Hanazono Shrine and Antiques Market

The Hanazono Shrine was founded in the mid-17th century. It was the only shrine we saw in a vivid color.

Hanazono Shrine, founded mid-17th century

Hanazono Shrine - roof detail

A male and female lion flank one of the entrances. Here is the male.

Hanazono Shrine - lion

I saw several people walk up this path to pray. They would drop coins in a box as an offering, pull on one of the ropes to ring a bell, clap twice and then hold their hands together silently.

Hanazono Shrine - path to altar

Hanazono Shrine - close-up

On Sundays, there is an Antiques Market on the grounds near the shrine. This particular market had old kimonos and sashes for sale.

Hanazono Shrine Market - old kimono sashes

Hanazono Shrine Market - colorful kimono sashes

There was scrolled artwork …

Hanazono Shrine Market - scrolled art

… a box of wooden dolls …

Hanazono Shrine Market - wooden dolls

… old prints …

Hanazono Shrine Market - old prints

… and all sorts of interesting items.

Hanazono Shrine Market - random objects

After a day of sightseeing, we had a wonderful dinner at Kurosawa Restaurant in Roppongi Hills. They walked us into a cozy room with sliding doors covered in thin white paper. One by one, they brought us beautifully presented dishes like this shrimp and vegetable tempura and chicken teriyaki.

Tokyo - Kurosawa Restaurant - Tempura

Tokyo - Kurosawa Restaurant - Chicken Teriyaki

It was a nice way to end the day.

Of Yarn and Kimonos

It was almost time for my 60-day visa to expire and I had to leave China to renew it. So off we went to Tokyo. My first priority was yarn. I googled yarn stores in Tokyo and several blogs had recommendations. I made my list and went in search of yarn.

My first attempt was a fail. We took a long circuitous route in search of Mother Earth supposedly located at 3-3-39 Minamiazabu Minato-ku. We strolled through some very interesting neighborhoods, but no Mother Earth.

The second attempt was also a fail. I was in search of Avril, which is known as Habu Textiles in the USA. From examining a Tokyo Metro map, the stop was somewhat off the grid. Given that I had some lovely yarn from Habu Textiles in my stash already, I decided to forego Avril.

Attempt #3 was a home run. We took the Tokyo Metro from the Roppongi Station to the Shinjuku Station. According to Wikipedia, “the station was used by an average of 3.64 million people per day in 2007, making it … the world’s busiest transport hub.” I believe it.

Finding the yarn store required navigating the streets with our smart phone map. It isn’t too far from the station, but it is tucked away on a busy pedestrian street. Okadaya is an arts and crafts store. Different floors house sewing supplies, buttons, ribbons, wigs, and yarn. Photos are not allowed but just imagine yarn nirvana. There was Noro, of course, but I selected Japanese brands that I had not seen in the United States.

First I found Sonomono in this natural color. Each ball is 40 grams, 64 meters of 40% Alpaca, 30% Wool and 30% Linen.

Sonomono Yarn 1

Sonomono Yarn 2

After my husband checked on me to make sure I had not suffocated in a crate of yarn (I guess I was up there a long time), I picked up two of these cotton cupcakes by Nicotto. Each cupcake is 30 grams, 50 meters of 100% Cotton.

Nicotto Yarn 1

Nicotto Yarn 2

We also took some time to visit a couple of museums. The Tokyo National Museum was a highlight with its display of beautiful kimonos from the Edo Period (17c-19c). The garments were in glass display cases so the photos may have reflections.

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Japanese Yarns In The Garment District

A few days ago, I was in New York City and took the opportunity to visit Habu Textiles. I dragged two teenagers through the Garment District in search of 135 W. 29th Street. The entrance is nondescript and if you’re not looking for it, you’ll probably walk right past it. Habu Textiles is located on the 8th floor, which is somehow fitting since the Japanese word for “ha 八” means “8.”

The showroom is quite small but filled with exquisite yarns spun in Japan. The fibers used in the yarns range from wool and silk to bamboo, stainless steel, and cotton so fine it feels like paper. While the showroom itself seems small, it is actually part of a larger room that houses the weaving studio. Beyond the free-standing sheet rock walls of the showroom, I could hear the whirring of looms in the background. I had to fight the urge to pull back the curtains marked “employees only” and take a peek. Thankfully, they were kind enough to let me take pictures of the yarns which I can now share with you.

There were baskets filled with yarn throughout the showroom. In the large basket in the foreground is Wrapped Tsumugi Silk (100% Silk). This yarn is a silk wrapped in silk. According to the Habu Textiles website, it is created using a traditional cord-making method.
Cotton Linen Paper Moire (65% Cotton, 35% Linen). This lace/fingering weight yarn is exquisitely delicate. It feels like fine paper.
This Kibiso Silk (100% Silk) is made from "waste" silk. It's a slightly rougher silk but with silk's sheen and strength.
Silk Gima (100% Silk). Gima means "fake linen" in Japanese. This yarn feels like linen but is made entirely of silk.
This "chunky" Alpaca Knitted Yarn (68% Mohair, 32% Nylon) is interesting to look at up close. It is actually a narrow knitted tube. You can knit this knitted yarn with large needles or fill the tube with roving (as shown) to create interesting looks.
There were shelves full of this thread-like yarn around the showroom.

Besides yarns, Habu Textiles offers woven fabrics also made from natural materials such as silk and pineapple fiber. The fibers originate from China, France, Japan, Laos and the United States. These two displays caught my attention. The knotted bags and ropes are made in Laos.

You can learn more about and buy these fabulous yarns and textiles at the Habu Textiles website.