07 November 2015

A poem or two and some shopping

Beloved, Beloved, Beloved!
This is my favourite prayer:
To feel You are my everywhere.

One of the things I bought lots of in Japan was stationary, mainly paper, specifically postcards. The Japanese take postcards seriously. Plenty of people must make their own as you can buy packs of blank or patterned cards ideal for watercolour or ink.

The first picture above is a postcard, but you can see the paper has a subtle pattern through it, the next piece is actually from a pad with a beautiful design and then there is a normal A4 size piece of watercolour paper. I bought so many packets of postcards in Japan I had to post them back to myself in Australia. It was too much of a pain to keep carrying them around.

So I packed a large box full of postcards, various stationary, tea canisters, some books and things very carefully. Everything was taped up tight and I even used pochi pochi (bubble wrap) to make sure nothing would break.

The very funny thing was hearing the postal clerk say, "Sorry, sir, I can not send this. Look at it." You see, I had used a box I found on the street, more or less. Absolutely clean and sound, but definitely for transporting some kind of foodstuff or drink according to the writing and decoration to be found upon it.

It was very hard to imagine anyone looking at the parcel and being confused about the contents or purpose given the massive address label I had made and affixed to the top - it was simply just too indecorous for the Japanese postal system! I had to pay 200 yen for a regulation box to put my own box in. Somewhat enchanted by the whole thing and watching my box fit perfectly into the new box, guaranteeing further protection for the contents, I demurred.

When it comes to the postal system, I usually take pride in my recycled and unique packaging. Recently I sent a book to some friends by wrapping it around with brown paper, sewing each end straight across with bookbinding thread and then dipping the sewn ends in red wax. It was agreed the packaging was at least as impressive as the contents.

Shopping for stationary in Japan is really easy.

If in Tokyo, go to Shibuya and seek out Loft and Tokyu Hands. Both are just a few hundred metres from Shibuya Station, and they are practically next to each other. Other than an entire floor for stationary, you will find all sorts of things in each of these huge stores. You can find both these stores all over Japan, but those are the biggest ones.

To take it to the next level, go to Sekaido in Shinjuku where you will find six floors of just art and stationary supplies.

Of course, there are also smaller more traditional shops specialising solely in brush, ink, natural pigments, rice paper and the like. Some of these are famous, others not. I found a few and tended to get small bits and pieces in these places. My intention was to get something really nice in one of the oldest and most famous of these shops to be found in Kyoto, but by the time I got there, I was shopped out!

Also, I have found that my favourite brush to write with is actually an old Pentel Aquash Brush Pen that is half broken. Not so long ago, after writing the poem below at least 50 times one evening, I wondered if I was crazy, then saw it was not the ink, not the brush, not the paper, but my breathing which made the difference and led to what I felt was a satisfactory result.

I'm usually happy with a decent pigmented ink with some metallic ink added in and tend to mix this up as I go.

Here is a selection of the postcards I bought.

As you can see, I am a sucker for brush pens. The mixing tray is actually ceramic and the paperweight is probably the most unique thing. I think it is meant to be a cucumber. The smaller container is gold ink and the larger is red. I'm not quite sure how I'll use the small dish of gold as I haven't yet tried it.

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