escape to Japan

Who says Florida only offers palm trees, sandy beaches and shopping malls? On our recent trip to visit my mom, we discovered a little piece of paradise, Japanese style. And we LOVE Japan!

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George S. Morikami arrived to the United States from Japan in 1906, to work as a pineapple farmer. He was one of the last surviving members of the Yamato Colony that settled west of Delray Beach at the turn of the century. It is thanks to Mr. Morikami, for his donation of 140 acres of land to the state of Florida, that the memory of him and his people lives on. Visiting the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens gracefully transports you to another world.

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Upon these grounds you feel free.

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With rock gardens in which to ponder life’s mysteries.

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And a museum in which to transport yourself to Japan.

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Or perhaps best to sit and contemplate.

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Surrounded by bonsai trees.

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experiences of a lifetime

Today marks five years since my adventures around the world took flight. Still, it feels like yesterday. Sitting aboard a plane, tipsy from sake and high from anticipation, having just bid farewell to dear friends and family after several days of revelry at Miami’s Art Basel. I was about to embark on a journey of 13 months and countless experiences. First stop Buenos Aires. I often reflect upon those days, particularly when I’m not feeling inspired (even amidst the beauty of Paris), and find myself reliving these scenes… eternally grateful to call them my experiences.

Exploring Machu Picchu beneath a misty sky.

Bathing on the remote island of Fernando de Naronha in Brazil.

Sky-diving over the majestic landscape of Queenstown, New Zealand.

Driving along Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Admiring Jodhpur, the magnificent 'Blue City' of Rajasthan, India.

Catching a glimpse of the Taj Mahal.

A spiritual moment at the temple of Ta Prohm in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Becoming fashionable in the city of tailors, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Two days floating on a junk boat in Halong Bay.

Meditating upon the Mekong in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Exlporing the rice fields of Ubud, Indonesia by motor bike.

Inhaling the grand view of Hong Kong.

Driving through the landscape near Lhasa, Tibet.

Climbing the Great Wall of China.

Finding tranquility amidst The Golden Pavilion of the Rokuon-Ji Temple in Kyoto.

A sunrise hot-air ballon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey.

 What are your most cherished experiences? (Have you lived them yet?)

 

travel meets fashion

I love to travel as much as I love designing. Thus, I decided to design a custom travel bag, revealing the three cities closest to my heart. A seemingly easy task, at least for the first two. Paris, since this is now my home and ever since that first visit so many years ago, love at first encounter. New York since it’s where I spent some of the most memorable (and formative) years of my life.

As for the third, that was a challenge. There are many cities I became enamored with, mostly during my journey around the world. Buenos Aires, Hanoi, Ubud (more a town than a city), Sydney, Mumbai, Kyoto, Luang Prabang, Krakow, London, Mexico City… the list goes on. But where was it that stood out in my mind unlike any other? Tokyo. Perhaps because I was there with dear friends on both my first visit and my second. Or perhaps it was due to the freshest sushi I’ve even eaten at 7am after a night of darts and karaoke… or simply, the unique energy and electricity in the air.

Whatever it was, Tokyo won a place on my bag. Along with Paris and New York.

What are your top three?

To make this equally exciting for all fashion savvy travelers out there, I’m giving away one custom hand-painted reversible travel bag to a lucky traveler and fan. With your initials printed on the inside pocket. To enter, leave a comment stating your three favorite cities and join my facebook fan page where I will announce the winner on December 15th. Bonne chance and many a bon voyage!

To order a custom bag or join a bag painting workshop and create your own: info@kasiadietz.com

bag for cause

What is happening in Japan is unfathomable. I cannot even imagine the struggles for survival these poor people are going through, the loss of lives, homes, even entire villages. In an attempt to aid, in what little I can do, I designed a bag to raise money for a people severely in need.

Please take a moment to make a donation of $10 (7€) or any amount you can offer. My goal is to raise as much money as possible by April 1st and send 100% of the contributions to Red Cross to aid victims of Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami.

You can donate directly to American Red Cross or via paypal (kasiadietz@gmail.com).

As a little incentive, one random do-gooder will be rewarded with this hand-printed bag, a tribute to Japan. In an additional effort, I am also forwarding 50% of proceeds from all bag sales to aid Japan. Stay in touch with other causes and promotions here. Winner will be announced on April 1st!

Leave a comment upon donating and share this link with anyone willing to contribute. Thank you!

history vs modernity

While the Italians were in town we took them to Versailles. Just in case they weren’t thoroughly impressed from day one in Paris.

As excited as they were to visit this 17th Century Château, I was equally excited to view the current Murakami exhibit, a source of controversy since its inception in mid-September. I was determined to find all 22 works by Takashi Murakami, including the 11 created specifically for the show, and to discover what all the hype was about. All this while enjoying the splendor of Versailles, which I had previously visited as a student, back in the days when art was confined to museums and galleries.

My first impression was disdain as I felt too distracted by the art to pay much attention to the grandeur of the architecture. That quickly turned to child-like curiosity, as I entered each ornately decorated room, eager to discover which brightly-coloured creatures lurked behind the corner.

It was the unique contrast in the Baroque setting and the art that held my interest.

During this tour, I wondered to myself what exactly was the motivation for France to curate such a show? Setting the precedent with Jeff Koons’ exhibit in 2008, were they attempting to position themselves as provocateurs in the art world? Or perhaps this is all a political ploy to strengthen relations between France and Japan. Whatever the reason, I was throughly entertained and enjoyed it more than not. The Italians thought it amusing but lacked my enthusiasm. The French tourists, upon over-hearing several conversations, were deeply dismayed. (Right-wingers no doubt.)

