Monday, October 9, 2017

OCTOBER BLOG FEATURE: Corin Kanazawa Stylist


Hello everyone! I’m Corin of Corin Kanazawa Stylist, based in Tokyo. I’ve lived in Japan on and off for 17 years – 10 years in the beautiful countryside of Akita City in North Eastern Japan, and 7 years in Tokyo, where I currently live with my husband and 3 cheeky monkeys (two girls 9 and 7 and a little 3 year old boy). 



A year ago I embarked on my dream of starting my own business offering personal styling, closet detoxing (de-cluttering and coordinating) as well as personal shopping experiences. I love being a mum but also love having a creative outlet and working with wonderful women to achieve their best looks and boost confidence. 


My passion for fashion began at an early age. As a young child, I adored playing dress-up with grandmother’s sumptuous silk scarf collection, plodding around her bedroom in her glamorous high-heeled shoes and wrapping myself in her beautiful woolen coats. 




I’ve always loved clothes and shopping and helping friends and family to style their best looks. I worked in fashion for a number of years in my home town of Melbourne, Australia, working with local and international brands including Louis Vuitton where I discovered the significant impact that the right fabric, fit and style has on enhancing body shape and personal style. 


 

The amazing range of colour, fabric and design in this incredibly fashion-forward city re-fueled my love of fashion and styling. In October 2016 I decided to offer personal styling and personal shopping for the English-speaking Tokyo community. 




Before shopping for new items, its important to be familiar with existing items in your closet and be confident coordinating any new pieces into the mix. This is why a closet detox, styling & personal shopping session can actually help save money in the long run, preventing regrettable purchases. 


 After a closet detox



I visit client’s homes and together, we carefully scan closets deciding which pieces to keep, letting go of items that no longer suit needs, body shape and/or lifestyle. We follow up with an exciting day of personal shopping where we try on pieces that I have pre-selected and items we find on the day, choosing the best items to coordinate with your newly detoxed closet! 


I offer two styling packages: 
The Full Seasonal Styling Package, which includes an initial consultation, followed by a home closet detox and styling session, and finally a day of personal shopping. 

Some clients prefer booking a Closet Detox & Styling package initially, which includes an initial consultation followed by a home closet detox and styling session - where I show clients how to coordinate their items based on their lifestyle and body shape. Most clients generally follow up with a personal shopping experience to fill in the gaps (which are usually significant after a thorough detox!) 

This month I’m very excited to be celebrating one year of styling in Tokyo and for the first time, in Kansai! 




I love helping boost confidence through refreshing my clients’ wardrobes and looks. Having an accessible closet filled with pieces that are easy to coordinate without fuss or confusion, truly saves time and money in our very busy and sometimes stressful lives. 

If you open your closet to get dressed or head out shopping and feel at all anxious, stressed or confused about what to wear or buy, consider contacting me to chat about how I can help you achieve your best look through a fun yet efficient closet detox & personal shopping experience. 



You can contact me here:
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/corinstylist/ 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/corinstylist/
Email: corin@corinstylist.com 


I can’t wait to hear from you to help you embark on your style journey!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SEPTEMBER BLOG FEATURE: Vicky Kobayashi from Ice Flower Crochet

I’m originally from Derby in England, and came to Japan twenty six years ago on a one year contract!  (How did that happen? ) I live in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, with my Japanese husband and the younger of our two sons, who is a high schooler. The elder is at university in Tokyo. 


I came to Japan originally to teach English, and twenty six years later that has morphed into my own small English school where I teach all ages, from toddlers to retirees. I love it, and I love the connections it gives me to our community.


I learned to knit and crochet from a friend while at university, and have never stopped making things since! So many people said “You could sell that,” that two years ago I took my courage in two hands and started Ice Flower Crochet, my small bespoke crochet business. My true love is making blankets, but I also make hats, scarves, garlands, wreaths, seasonal decorations, washcloths - almost anything that anyone asks me to make or that I’m inspired to make. I love to play with colours. The more colours the better, in my opinion! I love that I can make the same blanket with the same stitch but change the colours and get an entirely different result each time. I take pride in the quality of my work and my attention to detail. I also use high quality easy care yarns for most of my work, so that it can be used, worn and loved for years.


