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.




Stor, A New Irish Design Shop in Tokyo by geraldine kane

There's been a lot happening here in Tokyo recently. I've been working with a good friend, Mizue, who has decided to open a design shop in Daikanyama that showcases contemporary  Irish design.

The idea began slowly, a long time ago. We had been discussing, on and off, Mizue's desire for a new challenge and a new career. Originally a graphic designer, she hoped for something creative but with a different pace of working.

After exhibiting at Showcase 2015 with ISLE, I showed her photos of the interesting and beautiful products I saw there. Instantly she said 'I'll open an Irish Design shop' - and she did.
@stor_daikanyama [Instagram + Twitter]

Thank you,


Sakura, Sakura by geraldine kane

Yes, it's cherry blossom time! Every year I forget just how beautiful they are. The only problem is that the blooms don't hang around long. I managed to snap these on my way to the supermarket.



Keita Maruyama by geraldine kane

Last week a very lovely woman kindly gave me a couple of tickets to see an exhibition of Keita Maruyama's work at Omotesando Hills. Omotesando is a pretty swanky shopping area in Western Tokyo, close to Harajuku, where there's a whole lotta edge and style marching up and down the streets. Here are a few snaps of the area outside of the exhibition to set the scene...

Inside the exhibition, I wasn't really allowed to take many photos but I managed to get a taster of the floral fiesta of Maruyama's designs. The mix of patterns and colours made a fun and energetic show. Although some of the clothes weren't quite to my taste, I really loved the eclectic floral vibes that were especially relevant for me as I develop my own floral collection. There was a lot to take inspiration from but I think I'll draw the line at pompoms on stalks for accessories :) 

Catch ya later,


Island Camping by geraldine kane

A weekend camping trip to Niijima Island with friends. Just a few hours away from Tokyo is a beautiful island with the best campsite I've ever seen! Here are some snaps to give your a taste of Tokyo island life!


What have you been up to H?

Welcome to our conversation! by geraldine kane

So, we are two sisters who have long been interested in all forms of Art and Design. One living in Tokyo and the other living in Belfast.

I'm Ger, founder of ISLE Jewellery, designer, painter, teacher, avid Pinner and tentative blogger. I'm the Tokyo-based sister. 

Soon to follow is Helen,  a talented crafter, fruit-and-veg-lover and bossy little task master! My little big sister keeps me artistically focused (I have a tendency to jump from idea to idea that I'm trying to rein in) and ensures I keep my standards high. Her scrunched-up-face-of-disapproval has been pushing me to push and refine my design work since my degree in Jewellery Design right up to now. Helen is helping to take care of ISLE HQ in Ireland, working with Irish craftspeople to ensure ISLE Jewellery is up to scratch (hopefully not employing the scrunched-up-face-of-disapproval too much!). 

Over the years we have been sending a constant stream of images, links and ideas to each other. We thought it might be nice to share these little gems we stumble upon with other people who might appreciate them too. Hopefully that's you! 

So, instead of using Line, Pinterest and other interactive channels to conduct our creative conversations, we're going to use this blog.

We'll just chat among ourselves, but feel free to drop us a line and join the conversation!