Monday, March 26, 2012

Teenager Feeding Frenzy

"I learned to find equal meaning in the repeated rituals of domestic life. Setting the table. Lighting the candles. Building the fire. Cooking." – Joan Didion 

Last Thursday’s dinner was prepared and ready before my teenagers came through the door from after school sports activities. Advanced preparedness is required on my part to make this happen. I have learned that I am motivated in the morning to tackle just about anything, including cooking, but by the afternoon I am on a downward spiral and try in vain to avoid anything to do with the kitchen or housework. But these teenagers of mine are going to show up hungry every afternoon, whether I’m ready or not, and life seems to go oh, so much more smoothly if I can just get the meal pulled together before 5 p.m. – otherwise as mentioned in a previous post there is some major carb loading until dinner is on the table.

So dinner was ready – a frittata and a tossed salad – and before my teenagers walked through the door I sat down in front of the computer in an attempt to catch up on some emails. The front door opens and barely a “hi mom” is mumbled before my 16-year-old twin sons make a beeline for the kitchen. Glancing up from the computer I comment “Dinner’s ready, take it easy on the snacks” which was met with suspicious silence. I pop up to see a teenager eating dinner over the stove. In seconds, he had jumped right in and helped himself.

“Hey, set the table and we’ll sit down to eat.” I say.
“I don’t want to sit at the table.” was his response.

I stood there not really knowing what exactly he meant. Did he want to eat dinner standing up in the kitchen because it was faster? Or was it that he didn’t want to sit down and eat dinner as a family because he’s a teenager and family time is not cool?

I sigh, turn to his sibling and say “would you please set the table?” and I start to serve up the plates, thinking to myself, “let it go, just let it go” – it’s all about picking your battles right?

The kids and I did all sit down together to eat, a blessing was said, candles were lit. The dinner conversation was apparently not remarkable – since I can no longer remember what was said – but that’s not important. What is important is that for a very brief time, once a day, we sit together as a family. It is a nightly ritual. Rituals offer comfort, with so much changing all around us, especially as a military family, a family ritual such as a dinner together gives us the daily grounding we need.

What about the resident teenager who did not want to partake in a family dinner? He sat down and joined us and that’s enough to keep this mom ... inspired.

Menu Review
This past week was week 12 of my 12-week plan. Looking back I had some weeks that the plan was totally ditched due to schedules. Other weeks like this past one I modified the original menu plan and ended up with three new hits. Inching ever closer to my goal of 60 dinners that everyone in my house likes. 

Creamy Spaghetti and Beans from Rachel Ray was a three thumbs up ( 

The number one hit was the totally modified Spinach Burritos from Simple Suppers – I modified just about everything with this recipe, including making the burritos into enchiladas. Note the title of the book includes the word “simple” and yet I try to make some dishes even more simple using canned sauce instead of making my own and frozen spinach and boxed rice. I won't win a James Beard award that's for sure but if the plates are empty at the end of the meal and there are no leftovers, that's an indication I won high honors for the night.

Spinach Enchiladas (Jane’s way)
Preheat the oven to 350.

10 corn tortillas
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 package chopped spinach, thawed in the microwave and pressed.
Do you know this trick? I microwave the chopped spinach in the box (minus the outer wrapping of course). When you’ve finished microwaving you simply squeeze the box containing the chopped spinach and it presses out the excess water. No more pressing out the spinach in a colander and getting all the little chopped spinach pieces stuck, or as I’ve done pressing out the water in the microwave dish over the sink and have half of the spinach fall out into the sink.
1 Box of Goya Spanish Rice cooked following the box instructions
1 tsp of ground coriander
2 cups of grated Mexican Cheese
1 can of Enchilada sauce
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

Saute the chopped onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and saute for about 1 minute, add in the spinach and the cooked Spanish Rice. Remove from the heat, mix in 1 cup of the grated cheese and the chopped cilantro.

