If you’re a regular follower of our blog, you know how much we love seeing the cool places where ONA bags go with our amazing customers. Our team also loves globetrotting with our own ONA bags – earlier this month, founder Tracy Foster spent a week traversing Japan carrying an ONA bag that will be released later this year (stay tuned!), as well as her Leather Bowery in antique cognac. Here’s a brief look at her travels in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Tracy Foster: Visiting Japan has been a longtime dream of mine, so I was delighted when our Japanese distributor invited me to attend the CP+ Show in Yokohama earlier this month. For six days, my husband and I explored as much of the country as we could, making stops at elaborate temples and gardens in Kyoto, quaint boutiques in the Ginza district, eclectic shops and historic shrines in Tokyo, and the home of those sprightly little snow monkeys in Nagano.
We spent a couple of days exploring Kyoto, formerly the imperial capital of Japan. There are 1,600 temples in the Kyoto prefecture; we were fortunate to visit the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and the Ryōanji Zen Temple.
As we journeyed through the city, making our way to the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple and the stunning bamboo forests of Arashiyama, we couldn’t help but feel enchanted by the city’s rich cultural history and natural beauty.
Of course, lots of delicious food was had. We especially enjoyed our time at Syourian, a secluded tofu restaurant tucked away in the forests of Kanyuchinai, with lovely views of the Oi River. When the temperatures and snowflakes began falling in Kyoto, we opted for an indoor activity: ducking into a kimono house that practices the art of Yuzen kimono making. We took comfort in the warmth, had a little lesson in kimono making, and even painted our own small pieces to take home.
In Tokyo, we explored the exhibits at the National Art Center and also did a little shopping in the Harajuki District, famous for its eclectic street style and home to a wide variety of fashion boutiques and shops.
At the Shibuya Crossing – the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing – commuters, shoppers, tourists and students surged into the intersection from every direction. The Shibuya area reminded me a lot of Times Square back home.
Who else remembers reading about the Japanese snow monkeys in elementary school?! Although it was quite a trek from Tokyo, I knew I had to go see them. Getting there was definitely an undertaking: after two train rides, a short taxi ride to the Jigokudani Monkey Park entrance, and a slippery 30-minute hike up to the park itself, we finally arrived. It made for a 3.5 hour journey each way, to and from Tokyo, but it was worth it.
The highlight of my time in Japan was meeting with our Japanese distributors, IdeaMix, at the CP+ Show in Yokohama. They’d set up a beautiful booth displaying ONA bags and accessories, and we spent some time chatting about plans for ONA in 2015. I left feeling really excited about what IdeaMix has in store for ONA this year. It was a perfect ending to an awesome first visit to Japan.