Friday, December 5, 2014

Colourful Mizuhiki Mobil - Brighten up your room!

Do you want to make your room fun and fancy with candy colors?  Or do you want to have serene and sophisticated space with gold, silver and white?

This colourful mobil is made of Mizuhiki which is a twisted Japanese paper string coated with a glittering glaze.  It has a flower motif and each piece is hand woven.  It gently shines and brighten up the room.  Each color has two tones; cherry x salmon pink, turquoise x sky blue, gold x custard lemon etc, which gives a deep and refined impression.

Japanese paper is incredibly durable and this Mizuhiki string is very strong in water and flexion.  You can change the length of the cord by moving the flower motif to create a different face.  Please click here to learn more about Mizuhiki mobil.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Shibori Fabric in many ways

This cloth was dyed to make a Japanese summer kimono called yukata.  I visited his studio in spring, by now I imagine that it is already a yukata being worn by a lady walking on the streets of Kyoto.  

Like I wrote earlier, his main work is kimono-dyeing.  Here are his kimonos and other creations!

This Summer kimono called Yukata dyed by him is in an advert that promotes people to wear it more often in daily life.  It says that you can get discounts at museums, cafes, and on public transportation in Kyoto if you wear Yukata.

He showed me some photos in a Japanese TV guide, where the main actor and the actress are in his dyed fabric.  This is for the Japanese historical Samurai TV drama which is very popular in Japan.  When I saw this, it was like 'Wow!  Is this the person who did the costumes for them!'

This is a sun umbrella which fabric was dyed by him.  It has turquoise polka dots outside and you find fireflies or a planetarium inside.  Very pretty!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Noren, Hand-Dyed Fabric Divider, Itajime Shibori Technique, Made in Kyoto 2

This is the second part of Noren fabric dyeing process.  After it is dyed, the color becomes very durable and resilient to laundry.

After dyeing the base, he takes off the wood binder.  You can see the bound part is not dyed.  He changes the direction of the wood binder to dye the white part.  The tool that he is using, he made himself for this purpose.

All the process is done by hand.

The third round of dyeing.

As you can see, he spends a lot of time with his back bent and it is quite a tiring process.  I do respect his work!

More varieties of his work is coming soon!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Noren, Hand-Dyed Fabric Divider, Itajime Shibori Technique, Made in Kyoto 1

This Noren, divider fabric, is hand-dyed by this 74-year-old Craftsman at his studio in Kyoto.  The method called Ita-Jime is one of the shibori (tie-dye) technique and uses wood to bind the cloth to resist dyeing and make patterns and different colours.  

Here is how it is made. First the cloth is soaked in the colored hot water to make the base color. 

Once the cloth is dyed, the color won't come off even if you wash.  It was blue color in the water but it turned into purple once the the cloth had contact with air!  Can you see slight purple in the cloth??

The cloth is dyed in two different buckets to deepen the color. Yes, each piece of cloth is dyed by his hands.

His color palette.  The color can change depending on the temperature and humidity on the day.  He adjusts the amount of the pigment each time by his long-year experience.

This is just a part of whole process.  Keep your eyes open for the next post!
You can see his completed work here!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Magewappa + Butter = Joy

Have you ever had a hard time dealing with butter?  You know, when it gets too hard in the fridge to easily shave off a piece.  Use this magical Magewappa box as your new butter container.  

In the fridge, butter is preserved at just the right hardness - not too hard, not too soft.  The unvarnished cedar breathes and balances the moisture and dryness inside.  You will not have any difficulty cutting a piece from the block anymore.  When ready to eat on the table, the butter is in just the right condition to be shaved off.  

There is a special butter knife that comes with the box, which allows getting all the butter out of box, even from the edge.  It also fits perfectly in the box.  Add this box to the table to have a pleasant start to the day. Find more details of this handmade butter dish, Magewappa here!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Delicious lunch time with Magewappa Bento box.

This wooden bento lunch box, Magewappa makes your lunch beautiful and delicious.  You can simply put fruits and vegetables or you can try some traditional Japanese bentos.

They are Magewappa Koban Chu Box (Oval box medium) or Stackable Tenohira Nidan box (Stackable two layers box).  You can use just one box or use two boxes depending on your appetite on the day or when you have friends to share with.  You can also put rice in one box and vegetables and meat in the other box.

 The natural cedar wood adjusts the humidity in the box and keeps the rice and the food really fresh and tasty.  This is a magical box that treats your eyes and palate in a simple and beautiful way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Smart Pasta Spice Organizer made from Kiri Wood

The spice organizer is a smart and functional kitchen container.  In it, you can store long and short pasta, noodles, tea, beans, salt, spice etc.  It helps to tidy up the kitchen space and looks cool.

