happy new year and the iolani palace part ii

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So what is the Iolani Palace you ask? It stands as the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy that has been beautifully restored. The National Historic Landmark sits in downtown Honolulu and is a stark contrast to the surrounding high rises of bustling city life. I really enjoyed visiting the house, even if we couldn't go inside to tour it. I was struck by how many residents of Honolulu were lounging on the grass of the grounds, enjoying the historic home, and how it has a very cherished place to this day in city life. Built by King Kalakaua in 1882, it was also home to his illustrious successor, Queen Liliuokalani and stands as the only royal residence in the United States. Let's take a peek inside, starting with the Grand Hall, source, source

The Throne Room, source, source

The Blue Room, source

The Music Room, source, source

The Dining Room, source:

King's Library, source:

Bedroom, source:

If you're interested in the restoration process of this house, their curatorial department kept a blog in 2010 with some informative posts.

merry christmas and the iolani palace part i

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Recently we visited Hawaii for a couple weeks. There were so many beautiful places to explore. Some of the top, top things on my radar were two Hawaii house tours. Unfortunately, parenthood comes with a learning curve. Oddly, it never occurred to me that children would not be allowed inside the house. I understand that this house is a part of Hawaii's heritage so we respect their wishes. However, with that in mind, I am only able to share a post with my original photos of the exterior but I don't think cameras are allowed inside anyway.

Across the street, the beautiful historic courthouse:

I'm going to work on a second post with the interior photos from around the web. Guess we'll have to make another trip back when our daughter is older! Until next time, Mele Kalikimaka!

a japanese house part ii

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I've been on the road, tot in tow, so this is much later than anticipated (per usual). I don't kid myself that you are waiting with bated breath for a new post but I have a few more house tours I've scheduled for the next couple weeks - the result of our travels! Back to the Japanese house, let's tour the interior. First, some beautiful details:


The foyer, front hall and looking back at the door. The thing I love most about the Japanese houses I've seen in this area is the attention to detail in the geometric shapes. From the wall panels, some woven, some plain, to the vertical slats, to the shadows of the door - they all convey a delineation of space but also add a beautiful play in texture and light.

The kitchen, immediately to the left of the entry, is very Western and utilitarian in style. The one remarkable thing is the "secret storage" as I have called it. Intended for Japanese pickles and food goods, our friend (who has no need for significant food storage) uses it for wine!

The front living room, is also very Western in style, so I'll gloss over it only to show those lovely sliding doors that can open to create an indoor outdoor space. I've also noticed, in observing local architecture, the use of small space.While this is a very compact lot, the indoor-outdoor nature of it makes it feel much larger and offers a sense of private peacefulness:

The next room, a tatami room, is one of my favorites. It is a tatami living room and has beautiful light. I shot all these photos without artificial light so you can see the beauty in the design.

 I love the tatami binding. I recently watched a documentary on traditional "shinesses" (businesses) and learned that bindings of various tatamis signify different uses, ranks, etc. But at the very least, this is something to admire.:

The transition of sliding doors leading to another tatami room. This way you can get a sense of floor plan:

 The tatami bedroom has plenty of storage for holding bed linens during the day. I brought my daughter and this, by far, was her favorite room the explore. Japanese houses are wonderfully child-friendly with their very nature of having everything tucked away. (If only we weren't in a "western-style" house ourselves...). But anyways, here's the bedroom:

And lastly, I have to share how much my daughter loves our friends house. Her favorite thing to do is open and close the sliding rice paper doors and peek around the corners:

giving thanks and a japanese house part i

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! I'm about to head out of town but I wanted to share the exterior of a house that I really love. This is a typical family style house in this part of Japan. Here's the view from the street. I just love those Japanese maples.


 I think you might be surprised by how spacious it is. Japan, outside of Tokyo and other large urban centers, actually has very comfortable living spaces - although personally we're not in such a large house. To be sure, the tiny ones exist here, too.

This one belongs to a good friend who was kind enough to allow me to snoop around. I'm posting the exterior photos today and will have more detail and interior photos when I return from our trip!

I love the attention to detail in the garden. When you look at the entire little garden, you think, "what chaos" but in each corner is actually a well ordered vignette and then you step back and appreciate how the overall feel is to simulate nature as closely as possible.

Except the cafe lights, those aren't natural...

Even the steps to the sliding glass doors seem built into the landscape as if they've always been there. Also, I want to point out that two main rooms have these sliding glass doors that completely open allow the living space to flow into the garden.

Enjoy your day of feasting and friends (but not feasting on friends, unless your friends are fowl).