Wednesday Postcard: Tokyo’s 23 Special Wards

“Tokyo Calling” (srg-uk dotcom)

Hello! In honor of the 2020 Summer Olympics, this week’s postcard features the 23 special wards of Tokyo, Japan! I purchased the letterpress postcard from a stationery shop in Berkeley, California.

The special ward area is an administrative system which balances the responsibilities between the metropolitan government (who handles water, sewage, and firefighting services, for example) and the local ward governments (who handle issues, such as welfare, education, and housing.)

The 23 special wards of Tokyo are:

  1. Chiyoda
  2. Chūō
  3. Minato
  4. Shinjuku
  5. Bunkyō
  6. Taitō
  7. Sumida
  8. Kōtō
  9. Shinagawa
  10. Meguro
  11. Ōta
  12. Setagaya
  13. Shibuya
  14. Nakano
  15. Suginami
  16. Toshima
  17. Kita
  18. Arakawa
  19. Itabashi
  20. Nerima
  21. Adachi
  22. Katsushika
  23. Edogawa
  • The world’s busiest intersection is located in Shibuya (13th ward)
  • The Olympic Stadium is located in Shinjuku (4th ward)
  • Ginza, the popular upscale shopping district, is located in Chūō (2nd ward)

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Wednesday Postcard: “La liseuse”

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features “La liseuse” (The Reader) by French painter, Jean-Jacques Henner (1829-1905).

Apart from the beautiful image of a woman reading in the nude, the model’s bright red hair caught my eye as I spotted the linen postcard at a local antique shop.

The caption on the back of the undated postcard seems to indicate that it was printed in 1981 or prior since the original painting was part of the Louvre’s collection from 1909-1981. Until 2016, the oil-on-canvas painting was at the Musée d’Orsay.

Speaking of Musée d’Orsay, its current director, Laurence des Cars was recently appointed as the new president-director of the Louvre beginning September 2021 — the first time it will be headed by a woman!

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the Musée d’Orsay and/or the Louvre, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Wednesday Postcard: The Exploratorium in San Francisco

©️1983 The Exploratorium

Hello! This week’s postcard features “Words and Colors” from the Illusions and Other Surprises Postcard Exhibit at The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception.

Instructions:

“Read this card aloud — but rather than reading the words, say the color of ink that was used to write each word. It’s not easy; the written words have a surprisingly strong influence over the actual color. The Exploratorium’s Language exhibits let you explore some of the patterns of meaning you make with words, sounds, and symbols.”

San Francisco (2017)

I enjoy visiting museums and I’m glad to see many of them gradually reopening after being closed since the pandemic began.

From 1969 to 2012, the Exploratorium was located at the Palace of Fine Arts. In April 2013, it opened its doors at its new location: Fisherman’s Wharf at Piers 15 and 17.

The Exploratorium is a popular school field trip destination, too! I went as an elementary school student, and in recent years, my daughters have gone there with their classes. I was even a chaperone for one of their field trips to the interactive museum.

There are hundreds of educational, entertaining, and hands-on exhibits at the Exploratorium. My favorites include:

  • Sip of Conflict (video)

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

Book Review: “Dear Paris: The Paris Letters Collection”

Cover: Janice MacLeod/Andrews McMeel Publishing

Dear Paris: The Paris Letters Collection

Author/Illustrator: Janice MacLeod

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Genre: Travel; Epistolary; Creative Non-fiction

Pages: 304

My Thoughts

Janice MacLeod is “the artist behind Paris Letters, a painted letter series sent out via snail mail to those who crave getting fun snail mail about Paris.” This book is a collection of those letters!

There are more than one hundred handwritten letters in the book and each one is accompanied by a typed version of the letter, as well as a beautiful illustration by the author.

Most of the letters in the book have an informal and friendly tone as she describes her observations of Paris (and other places she has visited.) But some of the letters sound expository, like a helpful travel guide.

I think the epistolary format could still work without having each of the letters addressed to a specific person (in this case, the author’s friend, Ainé). At times, it felt like I was reading someone else’s misdirected mail.

Overall, the “Dear Paris” book by Janice MacLeod would appeal to lovers of art, travel, and Paris, of course!

About the Author

You can find Janice MacLeod on her website, Instagram, and Twitter.

To buy the book, visit her Etsy shop or Amazon (this is not an affiliate link).

