We stayed the night in Kanazawa, and the next day we caught a 3 hour train to Kyoto. We checked in to the Kyoto Hayatt Regency, one of the most beautiful hotels we’ve ever stayed at. It was designed by Takashi Sugimoto and it’s stunning lobby is filled with back lit pattered mill paneling. The Japanese restaurant in the basement is furnished with George Nakashima style shaker furniture and the food is spectacular, you just want to sit at the bar and watch the sushi chef work away sipping some Japanese whiskey.
We decided to hit the back streets during our day in Kyoto, but we underestimated how hot it would be in September. It was unbelievably hot, and we didn’t really have a grasp on how far all of the places we wanted to visit were from each other.
I always see beautiful cars in Japan, I’ve always admired these old Fiats.
One of the shops I really wanted to visit was only a couple blocks away from our hotel. It’s a mom and pop shop that carries an amazing collection of hand hammered kitchenware.
Most of the pieces are hand hammered aluminum, but you can find lots of beautiful copper and brass products as well.
A fantastic collection of brass ladles, it’s a shame because I don’t think you can actually sell brass kitchen products in Canada anymore.
The cane wrapped handles paired with the copper was just beautiful.
I guess every country has their own version of the crazy pigeon lady.
We spent most of the day walking the back streets of Kyoto and passed so many beautiful courtyards.
A cute little French cafe, we’d love to stop in but we’re on a mission!
The must see place for us was the Sfera gallery, which was designed by one of our favorite architect firms Claesson Koivisto Rune.
The facade is made of die cut metal cladding with repetitive organic patterns. The building itself is on another level, there is a gallery space, a store, and a bar / cafe in the basement. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside so you’ll have to check out CKR’s website for some images of the interior.
We headed downstairs to the cafe and had some much needed ice coffee.
The cafe backs onto an alley and we had the whole building to ourselves so we took our time and enjoyed the nice breeze.
We were allowed to take some photos of the basement, so here you go.
We needed to have some food so we headed out to Efish, a cafe that was recommended to us by a reader.
There was a beautiful view of the river and they had a special pineapple beer on offer that I really enjoyed. We just has some sandwiches which were nothing really special, the big feature here was the nice vibe and the view.
Just next door was a legitimate char cedar temple, it really put our charred cedar store facade to shame. It had the texture of reptile skin and the burns were through.
We had some amazing luck during our trip because it turns out our friend Liza from Frederica was in Japan at the same time as us. There’s nothing better than visiting with friends when you’re in another country and we decided to meet at our hotel for a drink before heading out for dinner.
Liza snagged a reservation at a highly local recommended restaurant which promises a quiet meal on the river. The only problem was navigating through the winding back streets to actually find the restaurant. We were in very good hands because Liza used to live in Osaka and can speak Japanese fluently, she even has all of the gestures down pat, it’s amazing to watch her interact with locals.
We entered a beautiful and narrow restaurant and walked through to a back patio.
It was a beautiful evening, the temperature had cooled down, the sky was clear, and stars started dotted the skyline. The only problem was someone across the river murdering a saxophone.
This might have been his/her second time playing the saxophone, they were struggling through scales for hours and the peak effort was a failed attempt at Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The good thing was the sake was flowing and we all had a great sense of humor about it and just allowed the performer to entertain us.
There were too many plates to photograph, I swear there was 15 courses, we lost count after 10, and we were full after 5. It was epic, but in the best way possible.
Did you know you aren’t supposed to pour yourself sake? You’re supposed to serve others and let someone else serve you. I was wondering why Liza kept pushing sake on me!
The most interesting dish of the night was this little river fish. Apparently the fish is too sensitive to be hook fished, so they use cormorants (a river bird) to catch the fish. It was grilled and had an interesting texture to it, almost grainy. We definitely won’t forget this meal, thanks again Liza!
We arrived in Japan on Monday the 12th, we were only going to be in the country for 5 days and we wanted to explore as many regions we could. The first thing we wanted to do, was hop on a train and visit the beautiful city of Kanazawa. We got up really early and caught the first train leaving, we only had coffee to hold us over on the 3 hour train ride.
By the time we dropped off our bags at the hotel is was still pretty early in the morning and most of the restaurants near by were closed. We discovered a cool looking ramen place that was remarkably open, we shrugged and sat at the counter.
