Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teaser answer

Ok, I will tell you the answer to my teaser question.
We have all had suits made at Sam's Tailors in Hong Kong. Or, in my case, have had several suits made. I started with three, (two with both skirt and trousers) which was what I planned and which turned out to be only a little bit over budget. Ah well. When I sad budget I meant kind of rough estimate. And I didn't estimate for adding silk and cashmere to my wool cloth. Between ordering them (at 7pm) and my fitting ( amazingly at 10.30 the very next morning) I decided to add another jacket.Only I was firmly told that the Boss man 'wanted me to have a dress, jacket and trousers in an Italian cloth and a long coat jacket and trousers in the grey check.' Now he really did want me to have them. I mean, really wanted it. And its not nice to disappoint people for no reason is it? Besides, I had been watching Boss man in action and he really knows what he is talking about. I was particularly impressed when he made a lady cancel an order she had just placed with an assistant because he did not think that the fabric she had chosen would sit well with the design of dress she wanted as it did not have the requisite stretch and 'I do not want that going out with my name on because you will be disappointed.' So, no point going to the expert and not listening is there? If he says I will not regret having more clothes.....!

Boss man is not in fact Sam, who was the original owner of the store, but is son of Sam, although I am sure that that particular way of explaining it could be phrased better given the connotations! He is Manu Melwani. Dennis captioned this photo of us discussing lapel styles, "Just sign here. don't worry, its just like a sub-prime mortgage, that's all."

In fact his prices are very reasonable for what you are getting. There are many tailors around who offer cheaper packages ( and who solicit you off the street which Sam's does definitely NOT do - it doesn't even need to advertise that much) but I would doubt the quality of cloth/ workmanship in comparison. I have another fitting for the second order and then the results will be delivered to the hotel before we leave.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hong Kong

It is Sunday and I am pretending I live in Hong Kong on some silly corporate wage and so can afford some nice real estate with a view. So on Sundays you relax and chill and just hang out don't you?. The other days of the week are for the job of sightseeing. So, I've had a huge brunch. I am at the moment on the sofa you see herelooking at this view and watching the boats go by.We get the Star Ferry on its regular run, some tour boats, a good few industrial tugs, a speed boat and one or two yachts and even a cruise liner. But I like the little boats that nip across in the wake of the big ones.I am not being a total couch potato. On arrival we nipped out to the night market and yesterday we re-traced out steps from 1993 up to the top of Victoria Peak. Up there now is a huge and ugly shopping complex but you can still wander down leafy paths in quiet and the views are of course still there.
Now, what shall we do today? Maybe the rooftop pool deck to finish my book and have a jacuzzi. That would justify hopping on the famous Star Ferry from just outside the for the scenic harbour trip across to Wanchai ( cost 50p!) to the Harbour centre branch of Dymocks bookshop to buy another one and to celebrate the fact that after outrageous book prices in Australasia we are back to normal here. Then what? Hmm, the ferry across to Kowloon for afternoon tea at the Peninsula I think. Oh I could get used to Sundays like this.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Teaser question

Here's one for you... what do I have in common with Steffi Graf, Bijork, Bill Clinton, Caroline Kennedy, Kylie Minogue, Diana Princess of Wales, Margaret Thatcher and Joan Collins?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Must do Kyoto

If you are ever in Kyoto you must do the walk from Chio-in Temple to Yasaka shrine, through Maruyama park, to Daiun-in Temple and from there along the clear trail up through the preserved old area of Gion to Kiyomizudera temple. Don't miss the side path ( about 5 mins max) up to Higashi Otani Mausoleum. Aside from the religious buildings and the architecture there are lots of very high end shops along here that are delicious to browse. I took 242 photos on the day we did this trip so here are juts a few highlights from this area to wet your appetite. As you can see we had about a half hour snow flurry.I imagine the area is even better when the cherry blossoms are out.

Nishiki food market photos

Nishiki market is a long, covered alleyway right in the middle of the shopping area of Kyoto ( paralell and north of Sijo-Dori). I like looking but beats me what most of this stuff is. ( I recognise the things with eyes and I am pretty sure there are brains in there!). We did eat some of the street food shown first ( although Dennis did not like his very much at all!)

Fabric and shopping Kyoto - Part 2

On our second day in Kyoto I stumbled on more crafty / fabric places anyone travelling here might like to know about. It was not always obvious what the shop was called so I will give you directions and photos so you can recognise it when you get there. And I hope that all those of you who leave comments saying my photos make you want to go to Japan actually get here someday!
First, this shop which sells rubber stamps with Japanese themes and designs from calligraphy to picture of Geisha. Walk down the pedestrianised street Teramachi from the north ( by City Hall) and it is on your left. Further down Teramachi you will see a sign over head for the Nishiki market. This will gets its own post in due course but towards the end of the market ( past many fish stalls) is a shop on the left selling kimono fabric by the meter.
Another option is to buy what at first I thought were hemmed fat quarters which are fairly ubiquitous. Now, why would anyone hem fat quarters. Eventually it dawned. Not fat quarters - Japanese gift wrapping cloths! But you know - fabric squares are fabric squares! Just by example, this shop is on Shijo-Dori, on the North side between Starbucks and Kawaramachi Station.

