Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hello Kitty x London 2012 Olympics

Even Hello Kitty wasn't spared the Olympic fever Passing by Osaka's Umeda Hankyu Station, I noticed a pop-up Hello Kitty store after the salesgirls were fervently yelling out "special limited edition items~!" Turns out they were selling Hello Kitty x London / Olympics related merchandise, in lieu of the upcoming Olympic Games.

The items are adorable! Now I'm not a *huge* fan of Hello Kitty; sometimes I do think it's cute, but I'm not super crazy over it. However I really liked the color scheme of this series! ♡But I didn't end up getting anything due to lack of time :( Wish I did, the hat is adorable! Anyway, you can view most of the items on the Sanrio website.

Other than Hello Kitty x London themed items, there were also "official" Hello Kitty x Olympics items to show support for the Japan national Olympic team. This is a card holder (? at least that's what I think it is, could have been an iPhone holder or something else similar) that says "Ganbare! Nippon!"

More card holders showing support for the Japanese Olympic team.
I liked the one on the left most! ♡ Simple but cute.

There were tons of other items like hand towels, mini post-its and keychains, though I wasn't able to take anymore pictures (too many people and salesgirls).

My favorite events to watch are men's artistic gymnastics and swimming :) I like watching athletics and synchronized swimming too. Sadly this year, due to the time difference most of the live broadcasts are in the wee hours of the morning here! But since it's still the summer holidays I can and will stay up till 4am to watch them, hurray!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Echizen Washi no Sato Paper Village ★ 越前和紙の里

Though my trip this time was supposed to be Kansai, I decided to head over to Fukui (a prefecture in Hokuriku) for two days, as I really liked Hokuriku after visiting Kanazawa and Toyama last year, but didn't get to go to Fukui. So right after landing in KIX, I took a train from Osaka to Takefu, where the Echizen Washi no Sato Paper Village is located ♥ 

Washi (和紙) is Japanese paper. Unlike your regular A4 bond paper, washi is made entirely by hand. There's a certain beauty and elegance to it, the fibers, texture and visible layers I love washi, so I just had to go to Washi no Sato while Fukui. It produces about 30% of Japan's washi output. Above are items I brought back as souvenirs, I'd never seen so much pretty paper before!

Pretty hydrangeas in bloom! As I just came from the airport, I was lugging my luggage around with me as I went around, as Takefu station did not have lockers big enough for luggage.

Washi no Sato street.
There were hardly any people around, so it was nice to stroll along the street.

First stop, the Paper Culture Museum. Here you can buy a ticket for 200yen, which covers entry into this museum as well as the Udatsu Paper Workshop.

First thing I saw in the museum, a piece made up entirely of folded cranes.

Some fukinagashi for Tanabata Festival.

At the back of the first level of the museum, there's a room filled with sheets and sheets of all kinds of washi hanging! It's really pretty, and you can see the different types, colors and textures for different uses. Mind you, these sheets are huge! They were at least 1m x 1m. The room was filled with rows and rows of them hanging for you to browse through.

Also in the room were other beautiful items crafted entirely with washi ♥

Beautiful balls of flower, made with washi ♥

Another washi fukinagashi ♥
The violet flowers are so pretty!

Going up to the second level, you pass by this amazing mosaic as you go up the steps.
At first I though it was a stained glass window.

Turns out it's actually pieces and pieces of washi squares pasted on the window! ♥

A lamp covered with washi.

This is the Udatsu Paper Workshop. I didn't take pictures inside, but here you can observe the craftsmen make large sheets of washi. The kind sirs explained and demonstrated how the kozo (plant to make the pulp) is gathered, cleansed, stripped, beaten, mixed with neri (a slimy liquid from the root of a tororoaoi plant), screened/shaken and etc until you get a sheet. The sheets are then stacked on top of another with a string between them (for easy separation of the sheets later). The large sheets are laid on flat wooden boards, smoothed out to ensure that the paper is uniform, then left to dry outside. After drying, it becomes a whole large (1m x 1m) sheet of paper. It takes a lot of physical strength!!!

After that was the Papyrus House.

Here, you can experience making your own washi items!

Dried flower decorations to decorate your creations.

I chose to make the set of 6 coasters.
You layer the pulp on the screen, add floral decorations, add more layers of pulp, add coloring/gold flecks, then wait for it to dry. It's really fun! ♥

These were the dyes for coloring the paper.

You could choose to make a variety of items, including envelopes, name cards, postcards, etc.
Prices vary depending on what you make. These were sample envelopes.

This is a larger sheet of paper.

Postcards and a mini fan.

Instructions for experiencing paper-making.
Pick what you want to make, tell the staff, do it, wait 10 minutes to dry.
These items are small, so there's a vacuum machine to suck out the water from the screen.

