Tuesday, October 29

Halloween in Tokyo #2

Just a few more days before Halloween! The town is getting ready for the event, here are a few more cute shop windows for you to enjoy - probably my last post about it. I am busy preparing my kids costumes: nothing extravagant this year but I found that pretty DIY cape to make for my girl (here) and my son may look a bit like these super-heros (here). Are you celebrating Halloween where you live?

from top to bottom: 1. Cona (selling homemade biscuits) on Komazawa Dori/ Nakamachi 
2. Flower shop in Denenchofu 3, 4, 5. Monceau Fleurs in Jiyugaoka 
6. Fake flower shop, Jiyugaoka 7. Wall drawing, Jiyugaoka

AND I can't resist to share photos of the cutest kids/ gadget shop in my area: Katakana in Jiyugaoka. Seriously super duper cute!

Have a lovely week friends, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Friday, October 25

Interview with {Naoko Kozaka of CO -}

Hello friends,

How have you been? I am happy to bring you back my {Interview with series} and introduce you the gorgeous shop of my friend Naoko Kozaka, owner and founder of CO -. Naoko-san is passionate about vintage buttons and antiques collectables, and her shop located in the heart of Tokyo is a little gem. We met at the last Handmade Marché in Shinjuku and I visited CO - shortly after to check out the AIKEN DRUM exhibition that Naoko-san was holding at the shop. 
Let's find out how it all started!

Naoko-san, please tell me a bit about your background...
I was born in Aichi and grew up in Chiba city, Japan. I have been dreaming to go to England ever since I was a junior high school student. So when I became a college student and I had the opportunity to go to London, I jumped on it and stayed there for a month.

I was amazed at everything I saw there. I stayed with an English family, whose house was a victorian semi-detached with a beautiful small garden.  I loved this old house and all the things the family had  inherited from their family. This place was just 10 min away from Camden Passage where an antique market is held every Wednesday and Saturday. I enjoyed so much seeing antique and vintage pieces  at this market! That is when I started buying some for myself.

Would you say that your travels or studies have had an influence in your decision to run a creative business and be an entrepreneur?
My trip to London influenced me a lot. After that I spent my summer vacation in London twice. Then in 1997, at 24, I went to England again and stayed for a year. Right after coming back to Japan, I started to sell English antique things at markets. It was far from running a business, much more like a hobby.

What is the story behind your love/ interest for antique & vintage buttons? 
In 2002, I bought an old oxo tin at a market in London. When I opened the tin, I found a few buttons in it. A few days later, as I was walking in London, a stranger came to me in the middle of the street and handed me something saying: "I will give you this". I was puzzled as I didn't expect a stranger to give me anything on the street!

She put a small thing in my hand and left.

It was 4 buttons.

I put them in my pocket, thinking "I know these buttons"...

Then I realized! The buttons that the lady gave me were exactly the same as the buttons in the old tin!

They were victorian shoe buttons, exactly the same material and color. 

I had now seven buttons. 

From that day on, I've never stopped looking for old buttons, they are so interesting! 

Do you consider you current job to be your dream job?
I feel it's my mission to introduce antique and vintage buttons, including their history and design, to Japan!

Your shop is super cute. How did you pick up its location and by the way, when did you open it? Did you design and build the shop all by yourself?
We opened the shop in Bakurocho [ECS: learn more about it here] in the heart of Tokyo in 2010 as we thought this area is quite interesting - until then we had been selling items on the web, at markets and exhibitions.
Old things and new things are well mixed.  People living in this area called "Edokko" think a great deal of Japanese historical things such as Omatsuri etc... but they also accept new things. I love this area!

Where are you finding the buttons and how do you select them? Did you have to "study" the "history" of buttons? How do you select the buttons that you will sell in Tokyo?
There are specialized book written in England and the U.S and I read almost all publication and learnt about the history of buttons and how to identify their origin and the date etc...
But seeing and touching thousands of antique buttons taught me a lot!

I travel in Europe and in the U.S about twice a year to find buttons. I believe a button can be an art piece by itself, but it maybe one button will have a special meaning to you only. Buttons may be very small, but they hold some power to influence you and what you create. When I shop for buttons, I wonder if they can nurture our inspiration or imagination. If not, I won't purchase them.

I really enjoyed your collaboration with Aiken Drum and the exhibition that you held at CO-. Are you often working on this kind of projects with other artists?
We hold artist exhibition on an irregular base. We like to introduce artists that we love! I am very happy to collaborate with respectable artists in my shop.

