Sayonara…well almost!


You know that Miss Kitty is very big in Japan. We passed this on our way to the bus that would take us shopping! First stop was the .99 store, yes they have them in Japan too! a fabric shop, Nishiki Market and then onto Takashimaya department store.

Known to locals as “Kyoto’s pantry”, Nishiki Market is easily the best traditional food market in the city!

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“Running between Teramachi and Shinmachi, one block north of Shijo, Nishiki Market is Kyoto’s largest traditional food market. While modern food shops and souvenir shops are starting to move in, there are still enough traditional shops to give you a glimpse of what a traditional shotengai (shopping street) must have looked like.

You’ll find all the major ingredients of traditional Kyoto cuisine on display here: tsukemono (Japanese pickles), fresh tofu, Kyo-yasai (Kyoto vegetables), wagashi (Japanese sweets), tea, and fresh fish and shellfish. Some shops sell takeaway food like skewers of yakitori or sashimi, and a few sit down restaurants can be found amid the shops. Those with sharp eyes or the ability to read Japanese might pick out whale meat for sale at a few of the stalls.”

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This is just a sampling of the pictures that I took! I have since read that there are tours of the market, which someday when I go back I would like to do. Many stalls offered samples, but not knowing what things were, I was not brave enough to taste!

We had a few hours here and then we went to a shibori shop just outside the market area.


Pat seems like she’s in a lot of my pictures? Well she’s a great friend and usually hung out together, so she was often times right in front of me. I tended to walk a little slower as I was always looking for that perfect Kodak moment! Pat was a great mentor to me on this trip, since she had been to Japan before.



It was absolutely beautiful! We all shopped for remembrances for ourselves and for gifts.


Debby, Midori and Mary Alice! Debby was a great travel buddy and of course Mary Alice and Midori put this fabulous tour together!

We walked onto Takashimya and had the rest of the day to ourselves. Trust me, this was no ordinary department store!



Look at the gorgeous kimono and obi!


That afternoon after a busy day of shopping, Pat, Janet and I decided it was an American type lunch so we stopped at Burger King on the way back to the hotel.


A stop for me at Starbucks. I was told that the merchants in Kyoto encourage the wearing of kimono as these kimono clad ladies would recieve discounts on their purchases.

Many of us would start packing when we got back to the hotel as we had 2 weeks worth of treasures and memories to pack in those suitcases! Midori had a special evening planned for us with 1 more special shopping stop.

and for now I will say…sayonara


Gold to Silver!

Our bus was ready to take us to our next destination which was the Kawashima Textile Factory. “It is one of the most respected textile companies in Japan. For decades Kawashima has been entrusted with creating some of the country’s most precious fabrics, including the interior of the Emperor’s train carriage. As a student of the school I was lucky to be given a peek behind the doors of the factory, including the secret room where they make drapes for some of country’s most important shrines.”

Funny thing is that it was requested of us to take absolutely NO pictures, but if you follow the hotlink at the top, you will see the machinery and everything else that we did! It was rather fascinating and the size of the tapestries that they were working on were rather large, overwhelmingly so. We were able to shop for some beautiful textiles before we left!

So today we started at the Golden Pavillion and the next stop was Ginkaku-ji “(銀閣寺, “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”officially named Jishō-ji (慈照寺, lit. “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is a Zen temple in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto. It is one of the constructions that represents the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period.”


Ashikaga Yoshimasa initiated plans for creating a retirement villa and gardens as early as 1460, and after his death, Yoshimasa would arrange for this property to become a Zen temple.The temple is today associated with the Shokoku-ji branch of Rinzai Zen.

The two-storied Kannon-den (観音殿, Kannon hall), is the main temple structure. Its construction began February 21, 1482 (Bummei 14 , 4th day of the 2nd month).The structure’s design sought to emulate the golden Kinkaku-ji which had been commissioned by his grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It is popularly known as Ginkaku, the “Silver Pavilion” because of the initial plans to cover its exterior in silver foil; but this familiar nickname dates back only as far as the Edo period (1600–1868).