The final room held no 17th Century distractions, merely smiley flowers to lighten the mood.

For those confused about how modernity can find a home within the walls of history (myself included), Curator Laurent Le Bon offers a little clarity, “The unique experience seeks above all to spark a reflection of the contemporary nature of our monuments and indispensable need to create out own era.”

Still confused? In this video which takes you on a tour of the exhibition, Murakami explains his reasoning behind working so diligently to create his manga universe at Versailles. What I found interesting is how he defines space in France versus Japan, two very disparate cultures. “In France you have this tradition to conquer and manage space and to represent it in three dimensions. In Japan, there is this tradition to flatten out reality to take a real three dimensional space and transform it into two dimensions.”  Another interesting note, Murakami considers his work somewhat like origami which can be manipulated in various ways. I would have to agree.

The grand finale in the exhibition is the Oval Buddha in the garden. Very grand and very gold. If you have not yet experienced the controversy, the show is up until December 12, 2010. Well worth it!

Still, I am left to wonder, should modern art find a home in history?

Tokyo nights: part 2

My return to Tokyo proved to be another 2 days and nights of carousing, this time with John who I had last seen as we raised a glass in Rio. His journey was to begin as mine continued. Our night began in Roppongi, where the heartbeat of Tokyo is felt on every corner. Following a sushi feast we found a suitably tacky karaoke bar, and there began my attempt at singing the classics. Another whisky please!! John was a natural! Upon a restful slumber in my Ryokan I spent the day shopping in the Shinjuku district where John and I met once again after viewing this magestic city of lights from the 59th floor of the Park Hyatt. After many failed attempts to enter one of the dozens of private clubs which seemed all too enticing, we made friends with the locals over several games of darts. The morning sun beckoned us to inspect the catch of the morning at the Tsukiji fish market. In the manner that my first night in Tokyo had begun several weeks ago, so it was to end. Over a 6am plate of the most incredible fish I will ever have the pleasure to savour!




I was sad to leave this city and it’s people but it was time to fly away once again…

Hiroshima-Himeji-Shuzenji


‘When an atomic bomb falls, day becomes night. And the people become ghosts,’ words of 10 year old Hatsumi Sakamoto. What more to say.

Thoughtful refuge found on the island of Miyajima.

The following day I encountered the majestic Himeji Castle, nicknamed “White Heron” due to its white walls covered with white fireproof plaster. The castle took 8 years to build beginning in 1601, rising atop a hill called Himeyama, 45.6 meters above sea level. Himeji Castle is famous for it’s huge main tower as well as the highly effective and complicated defensive maze-like design. It stands fully intact and preserved, as it is one of the few castles in Japan never to have been attacked by warfare.


It was time for a spa adventure as I jumped aboard a highly esteemed Shinkansen train and found my way to the hot spring resort of Shuzenji on the Izu Peninsula. Named after the local temple, Shuzenji was founded 1200 years ago by Kobo Daishi (Kukai), one of Japan’s most important religious personalities. After being filled with such intense sights and sensations, the steamy waters of my onsen felt like heaven!

meditation with the monks




My life has taken a rather spiritual turn, as I find inner sanctity surrounded by monks in a temple in Koya-San. Upon arrival Sooji and I feasted on an elaborate composition of vegetarian delicacies in all shapes and sizes followed by a deep meditation led by one of the many resident monks. The rain was falling, creating a mood of tranquility and peace, as we lay our minds and bodies to rest upon the tatami mats. We were awoken at 5am and led into a world of captivating chanting followed by a fire ceremony. As the rain continued I found myself deep in thought amidst the sacred souls in the cemetery…

my life as a Geisha

The last few days have been spent bicycling around Kyoto, seeking out hidden treasures in the form of temples. I have seen many and more to come in the days ahead as tomorrow we venture to Naga followed by Koya-San…I am still in surreptitious pursuit of a Geisha as these women strangely intrigue me. Ah, and I cannot forget to mention all the sushi feasts accompanied by bottles of sake…this evening I took a bath. The Funaoka Onsen is a traditional Japanese bath house with an outdoor bath, sauna, cypress-wood tub, herbal bath…I have never felt so clean! This was indeed an experience.

The Golden Pavilion of the Rokuon-Ji Temple

The rock garden at the Ryoanji Temple

Kyoto


We arrived in Kyoto to streets filled with kimono clad women and men in robes, strolling the downtown streets with a casual grace, the clunking of wooden shoes heard in every direction. It was a holiday and celebrations were underway! Though I have yet to see one of the 100 Geishas who inhabit the city. I thought I may have spotted one sitting on the banks of the Kamo-Gawa river contemplating her fate…Kyoto is a vibrant historic city, home to nearly 2,000 temples and shrines and an intimacy that does not exist in Tokyo. It is a charming city with much to discover…

Tokyo nights: part 1



A brief stop in Hong Kong where Sooji and I met once again to continue our journey to Tokyo where our final chapter in Asia was to commence. Here we were joined by our dear friends Maria and Blair with whom we shared several memorable days on the island of Gili Trawangan back in the time of Bali. Weary from a long day of flights yet fully awake to the energy of Tokyo, they whisked us away to a trendy hotspot called Yellow, where dj Mark Farina set the mood for a long night of dancing and revelry followed by an early morning at the fish market. Sushi for breakfast? This was of course followed by a clandestine piano performance by the very musically inclined Blair, on a baby grand at the Conrad…we saved the sushi feast for a grand dinner, this delectable fish of which I can`t seem to eat enough of. It is such moments that I so often smile upon…