Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life in Japan/ Kirsty Munro

Left: Kirsty enjoying a meal, Right: Autumn powdered sugar sweets, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Nagare Hina, Nests that are supposed to carry your bad luck downstream, Iwatsuki, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Kitakata Ramen from Fukushima, with Harajuku eggs, Made at home, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Left: Shocking Pink Flowers, Tatebayashi, Gunma, Right: Packaging for White Day, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Left: Radio Flyer Tricycles around Iwatsuki, Right: Still life at home, Kitchen window, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Left: Koinobori, Right: Japanese parasol, Kamakura, Photography: Kirsty Munro 
Left: Bicycle in front of posters, Tokyo, Right: Pinkness, around Daikanyama, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Dodge Van, Tokyo streets, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Left: Turnip Chrysanthemums, Ready to make Kabu Kiku, Left: Ladies Welcome at Black Tie Bar, Utsunomiya
Photography: Kirsty Munro 
Left: Local art at Utsunomiya, Middle: Signage with bear in Shibuya, Right: Sweet Treats at Aoya Cafe in Nakameguro, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Left: A rest house amongst the Azaleas, Tatebayashi, Gunma, Right: The new Tokyo Plaza in Harajuku
Photography: Kirsty Munro
Asakusa, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Left: Morning Walk, Tokyo, Middle: Sukura Bonsai, Right: Owl in Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Photography: Kirsty Munro
Left: Buddha shaped Wasanbon powdered sugar sweets, Left: Panda's outside store, Utsunomiya.
Photography: Kirsty Munro
I first met Kirsty Munro many years ago when I started University in Australia studying Design at The University Of Technology. She was studying Industrial Design, I was studying Fashion. I don't recall exactly when we starting hanging out but it was a long time ago! I remember collaborating with her on projects at Uni, We were both studying Photography so we would help each other out with being each other’s subject. The funnest part of our friendship was probably when we both found ourselves some year’s later working at Vogue Australia. She was a Writer/Editor, I in the Art Department. We also ended up living across the road from one another during this time, she lived above the corner store, I lived in a studio apartment the size of a broom cupboard in an ugly 1970's block, both in Sydney's Elizabeth Bay.

As it turns out life took me to New York and for Kirsty, It was Japan! A world away from each other, I continue my love affair with Japan living through her. Thankfully it's made easier as she know has a fab blog All about Japanese Food & Packaging. Check it out!

Kirsty takes amazing shots of her life in Japan, I wanted to share some of these with you.

I asked Kirsty some questions:

Q: Where do you live in Japan, What neighbor hood?
A: When I first moved here, I lived in the downtown area of Eastern Tokyo, which I loved. The people are really down-to-earth and chatty. I felt welcome, straight away! Last year I moved up North to the suburbs. It’s a bit quieter and I walk by fields of cabbages and radishes every morning.

Q: What made you decide to live in Japan, When did you first visit?
A: I’ve loved Japanese art and design since I was a kid. Then, when I studied at university, I fell in love with the work of Noguchi – that natural, Zen aesthetic, using natural materials. I finally visited after university and I was knocked out by the color and the energy of Tokyo.

Q: Have you always had an affinity for Japanese life? What do you love about it most?
A: I’ve always felt comfortable here, I love the way ancient traditions are just incorporated into modern life; the food is amazing, of course; cuteness is highly appreciated and there’s a cute character or mascot for everything! People tend to be open to new things and not too judgmental; finally, I love the random beauty everywhere – an ikebana display at the train station, or a perfectly wrapped snack.

Q: You started your blog on Japanese food and packaging, do you cook a lot?
A: I do cook a lot. My husband is Japanese and very traditional when it comes to food! I tend to cook simple things salt-grilled fish or oyakodon – chicken cooked in a slightly sweet dashi broth with egg. I found out that Japanese housewives cheat and buy a lot of pre-prepared stuff, so I love shopping for new pickles and side dishes. Food changes so much with the seasons, so now I’m cooking lots of bamboo shoots dressed with soy and bonito flakes, clams in miso soup and as the weather gets warmer, I’ll start making more cold noodle dishes.

Q: If you also eat out a lot, Can you recommend any great places in particular you often haunt?
A: Because I cook pretty simple stuff at home, when I go out, it’s for dishes that are difficult to make at home. In summer, I love the unagi (grilled eel) at Izuei near Ueno Park, which opened in 1730. Walking around the back streets of Kanda is like stepping back into the Edo era. Kanda Yabusoba is a relaxed soba restaurant set in a lovely garden. The best places here are unpretentious, with a focus on great food. When I go drinking with friends, it’s fun to go to one of the tachinomiya – standing bars, under the train tracks at Ueno or Yurakucho. It’s noisy, cheap and crowded, and you make a lot of new friends!

Q: Your photos of everyday life and food (of course) in Japan are so inspiring, do you have any tips on how to take a good picture, what is your approach?
A: It sounds obvious, but just looking is important. It’s easy to miss the little details that make a scene memorable. As a kid I noticed a lot of interesting things, so I try to get down low and get a child’s perspective sometimes. And I’m always darting up the oldest, narrowest streets.

Q: Japanese life in 5 words, how would you describe it?
A: Waah, that’s tough! Um… delicious, detailed, down-to-earth, delightful, difficult. I don’t know why I chose all “d” words!

One day soon I hope I can visit her and meet her husband Shinobu, It’s been 9 years since I was in Japan, I have to say it’s one of my favorite places in the world, As a Stylist and Creative person it breathes magic for me like no other place, every corner you turn you find new inspiration. 

Thanks so much Kirsty for sharing your pictures and life there. 

BTW: Kirsty also has two other blogs!! (..How does she do it?) hirouenheroine (The wedding process in Japan) and 12 seasons of japan about the seasons. 


  1. Thank you Marcus! It was such a pleasure being on your wonderful blog! One of the best things was seeing which photos you chose to use - I could really see Japan through your eyes!. It's a really inspiring place to live - just ask Ebony at Hello Sandwich! I hope everyone can visit Japan and get some creative energy.

  2. what adorable sweets! thanks for the headzup about this blog. hey, i was at uts with you too -- in viscom. i've enjoyed seeing your work pop up over the years on my magazine rack. :)

  3. Hi, Hope all is well! Long time no see! X M.