Awaji & Tadao Ando

· Art, Decoration, Food, Illustration, Travel

Finally ! After all the details about Osaka, here is the first step of our road trip. It’s now time to start this journey in chronological order.

Indeed, as soon as we landed at Osaka airport early in the morning, and right after getting our rental car (= all the info about this topic here), we drove non-stop toward the Awaji island. This island connects the main island Honshu to Shikoku (which will be our main interest for this trip). Let’s go!

 

Awaji Yumebutai

This garden/monument/park (I don’t exactly know how to describe it) was our very first stop to visit almost right after getting off the plane! But the excitement of being in Japan as well as the idea to discover this master piece of Tadao Ando kept us awake.

I am grateful to my favorite travel agent for suggesting me this stop that really worth the visit if you are a fan as me of the work of the architect.

Awaji Yumebutai was built after the earthquake in Kobe in 1995 by Tadao Ando, who was able to use the damaged nature to enhance this space. The result, quite wide to explore, gathers a hotel, a memorial, a botanical garden and various point of sea views.

The most impressive place is the Hyakudan botanic garden : multiple plant-filled terraces that you can admire below. The flowering was not optimal at that time but spring season must be amazing.

From models…

… to reality!

As always, Tadao Ando devotes significant attention to mix with harmony nature and architecture and it’s a real pleasure for the eyes. So make sure to plan at least a few hours to half a day: depending on how you can get amazed to look at every single details.

 

Naruto whirlpool

This curiosity of nature is located between the island of Awaji and Tokushima prefecture (Shikoku side) and can be observed twice in a day (around 8:00am and 2:00pm to properly see a whirlpool). We got there a bit later but we could still witness this phenomenon.

This whirlpool is created due to the Pacific Ocean and Seto sea tides meeting, which form this phenomenon.

From the ferry boat, we can admire the bridge such as a Golden Gate spanning the Naruto strait. And as always in Japan, mascots are part of the game!

 

TOTO Seawind hotel by Tadao Ando

This first day in Japanese territory (without sleeping!) will end up in this seaside hotel, designed by Tadao Ando (I told you my SO had found nice spots!).

We can recognize the very specific style of the architect: these lines, concrete, light and shadow effects. A strong minimalism very soothing for the sight.

The only downside: it’s so minimalist that if you arrive around 7:00pm without booking your dinner, you won’t find anything nearby and won’t be able to enjoy the dinner prepared on site (Japanese people hate unplanned situations so don’t even try to insist!).

We got trapped and ended up in our bedroom to warm up instant noodles that reception members found somewhere in the pantry (they really must not be used to see not far-sighted clients, such as us!).

Dreamy isn’t it? You cannot say that I haven’t warned you about the dinner to book in advance!

Regarding the breakfast it was perfect (we booked it!) : a buffet of various Japanese food (mostly salty= rice, fish, tofu…) where everyone can pick and arrange his/her favorite food in well compartmentalized plates.

A very nice housing address (surprisingly not so expensive for Japan = about 12000¥= 100€ per night) for anyone who loves architecture and absolute calm with sea view.

 

Sushi at Hayashiya 林屋鮓店

(HAYASHIYA 1168 Iwaya, Awaji 656-2401 Hyogo Prefecture) The only yummy address tested was this sushi place, where we had lunch before visiting the Yumebutai park.

I had the impression that all the population of the town was in this fully packed restaurant considering the empty streets.

Proof that it’s a good place! Sushi were very good and prepared on demand in front of us. Unfortunately I didn’t take any picture good enough to show you what we ate but it was delicious and terribly fresh! (I captured the ambiance on my Instagram stories).

Our first visit is ending here! The exploration of Shikoku will start in the next article before coming back to Awaji at the end of our trip for relaxing activities: talk to you soon! (English translation by Quiterie)

What souvenirs to bring back from Japan?

· Decoration, Travel

I was asked this question on Twitter and thought my answer would be more detailed in an article. Indeed, Japan has a lot of various items that worth to be brought back as souvenir but I prepared a short list of the best to carry in your suitcase back to France.

Obviously this list is based on my personal tastes and you might really want to have at the back of your car a Shiba dog with hanging head, but I hope it will give you a few ideas for your next trip to Japan.

 

Tableware and ceramics

It’s what I’ve brought back as a priority during my last few trips to Japan: I’ve tried to remain reasonable and have only chosen a few pieces each time, to enjoy them wisely and in order to complete the set piece by piece.

Tableware and ceramics from Tokyo, Osaka, Okayama and wooden spoons/forks from Kyoto
(at Inobun : I talked about it here)

 

Disney’s items

These could be skipped if you don’t spend your life inside Disney entertainment parks. I like bringing back accessories and souvenirs for my future visits in the Disneyland Paris park (such as small bags, tee-shirts, Minnie’s earring) as I know they will be useful to enhance my outfits.

As for the rest, I tend to buy small items (useful if possible) such as pens, cocktail stirrers or alien cable cover that I simply find awesome!

Don’t hesitate to visit the Disney stores in Japan (in addition to the TokyoDisneyland shops) as the Japanese aesthetic in term of Disney merchandising is always well thought and mixes useful and kawaii.

 

Movie posters

As soon as I walk by a movie theater in Japan, I get inside to grab a few small movie posters available (used as advertising flyer), they are always nicer than the ones in Europe and can be framed as a gift back home.