We walked from here to the old area of Pontocho which is an alley way of old houses - now lost of bars and restaurants, parallel to the river which was the old gay area of Kyoto. We walked over the river bridge at Keihan-sanjo station, along Sanjo-Dori and turned south down Higashioji-dori. this is not really a tourist area but it served as a way to get to Gion ( which will also get its own post in due course). However, on the right just down Higashioji there was a small fabric shop selling Kimono offcuts and I finally found ones I liked and which went with the fabric I bought in Toyko and it was only Y400! (About £3). This nice lady owner threw a scrap of shibori in for free too when I admired her curtain made of it.

These are the two fabrics with some thread I went back to Nomura Tailor in Taramagachi for.

And for identification purposes, the outside of the shop.

In the old restored area of Gion between Koadji temple and Kiyomizudera there are lots of shops selling the wrapping cloths and other product made of textiles. Or, there is this one which also sells kimono lengths and paper sheets. It is in Shin-kyogoku arcade which is the mall that runs parallel to Teramachi. If you go north from Shijo-Dori is it very soon on your right.

And just a little further up - another stamp shop again with Japanese themes stamps.

For patchwork magazines you want the Foreign language Institute on the north side of Shijo-Dori. Don't be beguiled - there are no foreign language books in this shop ( unless I suppose you view Japanese as a foreign language.!) Not should you assume that magazines such as Patchwork Tushin will be downstairs with the magazines. Nope. think like the Japanese! Up on the first floor with the patchwork books. (About the middle of the store, stand facing the street, top shelf.) And books/ magazines about knitting and yarns and embroidery too - lots of pictures and diagrams so the language does not matter too much. I did buy one book here ( and I might well go back for the one I resisted becuase I have checked and it is not as I thought possible readily available online!) but all in all I did well just looking today!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fabric & shopping Kyoto - part 1

On our first day in Kyoto we set out to do a walk from a book which has what might best be called 'temple crawls' in it and I had no intention of going shopping. But, you know how it is...! I will give directions to my finds in case anyone is reading this who has googled 'fabric shopping Kyoto'. I did that to have it suggested that there were no real fabric shops in Kyoto. Oh not true!!

My first find was in fact a button store - this is just one wall of it. It is on the open air part of Taramachi which is a street running from North to East along the eastern side of the Imperial Palace park and continues further south to Shijo-dori where the big departments stores are. If you go from the south-east corner of the Park towards City Hall this shop called La Maison Du Boutons is on your left. They had perfect buttons to go with my Tokyo fabric. There is another haberdashery shop opposite. Just a little further down again on the left is Terra this shop selling paper and calligraphy items. my haul - just two pieces of paper I thought would make good embroidery backgrounds.

Taramachi becomes an indoor mall and about half way down this section on the right is a shop called Nomura Tailor. As you can see it has US quilting cottons, DMC threads and some more local stuff like this hemp string I did not buy because this was during the 'we have no cash' crisis. I might go back now that has been averted!

The above is the Teramachi store. If you go to the end of the covered part of Teramachi and turn right onto Shijo-Dori along there (before you get to Daimaru department store) is another branch of the same shop which is less crafty but has three floors of fabric and haberdashery including Japanese style prints and some kimono fabrics.
Later, after our trip to the Imperial Palace and armed with recently acquired entrance fee cash, we went to Kyoto Shibori Kogei Kan. I didn't know about this until I was desperately scouring the hotel tourist map for currency exchanges. The centre was not marked on the map we bought or in the guide book. This cost Y500 to enter for which you get a 7 min video in Japanese - but any textile person can work out what they are doing!- and a short tour of some examples of shibori and then entrance to the shop. But what examples! I had no idea that shibori could be so intricate. Sadly no photos were allowed but let me just say they had kimono there using a technique which requires 150,000 knots per kimono. Yup. 150,000. Tiny, tiny little ties. Tiny! Nothing like the 'shove it down a pole' or tie it around a marble' shibori I have done. you can do classes but the staff do the tiny ties and leave you to do bigger designs so I didn't bother to reserve and go back.
Of course, I had to contribute to the continuation of this ancient art. For £60 - I chose this bag and purse. It was by no means the most impressive or tempting item on sale but it was right for my souvenir budget!

I have photographed the purse here with a standard sized lipstick to show the scale of the tied knots.

The centre is on Abura-no-koji which is a north-south street -it is on the block south of Oike-dori.
Dennis, as you might expect had his, "I'm not interested personally, but if you want to go some obscure textile place that's fine, I'll come with you...", face on, when the taxi driver got lost taking us there.
"What do you think this says about the choices of all the other tourists who come to Kyoto?" Dennis asked.
"That they didn't choose this taxi driver."
He was quiet after that.