Ampanman & Friends

Anpanman is a Japanese picture book series written by Takashi Yanase, running from 1973 until the author's death in 2013. The series has been adapted into an anime entitled Soreike! Anpanman.

The series follows the adventures of Anpanman, a superhero with an anpan (a bean-jam filled pastry) for a head, who protects the world from an evil anthropomorphic germ named Baikinman (Baikin means germ). Baikinman’s sidekick is a blue girl named Dokin-chan.

The world is populated by all types of little characters made from different types of Japanese breads.

The main character, Anpanman flies around and rescues his fellow friends by offering tem to bite a piece of his head. This sounds very strange but  Jam Ojisan (meaning Jam Grandpa) bakes his replacement head everyday. 

For a full list of characters please see the following link. http://www.awgosh.com/anpanmanchara.html

You can watch clips and episodes on youtube. It is very colorful and little kids love the show.

We have some of the characters at our store.

Sakurai Kokeshi Wooden Dolls

As our clients know, we always find special vintage Kokeshi dolls. We will of course continue to have a selection, however we have found a more modern company that we will have at our store. A more modern take on Kokeshi with different colors and patterns. We hope you enjoy these as well.

The Kokeshi studio of Akihiro Sakurai, is located in Naruko, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Naruko, a very famous spa community, has one of the oldest and strongest traditions of Kokeshi that dates back more than a hundred years. Surrounded by the majestic nature of Naruko and nurtured by a lively flow of travelers, they are always striving for further sophistication while honoring generations of family Kokeshi tradition—meeting contemporary demands while promoting Kokeshi culture. They produce traditional Kokeshis in types such as “Iwazo,” “Mannojo,” and “Eikichi,” (all named after their ancestors) as well as wooden Hina-ningyo type Kokeshis.

Kokeshi has a tradition nurtured by harsh winters, blessing of hot springs, and uncompromising craftspeople-kokeshi, a type of simple, traditional wooden doll, is thought to have originated as a children's toy during the mid-19th century in the hot-springs communities deep within the mountains of today's Miyagi Prefecture. In the mid-20th century, people "discovered" kokeshi, and the emergence of collectors transformed it from an everyday toy to a coveted treasure for all generations. With their stark simplicity and gentle expressions, kokeshis have long been used as beloved gifts suitable to a variety of occasions, such as birthdays, house warmings, weddings, and births, and as unique design objects to illuminate contemporary homes.

Bows & Arrows x Sakurai Kokeshi

This companies Kokeshi tradition goes back to Matagoro Ohnuma, who is believed to be the founder of Naruko Kokeshi, towards the end of the Edo period. Since then, surrounded by the abundant nature and hot springs of Naruko, they have produced Kokeshi for generations.

Although the environment that surrounds Kokeshi has changed drastically over the course of 150 years—including social transformations, booming demand, and changing taste—their fundamental attitude towards Kokeshi has remained unchanged: pursuit of tradition and exploration of new possibilities.

Today, with an aging and declining population and challenges faced within the local economy, the situation of Kokeshi craft in Naruko is not an easy one. However, with Akihiro’s young son, Naomichi returned back from Tokyo his studies in Tokyo, and are striving to revitalize this unique craft in a sustainable way, accommodating contemporary demands while maintaining tradition.

Sakurai Kokeshi - Naruko Kokeshi B (Sumi)
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Sakurai Kokeshi - Naruko Kokeshi A (Sumi)
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Sakurai Kokeshi - Naruko Kokeshi (Kido)
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Sakurai Kokeshi - Iwazo Biriganna
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Sakurai Kokeshi - Kenzaburo
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Sakurai Kokeshi - Cozchi (Purple Ribbon)
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Sakurai Kokeshi - Cozchi (Green Bubbles)
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Sakurai Kokeshi - Kaguya (Solid Blue/Pink)
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The difference between Sake and Shochu and Japanese spirits

Shochu is a distilled liquor and very popular in Japan. In fact, despite sake’s popularity outside of Japan, in Japan shochu is the more consumed beverage.

