A monster ate this blog entry
so I'll rewrite it and hope that it doesn't happen again. Patience needed...
This morning, we headed for Nippori Textile Town. Lots of details about this area of Tokyo can be found on the internet and it's possible to download a map in English listing all the stores. One small but vital piece of information was missing from that map but fortunately was offered on one of the last blogs I read - the place is closed on Sundays. We could so easily have had a wasted journey.
It was raining heavily but the area was clearly signed - we could spot the signs easily from under umbrellas.
We headed straight for Tomato, the most frequently mentioned fabric store - actually a bunch of five or six stores. The one I was interested in is the Honkan store - full of quilting fabrics and other craft things.
The bargain of the day was to be found right inside the front door, in a bin of fabric pieces each priced at Y100 (66p) Eight fabrics from the current Moda/Basic Grey "Figgy Pudding" range, the same as I had bought just before coming away to make a Christmassy quilt and paid full price for. Each piece was at least half a yard, two or three were considerably more like three quarters - and my total bill was Y800 (£5.30) What a steal!
(I was lucky - by the time we left the shop, a couple of women were scooping up the last of those pieces, so they didn't last long in that bargain bin)
This (forbidden) photo was taken before I spotted the sign - can't imagine what I was looking at! So many fabrics, arranged by colour in both fat quarters and on the bolt. Further down this room were Japanese Chirimen crepe fabric, lots of ideas in the form of finished items, notions and tools and bag handles, fastenings and fittings by the hundred. So much choice, such good prices. Oh my goodness.
By this time we were pretty wet through in spite of raincoats and umbrellas, so we hopped on a train and headed for Ginza, the Tokyo equivalent of Regent Street. All the labels are here, beside posh department stores on a wide Western-style avenue - but that wasn't why we came. Next door to Bulgari in the photo above is Itoya, nine floors of paper and pen heaven. I found a few treasures, including a couple of rubber stamps which black out personal details on discarded paperwork. Nifty.
Which brings me to today's observation on the Japanese way of doing things. Wrapping.
Years ago, when we were here, we were shocked at the astonishing layers of wrappings applied to the smallest purchase - and that was before we were aware of global warming and carried our own calico bags! Yes, the wrappings are exquisite and everything bought is handled with such care and attention, but somehow it's all a little excessive. Still.
I carry a calico bag here (a WI "Let's Cook" one, naturally) but of course, it was already full of fabric and soaked through, so I gratefully accepted the paper carrier bag for my (small) purchases in Itoya. But that wasn't enough.
Inside was a plastic bag containing the pens and another with the rubber stamps in. Each was sealed with sellotape, placed inside the paper carrier bag which was then, in turn, sealed with more tape and handed to me by the assistant with great ceremony, using two hands.
But our next stop, at Loft in Ikebukoku, they went one step further. Not only was each collection of items placed inside plastic bags (OK, some were a little heavily perfumed: bath salts) and then placed in a paper carrier bag, but the whole carrier bag was covered in a purpose-made plastic overcoat, sealed at the bottom and taped at the top - protection from the rain.
My non-existent Japanese leaves me totally helpless in these circumstances. When I've produced the half empty bag I'm carrying with a nod to put a second purchase in the first bag, they gather up the first bag and find an even bigger bag to put the whole lot in. I've stopped doing that now and simply go with the flow, accepting that this is just a different way of doing things.
But there we are, refusing plastic bags as much as we can - and here the plastic is still being used with abandon.
Time for today's KitKat, a special Halloween bag (note the witch and the pumpkin) of Caramel Creme Pudding flavour small bars.
Better make sure the monster doesn't eat those too.