It is made from Kiri Wood.  Kiri has been used as a box or chest to store kimonos which used to be treated as family treasures till recently.  This is because Kiri wood is light and controls humidity well; thus it protect the object inside from moisture.  Dry foods inside are kept well and preserved nicely in the kitchen.  Also, Kiri provides better protection than other woods to fire damage.

There is an interesting story about how Kiri supported daily life in ancient times.  During the Edo era (15th - 19th) chests was made from Kiri wood.   Have you seen the Japanese Tansu (chest) with metal handles?  They are not just decoration.  The city of Edo (current Tokyo) had caught in fire very often.  Because Japanese houses were made of wood and built very closely each other, houses were easily burned down.  People ran away from the fire and while that, they took out the Kiri chest and carried them in the fire.  The metal handles are for this emergency.  Because Kiri wood itself is very light and many of the drawers could be separated, father took the first drawer and mother carried the second drawer and the family ran away from the fire carrying their treasure.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Introducing MACARON, ancient Tatami, revived for modern times

MACARON, popular French pastry, is displayed in various selections!  Well, unfortunately these are not sweets.  It is a new Tatami-style cushion, MACARON, named after its looks.  It is colourful and absolutely stunning, but in fact, its form has a long history.  

It is said that Tatami has been around for more than 1400 years.  Originally, Tatami did not cover all the floor as it does now, but was more like a small zabuton cushion for the seat.  It was a luxury item for the nobles; the cushion was treasured when sitting on hard wooden floors as everyone did then as there were no chairs until quite recently.
Tatami evolved as a form over time.  By the 8th century, it had evolved into the form that we know nowadays, and with the development of Japanese architecture, it gradually became widely available.  Since then, Tatami rooms have become a fixed part of Japanese traditional culture that has not changed for thousands of years.

MACARON was developed to revive Tatami's original use.  It preserves the ancient cultural of use of Tatami, providing it in a form that suits diverse Modern lifestyles.  It fits in any type of house, providing an accent to the room on the floor or on the chair, in a big room or small space.  Which colour do you want to pick up for your room?  How do you want to coordinate them?  Watch out - they will be available on the site soon!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Takaokaya: Ojami and Gorone-roll Portable Futon, made with heart and soul

Kyoto, the ancient capital, with more than 1,200 years of history,was the seat of the imperial household. Artists and artisans all over Japan honed their art and craft in hopes of
being able to move to Kyoto and vie to serve the aristocracy and ultimately, the emperor. Refined craftsmanship is deeply ingrained in both the DNA of Kyoto and Takaokaya, a maker of Ojami and Gorone-roll Portable Futon.

Takaokaya is a producer of handmade zabuton cushions and futon bedding in Kyoto.  Their history started in 1919 as a futon manufacturing company.  Since then, by making futon and zabuton which are essential for the Japanese life, Takaokaya has been strived for creating comfortable home life for the people.

In front of their old building in Kyoto in early 20th century.
Their artisans have the equivalent of several centuries of experience handcrafting relaxing zabuton and futons.  Each item is literally made by hand.  Even today, the only machine you will find in their workshop is a sewing machine!

Koichiro Takaoka, Takaokaya’s third generation owner, says “People in Japan, are re-evaluating their lifestyles and what matters most to them. While mass production has brought benefits, something is missing. That is heart and soul. If we use products with heart and soul, then our lives will be made much, much richer and more meaningful!”

Try their Ojami cushion and Gorone-roll Portable Futon, and you will experience that his word is true!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Portable futon is now available!

This is a portable futon handmade by a company in Kyoto.  This is lighter and more compact than normal futon, easy to fit in a small space and carry it around.  This can be used as your siesta futon or a nice way of giving your guests a good night's sleep!  Come and check the further information here!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tatami Mats

Japanese used to live with tatami mats.  There is a well-used proverb, Okite Hanjou Nete Ichi-jou, which literally means that 'the space one uses is the size of half of a tatami mat when waking, and a tatami mat when sleeping'.  This means that whatever wealth you have, you only need such a small space for living.  Therefore, instead of demanding more, be content with what you have.

We measure the size of houses by thinking about how many tatami mats can fit in the space.  The unit used, 'jou' literally means a tatami mat.  An old Japanese house was just a tatami room and a small kitchen space beside or inside the room.  People used that tatami room for all the purposes of life: living, dining, cooking and sleeping.  

Tatami is made from igusa grass.  I love them although fewer houses have a tatami room these days in Japan because of changes in lifestyle.  My tiny flat in Tokyo was a tatami room.  I loved living there because the tatami room made it cool in summer and warm in winter.  Also, if I felt like taking a nap, I could just lie down on the floor as it was cushioned compared to normal flooring.

I can bring this comfort across the ocean and to your house!  You do not need any installation and can use like a foldable rug.  This will come soon but I show some of the photos before updating on the store!