• Spray Pam in the bottom of a 11 x 7 pyrex dish. Add just enough Enchilada sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.
• Dip each tortilla into the Enchilada sauce. Add a few spoonfuls of the filling in the middle of the tortilla and roll up, placing in a pyrex dish. Continue until you have used up all of the filling. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the Enchiladas and cover with the reserved 1 cup of grated cheese.
• Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

7 in 7

Well I did it. Here's the last bag. It's super cute – the photography does not do it justice. Wish I still had a little girl in the house who a) liked pink, b) would even carry a little bag, or c) carry a bag that has flowers on it.

I learned so much in the last week, I can't begin to run down the list - nor would you, the reader probably want to read it. The highlights though are:
• I actually had fun sitting down and figuring the Japanese pattern out and the bag construction. It was similar in some ways to my graphic design days when I had to figure out layouts with typography and photos. It was probably the most fun I've had using my brain since my design days.
• I loved sharing the process. That may be a bit narcissistic but it's nice when you're in your space all day and not having the interaction of an office to get feedback through the internet.
• If I'm going to pursue making bags and opening an Etsy shop as many of my friends are encouraging me to do, I'm going to need to work on those photo skills. It's one thing to be out in Japan taking photos of beautiful sites - totally a different animal to take product shots.
• Choosing the right fabric for the right bag along with handles is a critical part of the process. I thought I was being so smart choosing the flower fabric for this bag but did not take into account that the pleat would alter the graphic spacing of the flowers. There's a lot more to this bag making thing than just pouncing on some super cute Japanese fabric.

Not sure what's the what next. I may, as one friend has suggested, drag my readers through my shibori process. The weathers finally warming up and I'm getting itchy to dye some fabric I ordered before the kids and I left Japan last year after the triple disaster of March 11th. The move is marching ever closer and I am not moving fabric that's a UFO. Will be looking through my idea notebooks over the next few days looking for, you guessed it .. inspiration.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Six Down One to Go

When you walk into Swany's the first thing you notice (or at least I notice) are all the amazing sample bags on display. Each one has a number attached to it and I write the number down to get my pattern once I've spent my 1000 Yen (not a problem). One pattern I keep writing over and over is No. 3011. I'll see it hanging in one spot, take a photo, write down the number. Turn a corner, see another bag - that I think is a new and different sample only to realize as I get ready to write down the number that "wait, it's the same one I just wrote down a few minutes ago."

I am realizing there is so much more to this process of making bags than just picking up some fabric and whipping out a cute little bag. Handle choice matters, as my previous entry showed. Fabric combinations do too. What tricked me into thinking that what I was looking at was a different bag was the switch ups Swany's plays with each of their bags. Match a different type of handle with a different type of fabric and you have a completely new look. I don't know why I should be surprised at this - it's the details that matter in most design decisions - boutique bags should not be any different.

Looking for a fabric to play with on this project I remembered I had brought with me some hand dyed shibori fabric I dyed a few years ago. I've learned a lot since then about Shibori and this fabric wasn't so precious that I couldn't take the rotary cutter to it and try out a new bag. It's raw silk and I love the feel of this fabric, rough, nubby and holds up to wear and tear.

I have one more bag to go on my experiment. Hoping to get to that later today since I believe today is the last day of 7in7. I know my other half will be most appreciative to have the sewing machine packed away before he arrives from a conference in the states. Fabric stacked, sewing machine out, pattern pieces everywhere ... he might just turn on his heels and head back out the door. My creativity does tend to spread throughout the house – something only appreciated once there's a finished product hanging or sitting somewhere.

So two deadlines in one – his flight was delayed so I know I just got two extra hours – just what I needed to stay on a roll and be ... inspired.

Getting a handle on handles

I’m realizing this bag process is more involved than I thought. There are design decisions that need to be made at the outset and when you change those decisions – like which bag handles you’re going to use – complications follow.

This darn bucket bag has been my nemesis in this boutique-bag exploration. The plan was to use clip on handles. Cute, simple, fast, professional. Yeah! However, once the bag was made and I pulled out the handles I realized I had the wrong fabric for the handles I intended to use (they have a little fleur-de-lis stamped into the metal attachment – just doesn’t match the Japanese fabric, forgot that little detail was on the handle). Now what?

I had a long black leather handle strap and thought – great I’ll use that instead. But how do I attach the handles? I looked through my two bag making books I have for reference and they did not have an example.