It is my pleasure to listen to what clients would like, to consult with them over colours and materials and to produce something that they will love and use. Some people have a very clear image of what they want, for others anything goes, and for still others, “They’ll know it when they see it.” Any of these approaches is fine by me! I love to get to know my customers and see glimpses of their home that they share with me for colour and style inspiration. I like to think that we become friends during the process.


My other love that rivals crochet for me is my garden. We moved into our house fifteen years ago and it has a big garden compared to most houses in Japan. It was already established, with trees and rocks placed by the previous owners, but we have changed a lot, and each year add more plants and move things about a bit. My aim is to have colour throughout the very short growing season, (we have snow for five or six months of the year here) and to have a space full of textures, colours and height. The summer here is short and intense and I want to wring every drop of colour out of it before being plunged back into white and grey. I take inspiration for my crochet from the colours and textures of the flowers we grow there. I’ve learned that in nature, colours never clash, and so I try to find new and interesting ways to combine colours that are pleasing to the eye and exciting to work with. 


Eclipse blanket

Ice Flower Crochet is very much my love but it’s not my main work, and I have to be careful to balance crochet with my regular career, which is pretty busy to be honest. I don’t think I can do *more* crochet, so I think I’d like to do *more inspired* crochet, but I’m not sure exactly what that will be until the inspiration grabs me. When I do get inspired, food and housework go out of the window for a few days, but the family have learned to see the signs, sigh, and get out the kitchen knives for themselves! 


My husband laughs at the places he sees me wielding my hook:  In the car, of course; in any sort of waiting room, here and there throughout the day as I have little gaps of time, and this past summer at a jazz concert and in a beer garden!  I always have three or more projects or commissions on the go at any one time; a little one that fits into a cotton bag that slips into my handbag, a giant blanket project on the sofa next to me, and on my desk is usually a difficult fiddly thing that needs bright light and a flat surface.

If you are interested in commissioning a piece, please contact me via Facebook or Instagram and I’ll be thrilled to discuss what you’d like with you. And if you’d enjoy lots of colourful photos of current pieces in progress, and occasional shots of my garden too, then please “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram for regular updates.

Contact and follow me here: 

Facebook

Instagram 

I currently only sell within Japan, and everything I have available for immediate sale is in the “Available Now” photo album on my Facebook page. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

AUGUST BLOG FEATURE: Edwina Rivers from Designer Rascal



Hi there and hello from my dining table, aka my office! 

My name is Edwina and I am the crazy, manic and exhausted face behind my business, Designer Rascal and my Instagram page Life of a Pilot Wife. 

As you might have guessed, I'm married to a pilot who is here to gain his command on a private jet. Sounds like a great gig but having him on call 24/7 and away weeks at a time, means this crazy lady is left with the joyful and thoroughly rewarding job of full time solo parenting to Ollie and Annabel. So, as a result of permanent brain frazzle, Designer Rascal was born. 

Designer Rascal is what I like to call my sanity project. It was launched earlier this year so still very early and exciting days for my business. I am currently in the process of setting up my personal blog and doing my best to truly establish my business presence here in Tokyo and throughout Japan. 

 


So back to the topic on hand. I sew kids clothes (mainly girls) for ages ranging from newborn through to 10 year olds. I got to the point where I was making a dress a day just for me so I thought it was time to start focusing my efforts on a project that will hopefully bring joy to others and myself along the way. Residing in Tokyo means I have access to some amazing fabric options that are produced or at least printed in Japan (Liberty of London for example). 


One of my main focuses this year has been on ethical trade. We so easily get carried away on how cheap something is and forget about the chain supply chain behind the garment. While handmade might be perceived as hobbyist or unnecessarily expensive, I hope that it will in the end provide a greater reward for all involved. 


