Saturday, December 11, 2010

Part 3: Kyoto at last!

Here are a million photos of Kyoto. We could only manage to spend one day and one evening there, but we were totally smitten with it and can't wait to go back.

Two minutes out of the first subway stop and Mirabel was in love with this crafty store. There were so many lovely little shops like this dotted all over the place, I think we could have easily just shopped for our whole visit and been perfectly happy.

Out of the blue we found a New Zealand-themed cafe, Cafe Green, in the Gion district, where we ate fairly authentic fish and chips and a mince pie with mashed potatoes for dinner. I had a tasty boutique beer (TaaKawa), and we shared a hokey pokey sundae. Unexpected!

On the other side of the street to the cafe was a restaurant with this wacky statue. You can see his doodle!

Kinkakuji is Kyoto's famous golden pavilion. The upper two floors are covered in actual gold leaf! Check out the heron in the bottom of the frame.

The place was pretty packed with adorable school kids and gawking photo oppotunists like ourselves. It would have been a bit more serene with fewer people marching around the garden tracks, but was quite a sight anyway.

Later it was a tasty tofu lunch set in a cute place at our next stop, Arashiyama. Really delicious!

Arashiyama's lillies, temple garden, bamboo grove, mountain and riverside. We took an expensive rickshaw ride with a thoroughly charming guide, Yoshi, who chatted in a mixture of English and Japanese and pointed out interesting points along the way.

Just as the sun was setting we made our way to Nanzenji temple, with a massive, beautiful wooden gate and a lovely stone aqueduct.

We will be going back to Kyoto again at the earliest opportunity.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Calendar December 7th

Advent Calendar December 6th

Instead of a drawing today I made an origami G

Oh gosh, we are getting behind ourselves: Part 2

In Osaka we stayed with the totally wonderful awesome Darlene and Kaori.
They fed us home-made takoyaki, traditionally a Japanese dumpling made of batter and diced or whole baby octopus, but luckily for me it was minus the tako.

We filled ours with cheese, spring onion, mushrooms, pineapple and ham.

Pour the batter into the cute little holes, wait for them to cook on one side then wriggle them around with a pair of chop sticks to cook the otherside.

I want to buy one of these cute sets - imagine in the possibilities! They needn't be savoury either, you could use pancake batter and fill them with chocolate and fruit. YUM!

While in Osaka we managed to see Vampire Weekend play. They were marvelous, dressed in costumes, bopping around - jolly good show.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar

We don't have an advent calendar this year so I have vowed to draw a picture a day for Gareth's advent pleasure.

December 1st.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

* incidentally *

Kohei, the man dressed as a tree in the previous post, is a wonderful painter and designer.
During summer he printed some T-shirts for a music festival and Gareth and I were asked to model them. Turns out we aren't very good at modelling, we bumble and giggle too much.
It wasn't a waste of time though - Shoko got to play with her new camera.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oh gosh, we are getting behind ourselves

During the first week of November we took some days off to go down to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. It was an incredible holiday, crazy busy, but just wonderful with lovely friends and delicious food.

Part 1: Tokyo

We took the night bus from Sendai on Friday 29th and arrived in a typhoon stricken Tokyo at 5.30am Saturday morning, with one umbrella between us and three hours to kill before our first engagement -- the national junior high school brass band competition which Gareth's schools was in, representing Miyagi.
We kept ourselves warm and dry in a cafe, pigging out on hotcakes, drink refills and doodling on newspapers.

The brass band competition was really good. We only stayed until Gareth's school Koyodai had played (we felt 5 hours might be too much for us). I was hugely impressed with their conductor who danced, bobbed, crouched, jumped, and gesticulated elegantly. You didn't need to hear the instruments - his gestures expressed the music exactly. I was totally enthralled.
The students were excellent too though and deservedly won silver.

Afterwards we went to a couple of art galleries. The first had an exhibition by the amusing artist Misaki Kawai. So lovely. So fun.

The second gallery was showing a collection of Van Gogh paintings. We were cold and grumpy by the time we got there, and the gallery was packed with people. The show was presented in chronological order, beginning with Van Gogh's earliest works -- sketches, studies and copies of other painings -- which, frankly, were not all that impressive. But by the time we got around to Irises we were awestruck.

Later Gareth and Shoko worked on a last-minute zombie animal poster for Shoko and Sasayu's Halloween party.

Jiizasu (Jesus), owl and the Debiru (devil).

The awesome "I heart NZ" sheep and kiwi.

Sasayu in her adorable ghost costume.

Shinya's minimalistic Kintaro costume (Kintaro is a manga character whose father is an eyeball on a tiny body).

Kohei was a tree.

We played musical chairs and then fell asleep on the sofa.
Then it was time to catch the 7am shinkasen to Osaka ... part 2!