Hello Tokyo 2017: Tokyu Hands, Shinjuku, Part One: Stationery

Information: Tokyu Hands, Shinjuku Store| Address: Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo| Opening Hours: 10:00 to 9:00pm| Website (in English) http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html?lang=en

A trip to Tokyo would not be complete, unless you visit Tokyu Hands. It’s so hard to describe, but it’s basically an emporium of Japanese ingenuity, filled with gadgets, lotions and potions, and everything you never knew you wanted until now.  Tokyu Hands is definitely not just a tourist destination, because I observe that Japanese people shop there too.  The stationery floor is usually filled with office workers and teenagers (I imagine the stationery section must be one of the most satisfying forms of retail therapy after a long day of work or school).

The branch that I visited is the Shinjuku store, located in the Times Square Building, and it’s just a two minute walk from the New South Exit of JR Shinjuku Station. If you only have time for one visit, I would advise allocating at least one to two hours here, because the store is 8 floors. It’s sensory overload, but in the best, possible way. My advice is to shop there about an hour to an hour and a half before the store closes at 9:00 pm.  The crowds have thinned out considerably by then, so you have plenty of room to browse, and there is hardly a wait for the cashier, or at the tax return counter downstairs.

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During my first visit to Tokyo Hands a few years ago, I was completely overwhelmed. I think I may have had a mini-melt down in the belt buckle/ leather laces section (why was I there again?!). Since I was staying nearby, I divided up my visits over the 5 days that I was there, which made the experience much more productive (and rational).  I only zeroed in on the items that I was especially interested in: beauty and cosmetics (3rd floor ) stationery (8th floor) , and kitchenware (4rth floor)  and just limited my browsing to those three floors.  For clarity purposes, I will divide the coverage of my Tokyu Hands experience into two posts: stationery and kitchen gadgets

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The Early Bird Gets the Worm! Stationery Flash Sale Shopping Spree Experience at Books.com.tw

Living in Taiwan has a very important perk. What is that, you may ask? Is it the convenience factor? Yes. The great food? Yes. The great desserts? Yes, yes! But another absolutely delightful perk is the wonderful array of stationery that is available, any time, anywhere. If you like lovingly curated stores, then my friend Tiger’s Plain Stationery is perfect for you. But, occasionally, if you want to shop at home, in your pyjamas in the dead of the night, or in the wee hours of the morning, then there is no better site to do it than on Books.com.tw.  I would equate books.com.tw to Taiwan’s version of Amazon; similarly it is a vast website filled with books, lifestyle products, electronics, clothing, homeware and also stationery.  One wee morning, I received a message from my friend Peggy, who said told me they were having a gigantic sale, and that items were up to 90% off.  I threw down my phone, rushed to my computer and that was when the madness began.  I clicked, I panicked, I rejoiced, I was disappointed, then elated again, and I put items in my cart, and sent in my order in less than 30 minutes.  Competition was fierce. It seems like all of Taiwan was competing with me for those Moleskine notebooks and Cavallini stamps! Afterwards, I couldn’t remember exactly what I bought, but I recall that I really needed everything that I put in my cart.  😀

The order was processed and sent in 24 hours. I was sort of surprised when I went to pick up the boxes… two boxes?! And one of them was so heavy that I had to put them down on a stoop to rest.

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Ta-da! As my friend Carol says, shopping of this magnitude can only be described with one word. Haul. And she is absolutely right. This was a stationery haul. Except for the regular sized Traveler’s notebook, which was about 40% off, the rest of the items were about 70-90% off their retail price.

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前幾天收到 Peggy 的訊息說 博客來文具在打折!!! 我立刻馬上right now 現在的衝到電腦前面開始了瘋狂的 shopping frenzy.  不到半個小時很有效率的買完一些喜歡,使用的文具。 買完的時候, 跟 Peggy 說, 這是史上在博客來買文具最爽的一次! 大家來看看我的開箱文吧!

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New uses for old things: I’ll fly away~ upcycling my Midori kraft file folder with airplane baggage tags

My obsession with my Midori’s Traveler’s note book is still going strong! I’ve been using this setup since August, and I’m still really happy with it. For 2015, I’ve decided to use the passport sized TN for my daily appointment book. To keep the leather cover from bursting, I’m going to limit the number of notebooks that I carry around to two notebooks (one year overview calendar, and one weekly view) a clear zip case, a kraft file and of course, my trusty plastic sheet, which makes writing on bumpier surfaces a breeze .

