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

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.

August 01, 2014

Merrier BEAMS | Maternity Wear Japan

I am not sure what it is that made me start to look at gorgeous maternity wear in Japan at the eleventh hour of my pregnancy, but earlier this week I found myself perusing the sales both in-store and online for a supporter belly belt. I have one from my previous pregnancy (which I never wore due to the heat) and wanted to find one that cupped my belly in a breathable fabric in these last couple of weeks while I bounce around Yokohama for meet-ups and shopping.

I have also fallen in love with the maternity range by Japanese fashion retailer Beams called Merrier Beams. I love the sweet, chic and effortless style of their range. What specifically stood out was a gorgeous polkadot skirt and their print pants. Unfortunately, I missed the boat on this brand and their easy online navigation, categorised by trimester, but fortunately had some lovely maternity clothes from Monsoon and Accessorize during my pregnancy. Despite shying away from typical maternity wear during both my pregnancies, it is good to know that there are stylish maternity brands available in Japan are my favorites are on sale now too!

Maternity Dot Skirt by Merrier BEAMS

For more local maternity fashion advice for those living in and around the Tokyo/Yokohama region I regularly check in with Tokyo Urban Baby. Invaluable advice for expectant mums and mums with kids in Japan.

July 29, 2014

Kaneko Kohyo Pottery | Fuji at the Dinner Table

Hailing from Gifu, an area renowned for its porcelain manufacture for the past 1 300 years, is this crafty ode to Mount Fuji by Kaneko Kohyo. Obsessed with anything Fuji related, I loved the simple striking design and the bold use of colour on this fashionable condiment grater.

Commonly used to grate ginger, wasabi and Japanese radish (daikon), condiments so integral to Japanese cooking, I thought it the perfect gift for friends who love to cook and like to surprise their guests with some table grandiosity. Even better is that the condiments are served at their freshest which is key to authentically creating Japanese dishes. I have quickly learned the difference in taste by using tubed ginger paste to self-grating and admittedly have never tried grating my own wasabi - a Fuji challenge for another day.

As a number of Fuji goods are often so hard to identify during their intended use (Fuji bowls that only appear as such when turned upside-down), I liked that this Fuji grater maintains its mountain-like appearance all while the workers guests apply the elbow grease.

Fuji Grater

July 28, 2014

Kousaido | Beauty Secrets of a Geisha

Something that has stood the test of time is a neat little pot of geisha perfume that I bought in Japan back in 2007. At the time I was over from Taiwan and was looking for a small keepsake in Narita to take back for myself.  What I settled on was a simple round pot of sweet-smelling lip cream. It was only a year later when I met my husband that I realised that I had been using perfume on my lips for over a year!

I have a seen products from the Kousaido brand numerous times since my first scented encounter and have always been tempted to buy their Made in Japan products purely for the refreshing Japanese design of their geisha inspired packages. Floral prints reminiscent of pretty kimono and simple hand-drawn illustrations of the ingredients are all it takes to have me in a flurry of indecision in a shop.

My latest Kousaido purchase, found in a newly opened Japanese design shop in Tama Plaza Terrace, is from their range of bathsalts. With familiar scents reminiscent of the Japanese countryside: Yuzu, Bamboo, Cherry Blossom, Plum and Green Tea sachets all made it to the till. So lovely in fact that I bought some genuine lip treatment and blotting papers to go in my maternity bag. All essential for birthing like a Geisha in the Japanese Summer heat of course!

KOUSAIDO Blotting Papers

July 14, 2014

Risonare Yatsugatake | First Winery Resort in the Japanese Mountains

As Facebook fills up with Summer holiday threads, images of icy cool water and vivid nail polish amid the regular humdrum of daily life prove ever so alluring. With no plans to travel afar in the next month running up to the birth of our child, I have been living vicariously through these news feeds. Saving them in my Best Places to Visit in 2014 folder, alongside the Top Movies of 2014 for a family of couch potatoes (oh the irony!), I have started to streamline our options.

One which remains at the top for a re-visit is Risonare Yatsugatake in Yamanashi. Thick with memories, we celebrated our wedding in Japan to take advantage of the Klein-Dytham Leaf Chapel, we have intended year on year to return in celebration of our anniversary.

Now that our son is a little older and we can enjoy the water facilities together and sample local Japanese wine alone, I am looking into Risonare and their many resorts and luxury ryokans again. Interestingly the company is set to expand to Bali which is another destination on our list.

Do you have any favourite holiday destinations in Japan, complete with good service, good food and spa facilities?

July 07, 2014

Mamimu | Manhole Cover Tea Towels

Often a gift brought back as a souvenir for friends in Japan, I was surprised by perplexed faces as to what should be done with the big piece of cloth, or tea towel, so standard in my kitchen growing up. I usually start with its dish-drying qualities, to be met with surprised faces and remarks of its cumbersome size again. I have even feverishly suggested that it could make a pretty tray cover upon which to serve guests tea, knowing all to well that I have never used it for this purpose myself.

Then I noticed our oil-stained, mangy tea towel tonight and realised it was time to refresh the collection. Often I keep these sentimental, awkwardly big pieces of material far beyond their best-buy date and it is because they hold some meaning for me. Mamimu hits the mark in this regard. With eyes glued to the pavement, lest I fall over, I have been fascinated by Japanese manhole covers since my first days of sightseeing in Tokyo some Summers ago.

I am delighted to have rediscovered Japanese designer June Mineyama’s Tokyo Manhole Teatowels.

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