During the Ōnin War, construction was halted. Despite Yoshimasa’s intention to cover the structure with a distinctive silver-foil overlay, this work was delayed for so long that the plans were never realized before Yoshimasa’s death. The present appearance of the structure is understood to be the same as when Yoshimasa himself last saw it. This “unfinished” appearance illustrates one of the aspects of “wabi-sabi” quality.

Like Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji was originally built to serve as a place of rest and solitude for the Shogun. During his reign as Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa inspired a new outpouring of traditional culture, which came to be known as Higashiyama Bunka (the Culture of the Eastern Mountain). Having retired to the villa, it is said Yoshimasa sat in the pavilion, contemplating the calm and beauty of the gardens as the Ōnin War worsened and Kyoto was burned to the ground.

In 1485, Yoshimasa became a Zen Buddhist monk. After his death on January 27, 1490 (Entoku 2, 7th day of the 1st month), the villa and gardens became a Buddhist temple complex, renamed Jishō-ji after Yoshimasa’s Buddhist name.

After extensive restoration, started February 2008, Ginkaku-ji is again in full glory to visit. The garden and temple complex are open to the public. There is still no silver foil used. After much discussion, it was decided to not refinish the lacquer to the original state. The lacquer finish was the source of the original silver appearance of the temple, with the reflection of silver water of the pond on the lacquer finish.”


This was the map of the Silver Pavillion. We really didn’t follow it, but rather explored on our own. It was quiet and serene and so beautifully presented as is everything in Japan.

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My travel buddies Janet, Pat and Lizzie (from left to right.) We had a very, very busy day so we were all happy to head back to our hotel and have the evening to ourselves!

Only one more day left in Japan. I might be able to finish it all in one post, just depending on how many pictures I use!  So for now I will say…sayonara


From Gold to Silver!


We left our hotel in Kyoto and today our public transportation was our very own charted bus! What a great treat this was. The young men met us at the door and held umbrellas out for us as it was raining! I was sure glad that I had bought that little umbrella at the Ohara Museum the other day. Today would be a very busy day for us.


Meticulously grooming the walkways so that not a stone was out of place.


We walked our way through quite a long line to enter the Golden Pavillion.


“Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺, literally “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, literally “Deer Garden Temple”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually. It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites.”

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“The Golden Pavilion (金閣 Kinkaku) is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden (舎利殿), housing relics of the Buddha’s Ashes. The building was an important model for Ginkaku-ji or Silver Pavilion Temple (where we would go later.) When these buildings were constructed, Ashikaga Yoshimasa employed the styles used at Kinkaku-ji and even borrowed the names of its second and third floors.”



It was really very beautiful!

Next we would head to Kitano Shrine Flea Market, which is held on the 25th of every month.


We were the “Midori Embroidery Tour” with Mary Alice and Midori posing for us in front of the bus.

I was fascinated with the beautiful shrine and the surroundings… Fleamarket Fleamarket1 Fleamarket2 Fleamarket3 Fleamarket5 Fleamarket6

First I investigate and then I shopped! Just never enough time to see it all! There were some great little stalls where they were selling food, kimono and obi fabrics and pottery. I bought a few pieces of hand made pottery that were no more than a few hundred yen, which was a great way to use up my change. 100 yen and 500 yen would be a coin, which was pretty much the same as $1 or $5.


and there was entertianment too!

and all too soon, it was time to go! Next stop would be a textile factory.

I am really sorry if I am boring some of you out there, but I do thank everyone who have complimented me on the posts, the pictures! Remember that flattery can get you everywhere. We just have 2 more days and then that’s it! so for now I will say…sayonara


I Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled…

I am sure that you are thinking alright already lets finish the trip to Japan! Well we have just a few days left and I need to transfer the pictures to my laptop, so why don’t we talk about some needlepoint? It’s been a while.


