Travel Notes in Japan with Maven by geraldine kane

I recently wrote about a short trip to a small city in the Japanese Alps for the online journal of our beautiful Belfast stockist, Maven.
Click through to Maven to read more about life and design outside of Tokyo. 🏯

Matsumoto castle, Japan

Matsumoto castle, Japan


See you in a bit,

How To Stay Cool This Summer by geraldine kane

As much as I love a hot summer's day, I find it really hard to stay cool while maintaining a convincing air of put-togetherness. Spaghetti-string vests and flip flops are fine for the beach or the park, but don't really work for going about your business in real life. Whether you're just on your way to work or off on a chic city break, you are going to need some strategies.

As a veteran of hot and humid summers in Tokyo, here are my recommendations...
・Light, breathable fabrics mean that you can cover up without suffering (polyester is not your friend).
・Cap or cropped sleeves keep the sophistication level high while allowing you to bare your legs and/or go for a low neckline. 
・If you are baring your skin make sure you have some serious sunscreen on, it's just not worth it.
・Invest in good quality sandals that are not going to disintegrate after a couple of sweaty wears
・Accessorise with simple pieces that aren't going to weigh you down. Wicker allows you to carry a substantial bag without it looking too heavy.
・I use this natural insect spray to deter mosquitoes. Best to avoid inhaling chemicals such as DEET which is often found in insect repellent.
・Have a light wrap at the ready for over-air conditioned shops and for cooler evenings.

Have a look at our Style board on Pinterest for more ideas 

Stay cool & enjoy!



Spring Wedding Outfits by geraldine kane

Wedding season is starting with a bang for us. We have two weddings next month, one in England and one in Italy and they are just one week apart.

So, I sense some panic shopping on the horizon. My usual first stop is Zara but there's a good chance you'll be accidentally twinning with another guest at the wedding.

I'm going through my Style board on Pinterest and have picked out a few outfits I like. I guess I'm looking for something with a midi length and a cinched-in waist, a feminine silhouette but really soft and comfortable for swanning around in Tuscany :D

If you see anything out there, let me know!



Spring 2017 by geraldine kane

A walk along Kanda river in the university town of Waseda, Tokyo...

You can see 早稲田さくらまつり written on the paper lanterns, meaning Waseda cherry blossom festival. It was a sunny breezy day and the trees and lanterns kept swaying in the wind, making it difficult to get a focused shot. The results, however, manage to capture the hazy, dreamy atmosphere of the cherry blossom clouds. 

🌸 G


Colour and Texture, Tokyo by geraldine kane

Tokyo is a city full of lines and textures, an unrelenting patchwork of pastels and chromatic greys. I often wonder if it's because of the boom time in the 80s that there are so many beautifully faded colours here. I can imagine these buildings were much more vibrant when Japan was in its economic bubble. Perhaps the strong winter sun has dampened their vibrancy over the years. Or maybe it's the frequency of earthquakes that dictates the materials used in construction and therefore the colour choices available. There isn't much red brick here, and the shapes and details are very different to Ireland and other European cities.These funny little low-rise greyish boxes are very distinct to Tokyo and other cities in Japan.

The streets and buildings are kept incredibly clean and are well-maintained, but there is a real retro feel in Tokyo once you get away from the modern glass of places like central Shinjuku, Marunouchi and Omotesando with their purpose-built office buildings, designer shops and high-end restaurants.

I wandered around the edges of Shinjuku yesterday, visiting small quiet neighbourhoods within walking distance of the neon and noise you expect to find in a major city. I had intended to go to the park in central Shinjuku but found it was too crowded to go in. Shinjuku Gyoen is usually a peaceful, sparsely-populated space but we are almost at 満開 'mankai' (full bloom) in Tokyo and everyone is hoping to sit, eat and drink with friends under the cherry blossoms - a lovely way to spend a Sunday.

Instead of photographing the blossoms in the packed park, I decided to walk around for a bit and capture the pastel tones of this strangely beautiful city. I've cropped a lot of the images as I wanted to really highlight the layers and textures of a city of 13.62 million people :) There is little outside space and gardens are really a rarity. Windows are often tiny or covered to provide privacy. It's likely that you'll look out of your apartment window and be facing a wall 30cm in front of you. Yet it's the sense of calm, the general safety, and the orderly and respectful interactions of its citizens that makes living in such a densely populated city not only possible, but very pleasant - especially on a clear sunny day like this.




