40×Tokyo: Marui 0101

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 32 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to shop at …

Marui OIOI (マルイ ワン)

It is kinda insane. There are 4 locations in Shinjuku alone and all of which are attractive for different reasons.  This is just one of a handful of major shopping centers on my list for the trip.  Not too much for me to add tonight, just that this girl loves clothes shopping and Marui is certain to deliver.  In particular I am keen on visiting Marui One which caters to the wonderfully frilly lolita crowd.

shopping adventure marui one shinjuku

Links:  Honkan (Ladies Fashions)  |  Annex (Fun For Couples)  |  Men  |  One (Original Fashion / a.k.a. lolita land)

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)   (8)   (9)


40×Tokyo: Socks

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 33 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to purchase …

Socks (靴下)

This one might sound silly, but no one does socks like Japan!  My feet seem to be perpetually cold, so even on hot summer days I take socks with me in my purse to put on at the office or anywhere that has intense air conditioning.  Now there is decent variety available here in the US, but it pales in comparison.  The Japanese are much more inventive and creative when it comes to socks.

kutsushita japanese socks galore

This vast selection of socks I have been told is tied to the tradition of removing your shoes before entering a Japanese home.  The sheer grossness of everything your shoes come in contact outside has also converted me to the absolutely-no-shoes-in-the-house-no-matter-what rule.  So if you are taking your shoes off, and everyone is going to see your tootsies, you are certainly going to want your socks to be as stylish as the rest of your fashion ensemble.

A couple of shops/brands jumped out during my research, notably Tabio.  I can only assume that their name is derived from the traditional Japanese socks called tabi.  I am pretty sure I won’t need to seek out where to buy socks during the trip.  Our time will be better spent discussing the department stores and key shopping districts (posts coming soon) as socks will make themselves readily available.

Custom Socks

tokyo calzalone custom socks

There is one shop that I have to remember and that is Calzalone.  On an episode of Cool Japan I learned that you can have socks custom made to fit your feet exactly.  My travel buddy has crazy high arches and can never find socks that are comfortable.  So this is going to be a real treat for him.  We should most likely add this as a to-do early in our travel plans just in case there is a need to fetch the socks in person once they have been made.

Socks + Shoes

trend socks with heels

The trend of wearing socks with skirts and heels always seems to pop up in the spring fashion collections.  Sadly you see it more on the catwalks than on the streets of NYC.  I am a huge fan of this trend and will continue to follow it myself – even if I do get many a raised eyebrow.  Perhaps America just isn’t ready yet for this fashion DO.

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)   (8)   (9)   (10)

40×Tokyo: Fabric Town

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 34 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to visit …

Fabric Town (布の街)

I really don’t need any more fabric.  I have a cupboard and several dressers full of fabric.  What I need is more time to invest in my hobby.  But I can assure you that isn’t going to stop me from splurging on fabric in Tokyo.  It will be heavenly to not have to pay international shipping costs for something I regularly invest in.

shopping in fabric town tokyo

When you discuss fabric and any big city you first need to locate their garment district.  In the case of Tokyo that is Fabric Town and Fabric Street.  The star of Fabric Town is Tomato.  Apparently it is a multi-floor, multi-building wonderland of fabric and related accoutrement. There are a lot of great blog posts on Fabric Town so I don’t need to drone on about it.  They key thing I have learned and must repeat is a reminder.  Must take cash with me.  CASH ONLY.  Yep, most of the shops here will not take credit cards.

Links:  Fabric Street Map  |  Fabric Town Shopping Guide  |  Tomato Official Site  |  Tomato Shopping Guide

Okadaya, Yazawaya & Lucky Star

In addition to Fabric Town, a few other shops kept popping up in my research.  The first is Okadaya (オカダヤ) in Shinjuku and the second is Yazawaya located in the Marui OIOI department store and Lucky Star.

Links:  Okadaya Site  |  Okadaya Shopping Guide  |  Lucky Star Shopping Guide  |  Yuzawaya Official Site  |  Japanese Craft Resource  |  Tokyu Hands  |  (Bit Dated) Fabric Guide  |  Tokyo Craft Guide


And last but not least for my Tokyo fabric fixation, is the Japanese version of America’s “bedazzle” movement known as dekofuku (デコ服). Deko is a shorthand for decoration and fuku translates as clothes.  I have also heard the DIY trend referred to as dekoru, but I think that is more limited to just gluing rhinestones and studs on versus the fuller mix-and-match of adding lace, ribbon, and all sorts of other goodies to plain, store bought clothing.  I am a huge fan of this craft movement as it allows for people who have a very busy work schedule to still squeeze in an artistic project here-and-there.  The endevour to sew a complete garment can take weeks as a hobby, where a dekofuku item can be completed super fast.

dekofuku materials in tokyo

While not Japanese, I am a huge fan of P.S. I made this. Long live DIY!

