Whilst everybody in fashion-land has been musing on the seemingly breakneck speed of the industry, the overheating of the red hot spotlight on creative directors and the lack of trust between the money-men and the designers, I’ve been in fact, doing my own bit to try and preserve some sanity in my head.  I wouldn’t even dare to compare what I do with that of say, a designer churning out six or more collections a year.  But sometimes, there comes a point where your head is oversaturated with talk about the meanings of collections, biz-chat of where the “fashion media landscape” is going (a subject that crops up over the dinner table as my partner also works in fashion) and when fashion as an entity and in its conduct, is yes… too much.

After the craziness of Seoul Fashion Week, I headed for the hills.  Literally, with a one night pit stop in Tokyo, I then took a train out to Hakone, to absorb Henry Moore sculptures lounging on lush forested land and see quaint little museums for no real purpose other than just to see stuff, to submerge myself in the waters of an onsen and to witness the beginning of the changing of colours.  Fashion’s seasons might be blurring into a cacophony of pre, cruise, mainline and diffusion but in Japan, the seasons are highly distinct and well observed, to the point where people here will audibly gasp at the burnished tones of a maple leaf tree and use their sharpest lenses to capture these autumnal scenes.  Hakone wasn’t in full fall yet, and neither was Kyoto, which was where I have just returned from after a three day first-timer exploration of the ancient Japanese capital.  But the colours are just beginning to change.  As the winds of fashion are ushering in new changes, I thought I’d take the time to observe the passing of a different sort of season in Japan, as this semblance of journeying from Hakone to Kyoto made for the perfect respite, away from fashion natter.

Perhaps it is all only vaguely style related.  But as Raf Simons has concluded in his decision to leave Dior, there is more to life than fashion and to alter what Diana Vreeland once said, the eye has to travel but it needs time in order to do so.  If I’ve zen-ed out on you too much with my quasi-Confuscian like musings, then so be it.  It’s my opportunity to slow things right down so I’ve divied up my pics into a two parter, aptly named after my go-to karaoke Disney song.  The first of which is all about the quiet and still you could feel in most parts of Hakone, in the quieter corners of Kyoto and in the green bamboo shadows of Arashiyama.

Along the way to my road to peace, my trusty companion was a M. Patmos travel suit, that I’ve been road testing as part of my ongoing work with Woolmark.  it’s from the capsule collection that won Marcia Patmos the esteemed International Woolmark Prize earlier in the year, which was inspired by a wardrobe for the modern woman – a traveller, nomad and a businesswoman all in one.  The six piece capsule collection capitalises on Merino wool’s ability to be soft, lightweight, wrinkle-free so that it can be worn without washing for long periods of time.  In neutral tones of cream and grey, where scarves become neck pillows, beanies regulate temperature and capes become blankets, Patmos has approached the collection, with utility and versatility in mind.  The collection just recently launched at Harvey Nichols in-store as well as Saks Fifth Avenue and My Theresa online.

As a frequent traveller, I’ve got to say I was completely swayed by the idea of a “travel suit” – something that puts you at ease when you’re in an artificial environment high up in the air, whilst enabling you to feel like you’ve not just slept walked onto the plane in your PJ’s.  Patmos’ iteration is entirely reversible and has large passport pockets in the trousers with ribbed insets for movement.  And so it is that I’ve basically been wearing this suit to death in transit – from London to Korea, Korea to Tokyo and on the train rides from Tokyo to Hakone and then on the Shinakensen to Kyoto, with varying layers underneath.  It has become almost like a comfort blanket for passing through time zones, lounges, food courts and the tedious process of security and immigration and also proved to be the most appropriate attire to take in all this greenery.

In the wabi sabi principled space of the Gora Hanaougi ryokan, where we stayed in Hakone, I was trying my best to  “Monocle” it up, away from my usual colours, prints and other accoutrements.  Whether it was swaying with the silver-toned pampas grasses of Sengokuhara or skipping around moss-covered rocks in Arashiyama on the edge of Kyoto, it felt good to quieten things down a little.  Cue lots of pics with my eyes closed.  They’re resting up.  Tired out from all the noise.

0E5A0157On the deck of Gora Hanouagi

IMG_9491About as close to Mount Fuji as we could get

0E5A9953Waiting for the “Romancecar”

IMG_7495Inside the lush grounds of the Hakone Open Air Museum, where works by Henry Moore, Niki de Saint Phalle and Antony Gormley are dotted about.  

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IMG_7504The extraordinary outsider sand art of Yusuke Asai at the Hakone Open Air Museum

0E5A0039On the mossy steps leading to the Hakone Shrine near Motohakone port

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IMG_7532In front of the twee but charming The Museum of Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince 

IMG_7556Yukata-ing it up for dinner at Gora Hanouagi

IMG_9391Seasonal appetisers to our dinner – have eaten a fair amount of pumpkin, chestnuts, tofu and carrots on this trip

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0E5A0187Testing out the waters at Gora Hanouagi’s private bath

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0E5A0322Swaying with the silver pampas grasses of Sengokuhara

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IMG_9408Marquetry from the Hakone region

IMG_9332The autumn produce of the Gyoza Center in Gora, Hakone

0E5A0365Taking the Shinakensen for the first time – and yes, like everyone says – rail travel elsewhere just pales in comparison

IMG_9582At the edges of Funashi-Inari temple in Kyoto

0E5A0576The 8,000 Buddha statues up at Adashina-Nembutsu-ji temple in Arashiyama

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IMG_9710Just around the river bend of Hozugawa twisting and turning… couldn’t resist another Pocahontas reference

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IMG_7619Ceramic nick nacks at Ninen-zaka in Kyoto

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IMG_7670The many tatuki of a ceramics workshop in Arashiyama

IMG_7676A gardener meticulously sweeping up the leaves in the gardens of the Gio-ji temple

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IMG_9650The other less-frequented grove of bamboos in Adashino-Nembutso-ji temple

Comments (7)

  1. Steff says:

    That suit is perfect. I’d travel all the time just to wear it.

  2. Kazuko says:

    You look amazing – totally in love with your outfit!
    This post is just amazing, the photos are breathtaking. I’ve been to the Hakone Open Air Museum as a teenager and I still dream of going back!

  3. Aya says:

    Really enjoyed this post, thank you for so beautifully capturing Japan away from the lights of Tokyo!

  4. Gerlinde says:

    an absolute delight… looking forward to part 2!

  5. Anami says:

    Just what I needed – a little peace and quiet in this Nasty London today. I had your post for breakfast, and it filled me up wonderfully.
    Thank you…
    Anami

  6. JADE says:

    nothing more beautiful than nature. So nice to enjoy the nature even though it is through pics!

  7. Lyn says:

    As usual Susie, you’re a breath of fresh air! I really enjoyed your most recent Japan posts, partially because I too am headed to Japan in a few months (I’ve been reminding myself to look up all your Japan posts for shopping and gawking guides :P). But mostly because your enthusiasm and sincerity translates so beautifully!

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