There are many essential differences between shochu and sake. Shochu is distilled; sake is fermented. Sake is made from rice; shochu can be made from sweet potato (imo), barley (mugi), rice (kome) and other ingredients.

Shochu is typically stronger (on average, 25-30% alcohol vs. 15-18% alcohol for sake)

They taste nothing alike, and are best enjoyed in different ways

Aside from the fact that they’re both great beverages, their only major similarity is that you should try them both when visiting Japan!

While Shochu is occasionally referred to as “Japanese vodka,” not only is this misleading, it also doesn’t do Shochu justice. The taste of Shochu is closer to “Brazillian Cachaça”.

Some examples of Shochu: 

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We typically have shochu on the rocks. Or with grapefruit  juice or lemon juice or Oolong tea., these can be bough in typical “Izakaya” style restaurants or in bars and also at convenient stores. In convenience stores they are called “Chuhai”.

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The taste between Shochu and Sake are very different. Shochu has a much stronger taste whereas Sake has a lighter taste. We usually choose to drink on or the other with a meal and not mix them.

As with making any great beverage, making great sake starts with sourcing the finest ingredients.   Sake is made essentially from water and rice, with the help of important catalysts yeast and koji spores.  Koji spores are dusted onto some of the rice in order to convert rice starches into sugar, which is consumed by yeast to create alcohol.

Good rice must be used and very clean river water. The soaking process is very important as well. A carefully measured amount of rice is washed and soaked in preparation for its steaming.  While large breweries in Japan would normally (that is for all but the finest brews) measure, wash and soak rice for brewing by various machine processes. The best traditional way is by rice washing bags and tubs to achieve the perfect pre-steaming consistency, which is judged by texture of the soaked rice using the hands and experience of the brew-master rather than a simple calculation of time.

After the washed and soaked rice is at the perfect condition for steaming, the rice is hand-loaded into a rice steamer, which was manufactured in Japan especially for the production of small- batch sake rice for the highest quality sakes (large breweries use mechanized continuous steaming systems).  Unlike rice for the dinner table, which is typically boiled in hot water either in a pot or automatic rice maker, sake rice is prepared by steaming, which allows the rice to maintain a firm outer texture and soft center, thereby helping the brewing process.

Next is the Rice cooling process, when rice is taken out of the steamer it is very hot and must be cooled prior to being used in further stages of production. Using traditional methods of rice tossing and kneading to adjust the temperature, which also allows the brew-master to assess in detail the texture of the steamed rice and choose how to best use it within the brews.

Koji Making: heart of a sake brewery is its “koji muro”, the cedar-lined room in which koji is made, which has a delightful aroma in addition to having natural anti-bacterial resins which help to create a clean environment conducive to efficient koji production.

Koji making is a 48-hour process which involves the inoculation of rice with koji spores, careful kneading and control of temperature and humidity, resulting in very sweet and white koji, ready for becoming about 20-35% of the rice used in the production of sake depending on recipe.

The operating temperature in the koji muro is typically 30-32 degrees Celsius, which makes for a challenging work environment for the brewery staff.

Once the first batch of koji is ready, it is time to start mixing it into chilled spring water and yeast in a fermentation tank, then adding steamed rice.  The tank is filled gradually, in three stages over a 4-day period.  This allows the yeast to retain its strength to keep consuming sugar and producing alcohol throughout the fermentation period, which typically continues for 21 days.  Temperature within the fermentation tanks is carefully controlled using cooling jackets, as the sake’s pleasant tastes are enhanced by not allowing the yeast to act at its ideal productive temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, rather at a lower temperature ranging from 8-18 degrees depending on the stage of fermentation.   The brew, called “moromi”, is carefully mixed by hand on a daily basis to ensure consistent fermentation.  Each day tests are performed to check specific gravity, acidity and alcohol content.

 

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Pressing And Racking: Once the moromi reaches completion as determined by the brewmaster, it is drained by gravity into cloth bags which are placed in the traditional “Fune” press which works with gravity and hand-applied mechanical pressure (in a large commercial brewery the moromi is machine-pumped into a large accordion like hydraulic press called a “Yabuta”).  The first juice of sake starts emerging from a spout at one end of the press under the natural weight of the filled bags, resulting in a light-and-fruity first-pressed sake known “arabashiri”.

