Welp, here it is: the last round of art mail I'm planning on doing for a while.
Oh, there'll be a certain something for a certain someone's birthday on Halloween, and there'll be another round of international Christmas cards and postcards at the end of the year, but in an effort to 1) reduce the amount of art supplies, paper ephemera, and general clutter I have and 2) focus on other projects I've never finished because I'm really bad at finishing projects, I'm shutting this one down for the time being.
This post covers things going back a few months actually, so let's start with the oldest packages: the ones I sent to Lars and Solvig, two of Hannes' best friends, in Hamburg.
A while back I had promised Lars I'd send him some green tea goodies, because he really likes matcha. Actually, no one else has ever had any Japan-specific requests.
It took a while to put a few items together and finally get them sent off. I went to a specialty tea shop called Ippodo in the ritzy, very Manhattan-esque Marunouchi neighbourhood downtown to get some quality matcha powder. I also have never seen it for sale anywhere else? Maybe I'm not looking hard enough or in the right places. I mean, it's a very common flavour, and you can find matcha chocolates, ice cream, etc. etc. in any old place, but not the concentrated powder itself. If anyone can explain this or what I'm missing, I'd love a comment or message about where you got yours.
Oedo subway newspaper packaging lol
This pouch and the similar one I got his sister came from a hipstery little gift shop in Kamakura, when we went with Hannes' parents, Nico, and Nico's mom. The attempt at name embroidery is pretty bad, but whatever lol. I ain't even mad.
Right as I was putting this together I also came across a German book about Japanese green tea at Book Off for 100円. Coincidence?! I think not. All in all it turned out to be a pretty respectable and pleasantly colour-coordinated box.
Now, the one for his sister was a little different; I know that Solvig likes ethnic, textilesy things, but didn't have nearly as much to go on for hers. In addition to the pouch, I eventually picked up some very cute and very inexpensive fabric from a quaint-as-fuck sewing shop in Kuramae (it's on the same block as all the big toy company headquarters, like Bandai) I kept passing.
Silly origami balloon note you have to blow up to read?
Eventually I went ahead and made a couple of copies out of one of the many colouring books I've been given as as gift and put those in there, plus more sour picked plum candy, because it seems like everyone's gotten a kick out of feeding that to their unsuspecting friends.
I really liked how this one turned out, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when it ended up being the only one to get lost. Or so I thought.
Actually, it turns out that the St. Pauli postman had tried to deliver it while Solvig and her boyfriend were on holiday in Bilbao, País Vasco, and it took something like 5 weeks to get returned to yours truly, luckily not much worse for the wear but much crinklier and with quite a lot of new stickers and stamps. I finally sent it back out last week and was just glad it didn't disappear!
Alé went back to Seattle for a weeklong visit and sent me a great, hilarious, drunken, heartfelt card and postcard while she was there. I'd had a really shitty day of hating being here, too, and coming home to it was much-needed pick-me-up.
Britney and the doughnut postcard live on our fridge now.
I miss you, too! Dx
Interestingly, that same day, a packet from my mom also came. She included a set of planet stamps and had photocopied a number of interesting articles she'd been wanting to show me, complete with notes and cute little stamps all over. The double-whammy of "we care about you and miss you!" from the overseas that day was really just what I needed.
And on top of that, my grandma sent me a full-on letter in response to a catch-all multiple-holiday card I had sent her and my grandpa! It was really thoughtful.
Oh, and speaking of things that came back, another item I had feared was lost was this cool postcard I'd gotten at Vanilla Gallery when I went to the Beautiful Bizarre exhibition with Rejon and sent to Erin, only to find out weeks later that she wasn't using the same PO box anymore. So I sent it out again, and included a copy of the ridiculous comic I'm going to show you in a minute.
I had seen these uchiwa cards at our local stationery shop a while back and was still thinking about them, so I went back and got one of each design - one for my mom, one for my grandparents, and one for Hannes' friends we stayed with when we visited Cologne. I still need to go back and get one for Hannes' parents, actually >_>
The Frozen postcard I've been saving for a while, certain there would be some excuse to send it to Nico and Andrea's daughter Hanna. When I missed her birthday I was like, shit, but then found out she's starting school at the beginning of September. Haha! Off it went.
I included this little painting of anmitsu, the traditional Japanese dessert I described when I wrote to my grandparents. Once a few years ago I made my grandma try mochi and she totally hated it, so I said I wished I could have them try the genuine article when it's fresh. Seriously, grandma. It's good.
And last but certainly not least, the pièce de résistance, Carl's birthday box.
First, some background.
I've been meaning to send Carl something for a long time. I've sent Christmas cards, but never any gifts or goodies. When I first moved to Korea I was determined to collect as many Mamegoma or Mamegoma-like things as I could - assuming there would be some around - to send him, but it didn't work out that way. The San-X character of the day is Gudetama, the lethargically depressed egg, and he is everywhere. They really push only one of these stupid cute little blob guys at a time, apparently, and the rest are consigned to history.
But I had bought doubles of a few little Sailormoon items over the course of the past year or so, and then one day at the post office I noticed this adorable 3D card for sale (Carl is an aquarium enthusiast):
Okay, I thought, whipping out the goldfish tape my mom bought me, the accumulated Sailormoon trinkets, the Christmas candy and card I even took to the States with me last year but ran out of time to send, and the Japanese Star Trek TNG book I had found at our local hole-in-the-wall used book shop: I'm finally going to send him something.
I knew exactly what I wanted to put on the box: a drawing of Sailor Venus blasting a Mamegoma monster while saying, "What in the hell am I scared of you for?! I'm Sailor Venus!" because that's how one of the many lengthy, hilarious dreams Carl had and told me about when we were in college ended. He realised, just before being murdered by his monstrous evil high school science teacher (that was it, right?), who had systematically murdered the entire class before him that he was, in fact, Sailor Venus, and possessed the power to destroy her.
such amaze. many inspire. wow.
So, there you go. That's why I did this, lol.
I ended up making a few copies so I could cover parts of the box with it, and like the Paris-themed box I gave my mom for Christmas, I lined this one with what was left of the cute felt from Flying Tiger Copenhagen.
As I wrote on the back of it, that stupid blue seal/otter pen from Korea in 2013 was the only Mamegome-like thing I ever did end up finding lol. The gotcha is a figurine of Sailor Neptune.
Here's the Christmas package - I included a delicious red bean paste and walnut manju cookie thingy and got rid of a couple of smushed chocolates.
One of the pages of the Star Trek book
Anyone remember this darling mini storybook card about two cats who are friends?
Well, that was for Carl.
Sorry this picture sucks, I was drunk.
Just as there's been a Pikachu box, a green tea box, a Paris box, and several snack boxes, this one ended up being a sort of fairytale box.
And there you have it! I hope everyone's enjoyed this project as much as I have. I didn't get a lot of responses but the ones people took the time to send were all much appreciated, even if they were just postcards. This isn't done forever, though, and of course, we still love getting stuff, so feel free to make something! It's fun, and you can probably do it for free!