Surprise ! I didn’t expect to find this French movie poster “Le grand Bain”in Japan !

 

Delicacies

The Kit Kat with various flavors (rum and raisins, matcha, Sake, cheesecake…) are a safe bet as small gifts but you can also get kawaii candies, salty Japanese crackers : I have to admit that I don’t bring much of them anymore (for me) as we easily find them in Paris and I prefer to eat other Japanese specialities when I am there!

 

Knick-knacks from Daiso, Don Qijote or Muji

From my previous trips, I had found a lot of cooking accessories and most especially bentos. I also really enjoy going to the Japanese Muji, as I sometimes find products not available in the French shops and prices are much lower there (so if you have spotted one item in France, wait for Japan to buy it, it’s much cheaper).

 

A yukata

The ones with bigger budget can buy a nice and authentic kimono but as for me, a yukata is more than enough (and less cumbersome= I still have this one I bought in 2014)

 

A furoshiki

Just perfect to carry out everything with a small Japanese touch. (This one was not brought back from Japan but was made there and offered by my friend Candice)

“Daruma” Furoshiki to tie in 1000 different ways!

 

Japanese books and magazines

For inspiration! Even though I can’t read a word of Japanese it’s always very pleasant to look at them.

 

Japanese stationaries

For the script and paper lovers, Japan always creates beauties.

 

As I told you this list can be longer based on your tastes (feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below): For my part, I’ve brought back less and less (always to reduce my consumption and to try creating souvenir out there instead!). Anyway, I hope you got some inspiration for gift ideas from the rising sun country, for your friends and family (or yourself)! (English translation by Quiterie)

Feeling good at home

· Decoration, Illustration

As you know, 2 years ago we did some refurbishment work in our apartment while trying to eliminate the unnecessary things and only keep the essentials (and a bit of unnecessary essential… such as my Care Bears). Since then, I have to admit that it’s been a real pleasure to stay at home and enjoy the cosy and simple ambiance.

For me, a room without too many items can remain convivial and confortable. Here are a few things I’ve tried in order to find the Holy Grail in term of comfort and wellness at home. Obviously, all the following is completely subjective and depends on everyone tastes (some will prefer busy and colorful decoration to feel good) but here are the things that work for me to find serenity in my « Home sweet Home ».

 

Less items to live more

When we have less things at home, one of the most annoying thing called « cleaning » requires less time! Just for this, I am happy that I took the decision to clear up our apartment, and more specifically the bathroom that remains pretty much the same as what I showed you here. All the cosmetics (and I have far less than before) are partitioned into drawers, so they won’t get covered with dust but remain easy to access.

To possess less also provides less stress as we are not worried to break or lose something that we don’t own ! (Ahah smart isn’t it?)

The difficulty is also to fit only the necessary: so here is why I’ve been trying to brief my friends that I prefer food or immaterial gifts (Hello ! the annoying one it’s me!), considering longer my potential purchase, trying to repair the things I already have…

 

Create a small urban jungle

Adding plants inside also helped to emphasize this sensation of wellness. Indeed, I had read somewhere that if it was advised to lower the number of furniture and trinkets at home to feel better, the quantity of plants didn’t have any limit: open bar for greeneries!

On my side, I will keep a reasonable number as it requires to nurture these beauties! (…and.I don’t want to trip over branches or creepers when getting out of bed).

 

Bring softness

A cocooning place can’t work without a little bit of softness: I’ve tried to add a touch with furry cushions or hairy carpets. I’ve also got blankets that I leave on the sofa or store in a large box in the leaving room, ready to use if a chilly wind would come around.

 

Get rid of the maximum of text on the posters

I’ve noticed since I decided to hang on the wall only illustrations or photos, my mind was more relaxed compared to posters with text (no more encouraging mantras such as “Life is good” “Believe in you” or long sentences (even funny ones) on the wall). To relax my brain, without seeing too many things to read relaxes me more (maybe one of the reason to explain why I feel so good when I am in Japan as I don’t understand any of the ads in the streets!).

The only two exceptions are these frames « with text » in our bedroom but we can’t see them while we sleep, and they have a kind of sentimental value.

 

Remain in the neutrality and natural

(Let’s say it again, it’s very subjective) My interior used to be very colorful and I had this feeling that it was bringing me energy and comfort but I’ve actually found out that I prefer neutral places (white walls, furniture made with natural materials such as wood, rattan, wicker…).

You’ll probably tell me that Pinterest and Instagram inspired me and it’s also trendy to choose natural space, but after 2 years, I think I am ready to stay in this simple environment. Let’s see what the future holds but as for now I like it this way.

 

So here are a few examples of things that helps me to feel better at home. Maybe you also have a few tips to share with me?

To illustrate this article, I drew my childhood dream: a Polly Pocket house (I think I’ve never owned it but I’d secretly dreamed about it) = Small space (big houses scare me a bit… which is a good thing as I don’t have the budget to purchase one!), everything handy and the feeling to be in a cocoon. Winter and bad weather are rapidly approaching: now I can say « Not afraid! » .

PS : if you want to see interior images that I like, I have a « Home sweet home » board on Pinterest that could inspire you! (English translation by Quiterie)

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