We love these hand hammered pots, we see them all over. We have a bit more refined and artisan made version of these pots in our store for sale (while quantities last)
The ramen turned out to be the perfect breakfast. The cook used a blow torch to char the pork a bit, and topped everything off with half a hard boiled egg. It was like having bacon and eggs! It would also be the best ramen we would have on the trip, so if you’re in Kanazawa keep an eye out for this place.
A cute shop called Gallerie Noyau, unfortunately it was closed.
We did have some luck with this beautiful metal works shop, the owner had handcrafted jewelry, cutlery, and a collection of ceramics and glass.
Kokon makes handmade leather shoes, I love seeing workshops with front retail spaces.
Being in Kanazawa we had to visit the 21st Century museum by one of our favorite architect firms SANAA. The musuem has a circular glass facade so at points you can see right through the building to the other side. The exhibition rooms are box shaped rooms surrounding a central circular courtyard.
SANAA also designed all of the furniture inside and outside, the outside acts as a park and gathering place for museum patrons.
One of the most famous features of the Museum is this illusion pool, you may have seen a video of it before. Unfortunately the underside was closed when we were there.
The famous Rabbit chairs which are used in many of SANAA’s buildings, they even have tiny scale models of the chairs they place in models of their buildings. There were tons of beautiful details inside the museum, but we weren’t allowed to photograph them for you. So just Google it!
It would have been amazing to have another day in Kanazawa, the pacing was really laid back. We’ll be back!
After being featured in Dwell we thought it would be fun to re-introduce ourselves. We’ve met a lot of new people in the store and one thing we heard over and over was that the photos they saw didn’t really reflect the true scale of the store, or the range of work we sell.
We thought this would be a great time to share some updated photos, and also share a more in depth experience of the new online store.
A new shot of the front half of the store, the white risers are lined in one row showcasing more of our artisan products.
New coffee scoops by Japanese artist Tomiyama Koichi, soon to be added to the online store.
A photo of our store’s functioning kitchen, complete with a teak counter top and blue Vola faucet by Arne Jacobsen. We empty this counter during events, it’s the perfect place to rest your drink.
The back of the showroom with our newest cabinetry addition, designed by Studio Junction. This is where we feature our more personal accessories including magnetic business card cases by Masakage Tanno, leather works by Kenton Sorensen, and our new perfume created by Comme Des Garcons for Artek.
The Japanese coffee light is by the same artist who makes the coffee scoops, it features a handmade walnut lamp shade.
Trinidad chairs and Hiroshima dining table in front of our oak and glass shoji inspired sliding door. Our furniture offerings are a bit sparse at the moment but all that will change by the end of the month when Fredericia and Asplund arrive!
So if you came to our shop and purchased something, you’d be taking it home in our little brown paper bags with a sticker enclosure.
We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could bring the experience of the brick and mortar shop to our online customers. We started with the idea of printing boxes, and came up with the idea of creating a wire cage milk bottle crate image on the box. Once we had the milk theme down it was easy, for the small box we would have a milk pitcher inspired by our favourite milk pitcher by Kaj Franck for Arabia, and the largest box we would have a large milk pail.
We took our initial ideas and mock ups and gave them to Sali Tabacchi to be refined. They took our simple drawings and took them to the next level, giving them life and movement, the upside down bottles, stacked milk pitchers, and the return address foil stamp – all their ideas.
So when ordering from us, how would we wrap up the following:
Kenton Sorensen passport wallet
Nendo Corona mini globe
Mjölk tea towel
The wallet we would wrap in some beautiful wax paper, we’re using this paper for our brushes, leather products, and small woodware.
The Corona globe comes in a simple box so we wrap it in some additional brown paper, tag it with our mjölk sticker and tie it with natural twine.
The tea towel is simply wrapped in white tissue paper and closed with a sticker.
Now if you’ve purchase from us before these boxes you might say “Hey! I just purchased from you guys and the packaging wasn’t this nice!” That might be true since if the box is really beautiful, or if the item is a hard shape to wrap we might have simply wrapped it in some simple tissue paper. Now that we have the new boxes we’re going to try our best to stick to this caliber of packaging, hopefully we’ll find even more inspiration during our next trip to Japan.
The stickers are designed to be both right side and upside down because we use them as a close on our store paper bags. We also include hand written notes with our orders on over sized business cards.
Ps. We re-use clean bubble wrap, packing peanuts and any other crazy materials to fill these boxes out. Reduce, reuse, recycle!