Beautiful Things

Vintage Jewelry Finds #1

costume jewelry



******これって御祓いみたい…OHARAI RITUAL***Japanese Style Ritual My Way***
These vintage costume jewelry finds came from an Estate Sale that took place right across the street. A 96-year old across the street neighbor passed away and her belongings were put up for sale. While I used to find estate sale distasteful especially if you had any personal ties to the deceased, I decided to take a peek with no intention of acquiring anything. A huge line had formed even before the opening – there were still people busily milling about when I finally decided to step in in the afternoon expecting to see little, having only known the deceased in her later years, hardly ever fashionable.

Much to my amazement, there were so many jewelry pieces, still left in the large display cases… I was shocked. I had never seen her with any of the jewelry before my eyes. In fact, I never saw her with any piece of jewelry, at least not anything that left any impression on me. But there it was – items after items of costume jewelry in these large display cases… and a huge crowd pushing and shoving to get a piece of it to try on.

People die and their material belongings remain in this world but not their body and mind – what’s left of them is just the memory that they existed for those who care to remember. It is surreal and yet so real.

For some reason, I could not try them on without really really having a ritual of them – I took these pieces, soaked them in alcohol, patted them dry, sprayed them with rose water, pretending it to be sacred water I used to get from the church, blessed them with prayers to honor what the dead had left behind and as if to purify the possessive grips the deceased may still have on the material goods she left behind – a thought occurred to me – maybe she would have wanted to take these along with her on her journey? No, where’s she’s at, she no longer needs any adornment to be beautiful. Her spirit, the soul is radiant and imbued with eternal beauty that has gone home to be with her family, friends and ancestors. Still, not knowing, this Japanese Oharai ritual my way, allowed me to feel at ease to take possession of these pretty objects left behind by its former owner. Finally after the” Oharai” ritual, tried on just the blue floral earrings – Wow, only to be met by so many compliments of ouuu’s and ahhh’s – on how beautiful they are …Vintage earrings …Call them Mad Men romantic vintage style! they just don’t make them like these anymore.

With my piqued curiosity, found these Vintage Costume Jewelry Collectors’ books. Would love to find out more about these jewelry – Where were they made? Who designed them? Are they from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s? Leafing through the pages of the texts to find out more. These books are chock full of designs from the yester-years. Sigh…such a throw back. For me, they are something to just look at or to be passed down to young ladies with particular appreciation for vintage accessories.

Amazon has these books for further study for those of us into collecting, designing or just plain curious about costume jewelry from the bygone era.


Beautiful Places

Nakahara Junichi Vintage Fashion



There’s a chic display window on Hiroo shopping street in Tokyo. No wonder – it is Junichi Nakahara’s boutique in Hiroo. The store is small (isn’t everything in Japan relatively small compared to the Super-sized US?) but the bright red color scheme is rather eye catching. It’s right across from Starbucks – a very Showa retro feel…is quite a novelty in this neighborhood – but oddly fits right in with the rest of the street scene.

Hiroo area is known to be a rather international district because many embassies are all over this part of town. As a result spotting foreigners “gaijin” is not all that unusual. There are Chinese, Korean, French, German, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Burkina Faso (where?) Embassies. I am sure I have missed few others in this exercise of naming embassies … but the point being, it is an interesting town with great deal of young students in the streets due to prestigous schools such as Sacred Heart University (both International and Japanese that Empress Michiko attended) and Keio campus being nearby. Yet like many parts of Japan, there’s the old – that vintage Showa retro feel, mixed with the modern international feel pervading the streets.
It might be of interest that there’s actually still an old style Japanese public bath surviving on this street. A real throwback to see a 広尾銭湯 = “Hiroo Public Bath” sign just few doors down from this chic boutique and next door to a very popular ramen shop. Walk a bit more towards the Hiroo JR subway station and at the corner will be a wine shop and then cross the street and there’s Hiramatsu Tei, quite an exclusive and fancy looking French restaurant, that is right next door to McDonalds! The juxtaposition of elements is amusing to someone returning after so many years . All within 3 minute walk, you get the old and the new, the very Japanese to the Western… More you look at the place from a perspective of someone coming back after years of blank time… more you can appreciate the charm of this town.