Now you remember a few days back when we ferried over to Miyajima to get up close with the Torii Gate?

Tori Canvas

Well I called Peter Ashe and asked him if he would paint for me (well I knew it was in his line!) his Torii Gate. And yes Mary Alice your canvas is on the way shortly! What a wonderful remembrance for me of my first but NOT my last trip to Japan. I have submitted it to Tony Minieri for one of his fabulous threads and stitch guides for when he teaches at our shop in November.


And then you need something for your Christmas Tree, right? Well Kathy Schenkel added this to her line when I asked if you had anything Tokyo/Japan. When Pat, my BFF traveling buddy was in the shop a few weeks ago, we picked out beads for the Tokyo Tower and a nice silk for the sky…the rest we can work out of our stash!


Now AlleyCat, when were you in Japan? a great black cat posing in front of Mt. Fuji! Now this is a retired canvas as this designer is no longer around and some dear person contacted me and asked me if I wanted to buy this canvas from her? Of course! So now I need to get busy stitching…but I am trying to finish up a few shop models first and by then it will be ANG seminar and the Dallas market. So it might be awhile!

and for now I will say…sayonara


Another Day in the Land of the Rising Sun


In 1930, to commemorate Kojima Torajiro, a Western-style painter who died the previous year, Kurashiki entrepreneur, Ohara Magosaburo, founded the Ohara Museum of Art. This private museum, featuring Western art, is the oldest in Japan.

Magosaburo, well-known as a collector of Japanese art, highly respected Torajiro’s talent and his humble attitude towords art, and sent Torajiro to Europe three times. Torajiro studied art in Europe and, at the same time, with Magosaburo’s superb European artwork, choosing pieces through the sense of beauty that he possessed as a Japanese artist.

Torajiro, who had a spirit typical of Meiji Era, felt there was a struggle between the highlights of Western art and his Japanese aesthetic sense, when he carefully chose artwork. He prudently chose masterpieces by El Greco, Gauguin, Monet, Matisse and other artists and brought them to Kurashiki, which are now the main features of the Ohara Museum of Art. His collection of Chinese and Egyptian art reveals the conflict of beauty between Western and Oriental art that he faced, where he tried to seek the essence of art.

“The Ohara Museum of Art plays an active role in Kurashiki, expanding the collection to include both modern and contemporary art from the West and Japan, as well as pieces by artists who served Mingei Movement (Japanese Folk Art Movement). Now the museum is well known to the world as a private museum with its own character, reflecting Japanese culture.

The Ohara Museum of Art, in addintion to opening the eyes of children and adults on site, soends time and energy on distance learning programs through the infomation communication technology(IT).As an art museum that will actively live through the 21st century, it also serves for broad activities cultivating the frontier of art. Art Lectures are held every summer, and Gallery Concerts, inviting world-class musecians, are part of its activities.”

This is where our Day 10 will start. Our last day in Okiyama with travel time back to Kyoto, but let me share a few pictures of getting there!


In the train stations there is always at least one fabulous market. Well…it makes sense as you commute on the train to and from work and how convenient to stop and pick up a few things?


This was early in the morning as they were stocking the shelves to get ready for the days business!


Presentation is everything!


The hustle and bustle of the train station!


All school children wear uniforms and many times that includes their backpacks and sneakers too!


Have you been noticing these yellow bricks? They are called tenji blocks and are for the sight impaired. They are in the train stations and also along city sidewalks.


You stay on the left side always to allow people to pass you on the right! If you happened to forget, someone would remind you!


I guess you can tell what time it is! Another day that it was raining and where is my umbrella? In my suitcase that was being shipped ahead!

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Of course there were painted manhole covers. well why wouldn’t there be? We were in Japan!

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The grounds were so beautiful! as was the museum, but no pictures. A great little shop where I bought an umbrella for 700 yen! which with the exchange rate came out to be $7.00

We would then take the train back to Kyoto and then onto the Kamogawa dance show.