My Dekofuku Links: Korilakkuma Sweatshirt  |  Cardsuit Cardigan  |  Scottie Cardigan  |  Kawaii Baret

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)   (8)   (9)   (10)   (11)



40×Tokyo: Kabuki

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 36 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to attend…

Kabuki (歌舞伎)

Of the many Japanese items that adorned my childhood home, there is one piece that for some reason left a memorable impression on me.  It was a very large cloth furoshiki that had been framed and hung in the entertainment room.  It featured Kamakura Gongorō Kagemasa from the play Shibaraku. He was dressed in the iconic robes bearing the family crest of Ichikawa Danjūrō, three squares nested inside one another known as sanshō. For us gaijin, I think this is probably the character we most widely recognize when one thinks of Kabuki.

shibaraku danjuro

Very fortunate for me, the Kabuki-za in Ginza celebrates a grand reopening this spring.  This landmark theater in Tokyo retains its original esthetic but has gone high tech with the world’s largest revolving stage and other cutting edge production technology.  There will be daily shows April 2nd through 28th which is just perfect timing. I need to book the tickets very soon; the premium seats are going quickly.

the kabukiza in tokyo

Links:  The Performance  |  The Theater  |  For Tickets  |  Grand Reopening

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)   (8)   (9)   (10)

40×Tokyo: Alice Cafe

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 37 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to eat at an…

Alice Cafe (アリス)

The best advice in the Matrix?  Yep, follow the White Rabbit.  For me I hope to follow him to one of the several Alice Cafes in Tokyo.  I am not particularly bookish so when I do like a novel or story it ends up holding a very prestigious place on my bookshelf.  Alice happens to retain one of those prized positions.  In addition, it is thanks to Alice that I came to learn of the Japanese alternative fashion – lolita. I don’t think there is a lolita brand that hasn’t released a print or dress inspired by her.

wonderland alice cafe in tokyo

There are several locations so it will be difficult to make a choice:

  • Shibuya – features an amazing carousel inspired dining section and I think a massive stained glass wall.
  • Ginza – has a brilliant entrance where you literally enter through gigantic pages from the book. There are also incredible playing card table tops as well as tea cup booths.
  • Ikebukuro – Here you can sit inside of a chandelier!  I also like the wall of crowns that each contain a charming illustration.
  • Shinjuku – at this location you can dine inside the labyrinth!

I am pretty sure reservations will be needed for this journey down the rabbit hole.

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)

40×Tokyo: Kimono Rentals

40 x TokyoT-minus 38 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to rent a…

Kimono (着物)

When I was little my Grandfather presented me with a happi coat he picked up during one of many excursions to Japan.  I cherished that happi coat and wore it until it literally disintegrated.  It was nothing more than a very simple cotton robe, but in my imagination it was a flowing silk masterpiece worthy of a geisha.  I would complement it with a pair of wooden geta, clacking teeth and all, that my Grandmother gave me around the same time.  The geta sadly didn’t last as long simply for the fact I outgrew them quickly (curse you big feet).

tokyo kimono hime

I haven’t had occasion to wear kimono, although that is changing now that I attend more Japanese events in NYC.  I have several kimono in my collection, I do not have all the accessories needed to pull together a complete ensemble.  My goal in Tokyo is to fill the gaps so that I have at least one complete komon look with some modern touches.

Where to Rent Kimono

But even more exciting for me is I want to wear kimono on my birthday.  I still need to do more research but there are several places where you can rent kimono for the day and they will assist you with getting dressed. Here are the links I have come across so far:


taisho hime kimono

Where to Buy Kimono

As for where to buy vintage kimono this is what I have discovered:

Hayashi Kimono
International Arcade.
Tel: 03-3591-9826.
Open daily 9:30am-6:30pm.
Nearest station: Yurakucho

Oriental Bazaar
Tel: 03-3400-3933.
Open daily 9:30am-6:30pm. Closed Thursday.
Nearest stations: Harajuku or Omotesando

Daimaru Department Store
Tel: 03-3212-8011.

Morita Antiques
Tel: 03-3407-4466.
Open daily 10am-7pm.
Nearest station: Omotesando

Links:  Togo Shrine Flea Market  |  Article on Flea Markets

Can you recommend additional flea markets or stores in Tokyo that carry good kimono for sale?

Credits:   (一)   (ニ)   (三)   (四)   (五)   (六)   (七)   (八)   (九)   (十)

★ Update ★ – During our trip we did rent Kimono.  My friend who lives in Tokyo helped make the arrangements.  This shop also did our hair and make up too!  It was perfect.  Check them out for yourself:

Roppongi Hanagoyomi  3-9-11 Roppongi

40×Tokyo: Tsukiji Market

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 39 days and counting.  Today’s birthday wish is to visit…

Tsukiji (築地)

tokyo trip tsukiji

I am particularly excited to see Tsukiji Market before it is moved to its new location.  Their move has been delayed but just the same it is a now-or-never experience.  There are actually 5 wishes for the Tsukiji district:

  • Tsukiji Market – You might have expected my first stop to be Harajuku, and for all I know it might be, but I am truly elated to, after all these years, stroll the fish market. I am a pescatarian after all and rather fond of Life’s Sweet Essential – Food.
  • Namiyoke Inari Shrine – My travel buddy might not be as into this as me, but I just adore all the temples and shrines.  I can’t wait to see the big Lioness (shishi) that represent the Gods Inari and Benzaiten.
  • Hamarikyu Garden – I am very hopeful that I will be able to get a glimpse of the end of Cherry Blossom season.  While I will be there late in the season, I am sure that the garden will still have plenty of spring flora to offer.
  • Tsukiji Honganji Temple – I love that Japan has balanced both the Shinto and Buddhist pantheons in such harmony.  In particular, this temple has me intrigued for its additional influence from Indian Hinduism.
  • Tamasushi Kitaro Tsukiji – This sushi restaurant looks out of this world! Their website makes me drool just thinking about the sushi that awaits us.

Links:  Tsukiji English Site  |  Market Guide

Credits:  (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)

Note to self: I should try and collect charms and phone straps as a way to commemorate the trip.

Tokyo & Turning 40

40 x Tokyo

Today I begin my official countdown.  40 days from now my best friend and I will depart for our very first ever visit to Japan.  If you know even a little bit about me, then you know that I’m obsessed with Japanese culture.  This trip is super special as I will also be celebrating a milestone birthday while there.  Yep, I am officially turning 40. Wow! I couldn’t imagine anywhere more perfect than Tokyo to spend my special day.

If work and life don’t throw me any curve balls, between now and the time I depart I hope to document 40 things I hope to see and do during the trip.  Are you ready? いきましょう {let’s go.}

Ebisu (恵比寿)

The first priority will be getting Life’s Sweet Essentials in order:  Money – Am assuming that we will convert some currency before we go and/or use the exchange tellers at Narita airport. Shelter – Should be interesting the first time trying to navigate the trains from the airport and find the apartment.  Food – where shall we eat?  With a health dose of jetlag on day 1 we will want to fill our bellies with comfort food.

ebisu tokyo trip planning

  1. Ebisu Train Station – this is the anchor for the trip, the transportation hub from which all points of our adventure will begin.  This is because our apartment is located here in the Ebisu neighborhood of Shibuya.
  2. Home Away From Home – Airbnb.com is my new favorite for vacations.  I know a lot of people like the amenities of hotels, but I much prefer to have creature comforts like a kitchen or a washer and dryer.  Much more useful for a 2 week trip versus someone swapping out towels every morning.  Which means we can also save money by making breakfast ourselves instead of always having to eat out.
  3. Kaigan Izakaya – this drinking establishment has caught my attention. And I must confess, not just their reputation, but their English menus will be a welcome treat until our limited kanji skills are ready to be put to test.
  4. Getting Around – maps, maps, maps.  Google don’t let me down.  I need the “you are here” guidepost.
  5. Beer Museum – the Ebisu neighborhood grew up around the Japan Beer Brewery Company which we all know today as Sapporo Breweries.  The name Ebisu comes from one of the Japanese Seven Gods of Fortune, the God of Fishing, and can be found on the Sapporo brew that not-by-accident shares the neighborhood’s name. I’m not particularly interested in visiting the museum but might have to take an obligatory photo opp with the huge beer cans out front.
  6. Mobile Internet – In order to power Mr. Google Maps means we need WiFi!  Enough said.

Now if I can just figure out where a good grocery store is in Ebisu! Any recommendations?


Perfectly Pastel Tea Party

pastel fine china tea service

I missed out on a wonderful opportunity when I was a teenager.  My grandmother had what can only be described as a spectacular tea service collection.  Towards her last days she passed it along within the family, and I did receive a few pieces but didn’t appreciate them.  In the end they never followed along with me as I moved on eventually landing here in beautiful NY.  My appreciate for the finer things sadly didn’t hit until my very early 30’s. What I wouldn’t give to have an armoire full of jems like those above now.

floral party cakes and cookies

I imagine I would want to served something like this if I were to start my own tea service collection.  Dainty floral pastries to coordinate with the elegant designs of the cups and saucers.  While I have a ravaging sweet tooth, frosting and marzipan are not my cup of tea.  So perhaps…

macarons cherries chocolate strawberries

Yes, definitely.  Floral macarons, sugar and chocolate coated strawberries, candied cherries.  Oh my.

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Follow the White Rabbit

Alice in Wonderland holds a very special place in my heart.  So it is no surprise that I also have a love for bunny rabbits.  But you need to be careful when going for bunnies as your style point.  You have to pull it off without looking like you belong in an Easter parade.  So I put on my purveyor of kawaii hat and scoured Tumblr and Pinterest for some fun and fluffy fashion options for spring that are a bit more grown up.

rabbits and bunnies in fashion

sugar and spice bunny rabbits

The best part about many of these rabbit inspired fashion pieces is that they have both a hard and a soft side.  Yes, we are talking about bunnies, but they can badass New Yorkers too if they want.

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