Monday, July 21, 2014

Birthday 2014: The birthday with five cakes!

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Ooops, it wasn't exactly the way I had planned to start this day but Luke and I were still drinking Cava at 4am just as the sun was rising on my birthday! I didn't mind though. It was such a fun way to start my birthday.

Luke and I were sitting in my mini-me apartment chatting away when I received a message from Grace (DA,B) RIGHT. ON. THE. DOT at 12:00 with a link to a HAND DRAWN BIRTHDAY ANIMATION!!! AMAZING! I HAVE THE BEST FRIENDS ON EARTH! Luke and I watched it about five times before I called Grace laughing!

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Presents had been arriving via courier during the week including this amazing Gorman dress from Mama-sando. At midnight I decided it was acceptable to open this gorgeous treat from David in Kyoto. Um, how on earth did he know my favourite nail polish. Amaze!

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After about 4 hours sleep, just as I was heading out the door for birthday breakfast, an express post package from James in Australia arrived. Cherry Bakewell tarts and a sweet "Did you spot Hello Sandwich on the card?" card. Nice timing, Harold.
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Birthday breakfast was at Pan to Espresso to with Luke and Moto-chan. We sat outdoors, drinking espresso, and hid undercover from the rain. I ordered my favourite number 6 Olivie sandwich which you really must try it if you're in Omotesando.

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A few hours, and a few blocks away, and it was time to meet Mami-chan at another favourite cafe in Omotesando (A-Z cafe). Mami-chan - you're the master of cute presents and cute wrapping!

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Knowing just how much I adore stamps, Mami-chan had ordered a selection of vintage Japanese stamps online for me! OMG!

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Gahhhhh and then the first of five birthday cakes came out with the A-Z staff singing Happy Birthday to me. Goodness, looking out over Aoyama and spending a special birthday time here in Tokyo - just amazing!

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After lunch I popped down to Labi Yamada denki to collect my birthday-present-to-myself. A FujiFilm x20. LOVE.
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A few hours later and I was off to meet Grace for dinner at my favourite Shimokita izakaya. Grace had illustrated me an amazing personalised book for my birthday! Full of hilarious personal jokes. THE BEST!(ID,B - I just made up this new one DA,B - can you get it? Ref: My latest Hulu infatuation)

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The second of the five birthday cakes was served here!

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A slight hangover on the day after my birthday, but I managed to make it to lunch in Harajuku with Boco-chan. We went to The Deck, Coffee and Pie. Definitely recommend this place!

Boco-chan printed on this adorable wrapping paper 'EboBento' and 'HaroSushi'. Gahhhhhh my friends are the best!

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A few hours later, and it was more kanpai fun with my lovely group of friends at Izakaya En in Shibuya. I celebrated my 30th birthday here at this exact table when I first moved to Tokyo.

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You can't beat the food at this izakaya.

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One of my lovely friends, Toshi, shares his birthday on the exact same day as me. 27th June. So much fun celebrating together! The third of five cakes! For your benefit, I've spared you the silly cake-cutting / birthday-present-opening photos that followed the blowing out of candles. But, gosh, those photos are such incredible memories of such a fun nigh.

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Nice effort making a mess of this table.

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Nijikai. Rhys was in town from Hong Kong and we drank Gin and Tonic's and dark beers and chatted about lenses and tripods. My favourite types of conversations.

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And then, oh dear, it was time for tequila shots!

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Sanjikai Sleeping Beauty.

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Compulsory 3am ramen in Shibuya.

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A taxi home just as the sun was popping up.

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I woke up around lunch time the following day to photograph most beautiful presents ever. These divine dishes were perfectly selected from my gorgeous friends. It's incredible just how well they know me! I adore these!
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More presents arrived in the post over the following days. A collage style record from my darling friend Jessie who lives in London, and a Cy Twombly-esque furoshiki from her daughter (my little god daughter) Flux.

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Pretty pasta from newlyweds Tenda and Yuko.

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And just as I thought I was already pushing it with the celebrations, there was a Sangria Birthday party at my friends shop SUGAR TOWN!

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Takuya-san made his famous sangria. You're the best, Takuya!!!