This was outside the theater. I understand that the sake is no longer in this type of barrel!


We attended a formal tea ceremony before entering the theater.


Absolutely no more pictures allowed! I didnot understand any of the Japanese, but I was able to follow it and figured out that it was a love story and a heartbroken lover that eventually committed suicide or seppuku.


But I was lucky enough to catch this beauty on our way out.

We had a free night tonight and there were 4 of us that went back to the Kyoto cultural center and did some serious shopping…well I did anyway!

Only a few days left, and for now, I will say …sayonara


Hiroshima Peace Park

“Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (広島平和記念公園 Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Kōen) is a memorial park in the center of Hiroshima, Japan. It is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims (of whom there may have been as many as 140,000). The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was planned and designed by the Japanese Architect Kenzō Tange at Tange Lab.


The location of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was once the city’s busiest downtown commercial and residential district. The park was built on an open field that was created by the explosion. Today there are a number of memorials and monuments, museums, and lecture halls, which draw over a million visitors annually. The annual 6 August Peace Memorial Ceremony, which is sponsored by the city of Hiroshima, is also held in the park. The purpose of the Peace Memorial Park is to not only memorialize the victims, but also to establish the memory of nuclear horrors and advocate world peace.”


It was really very moving afternoon, especially when you read all the stories, saw the clothes, the shoes and so much more…

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These are the paper cranes folded by President Obama.

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1000’s and 1000’s of folded cranes displayed within these glass cases.

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This was where the bomb was dropped.


Very moving…

and soon enough it was time to travel again as tonight as we were on the move again.


a street car this time! and the advertising on the side is by Tulip, makers of those fabulous needles that I love!


I could tell that there was a baseball game going on tonight in Hiroshima! I could’ve gone, but I would’ve been totally on my own to get back to the hotel. Oh well another time.


As everyone was wearing Hiroshima Carp jerseys! a great way to lessen the somberness of the afternoon.

Tomorrow would be the day at the Ohara museum, tea ceremony and Kamogawa Maiko Dance. We only have a few days left!

and for now I will say…sayonara


My Day on Miyajima!

So last I left you, everyone was busy doing their own thing. I started out with a few of my best travelling buds… but when I saw this, I knew exactly where I was going!


Itsukushima Owl and Bengal Kitty Cat Forest, or a cat cafe! You know they really did start in Japan. By now we figured out that this was a chain as this was the 2nd or 3rd one we had seen. I just couln’t resist anymore…

Afterall it was about 10 days since I had last seen AlleyCat, heard her meow and that rumbling motor, scratched her belly and under her chin… So I really needed a kitty fix!


I started with the owls. They followed your every move! Then it was on to see the cats.

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They were very playful, especially if you sat down with them and let them come to you.

These Bengals are quite beautiful! Not skittish or in any way or “scaredy cats” but not super loveable. I would say that there were about 10 cats and I had a ball taking pictures.

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I took a lot more pictures than this, but I won’t bore you with that many cat pictures! I spent an entire hour or more with the kittys, so upon leaving the cats I quickly walked to the Tori/torii (now I’ve seen it spelled both ways, so I’m not sure!) turned around and walked right back through the village. About all the time I had left was shopping for a tshirt, but I am a collector of them, so had to have one! and my ice cream sandwhich. Pat had introduced me to these great waffle type ones dipped in chocolate, so had to have one!

We are now going back on the ferry and will make our way to Hiroshima Peace Park.

and for now I will say…sayonara


On the Way to Itsukushima Shrine!

Was is it train? bus? subway this morning? It could’ve been all of the above as I really don’t remember! All I know is that we are on our way to see the torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima) in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.


It is considered the floating shrine on the sea. The plan was originally to go in the afternoon, but the tide might have been too high to get up close and in person, so instead we went in the morning.


A ferry ride would get us over to the island and this was me taking it all in.