Gathering around the press and tasting the arabashiri is a reward to the brewery staff who have worked very hard to create the batch.  It is also perhaps a treat to be savoured by those who visit our brewery on pressing days.

Bottling: Once pressed and racked the sake may either be bottled immediately or temporarily tank-stored at close to 0 degrees Celsius. The dark brown color of glass is used to best protect the sake from ultraviolet rays, which may damage the sake’s flavor and appearance.

We usually don’t mix sake with juice. There are different types, some are sweet, some are floral, but for most people that love sake we ask for “Karakuchi” which is a dry sake. Similar to the way people prefer sweet white wine or dry white wine.

For dinner with friends it is our custom to start with “Nama Beer” which is tap beer. And when the food arrives we order sake or shochu, depending on the meal.

Some people like to have “hot sake” in winter but it is not considered very good. Usually a very cheap sake is used and it is generally frowned upon.  It’s not really bad manners but we wouldn't recommend ordering it.  Hot tea is a better way to warm up.

We also have sake at the temple for new years with the monks. In many temples you will find these. Some are small and some are very large. 

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Our current selection at our store is as follows, depending on the day and our stock. We also have sake tasting if you would like to sample it before purchasing. 

We also have “Ume-shu” which is a sweet plum wine. Sometimes we drink it with soda or tonic water. We also have Yuzu wine. Yuzu is made from a type of Japanese lemon. 

And for the late nighters, a Japanese whisky nightcap or rum that we have. But that will be for another story. 

Roberu

"Roberu" is dedicated to the art of handmade.

Roberu is a leather workshop that carefully selects organically tanned and dyed leather materials, arranges them in designs that highlight their distinctive features, and creates products that naturally blend into the lifestyle of their owners. The brand name is a derivative of the words "ROad, BEach, RUnner", which express the lifestyle and outlook of Roberu's owner Shinji Iwamoto.

The career of Shinji Iwamoto, owner of Roberu, began with his first encounter with leather.

“It was a piece of tanned and dyed leather, and when I spread it out, I saw that it was badly damaged. Yet, to me it looked very beautiful. I felt the primal energy of the cattle it once was, and ideas just started flowing. I wanted to make a wallet out of this part, and a bag of that part.” 

Ever since this first encounter, Iwamoto does not use pigments in a manner that covers and hides the surface, instead he selects leather materials that are tanned and dyed organically and retain the natural feel of the leather.

Iwamoto procures his leather materials from a trusted tanner in Himeji. Aware of the harsh condition that surround the leather industry, including the global deficit of raw leather and the lack of young people in Japan willing to learn the craft of tanning, Iwamoto takes the responsibility to make bulk orders when he discovers leather materials he intends to use.

“The ability to masterfully express hues through pigments is in the core of any trust-based relationship. I create my works taking into account the ideas of my counterpart.”

As for the manufacturing process, all operations that can be conducted at the atelier are performed by Roberu staff, while operations for which they do not possess equipment are outsourced to factories. This approach is based on the fundamental concept to visibly express the existence of the person who forms the background of each product. This straightforward attitude toward materials and the handmade art has solidified the Roberu brand's reputation.

Roberu has been creating iPhone cases since the time the iconic smartphone was first launched on the market. Its presentation excited Iwamoto and inspired him to create something resonant. Through a process of trial and error, Iwamoto combined leather with rubber to create a case that felt like a piece of clothing that covers the iPhone.

“I was really impressed and excited by the iPhone, so I don’t think I will make cases for other smartphones. The Roberu brand does not simply represent leather products, but also a special attitude, a personal touch. I took the photos myself, and created the website from scratch - all of this is Roberu.”

Shinji Iwamoto

The iPhone case is an item of exquisite quality that can be worn with a casual feel. Light and small as it is, the case is an embodiment of the Roberu spirit.

Kai - Suwada - Men's Nail Care

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A series of grooming products for men.

Founded 1908 in Seki, the Kai group has a tradition in shaping cutlery and sharp items dating back over 100 years. Their products now have a high level of functionality and design for modern purposes. All the blades are made in Nigata prefecture, an area famous for blade making.