I wrapped up the nearly finished purse and shoved it into my bag and headed to – you guessed it Swany’s. There I found an alternate leather handle, with stitching holes punched and a little tab that inserts between the lining and the outer bag for extra security. I thought perfect. Put those in my shopping bag (along with a few other items) and I imagined myself knocking out the bag later that night while I waited for my daughter at soccer.

Not so fast. Once home I realized I hadn’t thought this through as clearly as I’d imagined. What kind of thread was I supposed to use to attach the handles? Surely with all my thread I’d have something suitable. Did I have a needle that would be able to work its way through leather, lining and the interfaced outer fabric? I tried to make do with what I had – struggled to sew on one side of one handle, the thought crossing my mind more than once there has to be a better way.

Next day I find myself headed out to yet another fabric-craft store a few blocks off base and I found the appropriate waxed twine for sewing on the handle, a curved sewing needle marked for “leatherwork” quickly made my purchase and dashed home. I had delusions of being able to zip this project out and be on to the next bag (which is already cut out and just waiting its turn on the sewing machine). Two hours later the handles were finally secured, that’s 30 minutes per handle side! Either I’m not efficient or the thought did cross my mind that there’s a reason those gorgeous handmade Italian leather bags cost a fortune. This is labor intensive. A seam ripper, pliers, broken needle and cramped hands were all involved.

The end result is a cute bag but I will definitely be looking for a much more efficient way to attach leather handles in the future. One of the ladies who helped me at Swany’s earlier this week showed me their rivet maker ... oh so cool, that with the push of a handle I will have leather straps attached to my bag and it will look professional too, yes, learning this technique is now on my to-do list.

This go round, more than a few times I seriously considered pitching the bag and starting a different one but what kept me going was all the encouraging feedback I’ve been receiving on my posts – thanks faithful readers, you’re supportive words kept me ... inspired.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeding Teenagers

Add Artichokes to the List

Today begins week 11 on my 12-week quest for control in the kitchen. I sat down this morning to make out the grocery list, reviewing the planned dinners for the week. Adjustments needed to be made – two of the recipes contain artichoke hearts.

I swear sometimes I think my three teenagers have joined in a conspiracy to make me mental (or perhaps that would be more mental). Just days after my last post with the family favorite of the Tomato Artichoke Pasta Sauce my daughter declares she no longer likes artichoke hearts. Arggggghhh!

“What do you mean you don’t like artichoke hearts?” I queried. “Since when?”

“Like, since forever.” she responded.

How could this be, I thought to myself. Surely she’s kidding with me, sensing my kitchen desperation she’s just yanking my chain. Apparently not.

One more thing has been added to the increasingly long list of items my kids will not all eat together (her brothers will still eat artichokes). Instead of an expanding culinary palate theirs appears to be funneling into a vortex centered around pizza (homemade of course). My toddlers who ate just about everything I put in front of them have become teenagers with sophisticated but limited taste buds.

Even with this latest revelation there was a homerun last week when I made the Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea dish from the Moosewood Collection, Simple Suppers. I’ve put the link up for those of you who may want to purchase the cookbook. I have a several of their cookbooks and all should be on the shelf of those trying to eat less meat or join in on Meatless Mondays.

While the addition of yet another item to the “untouchable” list in the kitchen is a setback, I refuse to give up. If anything I am getting annoyed, which makes me mad, which in turn makes me stubborn (ask my mom), which in a weird and twisted mom-way of not giving up once you’ve set a goal, makes me … inspired.

Pizza Dough Recipe
This is EASY, do not let the steps dissuade you. Once you have made homemade pizza dough you will not go back to store bought again. My kids love this, to the point that they don’t like store-bought boxed pizza anymore (yes, they are spoiled and just don’t know it yet). It’s easy to freeze the dough for later use.

1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 cup warm water (not too hot, or it will kill the yeast)
1 envelope active dry yeast
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl dissolve the sugar or honey (which feeds the yeast) in warm tap water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and gently stir until it dissolves, about one minute. Let stand in a warm spot until a thin layer of foam covers the surface, about five minutes (this indicates the yeast is effective).

