Magic Transient Touches at Hermes

7 Dec

Let me lead you on a slightly circuitous path dripping with nostalgia before mentioning the magic inspiring this blog.

San Francisco’s Japantown has held a pull for me ever since the days of Hodo Tobase’s calligraphy classes at the Sotoji Zen Mission. It occupied a former Jewish Synagogue at Bush and Laguna Streets, now part of Kokoro, a senior residence for Japanese-Americans.

Skipping a decade, the Miharas, husband and wife, opened The Paper Tree, a stationery store, in the Japan Center in 1968, moving to the west side of the Buchanan Street Mall in their own building in 1974.  With the usual run of stationery goods, the Miharas stock special Japanese cards and papers.

Not the least of these paper  offerings continues to be designed for use in origami.  Origami, a word combining ori or folding with kami or paper, is the practice and art of folding paper.  It dates back to Japan’s classical or Heian period, but became a prevalent past-time during the Tokugawa era.

Linda Mihara, the Miharas’ daughter, started her adventure with origami to the point where The Paper Tree regularly displays origami art in its windows facing the Buchanan Street Mall.  The skill and patience represented catches one’s spirit.

During a recent visit for The Paper Tree’s  great ballpoint pens, Father Mihara announced proudly that Linda’s work was being displayed in Hermes on Maiden Lane at Grant Avenue, additional examples destined for  the Beverly Hills branch.  I learned Linda created a Victorian house two years ago for a Mitsubishi ad.

Dazzled with my discovery, Rika Ashihara at Cal Bank Trust  showed me a paper bull fashioned from a U.S. one dollar bill, constructed so the bull possessed two small eyes.

This afternoon I ventured to Union Square and Grant Avenue with origami on my agenda.  The building Hermes occupies earlier housed Saks Fifth Avenue, perhaps Crate and Barrel.  Now its windows are festooned for the holidays with brilliant scarves  flying between small white paper horses or draped around thoroughbred sized white horses heads.  The folds are clearly visible, the artifice plain, the skill undeniable, the effect magical.  See them if you venture down to San Francisco’s Union Square this holiday season, goal enchantment.


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