Kai MEN'S CARE is a collection for the discerning man. The wide variety of the select product range offers suitable accessories for diverse applications to ensure perfect care. A sleek and deliberately no-nonsense design meets superb workmanship created from the finest stainless steel. Not least because of their extra thin styling, these beauty accessories fit perfectly in your hand. Precision workmanship creates products, which will work perfectly for a very long time. The complete collection allows men to create their own customized wellness program.

Suwada was originally a wire cutting brand in 1926. They made their first nail clippers but the price point was too high at the time. In the mid 1960`s they started making pruning scissors for bonsai trees. However, they started receiving requests from customers and people who had their nail clippers. They went back to the original design and worked on it to create the state of the art craftsman clippers That are sold today. When holding the grip, all the power is being transmitted tea blade. The shape and angle must be perfect to achieve a perfect cut. They developed their own internal spring for the best quick clean cut. All the while the craftsmenwere dedicated to keeping a beautiful form. This nail clipper series has a stain resistant beautiful finish. The curve is made to easily cut your nails. Sharp with a cylinder springity leaving clean cut so that you do not need to file afterwards. The nipper is also good for thick nails, including toe nails, because the blade opens wide. There is also a nipper specifically for your cuticles.We have an option where you can also buy a fitted leather case. Material: High-Carbon Stainless Steel.

The solid high-carbon stainless steel is usually seen only in custom-made knives. Blades are finished at a more acute angle than is found in other nippers on the market, for a sharper, more precise cut. The unique nail-fitting curve of Suwada nippers maximizes safety and ease of use, even for tough toenails or ingrown nails. Every nipper is fully hand finished with meticulous care by skilled craftsmen. The Suwada nippers are the ultimate in manicure and pedicure instruments for professionals at nail salons, clinics, and for discerning customers.

Suwada - Small Nail Nipper
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Suwada - Large Nail Nipper
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Suwada - Large Black Nail Nipper
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Suwada - Cuticle Nipper
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Suwada - Foot Nail Nipper
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MIMUNO SERIES:

Elegant beauty, clean lines and a soft feel: with the MIMUNO range, kai has created luxury, high-end manicure accessories. Recommended by style icon and model coach Jorge González. The flamboyant fashion star is an ambassador for the distinctive features of MIMUNO beauty tools. All MIMUNO products are manufactured from the highest quality stainless steel using a technically sophisticated metal injection molding process (MIM). The result is the characteristic flowing, ergonomic contouring. All blades featured in MIMUNO beauty tools offer exceptional sharpness and precision.

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Beauty Care - Manucure Set
240.50 370.00
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Beauty Care - Captain Standard Foldable Razor
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Beauty Care - Nail File (Oval)
42.25 65.00
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Beauty Care - Nail File
31.85 49.00
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Koinobori & Boys Day

In Japan May 5th is Little boys day we celebrate with Koinobori which are carp streemers which the wind passes through and makes them look like they are swimming.

Koinobori (鯉のぼり), meaning "carp streamer" in Japanese, are carp-shaped kind of wind are hung out of your window and all over Japan to celebrate Tango no sekku (端午の節句), a traditional calendrical event which is now designated a national holiday; Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi, 子供の日). These wind socks are made by drawing carp patterns on paper, cloth or other nonwoven fabric, now nylon are the most popular. They are then allowed to flutter in the wind. They are also known as satsuki-nobori (皐のぼり).

Children's Day takes place on May 5, the last day of Golden Week, the largest break for workers and also a week in which businesses usually close for up to 9–10 days. Landscapes across Japan are decorated with koinobori from April to early May, in honor of children for a good future and in the hope that they will grow up healthy and strong.

