Japan Inspiration

Posted by: Rebecca Atwood

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan—perhaps most of all because of my love for sushi, but also because of the textiles, art, and ceramics. Last year I was lucky enough to make the trip. It was a whirlwind of a trip and full of inspiration.
 

My line originally began with a collection of hand-dyed fabrics based on the Japanese dyeing technique shibori. Shibori is a technique where the fabric is folded into a three-dimensional form and then dyed, resulting in an organic but geometric pattern. Suminagashi is another favorite technique that also originates in Japan. It means ‘floating ink’ and this process has been the start of our marble designs. Sashiko, an ancient embroidery technique for mending cloth, has also been a source of inspiration. From a design point of view, I always see a bit of playfulness but also this deep care and thoughtfulness for what is being created. With our new collection, I wanted to emphasize the playfulness. I’ve really been feeling the desire for the lighthearted. 

I also want to share with you my favorite spots from our trip last year.
 

TOKYO RECOMMENDATIONS:

Stay

We stayed at the Conrad Hotel. I really liked our hotel—the bed was so cozy! It was tucked away a bit though, and in the future, I’d consider staying in Shibuya near the Nezu Museum

Getting Around

One of the things that surprised me most was how easy it was to navigate Tokyo. It may have been because I had heard from so many people that it was challenging to get around. If you have a data plan or get a SIM card you can use google maps. It’s not quite as easy as navigating at home, but it’s pretty great. I had made google maps prior to leaving with all of the places that I had read about or were recommended to me. Tokyo is a widespread city so it was nice to be able to see what was nearby that I may have forgotten about.

The subways are very easy to use, and we found people were very helpful if we needed to be pointed in the right direction. There were actually signs in English which surprised us. Now, I live in NYC so I’m used to a crazy subway experience. While there were a lot of people everything was very orderly and calm even during “rush hour.”
 

See and Shop:

Tsutaya Books: This was a really cool bookstore with a lounge and café upstairs. While I didn’t want to lug home a lot of books I did pick up one or two and wrote down the names of some others to get when I got back.

Mina Perhonen: A very elegant apparel shop with beautiful textile inspiration

Tsukiji Market: Walking around the famous fish market is a must!

Nezu Musem: I don’t know about you, but I love small museums. Seeing so much can be visual overload and this museum was just the right size. They had a

Itoya: A great crafts, stationery, and art supply store.

Pigment (Above): An artist’s dream shop filled with pigments in every color you can imagine. I brought back a lot of pigments to make my own paints and some beautiful brushes.

Classico: Home goods and antiques with a minimalist vibe.

Morita Antiques: Beautiful vintage textiles. This was a highlight for me.

Gallery Kawana: More textile inspiration. Ask to see the indigo pieces.

Utsuwa Daifuku: Pottery.

Zakka: handmade pottery—this one was a little tricky to find!

Café Oribe: A café and pottery shop. This is a bit of a trek, but I got a few pieces here I really love.
 

Eat

Gohan-ya Isshin has yummy tempura.

Ramen in the food hall under the train station. Go to the place all the way at the end with a line. 

Tsukiji Market:

Grab a coffee at Turret Cafe.

Sushi Zanmai (at Tsukiji Market). Go here if you want to avoid the crazy lines at the two more famous places. It’s really good sushi and you won’t be disappointed.

Sushi Tokami for a sushi splurge that won’t disappoint.

A to Z Café has delicious rice bowls with tuna and avocado.

Edition Koji is a splurge. French food with a Japanese.

 

KYOTO RECOMMENDATIONS:

Stay

Hyatt Regency Kyoto: The lobby here has some pretty cool pattern inspiration.

Getting Around

We walked a lot in Kyoto as it is a smaller city. We also took the bus a few times for further locations and decided on a cab to get to the Bamboo Forest.

See and Shop:

Aizenkobo Indigo Place: Traditional indigo fabrics. I bought quite a bit here! They also have hand dyed yarns.

Saiun-do: Traditional painting supplies. I got a few beautiful brushes here. This is a spot many famous artists love.

Naito Brush Shop: Handmade brushes and brooms. I couldn’t fit a broom in my suitcase but brought home a small brush.

Konjaku Nishimura: Antique textiles 

Walk around the Gion District: This is the most famous geisha district.

Yasaka Shrine: Visit in the evening to see the lanterns.

Bamboo Forest: It’s beautiful but more touristy than I had expected. I’d recommend getting their early to see if you can avoid the crowds.

Nishiki Food Market: Explore!

Ichihara Heibei: Handmade chopsticks 

Kyukyodo: Cool paper store

Nara Park: Take an afternoon trip here and feed the deer.

Kiyomizu Pottery: Traditional pottery

Rakushi-en: Traditional pottery

Eat

Gion Mikaku: Upscale teppanyaki. It’s pretty cool to watch them cook your food right in front of you.

Haru Cooking Class: This was a highlight. We really enjoyed this and you get to make your own kobe beef dinner. We learned ingredients to buy and picked up some of these items at the market to bring home. 

Giro Giro Hitoshina: Modern Japanese take on kaiseki. This was one of our favorite meals in Kyoto. Tokyo is the place for sushi, not Kyoto, so you’ll be experiencing different cuisine here.



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