Friday, March 7, 2008

Knitting in Japan

OK, I didn't have time to blog this morning, so we've got a lot of ground to cover. Let's get right to it, shall we?

Yesterday was my second day at Kamakura. I actually visited different parts of the city, this time concentrating on Kita-Kamakura and Hase, with its various temples and shrines.

What can I say that pictures like these don't say already? These shrines and temples are so beautiful and awe inspiring, you just can't help but be speechless when you're there. I figured out what actually had me so enchanted about them yesterday. It's the gardens and all the greenery around you. Even in early, early Spring, when things aren't yet full in bloom, it's still magnificent. Here, take a look at what I mean.
Beautiful, right? After visiting the main shrines in Kita-Kamakura, I walked back to Kamakura and caught a train to Hase, a different quarter which houses some lovely temples as well as a giant, bronze Boudha statue. Dude was massive, I tell you.
After that I called it a day, and headed back to Yokosuka. Now, I realize I'm skimping on the descriptions of the day's travels, but trust me, I have good reason. What I really want to get to is my undying love and admiration of knitters in general and to profess my amazement at Ravelry in particular.

When I first found out about our trip to Japan, I checked on Ravelry to see if there were any interesting forums that where I could find out about Japanese knitting yarns and the like. I stumbled upon the Knitters in Japan group, and posted a few messages on various forums, letting people know I would be traveling and were there any special yarns and/or yarn shops that they would recommend.

Imagine my surprise and delight when people from Yokosuka, Tokyo and Kyoto (all areas I had said I would be visiting), sent me messages via Ravelry, offering to accompany me on yarn crawls and to take me to their local Knit Nights. Let's just stop right now and state the obvious: Knitters Rule!!!

So last night, as I mentioned in my last post, the kind and adorable Bethany invited me to attend the Knit Nights she had just started organizing at the Naval Base. This meant that not only did I get to meet a bunch of new knitting friends, but that I would get a tour (a Grand Tour, no less) of the base, someplace I wouldn't normally have been able to go, because as a visitor himself, Phil can't act as a sponsor for me.

Dudes, the base is huge. They have their own Taco Bell, elementary school, middle school, high school, two fitness centers, McDonald's, the list goes on and on. I couldn't believe how huge it was. And then, after all that, there were knitters.

Were present: Bethany, Vicki (aka monkeyMommy, as well as her lovely daughter Faye), Ginny (aka freegin), Cindy, Kathleen, Jenny, Marlane, Maria, and a few others who I unfortunately didn't get to spend much time with. It was a great evening, and a lovely group of women. I had a blast, and I'm really grateful to Bethany for letting me be a part of it.

Then, today I finally ventured into Tokyo and met up with Jun, who offered to take me on a guided tour of a few choice Tokyo yarn shops, after reading about my fears of getting hopelessly lost in that gigantic city (and it really IS gigantic). Not only did she meet me at Tokyo station (and locate me in 2 seconds flat, despite my wandering around like a dazed bunny), but a few ladies from her Stitch and Bitch group, Takkami (aka Takkami), Ako (aka Ako12) and Rhonda (aka Tokyomama, who had also volunteered to take me on a yarn crawl), came as well.

We took the train to Kichijoji, and navigated through the streets to Yuzawaya, a huuuuuge crafts store with practically an entire floor devoted to knitting goodness.See what I mean? The place is massive (according to Rhonda, they recently cut back on their yarn section - I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like before), and loaded with Japanese yarn and books and notions and... well, you get the picture. I mean, seriously, the place even had fleece.Here we see the lovely Jun and Rhonda, basking in a fibery glow. From there we walked up to Avril (aka Habu Textiles in New York). It's a little shop that's absolutely packed to the rafters with beautiful yarn. Lots of modern, novelty stuff (for instance, you wouldn't go there to pick up yarn for your grandpa's sweater vest), but really unique and one of a kind. There may have been a few purchases made (I don't shop and tell, sorry).We then had a lovely lunch together (which the girls paid for, no less!), after which I took the trains back to Yokosuka.

Whew! A busy 2 days, and tomorrow's going to be another long one. It's Phil's first day off, and we're heading back into Tokyo.

Before I sign off, can I just say again how frickin' amazing knitters in general, and Ravelry in particular, are???? As Rhonda put it to me today at lunch, thanks to the friends I've made via Ravelry, were I to move to Japan tomorrow, I'd be set. I know where the yarn lives, I've already got a nice circle of friends, and there's a Starbucks coffee around the corner. What else do you need?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your post was the burst of spring (and yarny goodness) that I needed this morning (after a particularly heinous night of getting up with the boys, which has nothing to do with your blog, but which was sufficiently traumatic that it will shade everything that happens to me today, INCLUDING reading your blog.)
The pics are awesome - and it's brilliant to see that you are clearly having a really good time. Shop on. Take lots of photos. ;)
Envying you the shopping, but perhaps particularly the temples (my kind of place) and the spring. O. Spring.
Kate-T-E

Caroline said...

What's this not shopping and telling thing? I want to see the yarn you bought!!! ;)

It looks like you're having a lovely time. I'm actually trying to convince my boyfriend to go to Japan next Fall. He even has a friend there. I'm not sure I'll convince him (he wants to go to Europe) but I'll sure try!

Jennifer said...

All together now:

show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!
show us what you bought!

did you buy enough to have to mail some home to yourself?

Knit & Purl Mama said...

SHOW US WHAT YOU BOUGHT!

Ok, just bring it over for March 31st Mommies-who-knit afternoon :)

I'm expecting to see what you bought ;)

Knitters are awesome - let me tell you! I agree with you!

Knit & Purl Mama said...

Forgot to mention I'm jealous you got to see a huge bronze Buddah... GOREGOUS! I'm very jealous. One day, one day, one day..... I will go and see one.