A typical koinobori set consists of, from the top of the pole down, a pair of arrow-spoked wheels (矢車 yaguruma) with a ball-shaped spinning vane, flying-dragon streamer (飛龍吹流し hiryū fukinagashi) that looks like a windsock. The number and meaning of the carp socks or koinobori that fly beneath the streamer has changed over time. Traditionally, the set would contain a black koinobori representing the father, followed by a smaller, red koinobori representing his eldest son. If more boys were in the household, an additional blue, green and then, depending on the region, either purple or orange koinobori were added. After the government's decree that converted Boy's Day (Tango no Sekku) into the present Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi), the holiday came to celebrate the happiness of both boys and girls. As a result, the red koinobori came to represent the mother of the family and it is not uncommon for the color to be varied as pink. Similarly, the other colors and sizes of carp came to represent all the family's children, both sons and daughters. At present, the koinobori are commonly flown above the roofs of houses with children, with the biggest (black) koinobori for the father, next biggest (red or pink) for the mother, and an additional, smaller carp of a different color for each child in decreasing order by age.

These koinobori range from a few centimetres to a few metres long. In 1988, a 100m long koinobori weighing 350kg was made in Kazo, Saitama.

The carp was chosen as a symbol for Boys' Day because Japanese consider it the most spirited fish -- so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals. Since these are traits desired in boys, families traditionally flew Koinobori from their homes to honor their sons. Samurai warrior figurines and samurai kabuto helmets are also displayed in homes to inspire strength and bravery.

Children's Day, has been celebrated for more than 700 years, but no one knows exactly when or why it began. One story says that it started in the year 1282, as a celebration for a victory won by samurai warriors in a battle with invaders.

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Showa Day & the beginning of Golden Week

Showa no Hi marks the first day of Golden week at the end of April.

It was originally celebrated as the birthday of emperor Hirohito, the reigning emperor from 1926 to 1989. The purpose of the holiday was to reflect on his life, as well as the rebuilding of Japan after WW2.

After his death is was “Greenery Day” and is the first day of Japan’s Golden Week, which is one of the longest holidays for Japanese people. There are 4 national holidays (Beginning with Showa Day, then Constitution Day, Greenery Day and Children’s Day), with the combination of the weekend’s it is a celebrated time to go on Holidays. In Japan we have less holidays that those that live in western countries so we prepare in advance. Naturally it is one of the busiest time to travel within Japan and overseas. Even for those who do not travel far, it is a time to enjoy the countryside and Spring. 

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Beams Clothing

A special Collection of Clothing by BEAMS.

IKIMAS T Shirt by HIMAA: Simple Japanese phrase “IKETARA IKIMAS” used in a daily life is printed on front on a T-shirt, designed by Masanao Hirayama. The phrase means “I’ll come if possible”, but it truly means “I won’t come”, which is a popular cliché used to turn down an invitation. HIMAA: Masanao Hirayama aka HIMAA is a painter, drawer and performer based in Tokyo. In July 2017, his book exhibition was held at Zurich, Switzerland. Available in Black & White.

 
Tokyo Cultuart by Beams - Iketara Ikimas Tee (Himaa)
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GENTLENYAN T Shirt by Kaseki Cider: ”GENTLEYAN” is the next generation character created by Kaseki Cider, Japanese multifaceted artist working in music, comic book and the magazine.

Kaseki Cider: Kaseki Cider formed his own one-man band as an Indie hip-hop artist in 1994. After the major label debut in 1996, he released 7 albums and also produced multiple tracks for other musicians. Not only for the music, he has quite a good reputation for his works including comics and essays. Available in Black & White.

 
Tokyo Cultuart by Beams - Nyan Tee (Kaseki Cider)
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SMILE T Shirt by Palm Graphics:

“SMILE” T-shirt was released to make everyone smile for the Palm Graphics exhibition “White & Blue” at Tokyo CULTUART by BEAMS.

Palm Graphics: Koji Toyoda started his career as Palm Graphic at International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach (CA) in 1997. Toyoda has been working for his art pieces along with the product designs. He is an artistic director for the surfing and art event “Surf Art? Japan” as well.

 
Tokyo Cultuart by Beams - Smile Tee (Palm Graphics)
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ENJOY SURF T Shirt by Palm Graphics:

Special color edition of the “ENJOY SURF”T-shirt, created for the Palm Graphics exhibition “White & Blue” at Tokyo CULTUART by BEAMS.