I have had the pleasure of meeting some fabulous Rascals in Tokyo and Osaka who have so kindly helped with my photo shoots. I hope to kick off my Autumn/Winter line with a photo shoot in September. Please feel free to contact me if you have a budding fashionista wanting to do some modelling. 

I'm very keen to collaborate with other small businesses or work with schools and larger businesses to assist fundraising efforts so please give me a shout. 

You will find my daily ramblings here: www.instagram.com/lifeofapilotwife

Designer Rascal 


I look forward to meeting some of you in the near future. Thanks for stopping by. 

Edwina x

P.S those of you in Shimokitizawa, please don't judge me for being the neighbourhood crazy lady!

E x

Saturday, July 8, 2017

JULY BLOG FEATURE: Joanne Tomooka from Kiora Cottage


I originally came to Japan from New Zealand on the JET Scheme (Japan Exchange Teaching Programme) in 1996 with the intention of making some money to pay off my student loans before heading back to New Zealand. After three years of assistant “teaching” at primary and junior high schools I decided I really liked the country life here in Oita prefecture, married a local Japanese man and decided to stay for good. I have two children – my daughter is 16 and is now studying at high school in New Zealand and my son is 14 and at junior high school here in Japan. Over the years I have taught English at private language schools, kindergartens and community centers as well as doing work in the outdoor education industry. 

A few years ago I was admitted to hospital for a couple of months with an auto-immune disease. It was a turning point for me where I really looked at how much I was hating teaching and decided to give it up completely and focus on my cookie and jam business that I had slowly been building up. 


My business is called 'Kiora Cottage' and although in the past I have offered farm-stay style accommodation, I am now focusing exclusively on making jam, cookies, granola etc. which I sell at local shops. I am also involved in running a market twice a year that attracts over 40 stall holders and an increasing number of customers.


My current business has been slowly growing through word of mouth and I now have a lot of repeat customers. My real focus is on making cookies that people want to buy and eat every day, rather than the beautifully packaged cookies that people only ever buy to give to other people and that don’t actually have much flavor. I take care to use ingredients that are as natural as possible, with an emphasis on butter rather than margarine, and eggs from our own free range chickens. 


The business grew through my desire to feed my children snacks which were full of flavor rather than preservatives. My grandmother was a jam maker, so I use a lot of her recipes and love the fact that I am continuing on in her footsteps. I try hard to fit my business to my own personal needs and the needs of my family, rather than the need to make money. I make enough to supplement my husband’ income, but it doesn’t take over my life. 



So far 2017 has been a really hard year for me, with the death of my father-in-law and my Nanna, but I am working towards my dream of opening my own shop in my cottage in October. The idea behind the shop is to bring international craft and flavor to the countryside of Japan and it will feature my own baked goods as well as handmade craft items made by expats who are living all around Japan. So far I have made some great contacts with people from many countries who are living here in Japan and who are making incredible things. I also have some amazing locals who are working with me to make some unique items for “Kiora Cottage”. I love the idea of being able to support people here in Japan who are trying to make a living doing things other than English teaching. I am also really looking forward to meeting directly with my customers, rather than selling through a third party. 

Most of my free time is spent in the garden, looking after my family, sewing and doing Sudoku puzzles! 

If you know of any expats living in Japan who are making amazing things and who might be interested in putting their items in my shop it would be wonderful if you could contact me. You can also follow the progress of my new shop on my facebook page and hopefully a webpage will be added in the very near future. 


CONTACT AND FOLLOW ME HERE:

E-mail: jotomooka@gmail.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kioracottage/


Friday, June 23, 2017

JUNE BLOG FEATURE: JJ from Genki Kids Rainbow Art

Hello. Hello.  Call me JJ ok. I'm a passionate and creative Aussie expat Mum in Osaka. I took advantage of my naturally colourful self to be an arty Mum when my daughter was young, so we could spend the early years together everyday. I've been in Osaka about two decades, but yeh, I'm still a happy bilingual novice.