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

A Song and a Book: “In My Life”

[This post is not sponsored.]

“In My Life”

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Illustrated by: Genevieve Santos

Publisher: Little Simon, Simon & Schuster, New York

Publication Date: February 2021

Genre: Music; Children’s Literature

“In My Life” – the song

The song, “In My Life” by The Beatles was composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and appears on their 1965 album, Rubber Soul.

One of my favorite versions of “In My Life” is performed by Canadian singer-songwriter, Chantal Kreviazuk, whose version was used as the theme song for the American television series, Providence (1999-2002).

“In My Life” – the book

Art©️Genevieve Santos | Little Simon, Simon & Schuster

In the new children’s book of the same title, published in 2021, the song’s lyrics are turned into a touching story thanks to gorgeous illustrations by California artist, Genevieve Santos. She is “a self-described wandering nomad who has visited more than thirty countries (and counting). She uses her experiences and observances from her travels, mixed with her curiosity about the world, and pours them into her art. Her exuberance and joie de vivre come through in her illustrations” (by the publisher).

In addition to her book, she just launched new washi tapes, drinkware, stickers, and cards with the theme of “Mahal Kita.” It means “I love you” in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines.

Along with cute “Boba Girl” stickers (that I got for each of my daughters who love the bubble tea drink), I purchased the book from Genevieve Santos’ website, Le Petit Elefant. Get your copysigned by the illustrator — today!

Art©️Genevieve Santos | Little Simon, Simon & Schuster

If you love The Beatles, bicycles, lighthouses, and beautiful illustrations, this book is for you! I absolutely adore it. 🥰

Music & video | All rights reserved.

Visiting Berlin: “Like You! Friendship – Digital and Analogue” Exhibition

Please note: These pictures were taken in February 2020, before the non-essential travel restrictions were put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Museum für Kommunikation in Berlin is a 5-minute walk from the historical landmark, Checkpoint Charlie. It is housed in an elegant building that was built in 1898. During World War II, it was badly damaged, but it was reconstructed and renovated over the years. In 2000, the building reopened as the Museum of Communication.

In Germany, there are Museums für Kommunikation in Frankfurt and Nuremberg (Nürnberg). There’s one in Bern, Switzerland, too.

Museum für Kommunikation Berlin| 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

It was a sweet coincidence that when my dear friend and I took our children to the interactive museum, there was a special exhibition on view called “Like You! Friendship – Digital and Analogue!”

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

The exhibition invites visitors to think about answers to questions, such as:

  • What is friendship?
  • Is it possible to find and meet new friends virtually on social networks?
  • Or does making friends still require real-life contact in the analog world?
  • Does friendship function in exactly the same way in digital spaces as it does IRL (in real life)?
  • Where do we draw the line between networking and friendship?

Although studies have shown that people with friends experience increased happiness, the exhibition points out that people who identify as “loners” have a distinct personality type. They are emotionally self-sufficient and lead fulfilled lives when they’ve found a friend in themselves.

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

You can have a seat here and listen to the “sounds” of friendship (I’ve added a short playlist of friendship songs below.)

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Artists Nanne Meyer and Eva-Maria Schön have been friends for over 30 years. They both live in Berlin, but decided about seven years ago to send each other postcards with their own designs. Here are some of the postcards they’ve exchanged over the years “inspired by the desire to brighten each other’s day”:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

The following display asks visitors “What does friendship mean to you?”

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Discovery Tables

At the Discovery Tables, visitors are invited to explore their own friendship history.

The table below illustrates where people first met their friends:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Looks like many people made friends at school:

My dear friend and I first met at work in San Francisco:

At this Discovery Table, visitors are asked, “How long have you known your best friend?”:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

You take a color-coded sticker that corresponds to your age and you stick it on the board (on the right) that applies to you: (I’ve known my best friend) “for 5 years, for 10 years, for 20 years” and so on.

I know it was just for fun, but it was harder than it looked. If the exhibition’s intent was to provoke more questions, then they’ve succeeded!

First of all, you have to define what “best” friend means, in my opinion!

I spent a tad bit longer at this table because questions kept popping up in my head about “best” friends:

  • Is it the person you’ve known the longest? 
  • Is it the one who has helped you through tough times? 
  • Is it the one with whom you’ve never had a big fight? 
  • Is it one’s spouse or life partner? 
  • Can one have more than one best friend? 