Malaysia Part 2 [ b o r n e o ] by geraldine kane

Welcome to the second part of our Malaysia trip. It turns out I had taken far too many photos of monkeys so found it very difficult to choose. I've shown a lot of restraint in this post! 

 Just a short flight from KL (Kuala Lumpur) and you can find yourself in Malaysian Borneo, full of lush jungle and tropical wildlife. We flew over the peaks of Mount Kinabalu as it poked through the clouds.

We spent a few days on a tiny island just off KK  (Kota Kinabalu) called Manukan Island. I'll not rub it in too much but there was beautiful sand, sea, scuba-diving and a very lucky upgrade to a two-story beach house. Oh, and the odd G&T while watching sunset from the rocky edge of the island. 

After reluctantly leaving the island, we took another short flight to the northeast of Borneo island to Sandakan. From there we went to Sepilok, an area famous for its orangutan sanctuary. It's a rehabilitation centre for orangutans that have been orphaned. They help prepare the orphaned orangutans for life in the wild, supplementing their diet with scheduled feeding times. The orangutans return to the feeding area twice a day for the fruit the centre provides, this is when visitors get the chance to see them from a safe distance. 

We also had the chance to see Silver Leaf monkeys (above) and the interesting Proboscis monkeys (below). We could watch them feed, play, nitpick and we even saw a couple of battles for territory between the male Proboscis monkeys. 

I hope you enjoyed my attempt at wildlife photography! I'm not used to dealing with such animate and unpredictable subjects :P

That wraps up our trip to Malaysia, I really recommend it if you like a holiday with plenty of variety in terms of food, culture, city and wildlife.

If you missed Part 1 about Kuala Lumpur, it's here.  


Thanks for reading!



A Little Trip to Malaysia - part 1 by geraldine kane

PART 1: Kuala Lumpur

Last month we went on a little trip to Malayasia. Our main purpose was to attend a wedding, but we have to admit that the food, culture and the chance to see Orangutans and other jungle wildlife were a big draw too. 

Malaysia offers an amazing mix of cultures from Malay, Chinese and Indian, to traces of the British Empire (the three pronged sockets being a minor example of these).

One example of Indian Malaysian culture is the Batu Caves, not too far from Kuala Lumpur. It consists of huge 400 million-year-old limestone caves, several Hindu temples and a whole lot of steps. There are 272 steps to be exact, which in the humid heat, are a little bit daunting. Fortunately, there are lots of little monkeys to distract you on the way up, running around on the steps, fighting and playing with each other and attempting to steal food from the odd unsuspecting tourist's bag.

For someone who is usually drawn to grey and other subdued colors, I was won over by the joyfully vibrant patterns and colours.

Around KL

Here are a few snaps of the mix of architecture and general vibes around the city. KL has some of the most reasonably priced 5* hotels in the world, so you can enjoy a bit of luxury without blowing all your spending money. Food is cheap and cheerful and very varied, we ate a lot of Rendang curry (breakfast, lunch and dinner practically) but we also enjoyed some Chinese dishes in the bustling China Town market.

Have you ever tried durian? It's the king of fruits apparently, but it's definitely an acquired taste. It wasn't in season when we were there but I'm not sure if I would have been brave enough to try it straight. Instead, we opted for a chocolate durian cake experiment. Inside this rich chocolate ganache and sponge is a heavy cream centre filled with durian pulp. As soon as you cut into the cake, the unique smell hits you. Some say it smells like old socks but I found it to be kind of garlicky, rather strange in a fruit. Something about it reminded me of vine tomatoes and the custardy texture was quite confusing! Even though it was downright weird, and I could feel the garlicky smell emanating from me after, I kept going back for one more bite. 

That's all from the Kuala Lumpur leg of our trip. We also scooted over to Malaysian Borneo, a short plane ride away, to see a bit of island and jungle life. I'll pick some photos out from the 1000s of monkey pics I took and post here soon 

Speak soon,