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The fourth of five cakes! Swoon!

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I honestly thought this was the finale to an amazing birthday, but then, I went to dinner at Aoya and my friends surprised me with the sweetest present.

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Ros made me this adorable Mt. Fuji pouch with a little Hello Sandwich going up and down Mt. Fuji. SOOOO cute!

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Hiki-chan excelled herself with the loveliest of wrappings! This self-designed wrapping paper is from her shop Uguisu and features the buildings iconic door and Mimosa tree. Inside was a divine Miso cooking book and a beautiful paper zipper pouch from Box & Needle.

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Somehow we have been lucky enough to become friends with amazing LA based singer songwriter Priscilla Ahn who has just written music for Ghibli's new movie 'When Marnie Was There'. This special set of pencils and sketchbook were made especially for the movie. 

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And a perfect evening and perfect birthday finished off here with the FIFTH cake. Gosh, I seriously have the best friends in the world.

Thank you so much darling ones.

Love you lots. 

Love Love
Hello Sandwich


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Four Years Living In Tokyo Today!

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Sandwiches! Four years ago today I packed up my life and moved to Tokyo! Best decision of my life.

I took an aerobics class this morning. I forgot they turn off the regular lights and put on disco lights at the end. Here I was, at 11am, a foreigner in Tokyo, dancing away with a room full of Japanese people yelling 'Yew!' and 'Yeah!'. Hah. Hilarious way to mark this anniversary.

The gym classes are always a good two-in-one deal. I get a workout and get a free Japanese lesson at the same time. I pride myself on being quite coordinated when it comes to dance after years of Physi and Latin American dance (and hey, I danced in the Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony, you know ha ha) but oh dear, today I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, wobbling around like a crazy woman, awkwardly two beats behind everyone. You know when you see beginner dancers throwing their arms up in the air only to find that the rest of the class have already moved onto the next step (where the arms are NOT in the air) and their two little arms are the only ones sticking up. That was me! Gaijin represent! At one stage the entire class was facing me because I'd missed one of the '三拍子' (triple time) or whatever the instructor was rattling on about. 三拍子, by the way, sounded very much like the pronounciation for 'three seconds' which kind of had me confused. Three seconds - no, wait - three times! By the time I'd realised this, then they were all up to the second time and I was still holding for three seconds. Jeez. I had to laugh at myself. That's what happens when you decide to launch back into a fitness routine with the advanced class at Tipness. I've decided to blame it entirely on my less than perfect Japanese rather than admit that I've lost my touch when it comes to the moves on the dance floor.

Some say it takes hearing a new word three times before you remember it. I think I've finally got 'くりかえし' (repeat) after today. The first time I heard it, I was standing in a queue in a Shinjuku department store just before one of my workshops. An announcement came over the loud speaker 'We will soon have a workshop by the very popular blogger Hello Sandwich-san, くりかえし, we will soon have a workshop by the very popular blogger Hello Sandwich-san'. Ha, very popular, I wish! They will try anything to round up the masses! It always fascinates me the way Japanese words get stuck in your word bank.

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I'm so happy to be living here.

Taking shoes off indoors, road workers who bow as you walk past, a friendly お疲れ様です(good job) said to you after you try on a dress, polka dot trucks, packaging that is aesthetically designed and also easy to open (WHY this is not the norm everywhere continues to baffle me), bleach in tiffany blue and pink bottles, being able to call up and select a re-delivery time for courier packages, Sekaido and Tokyu Hands and their endless craft supplies, nomihoudai parties, trains that come down-to-the-second on time and arrive at stations each with their own little melody, convenience stores that are actually convenient where you can do anything from send a package / pay bills / buy delicious food or even collect a package, points cards, walking home through smoky back alleys of six-seater yakitori bars, spotting men walk to the local sento with their little plastic basket of shampoo / body wash and towel, the pleasant smell of washing liquid running under the drains in Shimokitazawa, the almost curated display of Japanese books in Sanseido, shops that stay open later than 6pm and bars that stay open until 26:00, the orderly rush at Shinjuku station in peak hour, the polite nods from strangers who apologise in advance for squashing onto the train just when you are certain there is absolutely no more room (there is always more room), the glistening little red lights on the top of buildings, legal 'roadies' on cat street with friends, buses shaped like cartoon dogs, missing the last train and being able to walk home from Shibuya, making wishes at the shrine, the sweet smell of Miso soup cooking on a neighbours stove, the daily 5pm bell and it's variations in different neighbourhoods, oshibori, bike riding without helmets...gosh, and so much more.