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Miyajima was beautiful and I could’ve spent the entire day there! But we were given only 2 hours to sightsee, shop and lunch. Most of us gave up our lunch so we could shop and sightsee more and settling for some ice cream for our lunch!

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So picturesque and looked just what you imagined Japan to be!

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Mary Alice and Midori. I love the way that the rickshaw driver had her hold her hand. Too clever!


Some of us took a rickshaw ride… which I was going to do later in the week, but it never happened! Next time I go I will for sure.


There were a lot of wild deer on Miyajima and I think that this one was looking for lunch!


Some of us made friends with the deer!


and me, what did I do? well that’s a story for another day!

and for now I will say…sayonara


and Even more Beads…


Now that I have us back on track, I think its time that I finish our day at Toho Bead Factory!

There were some points in our tour where we weren’t allowed to take pictures as I am sure that Toho didn’t want to share their proprietary machines with their competitors. So they’re are some steps in the bead making that you won’t see.


This young man seemed very proud of his work and was happy to show off the quality of the beads that he was inspecting!


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Different steps along the way of the bead making. So very fascinating!

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Did you ever think that there was this much work going into making a bead? Well I didn’t! And how do they keep the colors, the silver lined and a million and one other variations apart? Can you see that the beads in each hand are of a different finish?


We were learning a bit about cloisonné making!


We had fun shopping! I bought several package of tri-cuts as Mary Alice said that the Toho tri-cuts are not available in the US. Not sure what I will use them for?! But they are part of the stash now!


and we all shopped!


Mary Alice and I had fun using the Pic-Collage to sum up the day. This was her collage as there is a picture in there that wasn’t part of my collection.


Waiting for the bus! Notice the sun catcher and those were the handiwork of Toho!

Tomorrow is our day to ferry over to Miyajima to see the Tori Gate and then the Hiroshima Peace Park.

so for now I will say…sayonara


Beads, Beads, Beads!


oops I really goofed! I have been working these posts in drafts as they’re so many pictures and it takes me a while to complete them. Between working at the shop, editing stitch guides for Needlepoint Now, my AlleyCat and of course a little stitching…I went out of order. This should’ve been the one when we got off the train. So there will still be 1 more day of beads coming, so that I can finish the story.

Last I left you, we were headed to Toho Bead Factory located in Hiroshima, Japan. Are you familiar with Toho beads? It is a brand name such as Sundance, Miyuki and there is one more major one (no not Mill Hill), but their name escapes me! Toho means “Eastern Treasure” and they strive to be the best. Just as Delicas are the cylinder type beads to Miyuki, Aiko (named after their daughter) are just the same to Toho. They are really a high quality bead with a larger hole, making it easier for the needle to pass through. Unfortunately many may not be familiar with their beads, unless you are a serious beader as most needlepoint shops don’t carry their beads!

From the Toho website: “Across vast lands and oceans, from ancient times, man has adored and loved these little glass balls as a treasure.The history of glass bead making in Japan is very short. It started in the Hiroshima Fukuyama area in the beginning of the Showa era (1930s)as a “Mom-and-Pop” business.Our company was started on Nov.3rd,1951. Since then, we’ve strived to improve our techniques, designed and created new equipment and facilities. Fortunately we can say today that when it comes to quality, we are the number one glass beads maker in the world and have gained respect of not only the people in this country but around the world. This is all thanks to the cooperation and understanding of our clients around the world. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude.


The above is our motto for prosperity and is kept in our minds at all times.
Once again we would like to thank you for your cooperation and would like to ask you for your continued support.”


This was the tshirt that everyone wore. I tried to purchase one, but no luck! I would love to do this on a canvas.




The clock base was created with all beads and crystals! And those are some very long bugle beads.

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This heart display was created in many different colorways! and yes it is all beads.



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and next time we will enter the factory and have a fabulous tour!

so for now I will say…sayonara

BTW…I am not still in Japan! I am home with AlleyCat as she would disown me if I had left her this long.