. Origami Living | Japanese Living and Design Products | 日本のデザイン製品

October 30, 2014

Tokyo Midtown | Japan Traditional Crafts Week 2014

In the search of the perfect souvenir from Japan and a dip into the Tokyo art scene, a morning spent in Tokyo Midtown is the ideal place to unwind. Easy to access by train it is a must-see area for art lovers and was a relaxing place to visit in Tokyo with a baby. A Tokyo Midtown Guide is available.

The Cover Nippon is hosting Japan Traditional Crafts week which had us stroking handcrafted wooden umbrella handles, admiring fuji-san egg cups and wondering how customs would deal with a customised knife set. Words like geta, kimono, matcha and sake were common place and tourists in trainers rub shoulders with ladies belted by obi. A melting pot of intercultural sharing in its truest form, it was a welcome souvenir pitstop in a modern setting to buy traditional crafts from all over Japan.

October 25, 2014

Lupicia | Book of Tea 2014

There is nothing quite like a trip to Japanese tea specialist Lupicia when in search of souvenirs from Japan or a quick pick-me-up. Their seasonal offerings of Halloween chestnut and pumpkin teas followed closely by a cookie and cinnamon variety for Winter 2014 caught my attention immediately.

If you are truly looking for something grand to gift the ultimate tea lover I would look no further than the Lupicia Book of Tea 2014. More than a coffee table book, this is a conversational piece to be revisited many times over and the rainbow of coloured packets is just delightful.

October 06, 2014

Meri | Japanese Knitted Slippers

With a booth at the Tokyo International Gift Show, Meri lends a stylish touch to the obligatory Japanese slipper. Absorbing the embarrassment of not having slippers to offer my barefooted guests this week, I promptly made a beeline for some comfortable indoor footwear.

Having always relegated our thong-type of footwear to the summer months, I plan to match the Meri knitted slipper to my new glove-socks for the cooler months in Japan. They are suitably cheerful for the upcoming Winter.

Of course I need the largest size they come in before have to enter the realm of "made to order".

September 19, 2014

Marusa Balloons | A Contemporary Communication Tool

A cheery collaboration, Marusa Balloons are designed by h concept and Asano design studio. Through a  happy rainbow of colours and designs, the new range of balloons speak to children and adults alike. The balloons are produced by the only remaining balloon-making factory in Chiba, Japan that still use traditional manufacturing techniques. 

A fantastic addition to kids craft time, Marusa balloons can be filed with air, water, azuki beans or flour to provide a range of sensory experiences. Of particular interest to my toddler was the animal range, available in mammal D (Dino) or mammal P (Pig). Our little scientist was later amused by the colour-changing hen-shin balloons, which reminded me of my youth collecting mood rings with colour-changing stones. I appeared to always be of calm temperament thanks to my cold hands.

I can already envision a time and a place for their two-toned balloons at a birthday or their dripping balloons for a Japanese Halloween in Yokohama (with a nod to tv-serial killer Dexter and his blood-splattered slides of course). Regardless of the occasion that the company has in mind, balloons bring people together. It bridges a generational divide, gets people gifting each other and encourages a party of balloon-blowers to work together to bring smiles to friends faces. The ultimate tool of communication I would say.

September 17, 2014

Book Depository | Haruki Murakami

With the addition of an August baby to our household, I was frantically searching for books to reassure our toddler that bouts of crying and fussing were to be expected, but that with the wails came new exciting moments to treasure.

One of my go-to stops for all things book related is Book Depository. As an expat living in Japan it is often hard to come by English books for kids with low shipping rates, so the prospect of free delivery worldwide was particularly appealing. With a Wishlist in hand for some of my favorite kid books for Older Siblings, Halloween and Autumn, I was happy to discover that this month is Japanese author, Haruki Murakami's, month.

A little discount atop the reasonable price was a welcome surprise. I hope to while away the first month or two of sleepless feeding schedules with the newborn with some of his books in hand, Colorless Tsukuru being the first.

Haruki Murakamis Colorless Tsukuru

August 05, 2014

FRAMED 2.0 | Digital Art for Everyday Walls

A collaborative effort by Taiwanese and Japanese designers, Framed 2.0 has catapulted into the global artscene with gusto. Bringing digital art out of museums and into our everyday lives, it is revolutionary in its concept, but accessible in its design. With my current indecision of wall art for our Japanese home I am intrigued. My preference of peculiar art is wildly tamed into classic impressionist pieces due to the durability factor. Oh how this could transform our home.

With skills in web programing and software engineering, paired with their joint experience in product, graphic and interior design, the deft design team operating out of Tokyo and Taipei have created a winning product in digital wall art for the masses. This is most evident by its rapid climb in popularity on Kickstarter, seamless smartphone integration and timeless design.

I am particularly taken with the handcrafted walnut finish on the frame and the ease of canvas customisation. I foresee parents the world over letting the toddler take the helm and decorate to their hearts desire without the worry of cleanup.

August 02, 2014

Yaetoco | Organic Japanese Skincare

With the humid Summer heat in Japan and my disinterest in a fully made-up face, I have been focusing on basic skincare all the more. Alarmed that one of my favourite scrubs used microbeads, it was immediately tossed and I have been looking for something more gentle, possibly organic, to replace it with. In fact a trip to a dermatologist in Tokyo last year only confirmed that my sensitive, fair skin does not need the extra exfoliating (a muslin washcloth would suffice).

Now, with the new baby on the way (hello nesting!) and a toddler who has taken a liking to anything that is mine, I thought a  gentle versatile family soap would be ideal. Always keen to streamline our bathroom products and finish something before starting another product, I was hesitant to follow my instincts and buy Japanese brand Yaetoco’s  entire range, but the citrus scent and creamy lather of the facial soap will have me going back for some of the other products before long.

I have my eye on their scented mist having only good things to say about the soap. I like that it is produced locally in Niigata and there is nothing more delightful that the scent of Japanese citrus fruit peelings.

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