I hold creativity workshops and parties for children, and I facilitate arty crafty workshops for women (with wine). Prioritizing child led learning and child centred  fun in an academic, educational Japanese world, seems essential for building imaginative skills, and fostering confidence and self identity. Allowing women the opportunity to learn new skills, bond with others, and share time in a meaningful way, is something both expat and Japanese ladies crave in their busy everyday. It's always a fun and enthralling role to have. Oh yes. It deeply is.  



The things I adore are exploring backstreets, discovering local life, and photographing all the beauty I see daily on Instagram. I love vintage fashion, weekday cafes, and chatting to locals. I'm inspired by curiosity in kids, cloud art, kindness, and free fun. In 2017 I want to write more postcards, create more rituals, and make umeshu. How about you? 




I photograph always. On my old 4s. But who cares right? Check out my insta hashtag for original arty kid photo fun at  #genkikidsrainbowartclass , and my Facebook public page of super ideas for creative kid inspiration, "GENKI kids Rainbow ART". Mail me on Instagram or FB if you have ideas, wanna hold a workshop, or just wanna share the best latte art in Osaka together.


Being open, caring and forever open to new ways of building a creative life is essential to a youthful outlook, and a heart that radiates authenticity. Well, that's my way of living anyhow. My #osakalife . Kanpai! 



Get in touch:
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/genkikidsrainbowart
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/starlightjj/

Sunday, May 14, 2017

SPECIAL BLOG FEATURE: Lindsey Sawada from Setagaya Yoga Studio


Hi, I'm Lindsey from  England. I have been living in Kyodo, Setagaya (Tokyo) for 20 years. I live with my husband, daughter, mother-in-law, and my grumpy old rescue cat.

I have been working with children for the past 27 years starting with babysitting at age 14, followed by volunteering with a youth centre for children with Downs Syndrome, several nanny positions, taught at a preschool,  junior high and high school. I also teach dance, fitness and yoga. 

I am now the owner of Setagaya Yoga Studio. The classes at the studio are for children and their mummies. The classes can be taught in English, Japanese or a combination of both depending on the student's needs. The studio looks out onto a garden where, on nice days, we can take the classes outdoors. Even on the days that the classes are indoors it's really nice to look out onto the green space. 



It's has been an amazing journey to be able to get to a point in my life where I know that what I do isn't just beneficial to me but can be beneficial to other people. The things that I can pass on can go on to be shared by others. 

I don't know of other yoga studios designated specifically for children in Tokyo yet, so the idea is pretty new here. A lot of people ask me how I manage to get young children to concentrate on yoga asanas (poses) for 40-50 minutes at a time and the answer to that is that I don't. At the studio, even though we do a lot of asana, they are disguised by walking around on all fours pretending to be wild animals, or rolling ourselves up in the mats pretending to be sushi, we dance, sing, we also touch on yogic principles through story-telling and role-play. 


Children gain confidence by leading some of the activities too. I have had some great feedback from parents about children having a more relaxed air about them when they get home, being kinder to their siblings as well as sleeping better at night. Kids' yoga has been scientifically proven to help children manage stress and build concentration. I particularly like that yoga is non-competitive so children can exercise without the pressure of winning or losing. The meaning of yoga is 'union' and we definitely see cooperation and union going on during class.



The stretch classes for mums are invaluable at realigning the body, easing aches, pains and stiffness. We use breathing techniques which help to keep us relaxed with our kids even through their occasionally challenging behaviour. I also really like to work on having a flexible and aligned spine because it leads to optimal organ health, improved circulation, digestion and mobility. These stretch classes are not difficult, most of the poses are taken sitting down. The goal is to obtain alignment in the gentlest way possible. 