 
Tokyo Cultuart by Beams - Enjoy Surf (Palm Graphics)
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Bou Cap by VOU:

Japanese kanji meaning stick or pole (Bou=Vou) embroidered cap. Both “bou” and “vou” in Japanese are pronounced mostly the same which is using a sound that is not used in English.

VOU: Vou is a gallery and a lifestyle store on a narrow backstreet lined with old Japanese townhouse, located at Shijyo-Karasuma, the downtown area of Kyoto. The store carries a curated selection of art pieces from all over Japan, along with original products.

Available in Black, Blue, Beige

 
Tokyo Cultuart by Beams - Vou Cap (Vou)
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Bou & Girl Pin by VOU:

Japanese kanji meaning stick or pole (Bou=Vou) pin, designed by the illustrator Yuta Okamura. Both “bou” and “vou” in Japanese are pronounced mostly the same which is using a sound that is not used in English.

VOU: Vou is a gallery and a lifestyle store on a narrow backstreet lined with old Japanese townhouse, located at Shijyo-Karasuma, the downtown area of Kyoto. The store carries a curated selection of art pieces from all over Japan, along with original products.

 

Tokyo Cultuart by Beams - Boy Pin (Vou)
25.00
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Tokyo Cultuart by Beams - Girl Pin (Vou)
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Ryoma Rum

Ryoma x Bows & Arrows

Ryoma is a 7-Year rum from Japan.

The rum produced by Kikusui, a distillery located on the southern island of Shikoku, in a village in the east of Kohi prefecture, which is known as the oldest producer of sugar cane in Japan. The sugar cane is freshly pressed and then aged for 7 years in oak barrels. Rum made from sugar cane juice tastes different from rum made from molasses. The final taste is full of rich vanilla and caramel fragrances.

Ryoma Rum is named after Sakamoto Ryōma, a prominent figure in the Tokugawa shogun's overthrow, marking the end of Japan's last feudal military government that transitioned in 1868.

In presentation box. 70cl - 40%

Available at our Marais store, with a selection of other Japanese alcools: sake, yuzushu, umeshu & whisky 

T Cutsewn Maison

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"Day begins with a piece of underwear, ending in underwear"

T Cutsewn Maison is a line of original underwear t-shirt with an exquisite quality production. Its smooth touch, from the way you pick it up, fresh in the morning, to its feeling on your skin is a divine and sensitive moment of pleasure, a perfect way to start a day and end it with your bed sheets.

Since 1821, Egyptian cotton is one of the most precious cotton ever produced because of it's no-machine process during its farming. Thanks to a delicate hand-picking, the fibres stay intact and straight, making it even more stronger, softer and durable than regular cotton. Touch a bed lining or garment made of Egyptian cotton and you will never want to touch regular cotton anymore. By 2000, Egyptian cotton has been trademarked to help consumers distinguish between genuine Egyptian cotton and falsely labelled imitations. Every product made, T Cutsewn Maison products included, endorse an official Egyptian Cotton holographic GIZA45 stamp approved by Sea Island Club (Japan).

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T Cutsewn Maison - Crewneck White T-shirt
175.00
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T Cutsewn Maison - V-Neck White T-shirt
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Inner Lights Exhibition by Ricci Mondo on April 19th

Born in Kobe in 1950, Ricci Mondo is been living both in France and Japan, while working as a photographer and fashion designer.


Taking picture has always been Ricci's favorite medium of creation, starting in his early age with analog then digital. During his graduation at Kyoto University of Arts, his main working area was the dark room to play with chemicals in the aim of obtaining lights treatments and paper. But Ricci got frustrated by analog restrictions and leaved his experiments apart of his photographing work.


With the boom of digital photography, Ricci Mondo was able to experiment again with retouching and go deeper with treatments, playing with colors to find a deeper understanding of every shoot. He discovered lights hidden in the dark and how he can draw colors and lights from objects.

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Prints will be available for purchase in a very limited edition:
A0 & B2, editions of 2
A3, B4, A4, editions of 8

Goto Tomorrow

Goto-Tomorrow is a workshop located in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture.

