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

February 27, 2015

iherb Japan | Blonde in Japan

A recent addition to our monthly purchases have been from iherb to Japan. Always difficult to buy blonde hair dye in Japan, I have been looking for an easier was to keep my locks fair and the greys at bay, than restocking with each visit abroad. I have now found a blonde hair dye I am happy with and can re-order from iherb with ease.

Here is my February shopping list from iherb to Japan minus the hair dye which has already been used!

February 21, 2015

Little Free Library | Designs for Japan

It is not a secret that I love a good book. The fact that I haven't been able to read more than the kids books or online transcripts lately should also come as no shock. There are just not enough hours in the day to read the books lining some of the drawers in our house. I haven't wanted to put books that I have yet to read on display, the guilt would be too much to bare.

Then I saw this little link to a big idea - the Little Free Library. This is a concept made for Japan, where honesty reigns supreme. Even the Halloween sweets I put in a basket with a call to action note of PLEASE TAKE ONE had the taker ringing my doorbell to acknowledge that they were taking one. And when a bag was taken, I often found little acorns or pinecones placed in the basket in return. 

When I first heard about the idea of the Little Free Library, I wondered why it hadn't already been incorporated in Japan. As you are aware, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, and Nagasaki is one of its most laid-back, peaceful areas. With a many manga books loved by young children, I hope it becomes a space that everyone in the area can stop by casually. Takaki Ishimaru in Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan
Now as Spring approaches, it is time to dust off those English books and build them an outdoor home - off to look at Little Free Library designs. English education in Japan could use a little feel-good boost like this. Who's with me?!

February 20, 2015

AirBnB | A house in Japan

How comfortable are you with having strangers in your house or being a stranger in theirs? I could not tear myself away from the recent Airbnb Hosts of Japan and why some people are willing to open their homes to a traveller. Interesting conversation and cultural learning tick the boxes for why I might want to do it.

However the 'woulds' are still hurdles for listing our place as airbnb Japan hosts. Would I be able to do Japanese cuisine justice come breakfast time or send them to the nearest bakery to grab a coffee and a croissant. Would they be disappointed by the lack of green tea swilling and western beds? Or that we use our tatami room as the kids playroom and that no tea-ceremony or floor cushion kneeling goes on here. Would they remember to shower before entering the bathwater that we all share. Would I be able to share a strangers bathwater? 


We do not have a city view of Shinjuku or Shibuya, but we do have a view of Mt Fuji, when he is kind enough to show himself - usually on crisp mornings when I'd much rather be under the covers. Tama Plaza would certainly be a comfortable location for a tourist looking for airbnb accommodation in Japan, specifically Yokohama and Tokyo. It is family friendly, has spacious parks, Japanese design stores and easy access to the city and the sea.




Are you an airbnb host in Japan or elsewhere? What have your experiences been. Is it time to throw cation to the wind and ditch the WOULD List?

February 14, 2015

NAKAGAWA MASASHICHI | Daruma Doll Collection

If you are familiar with a daruma doll, a clever Japanese doll that helps you to visualize achievements one eye at a time, you might understand why it is easy to get a little obsessed by them. Besides serving as attractive ornaments, like the familiar kokeshi doll, I like the practicality of them - a visual TO DO list of greater proportion. For example, whether my aim is to pass a level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) or to visit more onsen town in Japan, a daruma doll makes it seem achievable. In hopeful abandon you color one eye of the doll in when you set out to achieve the goal and when completed you fill in the other eye.


I was delighted to find a great collection of Daruma-San in the shop Nakagawa Masashichi in Shinjuku. I came away with a Valentine's gift for the Japanese men in my life, some daruma snacks or だるまおこし.


February 13, 2015

OTSUKAGOFUKUTEN | Modern Kimono for a Modern Millie

In a glorious little shop tucked away in Shinjuku, you can find some unique kimono combinations, where prints clash with prints and polka-dots bleed into a watercolors for modern-day geisha. With branches in Kyoto and Kobe, Otsukagofukuten 大塚呉服店, is a must-visit if only to spark some ideas for a future kimono purchase and to learn a little about this traditional Japanese pastime.


Adopting a Japanese lifestyle has come with many a formal opportunity to wear a beautiful kimono. Japanese weddings, school entrance ceremonies and family photos come to mind. If you have ten minutes to spare, the assistants are only too happy to help you into the kimono and obi of your choice so that you may see what suits you best. While I tend to prefer a brighter combination of colours to compliment my pale skin tone, but I am sure to be tempted by a pretty floral palette of Spring. I would love to go back to view their kimono and yukata in a month or two.


February 12, 2015

DAISO | Chopstick Measurement

Who knew a little Daiso browsing would unearth a secret that I was not aware of... There IS a perfect chopstick size. Who knew?

I was aware of the difference between the male and female chopstick in terms of colour and design but size never occurred to me. It turns out that I might be better off with the man-sized pair if my calculations are right. I have long fingers! 

So how do you measure? Make a right-angle with your thumb and forefinger. The measurement from tip to tip should set you on track to getting the perfect Japanese chopstick. I am a 22.5cm length chopstick. What's your chopstick size?



February 09, 2015

UCHINO Accototo | Japanese Kids Towels

As we celebrate getting the kids into Japanese nursery school, hoikuen, so comes the list of special requirements for each in April 2015.

Topping the list is a selection of specialist towels which need loops, names and possibly a little differentiation from the glutt of popular Japanese characters from Sanrio. 

Accototo has collaborated with UCHINO, a Japanese towel brand and gets it right with its whimsical drawings.


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