. Origami Living | Japanese lifestyle Products | 日本の製品

August 25, 2015

Saudade Tea | Japanese Organic Tea

I have not only discovered a new tea but have learnt a thing or two about organic teas along the way. Surprisingly, only about 2.5% of Japanese tea production is rated as “organic”. Is that so? The rest are chemically treated or have pesticides used in their production. Saudade Tea is a modern tea brand conceptualised by two Japanese men, Makoto Honjo and Masahide Minami, who sampled a ridiculous number of regional teas to bring something exclusive to teatime.

The sceptic in me wondered about the package size of these teas, which are considerably smaller than those 100g packs that are commercially available. At only 30-40g a pop I wondered why this was and I have found the theory to back it up so hold onto your teabags for a minute. Organic teas are best consumed in small quantities. A third to half the quantity you would consume of a regular tea apparently. Not only that but once opened the large bags quickly lose their flavor. Honestly this explains why I should have a bonfire with the huge quantity of started-yet-never finished packs of tea in our cupboards.

The focus of Saudade Tea is to bridge the divide between Japan and the world and in doing so introduce tea drinkers to the select regional varieties of green tea in Japan. Believing that variety is the spice of life, each tea is categorized by region and as the Saudade Tea story unfolds, so does the understanding of the founders tea-tasting journey in Japan to its tea producing regions. The brand brings forth the   charm of local rural life, and in doing so you can learn a little about Japan and the farming lifestyle that yields world class organic green tea. Truly a modern brand which makes selecting a Japanese tea easy.

Saudade Tea

August 24, 2015

NUONE | Japanese Whole-garment Knitwear

Shima Co garments are honing in on the people who find not just the little labels in their clothing annoying but those who find the seams annoying. Produced in Wakayama, the Japanese technology used to sew wholegarment items allows for ultra smooth lines and snug fits.

Designed in use for everything from hospital garments to sportswear, means that whole garment knitting technology does think of everyone. I love Shima Co NuOne brand with a fitted silhouette and extra stretch for ease of movement. More functional in their appearance, I like the idea of layering up with this in the Winter months in Japan, especially when my skin is drier and more sensitive to itchy jersey fabrics. Anything with cotton and cashmere silk on the label sounds like it should have a place in my wardrobe no questions asked really. I also like the idea of light layers that are easy to peel off as you jump in and out of heated Japanese trains, department stores in Tokyo and over-heated cafes in the Winter.

It is usually with childlike glee that a give away the pilled knitwear and threadbare jerseys after the cooler months have passed, but it would be nice to be able to hang on to a couple of choice NuOne garments come the end of the Christmas season. Autumn/Winter 2015 might just be a seamless affair.


August 23, 2015

Kanebo | Suisai Beauty Clear Powder

As I continue to battle with my Rosacea in Japan I am always cautious when trying new products on my sensitive skin. Quick to show its disgruntlement when I change my beauty regime, I usually change products cautiously and monitor it for breakouts or redness. As anyone who loves to try new Japanese beauty products knows it is best done with care as I find the strength of the ingredients can leave my face a-blazing (hello onsen facial cleanser!) so I have been cautious with facial products lately and not been too experimental over the past year or so.

I have been using Kanebo products happily for a while now. Always a fan of cleansing powders as facial cleansers I have used Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder for a little over three months. I am happy with it and the neat single dose of powder is a convenient way to travel. Popped in a few for an overnight trip to Fuji, as I needed to pack light, and came away feeling fresh faced.

Haven't tried any more of the range but am quite satisfied that this is not going to cause my Rosacea to flare up as it is fragrance free and colorant free.

Kanebo Suisai

August 22, 2015

SOIL | Japanese moisture absorber

I have been doing the usual Summer clearout hoping to make space for Autumn 2015 must-haves. In the process I have been reorganizing, refreshing and de-humidifying my closet space. In the Japanese summer, I struggle to keep the room moisture-free and I am hoping my new purchase of clay blocks will help to reduce the humidity.

