It’s taken a while to get around to doing another one of these, but they’re always worth the wait. This time I’m chatting to Rachael of Hannah Zakari – the shop is one of my oldest stockists and I always enjoy visiting in Edinburgh to see what’s new. I don’t think I have ever had a conversation with Rachael in all the years I’ve known her where one of us didn’t bring up Japan! She’s one of the few other people who totally understands the need to keep going back.
Rachael in Japan
Who are you and what do you do?
My name’s Rachael and I’m the owner of an online boutique and real life shop in Edinburgh called Hannah Zakari that stocks the work of independent designers from all over the world. The name Hannah Zakari comes from the Japanese word 花盛り [hanazakari], which translates as ‘blossoming’ or ‘blooming’. I LOVE Japan!
How did you become interested in Japan, and how did your first trip there come about?
I think my love of Japan spills over from my love of clothes/fashion and can probably be traced to when I first came across ‘Fruits’ which is a magazine documenting Japanese fashion, specifically in Harajuku. I was smitten!
In 2000, my dad was speaking at a conference in Nagoya and I made him take me with him! We were there for 10 days, most of which was spent in Nagoya but we also took trips to Kyoto and Tokyo. As part of the conference we got to experience a variety of stuff that had been put on for the people attending such as a visit to a tea plantation, amazing banquets with tables of colourful and beautifully presented sushi and a Taiko drum concert.
My dad’s colleague took us to visit his family and his sister (who was trained in Japanese arts) performed tea ceremony and showed me flower arranging and dressed me in a traditional kimono from her collection– it was really special.
Building in Kyoto
Tell us a little about each of your trips to Japan
I’ve visited Japan several times since then, I’d happily never holiday anywhere else.
From main bases in bigger cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima I’ve done smaller journeys to Mt Koya, Okayama, Miyajima, Nara, Nikko and others for day trips or overnight stays.
My last trip was over xmas and new year last year when I went on my own for the first time. Although they don’t officially celebrate xmas in Japan they do like to shop and give gifts so they kind of have xmas without the time off work and take holidays at New Year.
It’s hard to remember which memories go with which holiday. One of the more unusual things I’ve done in Japan include staying in a Buddhist Temple on Mt Koya. The journey to Koya is stunning and Koya itself is so beautiful and peaceful. It’s a really interesting experience and a great place to get away from the craziness of the city.
Journey up to Mt Koya
Miyajima is another magical place to visit. I was lucky enough to stay in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and experience the island at night when there are very few people around – you can just wander about in your Yukata and wooden clogs, it’s so chilled out! The place is covered in deer and there are monkeys at the top of the mountain which was amazing.
I love going to Roppongi to the Mori Arts Centre, every exhibition I’ve seen there has been brilliant and you get a great view of Tokyo from the top floor. There are so many great places just to hang out in Tokyo – Ueno Park has a great zoo, is next to the National Museum, has a great pond with swan pedalos, and is the place to hang out during cherry blossom season. Shimokitazawa is a maze of thrift stores and fantastic cafes and bars. Harajuku is fun for people watching and a visit to Kiddyland of course! Kichijoji has some lovely indie shops and if you like steak then I highly recommend a visit to Steak House Satou, steak will never be the same again, and it’s on the way back from the Studio Ghibli Museum. There’s just so much to see and do, I could go on forever!
Mt Fuji from Mori Tower
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