedly their shop is intimidating. I rarely use their stamps because I am nervous I will make something ugly and the very hip shop staff will smile at me too encouragingly. But their stamps are more interesting and they have iPhone cases and really high quality papers to chose from.

The stamp styles at Muji and DBROS are so similar it made me wonder if they are a collaboration, but a quick google search has led nowhere. I’ll keep investigating. In the meantime, what do you think? Is the Muji stamp for everyman a good thing? The similarities between then two certainly made me uncomfortable, but did not stop me from decorating a 100 yen notebook I didn’t really need.

Design Festa

Asia’s largest biannual art fair, Design Festa, took place in Tokyo this past weekend. Hosting over 8,500 artists from around the globe, Design Festa provides independent artists an opportunity to showcase their work.  Having little idea of what to expect, I set out with camera and pocketbook in hand.

Anyone with original work (and the requisite entry fee) is welcome to participate, and so media on display runs the gamut.  Print illustration, “live painting,” music, handcrafts, and a dramatic interpretation of an anime series were just a few spotted.  The venue lent itself especially well to single artists selling handmade goods, and the range of crafts was unbelievable.  Walking around the convention hall, I couldn’t help but compare the scene to a physical manifestation of Etsy — if Etsy were Asian and wearing animal ears, that is.

Illustration clearly took center stage, and I found myself most interested in the print media and stationary.

Sugar had some great postcards.

okappalover‘s calendars were my favorite of the day.

Here, すっちゃん Succhan’s four seasons – はる is spring, なつ summer, あき autumn, and ふゆ for winter.

I loved the exercising turtles from もりやりょうこ.  And hey panda, what’s got you so relaxed?

The cute-to-creepy spectrum was pretty grand, but a few skirted it gracefully.  More creepy or kawaii?  You tell me.

I was also happy to see a few eco-conscience designs.  My favorite came from designers in Korea, of the GAB : Graphic Design Group.  These picnic bags by Ahn Sung Kyung unzip and fold out to create a dry place for sitting, and are made from leftover rice bags.

The ORIORI_Bag is a convenient way to carry an extra shopping bag with you.  Just unfold and you are ready to go.

And for some good green fun, the green friend.  I was tempted to take one home, but not sure my apartment lends itself well to mud balls.

Of course, an event in Tokyo just wouldn’t be complete without cosplay.  The woman in the box never moved.  I watched her for, like, minutes.

Thanks to the staff at Design Festa for showing me around.  If you are in Tokyo next May and want to check out the next volume of work, visit their site for more info.