Love you Japan!


Related post: My first day living in Tokyo.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Real Living Magazine

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Thank you lovely people over at Real Living magazine for this little Hello Sandwich page in your new issue! And a big congratulations on 100 issues! Yay!

Love Love
Hello Sandwich

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Japanese Magazine Shoot

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Hello Sandwiches!

The day started with a colourful breakfast, green smoothie and a 'Cafe Use' coffee whilst reading my quantum physics book. A relaxing walk along the Daizawa nature walk listening to my favourite podcast. A spot of shopping in Shimokita for last minute props. And, since just after lunch, I've been painting away prepping for a shoot for a Japanese craft magazine tomorrow. It's rainy season and pouring outside now. I feel so lucky that I don't have to head out in the rain tonight, but instead, I can keep working away listening to the lovely rain and 'Visions' album by Grimes. I really love 'Oblivion', 'Vowels = Space and Time', 'Be a Body' and 'Colour of Moonlight' tracks. How about you?

Stay dry, Sandwiches!

P.S. Do you have any favourite podcasts?


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Onigiri station なう!

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Hello Sandwiches!

There's been a little onigiri station happening over here in Shimokitazawa this afternoon. I made three types.

1) Hijiki
2) Wakame & goma furikake with shiso
and 3) The gaijin version - asparagus, leek, parsley, pea and pepper.

I'm off to my friends party now.

Happy Sunday night, Sandwiches!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Early June in Tokyo, 2014

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A Russian Bay Leaf tea from Kyoto and my little Rice decopatch pencil box.

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I was on my way to my first Japanese wedding! (Probably shouldn't have had those last few glasses of Cava and missed the last train the night before though...) The dress code was 'colourful'. So sweet! I wore this necklace and bag with a green silk Gorman dress and some suede magenta bow pumps. Gosh, I hope I didn't go overboard on the dress code. Hah!

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やった!I caught the bouquet!!!

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Roadies Tokyo style with Matt and Joel. Best guys ever.

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A few to many of these at Martin's super fun birthday. Special thanks to Matt for this shot. I realllllly need to update my iphone.

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OMG! I turned up to dinner with DA and we both had new op-shop clothes on - IN (almost) EXACTLY THE SAME PRINT!? Amazing, no!?

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THEN we ate food which was almost as colourful. If you're in Shinsen, please try this place.

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Flat white with Luke at 'Bondi Coffee Sandwiches' which has just opened up in Tomigaya. You can take the girl outta Australia but...

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THIS is my supermarket! Love you Japan!

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Apparently there were 30 different things in this ¥412 'balance' supermarket obento.

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Crafting away as usual.
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Edges of Japanese packaging 'Lettuce, Saran Wrap, Cheese and Pasta'.

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More adorable Japanese packaging.

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My friend Kazumi just released her latest craft book!

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She put the Aussie newsagents bag I gave her to good use!

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One of the good things about Tokyo's humid Summer.

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Sandwiches! I'll be hosting another workshop at Tokyu Hands Shinjuku on 15th June. Hope you can come along! More details as soon as I have them.

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A slight addiction.

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Hello Sandwich (messy) desk.

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A spur of the moment all-nighter with Mr Drew.

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The light at 4am - gosh!

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No rest for Yamato.

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This used to be the Odakyu-sen.

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Decided to make this black and white after watching this Moriyama film (Thanks, James).

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Combini - The best place for portraits for Mr Drew.

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4:45am Shimokita.

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It's rainy season in Tokyo now. My washing machine is full of water and won't start! Gahhh. I have to go to a Sangria party tomorrow and I can't wear this! Send help!

Love Love
Hello Sandwich