Using a heavy-duty food processor, add 3 cups of flour and the salt to the beaker fitted with the dough blade. Turn the machine on for a few seconds to mix. Slowly add the yeast mixture and oil and process continuously until the dough forms a single ball. Pinch of a piece of the dough, if it is sticky, continue processing adding remaining ¼ cup of flour until the dough loses its stickiness. Conversely if the dough is dry and crumbly, add warm water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (I prefer to use cornmeal) and knead by hand for about 2 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat completely on all sides with oil Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss and set to rise in a draft-free warm place until doubled in bulk for about 45 minutes for quick-rising yeast.

With your fist punch down the dough until it has doubled in bulk to prevent over-rising. Shape it into a ball, pressing out all the air bubbles.

If you cannot use the dough within 2 hours of rising, punch the dough down, turn to coat in olive oil, cover and place in refrigerator. Let chilled dough come to room temperature before proceeding.

To make two 12-inch flat round pizzas, divide dough into 2 equal-sized balls. I press out as much as I can by hand on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal (I find this grips better than flour, it does leave a bit of the cornmeal texture in the dough) and then roll the rest out using a rolling pin to reach the desired size.

Top with your favorite toppings. Adults in the house like fresh spinach with minced garlic, olive oil and chopped sun dried tomatoes topped with mozzarella cheese; or olive oil, garlic and dried basil on the base with artichoke hearts and mozzarella. The kids like pepperoni with tomato sauce; or just plain cheese; or olive oil, garlic, basil and shrimp topped with mozzarella. Serve up with your favorite salad for a great dinner.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it’s really not. Probably the worst part of the process for me is cleaning the food processor. Our kids, when they were younger loved getting in there and helping to knead the dough and of course add toppings to the pizza. Enjoy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fourth Bag for a Reason?

"Why?" is the question. Why seven bags in seven days?

"Why are you doing this?" ask my kids as they push aside the piles of fabric and patterns piled up on the only large flat space in our quarters - the dining room table - trying to carve out a place for themselves to eat.

"Are you going to make any money doing this?" Is what my husband wants to know. I'm sure as he casts a wary glance at the charges coming in from Swany's.

"What will you do with them?" ask friends. "Give them away? Sell them?"

The short answer is I don't know why to any of these questions. Maybe it's about the process. Some people knit and think. Solve their life's problems. Others run and think (I do that too). 

Sewing lets me create something while at the same time I'm thinking. Thinking about bag construction, thinking about thread to use, sometimes I'm thinking about anything but what I should be thinking about (pending move). The process is a form of therapy for me. 

I don't know what I will do with these bags. I don't know if I'll sell them and create an Etsy account or just give them as gifts and hope my friends excuse the errors knowing that they were created as part of a learning experience. 

Perhaps I will incorporate them with my shibori dyeing once I master both. Perhaps I'll open a shop, or hold workshops or both. I'm not sure yet. 

What I do know is that through this exercise I am learning, brain cells are firing, creative juices are flowing and it feels right. And oh yes, it of course leaves me ... inspired.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fear of Zippers

In the world of sewing I have a couple of techniques I tend to avoid at all costs. One is buttonholes, which is crazy since both my new machine and my old one practically made the darn things for you. Nevertheless, it's a hold over from when I was learning to sew many years ago and had less than success with the results.

The other technique is putting in zippers. It is probably the main reason I do not do any garment sewing - unless you count Halloween costumes that of course conveniently did not have buttonholes or zippers. I have made many a decorative pillow for our home but have either sewed the darn thing shut hoping I'd never have to wash them or made an opening in the back so I could slip in the inner form.

Last weekend I started prepping for my turn at hosting book club (tonight). We live in a small space (about 1800 sq.ft.) with 3 teenagers (two of which are now taller than I am) that are all involved in sports. Add to that the recent purchase of a sewing machine, which has led to multiple projects, which of course means numerous piles, I was feeling like I needed some sort of "Organize This!" intervention.

