Japan Shopping Haul!
It's no secret: I love shopping (a fact Tim will quickly attest to after spending two weeks with me in a foreign country). I think Tim actually found it surprising how, no matter how tired or jet-lagged I might feel, I can 100% always get down to shop. What can I say? It's a foul-proof mood enhancer and makes even the good days better!
Japan is an ah-mazing place to shop, be that good or bad (read: tempting). We managed to stay really under budget with what we had planned for food and such because you can get so many great and tasty cheap meals in the city, so I used that as excuse to really treat ourselves when it came to gifts and mementos to bring home! We ended up bringing back lots of small baubles for friends and family, but here are the items that made their way into our suitcase just for me (er...I mean us).
Books: Yayoi Kusama, Fruits, and Hakone Open Air Museum
We're always looking to add colorful art and photography books to our shelves, and I picked these three out to accompany us home because I knew they'd remind us of so many memories we made in Japan! The Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors book contains images and stories behind this influential artist's incredible infinity mirrors, including those neon pumpkins we saw in Tokyo (pictured on the cover!). Fruits, published over 15 years ago, is the book that defined Japanese street fashion, especially in Harajuku (probably my favorite neighborhood we visited in Tokyo). I knew I'd want to look over the images of crazy and colorful Tokyo teenagers and get inspired to think differently for years to come. And By the Woods features images of the breathtaking open air museum in Hakone, a small mountain town just an hour outside of Tokyo. We spent a gorgeous, drizzling morning there near the end of our trip and it was an experience I never want to forget.
Silk Bomber Souvenir Jacket
I had first read about these incredible embroidered souvenir jackets online a while back, and knew I had to keep my eyes peeled while in Japan to find an original to scoop up for myself. They've been around since the 50's, and are an iconic piece of Japanese fashion history. Most of these souvenir jackets (called sukajans) can only be found in Yokosuka, a city several hours outside of Tokyo where the jacket style first originated. It was actually really hard to track one down outside of Yokosuka, but on our very last morning I read about a vintage shop in Harajuku called Kinji that reportedly boasted a small selection of sukajans. It was my final purchase of the trip and probably my favorite overall! Definitely a splurge, but worth it for the Gucci vibes I'm going to be rocking come fall with some ruby red lipstick and sunnies... For those looking for a silk bomber outside of Japan, a lot of online websites stock them as well, including eBay and Etsy!
Wooden Japanese Figurine
We saw a lot of these pretty painted ladies while in Kyoto, and I told Tim we needed to pick one up for our cozy living room. This was my figurine of choice - warm, sunny colors and the cutest little helmet hairstyle to brighten up our home!
Vintage Silk Kimono
This beauty already made a guest appearance on the previous blog post, but here she is in all her glory! I loved, loved, loved seeing all the gorgeous kimonos Japanese women were sporting around Kyoto with their dolled-up hair and painted fans, but I knew I would never feel comfortable walking into one of the fancy shops to try one on or have one custom-made. Brand new kimonos are super pricey in Japan (we're talking $$$$) and, when worn with the traditional belt, shoes, and proper undergarments, are also very constraining and 'proper'. Gorgeous to look at, but not really my cup of tea to try on. That's why I was so excited to walk past a little hole-in-the-wall booth within the marketplace in Kyoto and find tables stacked with soft, worn-in vintage kimonos in vibrant shades of red, green, purple, and everything in between. They ranged between $20-100 and were gloriously light and wearable. I picked out this cherry red robe because I knew I'd want it both hanging in my bedroom and belted around my waist with a cool black jumpsuit and lipstick. It's so much more wearable than the formal, newer styles and the perfect "you can only get it in Japan" kind of piece to add to my wardrobe.
Kawaii Glitter Unicorn Key Ring
Shopping in Harajuku had to be one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip. It's loud, colorful, cheery, and basically reminiscent of a cotton candy unicorn dreamland. All the crepe stands blast Disney music and dozens of school kids in crisp, pressed uniforms run around with ice cream cones and tiny point-and-shoot cameras. Most of the shops specialize in cutesy, kawaii little baubles with glitter or bows. The inner kid in me couldn't resist, so I scooped up a mini sparkly unicorn to accompany my blue Kate Spade 'Sam' for the remainder of my Tokyo trip.
Last but certainly not least, we can't not talk about Tokyo Banana! In Japan, it's a cultural custom to buy a packaged snack uniquely found in the city or prefecture you are visiting to bring back to family, friends, and coworkers. Every train station, airport, and subway stop we visited in Japan boasted a different local treat that businessmen and tourists were scooping up on their way home to commemorate their time in that particular area. In Okayama, white peach flavored mochi was the treat of choice, but we worried a little bit how well that would transport back to the states. And so, at the Tokyo airport just an hour before we boarded our flight back to Chicago, we stocked up on a handful of Tokyo's delicious delicacy: Tokyo Banana. One of our hosts in Japan had served us these during our trip, and we couldn't get enough. They're basically little banana-shaped sponge cakes filled with banana cream. So yummy, so cute, and so quitiseentialy Tokyo.
That's it for this trip's shopping haul! What have been some of your favorite treasures you've brought home from trips abroad?