For me the moment is writing this blog, or maybe it is just the tranquil music my husband is listening to, Glen Hansard, if you are interested. No, definitely the blog. We have been on our travels again, nearly 3 weeks in Japan. Loads to come about that. We came home, and my feeling of unwell came back again. Never mind the carbon footprint thing, airplanes and I just have to agree to differ. I actually enjoy long haul flights, "free" wine, movies to watch, back to back episodes of The Big Bang Theory, and food handed to me. I am short enough to stretch out and have a doze. But, I seem to come home these days with head and chest viruses and take to my bed for a week. This time followed the pattern. Then I had to get a new phone, when an elderly man in Tokyo, home of technology and communications laughs at your phone, it is time to upgrade. So I did. Reset all the passwords, went back to bed again, and promptly forgot all the passwords. Hence, having changed all my passwords, again, I am breathing a sigh of relief just to be in the blog zone. And relax.
As I said we went to Japan for nearly 3 weeks. Ostensibly to watch the Rugby World Cup, but really to see the country and experience it. It also led to some secret sewing before hand. We travelled with another couple and my friend and I decided to make ourselves a Japanese jacket, Irish style. What we made is technically a Haori, but is commonly referred to as kimono. A kimono is actually a traditional Japanese item of clothing, normally worn on formal occasions. A Haori is a casual hip length jacket, worn loosely. My friend bought Simplicity pattern no 1318 in the easy to sew range and the fun began.
My friend is a proper sewist, she can dress make, I tend to fudge these things and it is all a matter of luck. She taught me why it is important to tailor tack, and match up the dots. All these things I tended to ignore. And yes, it is important. The making of these jackets took several mornings and lunches! Then came the decorative part.
We had gathered up the flags of the "4 proud provinces of Ireland". Ireland rugby is comprised of the 4 provincial teams, Ulster, Munster, Connaught and Leinster. We then cut up the flags, and attached them to the back. My friend bonda webbed and over sewed them with a zig zag stitch. Me being a quilter, I needle turned appliqued them and then quilted them with a running stitch to attach them to the jacket. We also cut out the IRFU (Irish Ruby Football Union) symbols and attached them to the sleeves and the front. My friend ingeniously made us each a patch of the Rugby World Cup symbol for 2019, Mount Fuji with the sun rising over it. This was the icing on the cake. And off we set.
It was a great hoot. We went to 4 matches, and by the second and third match, we were getting used to people saying, we saw you at a previous match. Can we take your photo? Did you buy these? How long did it take it you to make them. Except for one lovely Japanese lady, who said to me, I do like your Haori, your interpretation of our Japanese kimono. You made it yourself? It was easy and quick to make? Yes?
The thing about international rugby matches is, it is always very good natured and people dress up in approximations of their national dress. A sort of spoof of themselves. There was the group of Frenchmen dressed as Napoleons, singing Le Marseillaise. The Scots in their kilts, well, they love any chance to wear their kilts. The Irishmen dressed as men hitching a ride on the back of a leprechaun, clever that one. Some of the Japanese were dressed as samurais. The Irish were out in force, at every match there was a sea of green jerseys. . . This leads to the old joke, I am lost, have you seen my husband? He is wearing a green jersey. Don't laugh, I got lost in the stadium of 60 000 coming back from the bathroom. And all I could see was a sea of green jerseys. I was just wondering was there a "lost child" centre I could hand myself into when I spotted my friend. In her green flag decorated jacket! Was I glad to spot her and her jacket!
Excuse me, have you seen my husband?
He's wearing a green jersey.
Anyhow, I am rambling on as I am wont to do. Japan is a beautiful country, both the physical country and the people. The scenery is breath taking, even though Mount Fuji was shrouded in mist!
Mount Fuji as it should be seen
behind thon mist, is thon volcano known as Mount Fuji
The countryside and mountains are spectacular. The people have a reputation for being reserved and formal. Formal and reserved yes but also friendly and helpful and very polite. Everybody was welcoming and helpful. The real star though was the food. Again, everybody in the restaurants was anxious to please and give us a good experience. The food was amazing, the fish was so fresh. The tofu, not something I previously particularly enjoyed was very tasty. The rice was just perfect. If I lived in Japan I would be oh so healthy. The kobe beef was to die for, I have never tasted beef like it. Life with potatoes and two veg seemed very bland when we came home!
I did of course do some shopping. The design shops were lovely, I wanted to throw out all my furniture and crockery and start again. So what I did was, I bought some fabric. In Tokyo I bought this fq of scenic views, I thought it would make a great traditional Japanese rice bag.
In the morning market in Takayama I bought a bundle of Japanese quilting cotton ends and scraps of kimono fabric. How could I resist this?
In the same shop, I bought 1 metre of quilting cotton, pre cut. I have a hankering to make many Japanese bags, maybe rice bags, or denim bags incorporating the fabrics.
A couple of days later we were in Kyoto (or was it Kobe?) and came across a fabulous hand craft shop. Fabric to die for. There was a great selection of both Japanese fabrics and also Liberty fabrics from England! Some wonderful patterns as well for dress making. I couldn't chose. In the end I allowed my hand to pick a bolt at random, much to the assistant's amusement. I bought 3 meters of this Japanese maple fabric. I think I may make myself a wrap around dressing gown. There are free tutorials online. Seems easy?
The hotels had what they called "room clothes". Basically either a kimono style robe for relaxing in your room. I know I have the
Some hotels had provided a yukata. A yukata was a wrap around jacket and trousers, with traditional wooden slippers. These were wonderful. I was actually going to buy a set from the hotel. I wish now I had. Very comfortable, and these could be worn in the public areas of the hotel too. All remarkably civilised and very sensible.
Lastly I bought two skeins of sashiko embroidery thread. The traditional colour is white, though blue is common too. Textiles in Japan were made to last. If they wore out they were darned, and the darning became a decorative part of the garment in itself. Again a great idea, lost in the West. Last year my daughter in law asked for a book on Japanese mending. I was surprised, but bought it for her. I knew vaguely what it was, but you know, just buy a new pair of jeans. A year on, and I have bought into the sustainability of the darn. Be proud to wear your darns, and show them off. If the daughter in law is happy to wind these skeins for me, I will share them with her!
And today back in reality, I have a fq pack picked up today from my local fabric shop. I spotted this on their FB page and messaged them to keep one for me. When I went to collect it today, its all a bit insipid and sweet but its mine now. I will probably make gift bags from these.
I also bought some Christmas fabric to make my newest grandchild a Christmas stocking. I let slip that the fabric for my other grandchild was bought online a few years ago. Cue the lecture from the owner's wife on using local shops and protecting jobs. Excuse me, I do use my local shop. The other staff all know me! Of course, I was polite and just smiled and nodded. Preaching to the converted love, though I always have room for improvement ..... if they sold quilting thread there I would buy it too!
With that, I will finish off now. Time to go. Saranayo as we say in Japan.