My family walked downstairs early one morning to see feathers pretty much everywhere. No, I had not had a pillow fight to vent frustrations ... although that sounds pretty good at the moment. What I had done was to take off the five pillow covers from our sofa (which involved a seam ripper) to hand wash them before my guests arrived. I had a week, surely I would be able to knock this project off in a day (or so). I discovered that the feather pillowforms I had purchased a number of years ago were "leaking" feathers. No seams had come apart but the feathers were working their way through the pillow form fabric. When I pulled the pillows out of their covers it looked like I'd been plucking chickens in our living room. Bummer, this was not going to be a quick fix.

Knowing that my husband has allergies, I set off on Tuesday to Swany's with two of my friends and sewingmates, in search of pillowcase fabric - a weave so tight no feathers would break through. No luck. But what we did find were more projects. Precisionsewer picked up a cute little cosmetic bag and said "Oh, will you teach us to make these?"

Before thinking I said, "I don't do zippers."

The disappointing look on her face was all I needed to start back-peddling fast.

"Okay, sure, let's try. I'll have to reteach myself how to put in zippers though."

I left with materials for one cosmetic bag - including a zipper - but no fabric for the pillows.

Once back on base I decided to try using bed pillow allergy covers. I left the home store here on base with five, came home rotary cut off the bottoms and stitched them up. Step one solved. But now I needed to either sew back up the old covers or ... make new ones. You know where I went.

Back out to another store for five zippers. I pulled out my obi and yukata fabric. Ripped one Japanese yukata apart - and started sewing. I had hoped to post something like "5 pillows in 5 hours" but perhaps that was a bit ambitious. Here I am hours before hosting book club - one week later - and I just finished the last of five pillows. With zippers.

Minutes later I whipped out the cosmetic bag. A very long way of going about making my third bag of seven but I learned and relearned a lot. My sewingmates are pushing my sewing skills, which is a good thing indeed. New pillows on our sofa and a cute little bag leaves me of course ... inspired.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Two of Seven

The weather here has been quite nasty today, a good day to stay inside and work on projects. Like my self-imposed seven bags in seven days.

I picked up this fabric from a vendor at the Tokyo International Quilt Show with no ideas in mind other than the thought "oh, soooo, cool!"

When my friend asked me to help her figure out a Japanese pattern, I knew just the fabric I wanted to pull from my stash.

I've learned a lot going through this process, the Japanese have such an interesting way of combining different textures that I also knew I was going in search of the patterned natural cotton I had tucked away somewhere for the cloth handles. The running stitch was a detail I've seen used on a number of bags at Swany's. I think this detail turned the bag from being ho-hum to something quite unique and left me of course ... inspired.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

7 Bags in 7 Days

I have a group of friends here in Yokosuka that have asked me to teach them to sew. My initial thought when asked was, "I'm not qualified." Living in Japan and taking classes in Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging) and Shibori (the Japanese form of sophisticated tie-dying) has made me reconsider the very western mentality of "I've taken a 2-hour workshop, therefor I am now qualified to teach a class."

The Japanese put a lot of emphasis on levels. For example I have an Ikenobo (the oldest school of Ikebana) sensei who is a level 18 (out of 20) instructor. Level 18. Each level requires a certain amount of study and then a test. I suppose that is why here in Japan, Ikebana is not just "flower arranging" it truly is an art. The crowds from the Ikebana exhibition I saw in the fall were something akin to seeing the Monet exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Art a number of years ago. You needed tickets and it was jam packed with people.

During my shibori studies, I would ask the ladies in my class how many years they had been studying shibori. Some would say 5 years, or 10 years or even 20. I was amazed, "Twenty years?" I would say. "You could be teaching." They would smile and look down, shaking their heads and say "Oh, no, I'm not qualified." Really? This was just not something my western brain could wrap her little head around. Who studies a craft for 20 years and is not qualified to teach?

My friends gently pressed me. One friend wanted to make an apron. Another shares my love of Swany's boutique bags and came with a stack of patterns with the question "I want to make these but don't know how. Can you help me figure it out?" The third friend just wants to learn how to use her machine, happy to go on the sewing adventure wherever it will lead her.