Gillian Lynne the dancer/ choreographer is a huge inspiration to me. When she was a young girl at school she couldn't sit still and focus, often disrupting other children. She was sent to see a specialist who gave her the diagnosis of being a dancer instead of someone with some sort of disorder like her teachers and mother had expected. Gillian began ballet, found her passion and eventually went on to have a marvellous career in dance and even choreographed the world famous musical Cats. Gillian still works in dance at age 91! Both Gillian and I know that some of us just don't learn optimally through sitting still with books but through moving our bodies. Kids yoga undoubtedly addresses the confinement and stress that children can feel through being sat in a classroom all day.

This spring Tokyo gardeners are inspiring me a lot too. People have such tiny spaces of earth, or little balconies that are made to look exquisite. Whilst chatting to gardeners and admiring their work I have made a lot of new friends some who have come over to look at my garden and given me advice about how to make it into my ideal functional yet aesthetically pleasing space - it's a work in progress that I suspect may take me years.


In 2017 I will continue to deepen my knowledge of teaching yoga for children, continue to practice meditation and yoga. I will also try to continue to be as good and kind of a person that I can be by helping wherever I possibly can, even if it's just offering a smile to people on the street - something that I think is really lacking in big cities.

I spend my free time:
  • Driving across town to take my daughter to circus class. 
  • Hanging upside down at aerial fitness classes.
  • Doing yoga.
  • Spending time with my family by the beach or in nature.
  • Gardening.
  • Drinking deep red wines.
  • Meeting new people in my neighbourhood and discovering new places to eat.
  • I love to read too. At the moment I'm reading 'You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life', a book offering 4 minute meditations to help find balance. It's pretty nice for busy people and beginner meditators.


Contact and follow me here:

Tel - 090-5317-4121


Classes

The studio is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Mama Stretch classes 
9:30am -10:30am
11:00am- 12:00pm

Kids Yoga Classes
3:00pm -3:40pm (ages 3 and 4)
4:00pm - 4:45pm ( ages 5 and 6)
5:00pm - 5:50pm ( ages 7 and 8)

For other requests please enquire, I'm very open to suggestions and am happy to volunteer at events etc. I hope to see loads of you at the studio soon. 

-- 
Setagaya Yoga Studio

Sunday, April 30, 2017

APRIL BLOG FEATURE: Erinn LaMattery from Off on a Whim



Beginning in California, I embarked on a journey around the world, eventually settling into life in the foothills of the beautiful Mt. Koya in Japan. This beautiful little town has been home to my family of 4 children for over 16 years, giving them a peaceful and secure upbringing.

Okunoin Cemetery at Mt. Koya, my place of peace


Besides the birth of my last child, this town has also been home to Off on a Whim, a custom made jewelry business built upon the Japanese Power Stone philosophy that each stone holds the power to support and assist you during your daily journey through life. I work closely with customers to build their perfect pieces with colors and stones that represent the challenges they are facing, in memory of departed loved ones, and in celebration of life’s victories. My materials come straight from the earth as I choose not to work with plastics, giving customers that connection to the world around them.


Desert Pearl, one of our popular items, in triple layer



So many people have played a large part in helping me move forward with this business and grow it to where we are today. Color and nature are my greatest inspiration, springtime flowers, summer trees, fall leaves, winter skies, I try to pull what is around me into my work. 


Recently  popular, Off on a Whim Tree of Life Suncatchers, 
measuring around 13cm end to end, great gifts!

This year I want to focus on creating some tutorials for YouTube and building up a YouTube channel, as well as develop a newsletter. I hope to cut back my day job hours so I can focus better on turnaround time for my work. I have plans to reach out to brick and mortar shops for some consignment and wholesale contracts, and am considering starting up workshops to teach the basics to people who are interested to make their own pieces. I'm also beginning to collaborate with other artists to create new pieces.

I started branching out in gold filled and diamond chip pieces


Isn’t free time a myth? Raising and providing for 4 children has effectively ended the luxury of free time. But when it does manage to skitter across my path, you can find me reading a book, doing a puzzle, or just chilling with a TV show. 


Contact and follow me here: 








You can order/ buy my work here! And take advantage of our limited time offer for 15% off your order on Etsy through June 30, 2017. Enter  BikuLove at checkout to apply it!