Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crafting in Japan

After surviving the jet lag and the obligations of my duties here in Japan, I finally got to go out for some fun (crafting fun that is). My first big unencumbered foray in the crafting world of Tokyo was one of the mega-craft stores: Ito-ya.

The main store of Ito-ya has spilled to overflowing and had to open up a second and third annex. The main building has all of the regular type of materials that you would find in a first class paper goods store: a mixture of Office Depot and Crains stationery. The main store has 9 levels of stationery goods: 8th floor—Framing Service; 7th floor—Art Supplies; 6th floor—Paper shop; 5th floor—Diaries and Address Books; 4th floor—Work Style Selection; 3rd floor—Office Supplies and Files; 2nd floor—Social Stationery; Main floor—Fountain Pins and Luxury Gifts; Ground floor—Greeting Cards and the Basement—Casual Stationery and Gift Wrapping Supplies.

The Annex (Ito-ya 2) has scrapbooking supplies, art papers (Cavalli, etc.), Bookbinding Supplies and Craft Books.

Ito-ya 3 has been closed since I was here in February 2008. Its contents have been moved to the 6th floor of the main building. Located here are all of the Japanese papers (washi) that Ito-ya has historically been known (including Yuzen-shi and Chiyogami).

So this time around, I thought that I would spend my money on more Japanese style papers. Yet, that didn’t really happen. While I did buy some Yuzen-shi, most of my money was spent on non-Japanese paper that I can’t seem to find in the U.S. I have an affinity for fake hide papers that are paper backed. I am sure that you have seen the type of paper that I am talking about—fake crocodile, fake snakeskin, etc. Because of the heftiness of the paper and because it is paper-backed, I tend to use it to cover journals. I found a fake leather paper here in Japan that will fit the bill as well. I bought it in 8 different colors and two sheets of each.

Yet the biggest surprise was going to the second floor of Ito-ya 2 and finding Gocco supplies. The inks were 315 yen each (about $3.15). If you buy over 14 boxes of ink, you get them for 300 yen each. So, to say the least, I loaded up. They had boxes of bulbs but they only came in boxes of 4 bulbs. I forgot how much they were.

The funny aspect of the whole experience for me was when I went to the information booth to ask for Gocco supplies. In my very broken Japanese, I asked “Gocco ku-da-sai (Gocco please)?” and in very practiced English the young woman replied, “We have no Gocco machines.” I started to laugh as did she and asked: Furansu-go ku-da-si (French please)? At which she replied in French. Apparently, the staff has been trained in 8 different languages to say “We have no Gocco machines.”

You have to marvel at the preparedness of the Japanese. Tomorrow is a foray into the second major craft store—Tokyu Hands.


fingerstothebone said...

They clearly mean it, if they can say it in 8 different language!

woolanthropy said...

8 languages...Wow.