I caved. We have been getting together twice a month. In exchange for my time, they all bring something to share for lunch. Food and friendship shared over sewing. I think I am getting much more out of this deal than they are.

I'm getting sewing questions I don't think about anymore like "How do you sew on a button?" or "How do I know what needle to use on my machine?" or "What's this presser foot used for?" – it has required me to take a step back and do a little research. It has also forced me to focus. On bags.

There are more bag patterns from Swany's than I have time to make before we leave this summer but I will be trying to figure out as many as I can before I go. My friend who shares my love of the Swany's bags emailed me last night with "I picked up more patterns when I was at Swany's today." "Bring them next time" was my response "I'll try to figure them out." (they are in Japanese)

With the request for bag guidance and knowing that I'm always better working on a deadline (even if they are self-imposed)  I have decided to make seven bags in seven days. It will take some patience and figuring out (most likely ripping out) as I struggle to look at the corresponding photos we've taken when in Swany's and compare them to the patterns, but what I'm discovering is that I'm really enjoying this exercise. My friends through their request for help in learning to sew, have pushed my sewing skills into new directions. Over the sewing table we've shared stories, recipes, laughs and support – all of which of course has left me ... inspired.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Love affair with Swany’s

There is a charming, lovely, and very inspiring fabric store located in Kamakura, about a 20 minute train ride from where I live in Yokosuka Japan. This sounds convenient until you factor in that to get there I have to drive to the base parking lot that is closest to the train station, walk to the train station and then once in Kamakura, I have a 10 minute walk from the station to the store. I’m not complaining, I’m just setting the stage for my friends in the states. The point is I’m not just hopping in my car and dashing to the fabric store to pick up a few supplies. When I go to Swany’s I’m going with intent. I have a list. I am, of course, wildly open to impulse purchases.

When we lived in the DC area I used to frequent G Street Fabrics. There I would caress bolt after bolt of gorgeous fabrics, my mind drifting from one sewing project to another. My husband maintains it is not physically possible for me to go into a fabric store without running my hands over every bolt (I believe he exaggerates, but then again given the groans from the backseat gang when I even dare to mention fabric store … maybe not). I took classes there, learned how to make decorator pillows, valences for our homes, even lined, French-pleat draperies (no easy feat). I love a really good fabric store. I find it amazing that you can take a lifeless piece of fabric and with a little vision and a pattern you can create whatever you can imagine.

On my first outing to Kamakura when I arrived here in 2009, Bossy Explorer led a group of us to visit Swany’s. Touted as the fabric store to go to, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store. Alas, one of the frustrations to the language barrier is not understanding the signage. We were, as the saying goes, “so close and yet so far.” In the hiatus that Bossy had taken on a one year tour in DC, Swany’s had apparently upgraded. The building she recalled as the main storefront was only selling remnants. Not what our crew had in mind, we walked away disappointed but there was a promise of “the best waffles in Japan” and my attention was diverted. Had we walked a short block further and turned a corner we would have discovered a 3-story fabric wonderland – Swany’s had gone upscale.

What makes this store so different from say a box store like Joanne’s or Hancocks back in the U.S.? Of course there is the Japaneseness. Not sure that’s a word – but it should be when living here in Japan. My friend, Gracious Explorer, explained that in Japan this is known as ‘Wa.’ Swany’s knows their ‘Wa.’ The store has artful displays of fabric and everywhere you turn there are samples of beautiful boutique bags made from the fabric you were just drooling over. Better yet is that each display has a tag with a number on it, when you purchase 1000 Yen (in better exchange rate days 1:1 that would be $10) you get a pattern from 100’s to chose from. I’m not kidding, they have binders of patterns. My collection has begun. The only downside for me of course is that these patterns are in Japanese (what else?). Not to let that deter me I have already made several items.

My time is short here, we are in the countdown to move this summer, but I am determined to make the most of it – as in make as many projects from Swany’s as I can before we leave. Check back in from now until they pack up my sewing machine ... approximately 14 weeks from now and see what I’ve been making, because one thing is certain, Swany’s leaves me ... inspired.

Link to Swany's in Kamakura. If you scroll to the bottom you'll find the map with directions from the train station - in Japanese ... but of course!