To heaven and back
And we’re back from our holidays! Did you miss us?
Like we mentioned, we went on a hanami, cherry blossom viewing trip, to Japan.
Here’s the cherry blossoms on the right, here is everyone else taking pictures with said cherry blossoms on the left. It seems to be a national sport, this taking pictures of cherry blossoms, and it involves high jumps, rock climbing and generally circus-worthy acrobatics, especially if you’re trying to take a selfie (that is if you don’t have a camera specially designed for taking selfies).
We managed to combine business with pleasure though, so we ended up in bead heaven, buying supplies for our shop. There is such a place on Earth and it is situated in Tokyo, Japan, in a neighbourhood called Asakusa-bashi. Yes, you read that right, we’re talking about a whole neighbourhood where the cream of the crop in supply shops for jewellery making have opened their stores. You can find here anything from beads, leather, packaging, ribbons etc. They’re so many of them that there’s even a map for the avid bead shopper, a sort of leaflet. You can find it on http://www.bel-art.co.jp/shop_shop/map_color.html
As far as I read about Asakusa-bashi in other blogs with like-minded jewellery makers (such as Mediatinker, 8Tokyo or Blackcabbit to name just a few), the average number of shops you can actually visit in a day is about 3… This turned out to be on the spot for us as well. We had planned on seeing the entire neighbourhood briefly in one day, but after spending 4 hours straight only in the Beads Factory store ( the showcase store for the Miyuki beads that we use in most of our creations), well, we had to adjust our plans…
Beads Factory was the main attraction for us after we had seen this 1 min youtube clip with the inside of the shop, with walls upon walls of jars with beads. Oh, how I wish I could take all of them home!
The upstairs was dedicated to Swarovski and other type of beads, so it’s not just a Miyuki store.
Several thousands of yens and an omurice dinner later, we went into the Beads Shop J4 shop. They seemed to be specializing in plastic acrylic beads. I mean they had a wide range of beads, findings, chains etc, but the first floor was simply full of walls of acrylic pearls. What we managed to capture in this picture was just a tiny tiny corner with only white pearls. And so it went on and on and on for several square meters, in all possible colors.
In terms of real pearls though, the catch was quite slim. Fortunately we had already run into a semi-precious bead shop in Kyoto, in the Teramachi shopping arcade with a wide variety of cultured pearls, up to AA class quality by my untrained eye.
I don’t know if it’s a rule or not, but all the bead stores we went into had a floor dedicated to ateliers. They probably hold workshops or just beading sessions. Even the Kiwa store in La Foret Harajuku had a space for beaders, but that one looked more like a cafe than an atelier. The perfect environment to get inspired if you ask me.
Our trip was unfortunately very short, so we didn’t get to visit everything that we wanted. It felt more like we just dipped our toes in the massive Disneyland of a country that is Japan.
If you’ve been to any of the other jewellery supply stores in Asakusa-bashi or in Japan, let us know. What was it like, did you like it, did you buy anything nice?