Suggested places of interest:

1. Yamafuji restaurant: Organic restaurants where every ingredients are sourced from farmers/producers with a face and a name.

2. Meiji-ya: Grocery store – rather expensive but quality is there.
3. National supermarket – Grocery store catering to the westerners. Again, a bit expensive.
4. Vinos Yamazaki – wine shop at the corner. Good selection.
5. Priya Indian restaurant – lovely. Good food at good value.
6. Taro Ramen – They always give you a coupon for free side of gyoza after you have a bowl of ramen. So when you return, you give them this coupon, they will get you a small plate of 3 gyozas to go with your bowl. Good value.
7. J Cafe – appeared to have closed… How sad. Was Organic, macrobiotics and raw foods…
8. Sawamura Bakery – the best selection of breads; Cafe upstairs. Fresh & tasty. Off shoot of Sawamura in Karuizawa, a resort for the Tokyo city folks.

There’s actually my favorite “GO TO” Japanese lunch place in Hiroo but I cannot share that information… it would get too crowded and as it is, they seem to sell out on their daily specials if you don’t get there early…:( Not a fancy place but again, rather retro – Showa ambiance pervades this cozy place.


Beautiful Things

Hard Tail Forever


この写真はサンフランシスコ、ヨガジャーナルのコンフェレンスでのマーケットフロアからのもので、ハードの展示ブースあり、思わず、エキサイト。ロサンゼルス本店、サンタモニカにしか直営店がない1991創設のスポーツアパレル。流行りの最先端をいくようなデザイナーウェアはヨガスタジオやジム、デパート、クラブのブティークなどに置かれてるブランドです。疑ったヨガウェアデザインとリッチなカラーパレットで注目。もうHTならヨガスタジオ外でもオシャレといったわけで、スタジオからカジュアルウェア、そしてさらにイブニングウェアーとしても変身を遂げる女子の味方とされセレブも愛用とか。創立者は紳士デニムやメンズアパレルで知られる元米国空軍オフェイサー。ロゴもエンジェルの羽と思いきや、実は空軍兵士好みの、エアーミリタリールックを取り入れたロゴ。スポーツ、特にヨガトレ連中なら、ヒップ(特にあの”尻尾”=テールがつくあたりのエリア)、腰回りがすっきり、後ろから見たシルエットは、あそこの筋肉が鍛えられカッコいいぞと言った意味。サンタモニカのお店(one and only 本店)は風水を取り入れた間取りで明るい竹のフロアリング。入ると目に映るのがうわ~南カリフォルニアの明るい陽射しに生える新鮮なカラー!LOVE:)カラーと聞くとけばけばしい強烈な原色とかを想像しますが、原色はごく珍しく、クリーンでピュアな…綺麗な色遣いですが時には渋いカラーもあり、ロスのセンスが表れてます。ヨガファッションの最先端をクリエイトした例に、15年前、ヨガパンツのウェイストラインをストレッチ生地でくるっと前折しウェイストバンド(fold overと言います)にするといったユニークなデザイン発想。日本人なら、んっ?これは一種の腹巻では~といった感じで丹田あたりからコアパワーが湧きそうなお腹ほっかほっかデザイン。今では数々の他社が真似しているので珍しくもない定番ウェイストベルト”腹巻”(笑)、最初はハードだけのデザインだったような~



Hard Tail Forever…


Click the photo for close-up details:

With the latest controversy over the see-through Lululemon’s signature yoga pants, we may reevaluate other brands. I have always loved Hardtail and going to their one and only flagship store in Santa Monica was one of the highlights of my trip to LA since that’s the only retail storefront. It is not the use of primary colors but other delicate color palettes that were so soothing to the eyes – very fresh in the natural light filled space…as you give off this sigh of appreciation. EXHALE, Exhale, exhale…love this space of light prettiness.

Of course the biggest highlight was to see my sister and then to visit yoga studios I had been dying to visit. Some people go bar-hopping, some people go to wineries, some people check out the chow scenes being a foodie – then there are some people who like to make the round of hiking trails and beaches, yes I too like all the above BUT, if I were to choose what’s on THE top of my list of things to do- Well, that would be to go to a yoga studio I’ve only read or heard about, to find that celebrated instructor I can learn from. Ideally, then, go to the beach to practice. Am I nuts? Yes, I am settling down as I search for my “home” away from home.