Back in the lobby, more paper creations ♥

There's also a shop where you can buy washi goods like wrapping papers, letter writing materials, envelopes, notebooks, shopping bags, fans, lamp shades, etc in all sorts of pretty designs!

The whole little corner is filled with beautiful washi!

Some washi postcards I bought.

Cute little panda envelopes!

Writing pads.

Smaller writing pads.
These are designed to be written on vertically (Japanese/Chinese style of right to left, top to bottom). I think it looks weird trying to write horizontally ^^ Though you could if you don't mind.

Letter sets.

A mini board to hang on your wall. Made entirely out of washi ♥

Also featured in the lobby were larger works of art made entirely from bits of washi.
Pretty hydrangea blossoms!

Tree with tiny flowers blooming.

Close up.

Mountains and trees.

After you finish making your item, they'll wrap it up nicely in an envelope/file!
It says "The washi I made!"

Continuing my fascination for the pretty manhole covers, the one here featured a guy dipping the screen in the pulp mixture to make a sheet of washi!

The street has a little stream and is lined with greenery.

Koi in the pond.

To get to Echizen Washi no Sato, take a train to JR Takefu Station.
Exit and turn right toward the bus stop.

That little shelter thing is where you board buses. Take bus 16 heading toward Akasaka. It's approximately a 30min bus ride. Buses are infrequent, and the ones heading to Washi no Sato that get you in time for opening hours depart at approximately 09:21, 11:21, 12:21 and 13:21. Miss the 13:21 one and the next one's at 16:11, but by the time you reach the village everything's closed.

Buses depart Washi no Sato (heading for Takefu station) at 11:47, 12:47, 13:47 and 16:37. Miss the 16:37 one and the next one's at 18:05.

The Paper Museum, Udatsu Workshop and Papyrus House are open from 09:00~16:00. They're closed on Tuesdays and New Year period (28 Dec ~ 4 Jan).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Too Cool For School Lip Products! (and Blusher)

So I went to Seoul last month, and fell very much in love with the brand Too Cool For School. One of my favorite products: their Art Class Lip Crayons! These were 6,000won each. I wanted to get all 5 colors, but couldn't find the orange anywhere (I went to 5 different stores!) :(

Yellow isn't really yellow, but rather it provides a golden glint. And blue gives a shine/kind of highlight to make your lips look fuller. I love the red, it's quite pigmented but sheer! The texture is really smooth and creamy, a breeze to put on; it's really like coloring your lips with a crayon. And I really like how they're designed to look like crayons, with the position of the wording and the wavy lines.

So these are most of the lip products I got, and I say most because some of them (about 2?) aren't in the picture...because after coming back I decided I wanted other colors so I got my friend to help me get them.

Another favorite: Kiss Time Ice Beam Glass Lip Plumpers

These were 8,000won each.

I got three colors, from top to bottom: #1 Sparkling Beam, #3 Pinky Baby, #2 Red Beam.

#1 is a clear gloss with sparkles. It's not pigmented, but can be layered over lips for sparkle.
#2 is a sheer red gloss with sparkles.
#3 is a slightly more pigmented pink color that isn't as sparkly as the other two.

They're wonderful to use: non-sticky, don't drip down your lip, give great shine and a slight plumping effect. Plus the packaging is really cute! They're small and have the adorable red ribbon on the cap, as well as cute heel motifs on the bottom!

A doe-foot sponge applicator.
Currently, I like using the red lip crayon and dabbing the lip plumper in #1 over.

Haven't tried these yet: Creamy Glow Pens

I got them in three colors.

Top to bottom: #1 Dusty Pink, #2 Acid Tangerine, #3 Warm Raspberry.

They're something like the Stila Lip Glazes, in that it's a brush tip applicator, hence the "pen" in the name. But instead of twisting, you push the bottom of the pen to push the product through. I haven't used them yet, but from the testers in the stores, these glosses are quite opaque and non-shimmery.

Another love: Milk Tint

The two colors are pink and orange.
These were 8,000won each.

This has a sponge applicator. It gives a very natural tint!
I'm really addicted to the pink, but I haven't tried the orange yet.

Hot Girl Lip Sticker in #3 Lady Salmon.

Love the words on the box:
Sometimes life can be boring, but you cannot!
You are not boring, you are too cool for school.

Jolly Jelly Lip Gloss.
This is #2 Nudy Orange.

This is #9 Mission Pink.
The applicator is a spatula-type applicator.

Smoky Nudy Lip Color
Lipsticks from the Glam Rock collection.

Nude lipsticks!

Left to right: #1 Pale Beige, #2 Satin Beige.

Too Cool For School has other blush products, but since I have a ton of blushes, I just got this.
Art Class Blusher. A super cute cream-type blush!

The packaging is adorable, like a tube of paint!
This is #1 Pink.
It was 8,000won.

I bought A LOT of stuff from Too Cool For School. There are still BB cream/powder products, eye crayons, skincare products and accessories/tools!