Often we think about what we are getting from friendships. But we also need to remember what we are giving to our friendships. Two questions I need to ask my friends are:

“Am *I* a good friend?”

“Am I meeting your friendship needs?”

Friendship – Analog

One of my favorite childhood friends and I met in middle/junior high school, but we went to different high schools. Instead of talking on the telephone, we wrote letters to each other. We maintained our epistolary friendship all throughout college. In our best cursive, we immortalized our thoughts on pretty stationery and sent them through the mail. I know, it was very Victorian-era!

But the anticipation of receiving a reply in the mail was thrilling! The arrival of a missive provided that giddy feeling similar to seeing presents under the tree on Christmas morning!

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

Our analog method of keeping in touch through “snail mail” worked well for us until email became commonplace. The digital chirp of “You’ve got mail” simply did not hold the same charm as getting a tangible stamped envelope in your mailbox!

This digital method of communication proved to be “too fast.” We learned soon after that we actually didn’t have much to say via email.

Friendship – Digital

Even before the pandemic forced all of us to switch to virtual communication tools, I’d been keeping in touch with my friends primarily through email, SMS/text messages, and social networks.

More than ever, we’re relying on mobile apps and various video conferencing platforms to get in touch, stay connected, and keep the twinge of loneliness at bay.

Virtual communication tools like these are absolute lifelines! Not only do you keep the connection strong across the miles and time zones, but when you do see each other again in person, it won’t be awkward.

I text my dear friend in Berlin almost every day about things both big and small — la vie quotidienne. So when I saw her in February, it was like I had just seen her yesterday!

I’m curious to know: How do you keep in touch with your friends? How do you define “best” friend?

For more information:

Like You! – Museum für Kommunikation

*More to come on my visit to Berlin and the Museum für Kommunikation*

Wednesday Postcard: Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), located north of the Alps between France and Switzerland.

My friend from Canada, whom I met while we were volunteering in Hérisson, France, sent me this lovely postcard last week!

The lake has three names: Lake Geneva (English), Lac Léman (French), and Genfersee (German).

According to Guinness World Records, the annual Tour du Léman à l’Aviron is the longest rowing race in the world covering 99 miles/ 159 km around the circumference of the lake.

For more information:

Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le Lac Léman – Lake Geneva cruises

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, à bientôt!

Halloween Costume: The Son of Man 🍏

My 2018 Halloween costume was an homage to The Son of Man by Belgian Surrealist painter, René Magritte.

An exhibition featuring the renowned artist’s popular works recently wrapped up at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Unfortunately, I missed the exhibition and the chance to see The Son of Man painting in person.

But then I thought: wouldn’t it be fun to portray the bowler-hat wearing man, whose face is obscured by a green apple? 🍏

Voilà! My 2018 Halloween costume:

photo styling by Jennifer

Trick or treat: caramel candy and Granny Smith apples

What’s your Halloween costume this year? Tell me in the comments below!

For more information:

[This post was originally published November 2, 2018]

Strolling Around San Francisco’s Marina District

What you may have heard is true! The San Francisco Bay Area is currently experiencing scheduled power outages, strong winds, and poor air quality due to smoke from wildfires. But that won’t keep us from going out and about enjoying life!

These photographs were taken on Saturday (October 26, 2019) during a leisurely stroll I took with my family in San Francisco’s Marina District.

Starbucks Reserve Coffee Bar | 2132 Chestnut St in San Francisco

Classic Affogato – “2 shots of espresso poured over vanilla ice cream” and Dark Chocolate Strato – “a creamy, icy beverage finished with an espresso float”:

I am reusing the plastic cup! It’s sturdy and it looks nice, too. This location is a coffee bar only. It doesn’t have a roastery. (Read about my visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle here.)

Le Marais Bakery (North Beach location) | 2066 Chestnut St in San Francisco

Another Le Marais Bakery in San Francisco! Two down, one to go! (Read about my visit to the Le Marais Bakery in the Mission District here.)

someone left their art in San Francisco

Looking east from Yacht Road Alcatraz Island:

Looking west from Yacht Road Golden Gate Bridge at golden hour:

Palace of Fine Arts:

A swan swims in the tranquil Palace Lagoon:

Have you been to San Francisco? Tell me in the comments below!

Let’s keep everyone impacted by the California Wildfires in mind and hope they stay safe.

Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again Exhibition at SFMOMA

Andy Warhol would have been 91 years old today (August 6, 2019)!

Before he became better known for his involvement in the visual art movement called Pop Art, Andy Warhol was a successful commercial illustrator! I was familiar with his Campbell’s Soup Cans, Brillo Boxes, and self-portraits, but I recently learned he also produced a magazine, created an interactive piece using Mylar balloons, and designed art work for music albums!

Andy Warhol – Thirty Are Better Than One (1963)

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) currently has an exhibition celebrating many of his creations. The title of the exhibition comes from Andy Warhol’s 1975 biography, “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again).”

quote from Andy Warhol’s 1975 biography

I imagine the pieces on display at SFMOMA are just a fraction of what’s at the Andy Warhol Museum, located in his birthplace of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!

entrance to the exhibition

Here are some of my favorite Andy Warhol creations currently at SFMOMA:

Andy Warhol – Flowers (1964-65) on Cow Wallpaper [Pink on Yellow] (1966)

Andy Warhol started Interview Magazine in 1969. Richard Bernstein created the covers from 1972-1989

Andy Warhol – Rorschach (1984)

Andy Warhol – Marilyn Diptych (1962)

[Please note: The Andy Warhol From A to B and Back Again Exhibition at SFMOMA closed on September 2, 2019.]

For more information:

Andy Warhol Exhibition at SFMOMA

Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh

Tell me in the comments below: Have you been to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh? What’s your favorite Andy Warhol art piece?

Brassaï Photography Exhibition at SFMOMA

Gyula Halász (1899-1984) was an Hungarian-French artist born in Brassó, Hungary (now Romania). He gave himself the name Brassaï because it means “from Brassó.”

What I found fascinating about his black & white photography, recently featured at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, was how Brassaï captured many not-so-pretty parts of Paris in the 1930s.

An example of this is a series of photos that shows the sequence of events that lead to the removal of a dead man’s body from the sidewalk. In an article from The Guardian (July 2000), the photos from “A Man Dies in the Street” were described as having a crime reporting quality to it.

A Happy Group, Bal des Quatre Saisons, Rue de Lappe; ca. 1932

They weren’t always dark

In one of his more lively series featuring nightlife in the French capital, Brassaï cleverly uses the mirror on the wall to capture the people sitting across from the people in the foreground! So simple, but efficient.

Unlike a mirror selfie that shows your phone/camera, you can’t see Brassaï’s camera in the image.

I’ll have to experiment and try that trick the next time I take a big group photo!

For more information:

SFMOMA – Brassaï Exhibition

Louise Bourgeois Spiders Exhibition at SFMOMA

Did you know that arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, is one of the most common phobias? Because I suffer from it, I admire those who aren’t afraid of spiders. For example:

  • People who eat them, like Angelina Jolie did while she was visiting Cambodia, where fried spiders are a delicacy
  • Singer Billie Eilish, who had a tarantula crawl out of her mouth in her music video
  • Wilbur the Pig, whose best buddy was a sweet barn spider named Charlotte
  • French-American artist, Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), who created large-scale spider sculptures, some of which I got to see at the Louise Bourgeois Spiders exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) recently

Oculus Bridge inside SFMOMA

I call this the “Face Your Fears” floor of the museum. In addition to spiders, I’m also afraid of heights. Talk about exposure therapy to get rid of my phobias!

Walking across the short bridge was not a problem for me. But when I looked down through the thin grate floor and I could actually see four floors below me – that was not so easy! Then at the end of the bridge I saw the massive spiders!

According to the SFMOMA website (no pun intended):

“Louise Bourgeois created the first of her darkly compelling spider sculptures in the mid-1990s, when she was in her eighties. The artist saw spiders as both fierce and fragile, capable of being protectors as well as predators… Partly a reference to her mother, partly to herself, spiders for her represented cleverness, industriousness, and protectiveness.”

As the security guard welcomed guests to the gallery, she gently reminded us “to stay 18 inches away” from the sculptures.

Will do! Don’t have to tell me twice!

OK, to be fair, not all spiders make my skin crawl. For example, the animated character, Lucas the Spider, is absolutely adorable and he makes me forget my fears. Check out this short episode: Lucas the Spider – “I’m Starving”

Then just when I thought I was getting over my fear, I come across this article about a tarantula the size of a dinner plate dragging an opposum!

Ugh.