After a little break over the weekend, here’s the second part of our Karuizawa getaway. I think we’ve decided to become nocturnal for the next week or so – the midday temperatures are so high that we just work best hiding out at home near the air conditioner. Looking at these photos is quite torturous, I’m longingly remembering the cool water…

We were really tempted by a bit of hiking, but there were a lot of rather large signs warning about bears…!

The waterfall is about a two minute walk from a huge car park with lots of food stalls and screaming children. I think off-season would have been a more relaxing time to visit!

Don’t the darker stones look like a shadow of a person? I only realised when looking back at these images.

I love the layers of this plant, it reminds me of the crocodile stitch crochet that I’m itching to try out soon.

I also took a fancy to some moss! Moss is pretty awesome.

Last week we took a holiday away from Tokyo for the first time in over two years – there’s something about this city that makes it very hard to get away, perhaps it’s because there’s always something going on, as well as all of our usual projects. Sometimes I feel like Tokyo is a huge black hole, full of amazing and wonderful and new things, but also with an incredible pull that makes taking time out feel almost impossible.

I’ve been feeling a bit stressed out this summer (39 degrees plus high humidity really doesn’t suit my English body!), so I was really looking forward to some peace and quiet and cooler weather.

The charming little cottage we stayed in (big thanks to T!). Lots of lazy mornings drinking tea in the conservatory.

No, not Tudor England! This was an Italian restaurant. I’d like to live here, it’s just the right side of tumbledown.

We also took a day trip to Onioshidashi park, which I think is actually in Gunma.

It’s an incredible landscape of volcanic rocks, with some stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Summer time!

We just about managed to wedge in our own one yen coin.

Probably the best way to serve ramune.

I’ll be posting photos from the second part of our trip shortly, stay tuned for lots of greenery…

Yesterday we hot-footed it along to the Art Aquarium exhibition – I’ve been waiting for it to open for about a month, so I was really excited! I was a little worried that it would be crammed with people, but actually it wasn’t as crowded as I feared it would be so we had a very relaxing time surrounded by beautiful goldfish.

I loved how the goldfish were described as dancers: it’s a rather poetic statement, but not difficult to understand when seeing the fish twist and turn in front of coloured lights and in beautiful displays.

The most spectacular tank!

There was also a display of ukiyo-e pictures showing Japan’s long history with goldfish, followed by this amazing kimono light display

The fish ‘dancing’ in front of the four seasons

I saw on the website that the Art Aquarium that there are also special performances in the evening – well worth a visit if you’re in east Tokyo.

Earlier this week we hot-footed it out of Tokyo (well, about an hour outside) to Mt Takao. This is the second time we’ve been this year, and it’s become one of our favourite places when we feel the need to see some greenery. I love living in Tokyo, a couple of minutes from the station and less than thirty seconds from a large selection of convenience stores and boutiques, but sometimes (especially in the summer) I really feel the need for peace and quiet and a bit of countryside.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a nature-phobe – show me something buzzy with wings and I’ll run a mile – but lately I’ve been seeking out the company of trees. It’s impossible not to get a bit caught up in it all when you’re on the mountain, and it’s easy to see why it’s a special place for Shinto too.

We love taking the chair lift up, and our preferred route down takes us through a stream, past a waterfall and some wonderfully spooky caves too.

If you like lots of photos of trees, keep scrolling…

Near Biwa waterfall.

View from the top – Mt Fuji was hiding in the clouds.

I’ve been pining for a bit of nature lately. I’ve been creating a mini garden on Samuel’s desk, but tiny 100yen shop plants are not quite the same as being surrounded by trees.

It’s a bit lazy to roll out the old concrete junge cliches when it comes to Tokyo, as we’re less than an hour from the beautiful mountains and there’s a ton of gorgeous pockets of greenery inside the city too. Earlier this week, between the thunderstorms, we hopped along to Ueno park and pretended we were in a forrest rather than a metropolis.

Can you see the city?

I love texture inside this tree


Okay, this is cheating slightly because it was outside the park, but I love passion flowers

The slightly creepy closed-up kid’s rides

New friend!

