Tag Archives: japan

Japanese Handicrafts

20 Apr

On our recent trip to Japan we noticed that gift giving is a very important part of Japanese culture.  The Japanese are very warm and friendly people who try to show their appreciation for you in such gentle and considerate ways.  We were really moved by their generosity during our recent trip.

When we went to visit a good friend from my university days we were so touched by the gifts she offered us.  Her mother had hand sewn and created some beautiful, perfectly crafted gifts.  I can’t even fathom the amount of  time that must have gone into these pieces!

These are called Temari balls.  It is a traditional embroidery technique and these balls are given as a gesture of good will, friendship and loyalty.  They have very intricate designs that are usually geometric and symmetrical with many of the design elements being based on nature.  The colours are vibrant and so beautiful.

I would have loved to spend some time with my friend’s mother and watched how she sews all these beautiful gifts.  Maybe a good reason to return to Japan one day?

We were also presented with this small hand sewn purse filled with tiny little juggling balls and a beautiful hand sewn flower.  In the silk flower there is a tiny little pouch  filled with scented cotton and place enough to store small pieces of jewellery.


I think the Japanese juggling balls are referred to as Otedama.  You can find these little silk purses with the balls in many of the tiny boutiques around Japan.  So many thanks to my dear friend and her very talented mother for such lovely and thoughtful gifts.

Japan with kids #10

15 Apr

We loved trying all the various street foods.  The “patat-tornado” was one of the favourites.Dragon, cherry tree and temple all in one photo.  Heian Shrine.  Looks very peaceful in this photo.  But there were about 10,000 people next to me taking pictures and admiring the view.Girls purchased Made in Kyoto purses.  Amazing how a new purse can put a little hop in your step.Every morning the kids walked over to the local playground to mingle with the local children.  They drew together, played football and exchanged chewing gum.  It was a highlight of their day.Preserved veggies in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto.  They look like they’re buried in sand but one man told me it was a sort of rice flour.Kids favorite snack in Japan.  Pickled cucumber on a stick.Babies love Tom.  This one spent half an hour showing him places on the map.These flowers smelled heavenly.Cherry blossom blizzard.Now back to Italy.  We’ll miss Japan and the lovely people who live there.

Japan with kids #8

11 Apr

On bike ride around Kyoto.  Many temples/shrines were visited, many kilometres were cycled.  And there was only one small accident involving Chloe (surprise) and a pile of garbage bags.At the entrance to Fushimi Inari Shrine.  The colours were so vibrant.Four kilometer walk up the mountain under thousands of red gates (at Fushimi Inari).  On the way back down the path.Cherry blossom bee.Very old door at Nijo Castle.A visit to the world famous Zen Garden of Ryonji.
Luckily for once I was actually looking in front of me while biking.  This could have had a painful ending.

Japan with Kids #6

9 Apr

We have made it to Kyoto and the cherry blossoms are about a day or two away from peak blossom.  We have rented a little traditional Japanese house in the center of the city and are enjoying the tatami rooms, futons and kotatsu (low japanese table with heater underneath).  MANY photos of cherry blossoms to come!

The famous Japanese “fish cake” (bento box lunch in the Shinkansen train).Most delicious breakfast made by dear friend Kumi.  Mini pickled fish, rice balls with seaweed, seafood salad, fresh fruit and her favorite fruit cake recipe from Anne of Green Gables.Hike up mountain in Kakogawa.  Walking sticks are offered at beginning of path.Mini matcha tea ceremony at top of mountain.Beautiful views, great friends and delicious Japanese sweets.  Perfect day.Rest time (note to self…talk to kids about posture).
Japanese train station fast food.  I think they’re onto something.Meeting little daughter of friend.  They didn’t speak a common language but ended up communicating through the art of origami!  Hundreds of paper cranes, balls, frogs, pianos and ninja stars were made.

Japan with kids #5

7 Apr

Vending machine culture.  Everywhere

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Off to Mount Fuji.
Best tofu ever.  And this from a girl who is not so keen on tofu.Eating “Japanese Pizza” with our dear friend Masako.Trying on a traditional kimono.So tight.
Mount Fuji and kimonos.  We saw Fuji from just about every angle and it was absolutely stunning.

Japan with kids #4

4 Apr


Visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum.  Luckily we met a friend of a friend there and she guided us around the entire museum and made the visit so interesting for both us and the kids.

Walking to the train station after a delicious soba noodle lunch (in typhoon winds and rain).

Japanese arcades are the place to be.

Fell in love with this shop.

Visited exhibit by South Korean artist Lee Bull at the Mori Art Museum.  Pretty amazing.

Another city, another enormous spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeios.

Harajuku girl.Busy kids and the Tokyo skyline.

Pack of gum with little papers included (for the wads of chewed gum).

Future photographer?

Japan with Kids #3

2 Apr

Greetings from Tokyo! We made it safe and sound and have even experienced our first earthquake.We visited the Meiji Jingu Temple located in Yoyogi Park.  Nico decided to write a prayer for the prayer wall.  I don’t know what he wrote but he did ask me how to spell dream and mother.  The prayer wall.  Most people wrote wishes for loved ones or world peace.Other people were a bit more specific.Barrels of sake offerings for the enshrined deities.Our first kimono sighting in the Harajuku district.Visit to the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Tower.  Great panoramic views of the city and even Mount Fuji in the distance.

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