The unassuming blocks of clay, SOIL drying blocks are perfect to create a dry environment for storage by absorbing moisture. In-store they were used in jars of sugar, tea, crackers or seaweed, but I have put them in among my underwear and and jackets at home. The technology used in SOIL products has been in play since the Edo period. It uses keisodo (daitomite or diatomaceous earth), which is renowned for its natural air circulation.

SOIL bathmat is on my wishlist for Christmas 2015, so I was quite excited to test-drive SOIL blocks on my undergarments, before tackling a dripping family of four.

August 21, 2015

Kyokuto | Japanese exercise notebooks

It is usually with great vigor that I start my Japanese studies every so often and with a shelf full of textbooks that I abandon them every so often. I often find that I have only used a notebook halfway when I lose interest so have been looking for a thinner, more manageable sized set of notebooks to carry around with me each day. 

I liked the streamline and bright design of the College Animal Series by Kyokuto, a leading Japanese notebook manufacturer for over 90 years. Available in a variety of colours and with an animal to distinguish each book from the next, I find it easy in my morning sleepy slumber to grab the right book for the right day. It won the award for excellence at new product contest in “Bunshi Messe 2012” which is one of the biggest stationery trade shows in Japan. No stranger to awards, Kyokuto war also winners of the Good Design Award for these photographic animal notebooks, there is certainly a wide choice.

The grid format makes it easy for me to practice kanji and other kana symbols allowing my scribbles to maintain some order. If you are still wondering what happens to my graveyard of half used notebooks... They become art paper for my son's masterpieces. 


August 18, 2015

STETECO | Japanese Underwear as Outerwear

I have never been one to buy the roomwaer that is so popular in the Japanese pajama section. I have always been the person who changes into pajamas as soon as I got in. Or at least until I discovered Japanese Amazon and had the delivery man politely buzzing the doorbell at a less polite 9PM. From that moment on, gone were the tatty PJs and old University sweaters and I started to stay dressed until at least shower time. With kids in the house and meals to prepare I have long since traded stockings for pajama-style steteco pants and button downs for breathable vests. If anything it allows me to do the occasional squat while waiting for the rice to cook.

A fan of STETECO pants I am now onto my second pair this season. I have favored the yellows and the grays this Summer and have bought a cute pair for my son, Steteco Printed Circus. I feel like the ringing of Japanese cicada and the prevalent smell of mosquito repellant is a rather nostalgic vision and I usually start to miss the cropped pants and drawstrings in the Winter months when Christmas rolls around and miss those relaxed-fitting pants. 

Steteco was invented in the Meiji era to wear under a kimono or hakama. Even after European-style clothes became popular, Steteco was always in demand in Japanese daily life to wear under trousers or even after taking a bath. It is well-suited to the Japanese climate and the living environment. Put on some Steteco on after a bath, have a beer in hand and enjoy the evening cool are the companies directives. Sounds good to me. Also, I do quite like a man in a pair of printed pants

Read more about the history of Steteco in the Showa era. 


Editors Note | Advertisers and Japanese Products

Japanese products are quick to muscle each other off the shelves with the newest technology and the shiniest packaging so I am always a little sceptical of the grand claims and sometimes peculiar English directives to try it out. Nevertheless it is with an open mind that I do try a lot of the new product lines each season and hope to mention more of them here. If I am unimpressed or unconvinced that I would buy it myself, I will not make mention of it here.

I do get requests to review some of the product lines in Japan by companies and if they match the interests of the readers I will make mention of them on Origami Living, but will clearly mark it as a SPONSORED post. As with most websites it is necessary to take on advertising to some degree to offset the running costs.

Thank you for your readership and do hope to continue to bring you Japanese products or international products that I have found useful in our day-to-day lives here in Japan. 

Best Wishes,
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