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As I was cleaning out the accumulated bits and and pieces for the new year, I realized that my kraft file was looking a little worse for wear. This sturdy folder usually holds a few washi cards, some stamps, my plastic writing sheet, and some odds and ends (ok, a LOT of odds and ends!) such as business cards from places that I want to blog about, or shopping lists, or recipes that I’ve scribbled down.  I had the intention of decorating it, but I never got around to it.  But recently, I was inspired by Patrick Ng’s idea of making a bookmark from airplane baggage tags. You can see his beautiful work on his blog, Scription.

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Of course, you never have a luggage tags around when inspiration strikes! I stuck mine from my most recent trip to Hong Kong in a scrapbook, without realizing their potential for utter usefulness!  I learned from Patrick’s blog and this article from Slate Magazine, that these sticky strips, otherwise known as “Automated Baggage Tags” are actually a combination of silicon, plastic and paper. Plus, they are resistant to heat, cold, sunlight, oil and moisture.  This combination is interesting to me, because in reality, a lot of my notebooks, or papers etc. are exposed to these elements on a regular basis (especially when I’m baking or cooking new recipes, I often inadvertently have to turn pages or write notes with a wet or sticky hand)  Luckily for me, my brother came back recently on a jet plane (I love that song, so I look for excuses to say “jet plane,” whenever I can) and he was nice enough to dig them back out from the recycling bin for me.

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I had a fun half hour or so, on a rainy winter’s afternoon, up-cycling my kraft file folder.  It was fun to place the barcodes, which computerizes the task of matching every boarded passenger, to every piece of luggage loaded onboard the aircraft,  in different patterns on the folder’s surface. TPE is my favorite destination, so I featured it as often as I could! Hopefully my kraft file folder will be good for a few months with my little upgrade.  I didn’t have enough to cover the interior of the folder, but  that will change after the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

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As I get older, I find myself being drawn to everyday items that are beautiful, yet durable and sturdy. And, I’m always happy to prolong their life by giving them a little upgrade.  If anything, I love them even more after the upgrade.

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Enjoy!

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Product Discovery: Yong Le Fabric Market Part 3~ The Ribbon Roundup!

The upcoming holiday season has reminded me of my love of ribbons. Ribbons have always been a weakness of mine. I have a habit of saving every pretty ribbon that comes my way, and I can never resist a pretty ribbon on sale.  There are quite a few places to shop for ribbon in Taipei; you can buy them in bookstores, such as Eslite (the Xinyi and Songyan branches both have nicely curated selections) and of course you can buy them at VVG Chiffon. However, ultimately, the place where you will be most spoiled for selection is in the Yong-Le Market area.

For this post, I’m going to introduce three of my favorite shops, where I buy most of my ribbon. They are all located within minutes of the Yong-Le Market building.  (It’s hard for me to give directions, but I’ll include either the shop sign, or the business card, which you can use as a point of reference) I’ll also include a “best finds” explanation for each store, so it’s easier to narrow down your shopping choices. (in case want a more focused shopping experience)

Just a quite FYI before I begin: Most of these stores only accept cash, so make sure you have plenty on hand before you arrive. Based on personal experience, I try to have a handful of small bills and change, which makes the buying process a whole lot smoother.

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Field Trip: MT Expo (washi tape) in Taipei 2014~ 2O14mt博海外首展在台北 [Updated!]

As all of you may know from my blog posts here and over at my Instagram, I’m crazy about washi tape.  My love for washi tape knows no bounds, and I incorporate it into my daily life whenever and wherever I can.  So, I was thrilled to learn back in August that one of my favorite brands of Japanese washi tape, MT was putting on their first major exhibit overseas right here in Taipei!

A few days before the beginning of the MT Expo in Taipei, the organizers brought out this adorable video on YouTube.

Wow, from the video, it really looks pretty crowded… but I’m happy to report that I did not experience those crowds at all.  I visited a few days after the grand opening, and everything was a lot calmer then.  If you are in Taipei, the exhibit is open until November 16th.

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A lot of people don’t really understand my washi tape obsession.  I’m often met with a puzzled expression and the words “it’s just tape?”  Sigh. It’s not just pretty tape.  (Although, it’s perfectly acceptable to like something just because it’s decorative) However, washi tape is a perfectly functional tool.  While not all brands are created equal, the tapes by MT are actually pretty durable.  They are waterproof, reusable, and can be stuck firmly to a variety of surfaces.   I personally think that if adding a bit of tape to a otherwise mundane surface can make it more cheerful looking, then why not?  For example, MT tape was able to transform a fairly glum concrete redistribution center into a colorful exhibition ground.   Even an ordinary city bus looks much more inviting with covered with swaths of multi-color tape.

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If my car ever needs a new color, I’m going to skip paint and just cover it from bumper to bumper in washi tape instead!

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Anyway, onto the Expo! The Expo is located inside an old warehouse/distribution type of building.  There is plenty of  wall space and floor space to display all the washi tape.

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