Today is my last full day in Tokyo. I'm just starting to feel immersed but I guess I'll just have to find an excuse to come back soon. Once again I am beginning my day on another pencil mission. This particular shop is a really special one that I've been saving for last. Gekkoso is an art supply store tucked away in a discreet basement on a backstreet in Ginza that's been around since 1917. The name of the shop means 'The House of Moon Light' which was derived from a poem dedicated to the founder who notoriously had many famed poet friends. They only sell in-house products, including paints, brushes, sketchbooks and pencils. Their house pencil is a really gorgeous clear-varnished jumbo hexagonal 8B which writes like a dream. Everything is so carefully placed on well organized shelves. There is something peculiar and interesting in every corner and you can even order a cup of tea to enjoy at one of the tiny tables against a wall which is fully saturated with hand-decorated postcards. You can really sense the many many years of love that have gone into this business, which is really the best quality a shop can have.
The rest of my day was dedicated mostly to finding the best soba noodles (which I waited in line for a very long time for) and Japanese whiskey. I'm not one to buy lots of souvenirs when I travel. I'll buy gifts for friends if I see something they'd like but otherwise I appreciate shops that are unique to the culture I'm experiencing and will maybe buy some clothes or something pretty for my home. There is one exception though--I always try to find a charm for the charm bracelet I wear on my right wrist. My first charm bracelet was given to me by my father when I was 10 and contains so many tiny memories that I had not choice but to buy a new one a couple of years ago, a rose gold one found at a jeweler in Russia. Charms, the old-fashioned kind are becoming harder and harder to find, though I can usually manage something (with the exception of a recent sloth-related trip to Costa Rica where there was nothing to be found). This trip was another difficult one. Most jewelry shops are either cheap costume jewelry, European fine jewelers or pearls. I'd just about given up but as I was walking down a small street of shops around closing time late in the day when I decided to try one more. Inside the shop a tiny charm with tiny pearl flowers inside a tiny oval gold frame immediately caught my eye. I was told by the shopgirl that it was part of an anniversary series, designed by a Japanese pearl designer and that it was meant to symbolize the beginning of happiness. I try not to believe in signs or anything like that, but this to me was a perfect sign that I should recognize that though there have been many many struggles, I'm happier now than I can ever remember being and that I should be thankful for my success and the wonderful people in my life and be positive about what the future holds.
(Pictured: the stunning Gekkoso pencil)