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⌒@)

Crafty Pie

In the wake of my tirade pie-rade the other day, I couldn’t resist a little of this:

While wandering through my friendly neighborhood craft store Yuzawaya, I came across the make-cute-things-out-of-felt aisle.  Usually able to resist its powerful magnetic pull, this time I fell victim and I came home with a sweet little kit of my very own.  I blame the pie.

I haven’t yet delved into too many Japanese craft kits (and there are many! glass, wood, felt, wool, paper, plastic… hobbies are serious business) but figured I could handle this one — just cut the felt into shapes and stitch it together like in the photograph.  Right, piece of cake, er, I mean easy as pie.

I should know better than to trust my own clichés!  As anyone who has made a pie knows, pate brisee is not easy (damn you, ice cold butter chunks that make it impossible to roll you into a flat pie crust shaped circle!).  I opened the kit this morning, and the pieces are teeeny.  I don’t think I can cut them that small, let alone stitch them into something smaller.  Apparently my big Norwegian hands are not well-suited for cute felt things.

Also, I forgot that there might be directions to follow, and that they would be in Japanese.  What can I say, pie + crafts make me crazy.

A Declaration of Craft

It was a busy one for me here last week.  Not only have I upped the ante on my Japanese study, I’m still trying to figure out how to do laundry/shop for groceries/live here, etc., but I also discovered two — yes, two! — new-to-me craft stores.

Now those of you who are new to the craft scene (aka, all of you who come to this blog for the food and are tricked into reading about fabric) may think all craft stores are the same.  Not so, dear friends.  Some are like warehouses where you have to dig through piles of musty fabric for a scrap of gold, and some are classy establishments, like La Droguerie.

La Droguerie is beautiful.  (No photos are allowed inside, so I snapped that shot on my way out.)  It is probably the most beautiful craft shop I’ve ever seen, and I have seen many in my short craft life.  Bobbles and buttons are kept in big glass jars on well-lit shelves, and colorful rows of ribbons hang amongst fabric and other notions.

La Droguerie is a French chain that sells mainly their own brand of yarns.  I learned later that you are not supposed to rummage through the jars yourself, but rather wait for a salesperson to come over and do it for you.  Whoops.  I totally had my hands in some piles of felt.  It just couldn’t be avoided.  Also, everything was very expensive.  I wanted a tiny bit of some trim that was unpriced, and thought, “How expensive can some trim be, anyway?”  Well, expensive.  Though, now I have a mighty fine improved-upon Ikea lamp to show for it:

La Droguerie was nice to look at, though I’m not sure I need to visit it too often.  Especially because two days later, I found Yuzawaya ユザワヤ — eight buildings of crafts spread out along three city blocks.  After the excited/frantic and perhaps unintelligible text message I sent to Dan, he reminded me to breathe and eat, advice I thankfully followed or I certainly would have passed out.  In fact, as I inhaled some deep fried tofu skins (don’t cringe, it’s delicious!) while standing in an alley behind a 7-11, I realized I might indeed have a problem.  But, more on that later.

I spent a lot of time at Yuzawaya that day and only made it through 1.5 of the 8 buildings before they closed their doors for the night.  A felted wedding cake anyone?  How about an adorable DIY stuffed mouse?  Or a Hello Kitty kimono?  It could all be mine!

It was while at Yuzawaya when I realized that making things is more than just a hobby for me.  It doesn’t have to be a problem — why not embrace it?!  (Cue light bulb.) Though this Declaration of Craft will not surprise many of my friends and family, I have somehow surprised myself.  And so, I have a new focus for my time here in Tokyo — in addition to exploring a new city and learning a new language, I’ll be venturing on some other craft-related endeavors.  Huzzah!  I promise to share in due time.

For those of you interested in visiting these places yourselves:

La Droguerie Ometesando
Omotesando LH bldg 1F
4-13-9, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Ometesando station – behind Ometesando Hills

Yuzawaya ユザワヤ
4-12, Nishikamata 8-chome, Ohta-ku, Tokyo
Kamata station – take a left from the West Exit, walk under the tracks, look for signs to your right

I’m currently compiling a Tokyo craft guide, so check back for that in a few weeks.  Thanks!