Looking at this last photo makes me feel calm – I’ll have to remember it next time I’m on a rush hour train that’s running late.

I’ve got a few more gardens on my list that I’d like to visit before the summer sun crushes all the plants, and at some point I’d like to complete all the routes down from Mt Takao… Nature? Exercise? I don’t know what’s happening to me!

About an hour outside of Tokyo is one of our favourite places: Enoshima island. It’s like a tiny tropical island, with shrines and hawks and cats (so many cats!), and caves and shaved ice and it’s wonderful. I lived by sea all my life in England, and I’ve really been missing it lately – the smell and the atmosphere – so our trip to the island came as a very welcome relief from the heat and pressure of Tokyo.

Enoshima, I love ya.

Tripping over special places.

Oh, hello there! (He was actually quite a way from the sea)

Nature, at last!

Shaved ice, with strawberry syrup.

The aftermath.

Of course we added our own padlock…

The famous bell – there’s a legend about a beautiful goddess and a dragon.


Walking back at the end of the day.

Such a gorgeous day! I’m determined to revisit Enoshima in every season, so I’ll have to wait for autumn next…

The hills are alive… with me heavy-breathing over Olympia Le-Tan’s autumn winter collection. You know when you see a fashion show and your breath catches in your throat because a) it’s perfect and you’d take one of every item, and b) it’s so far out your budget it’s like a tiny unimaginable dot on the horizon, yeah? That’s how I feel looking at these images.

While I’m not a Sound of Music devotee, I am fully in favour of velvet, Germanic embroidery, flared skirts and white tights. It’s a great balance between archaic and feminine – a cleaner dolly-kei-meets-otome (if we’re talking in J-fashion terms), with simpler lines and fewer accessories.

This summer I shall be desperately seeking the perfect skirt to twirl around Tokyo in, and dreaming of colder nights… only five more months until the temperature starts to drop.

Love the heart bag – I’ll have to attempt a similar cross stich version.

All red everything!

How darling is this suit?

Twirl envy.

Ms Le-Tan herself, proving that one needn’t be an Austrian teenager to look really awesome. Nice one!

I’ve been reading through the Annotated Pratchett File recently (this is what a Discworld marathon reading session will do…), and happened across a reference to the Tom Swift novels and in turn, Tom Swifties: a phrase where the quote is related to the manner in which it’s spoken. I’m a huge lover of puns and stupid wordplay, so of course I’m hooked!

(Also, this book cover is lovely!)

A small selection of my favourites:

  • “Look, I’m walking on water!”, said Tom bouyantly.
  • “I plan to climb that church steeple”, said Tom aspiringly.
  • “They had to amputate them both at the ankles”, said Tom defeatedly.

I’m alternately groaning and giggling! You can find plenty more Tom Swifties here and here.

In January, we moved (finally!) into the third branch of Telephone Towers and it’s honestly taken us an unreasonably long amount of time to get organised. I’d say we’re about half-way there right now, and I still have  a giant pile of accessories and craft materials to sort through… What can I say? I love having a spare “shove it in there and think about it later” room for the first time in years!

We’ve been enjoying spreading our wings in our new apartment, and of course collecting even more awesome bits and bobs to fill our new home with. We’re pretty spoiled in Koenji: it’s almost too easy to pick up great antiques at very reasonable prices!

Never mind the raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, here’s a few of our favourite things:

Samuel’s lovely taireifuku that will be making a special appearance later this year.

Combining two of the more nerdy things I love: Discworld and cross stitch (I never claimed to be cool, and I don’t care!)

A fraction of Samuel’s sagemono collection – deserving of a dedicated post in the future, I think.

We really like finding charming old boxes…

… And little things too. (Kanzashi, hair combs, a brass lipstick case and some rather ancient medicine.)

Most of the things I need in the morning to become me. (Not pictured: lots of make-up and vast amounts of tea.)

The secret garden in my dressing table cabinet.

And finally: I’ve been playing around with crunching up polaroids, and I’m a bit in love with the strange pink house we found near Shinjuku. Not sure what I’m going to do with them, but it’s been lots of fun!