Our current exhibition is:

from 10.25(fri) until 11.4(mon)     (10.27 is closed during exhibition)

【FLANGER】is the clothing label run by Maki (who is also a musician) . She makes "POP" and "Dreamy" hand-made clothing using her own collages to refashion existing clothes.
She is known as a designer making stage outfits for musician such as Cornelius, Buffalo Daughter, Bonobos and Kiiiiiii.

© All photographs by Marie Maglaque

Thank you Naoko-san for accepting my offer and share your story with the world! I am looking forward to learning more about vintage buttons, and maybe start creating something with the beautiful ones you have picked!

Friends, if you happen to visit Tokyo soon, why not include a visit of the area around Bakurocho station and drop by CO -? You will not be disappointed *smile*

CO - Facebook/ Twitter
【住所】東京都千代田区東神田1-8-11 1F(地図) 
Access map

Wednesday, October 23

Embroidery Workshop Recap {Tokyo}

Hello friends!
I am finally able to touch base with my computer to write a little post about yesterday's embroidery workshop... What a wonderful day! Four participants had signed up and I welcomed them early in the morning at 9am. I guided them thoroughly all the way to the end, they did a wonderful job as you can see above! We then shared a delicious Filipino curry cooked by my Mr. in a relaxed atmosphere. 

What of my aim about organizing my workshops is to create the best environment possible for like-minded people to meet up and become friends. So far, so good!

Thank you so much ladies! 

Are you keen to join my next workshop or an event I am participating to? You can easily keep up to date with the latest news by following this blog or my page on Facebook (here). You can also sign up for my newsletter (sign up here), I am usually sending it once a month.

I will announce the next round of workshop in the coming weeks, stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 22

Cafe Moi Moi in Matsumoto {Japan}

This will be the very last post about our trip to Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture last week - read part 1 here. We found out about Moi Moi cafe while wandering the streets of Matsumoto with our bikes. We had just finished lunch - but it didn't include dessert or coffee, and I found the outdoor of this cafe so charming that I wanted to check the indoor as well... We weren't disappointed! It was warm and friendly, and also I don't have pictures to prove it, our beverages (cappuccino + hot chocolate) and sweet (sweet potato cake) were delicious. 

The streets scores many traditional Japanese doll shops as well as Matsumoto's famous spring water - Genchi well. Don't miss it!

Moi Moi Cafe
Takasago-cho street, Matsumoto City
Nagano Prefecture, Japan

Monday, October 21

Halloween in Tokyo #1


Today I am bringing you on a first little stroll in the streets of Tokyo to have a look at the shop windows. Halloween seems popular among people in Tokyo and decoration have been up for almost a month now. I noticed that a favorite color scheme here seems to be orange/ black/ purple. I  have personally opted for orange/ black/ gold this year. How about you?

1. Aoyama Flower market, Jiyugaoka 2. One's TerraceQ, Trainchi Jiyugaoka  
3. A shop, Komazawakoen dori 4. Designers Hotel, Sugar

Friday, October 18

Soap-Making Workshop Recap

Handmade cookies, chocolate muffins and madeleines


How have you been? I held a soap-making workshop yesterday with my friend and guest instructor Mayumi Nikaido of Un sapone fatto a mano (a handmade soap) and we had a blast! We limited the workshop to 4 participants due to the number of bowls and tools that was requested to make Marseille soap by hand, it was intimate and so much fun. Since Halloween was in just two weeks, we had decided to work on that theme, and not only learn how to make soap but also have fun wrapping them!

Mayumi is giving the first set of instruction to our participants 
Whisking the soap mix until it gets the right texture was probably the most tedious part 
of the workshop - they did it for at least 30mins!
The soap mix is then put into a mold and left for 24hrs in a box to keep it "warm". 
Mayumi had prepared a block in advance to show how it would look like after 
a couple of weeks put to dry (photo below):
Since we couldn't possibly wait a couple of weeks to complete our workshop, 
Mayumi prepared special Halloween soap bar to be cut into funny shapes:
The second part of our workshop included gift wrapping fun. I provided various 
material and little guidance to allow some room for the participants's creativity. 
I was blown by what they came up with: so cute!
After three hours of hard work, we enjoyed a good hearty home cooked lunch: homemade 
sausages, ratatouille & bulghur served with cranberry juice & various biscuits for dessert.
Lunched cooked by yours truly!

We are planning to hold another soap-making workshop in spring next year, if you are interested in joining it you can keep an eye on my Facebook page or sign up for my newsletter here.
Next workshop in the calendar: my basic embroidery workshop will take place on Tuesday, 22nd of October from 9am - get all the information and sign up here.

Happy weekend to you all!

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