Mr. Fujita and his son have been working on saddlery goods, with techniques passed down through 4 generations. Thanks to their continuous and fully handcrafted work as saddlers.

Made from a single piece of leather and carefully hand stitched one by one. The lead and collar are made to be strong and usable for years. The leather is smooth for you to be safe and easy on your dog and cat's neck. It is a difficult technique which can only be made by skilled craftsmen. 

Each lead comes with a leather tag to attach to your bag or holes while you let your dog walk alone.

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Kaminoshigoto Notebooks

"Gifts from Gifu, the Land of Clear Waters"

The Gifu area of Japan is surrounded with crystal clear water, flowing through lush forests. The blessings of these clear waters are deeply rooted in our lives, manifesting themselves in our local craftsmanship of woodworks, Mino Washi Japanese paper, cutlery and ceramics.

Traditional craftsmanship of Gifu 's 14 leading manufacturers combined with Mr. Sebastian Conran's "functional design in everyday life .A great example of "Japanese spirit combined with contemporary flair. Born of a fusion between East and West.

Since its formation Kaminoshigoto has engaged in the production and sales of traditional Japanese Lantern Washi. They also enjoy a wide share as a distributor of Washi related products and a variety of Mino Washi. They have also expanded their business into Washi printing using new such technologies as silkscreen and inkjet printing. Whilst continuing with traditional craftsmanship, they are also developing their own products and new technologies. By taking advantage of their accumulated knowledge, Kaminoshigoto is always seeking new possibilities and is committed to enriching lives with high quality products made from Mino Washi.

Each of these notebooks are inspected for the quality of the washi paper and hand sewn. With the current production system, using modern techniques and traditional craftsmanship, these are beautiful books that are affordable. We have a selection 2 sizes of these notebooks at our store.

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Uno Hake Brushes

Uno Hake brushes started their business in 1917. Currently Ms. Chieko Uno wiorks with her daughter Michiyo to continue their family craft.

“Hake” are brushes formed by two separate pieces of wood that bind the hair and the hair fibers are planted by hand inside the wooden holes and strung together. After this the hairs are cut to symmetry.

These brushes have been modernized to have an array of modern uses. For home use, to clean your face, body, clothes, shoes, etc.

To achieve this the animal hairs need to be chosen and prepared for each product. If pig, horse, goat, boar hair has a different texture. Each hair needs to be treated with oil.  The mother and daughter of the Uno family have a history with these materials and create products suitable for each occasion.

We have an exclusive line of products with this company at our store.

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Uno Hake - Shoe Brush
165.00
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Uno Hake - Shoe Brush
125.00
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Uno Hake - Cloth Brush (Cashmere)
from 290.00
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Uno Hake - Cloth Brush (Cashmere)
from 340.00
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Uno Hake - Face Brush
50.00
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Uno Hake - Body Brush Long
115.00
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Nousaku

Takaoka City in Toyama Prefecture is known for its traditional Takaoka Copperware, which began in 1611, with the invitation of seven casting craftsmen to the area by Toshinaga Maeda, lord of the Kaga domain. Nousaku was founded in this region in 1916.

In the casting process, shapes are formed by melting metal and pouring it into a mold to cool. We arrived at the Nousaku casting foundry just as molten brass was being poured into a mold. The correct moment to pour the brass is determined by carefully observing the color of the flames. The various members involved in the work, from the pourer and the person who moves the mold into place, to the person who climbs on top of the mold to hold it down, must all act in sync. It takes a craftsman’s skill to pour the molten metal into the mold in such a way that it reaches all crevices evenly. For that reason, the process of making the mold is also very important. A prototype with the same shape as the product is created, placed in a frame, and buried in sand. The prototype is then removed to create the mold. This is a task performed by hand, and requires both physical strength and concentration, as any mistake made could lead to failure of the entire casting process. This method of mold production allows for rapid casting work and low costs, and is key to supporting the high-mix, low-volume production approach used at Nousaku.

The policy at Nousaku for high-mix production also leads directly to advances in technique. Almost no customer request is turned down. Customer feedback is used in the development of original products to expand the potential of the technology of casting while gaining new knowledge. For example, the products made of 100% tin, begun about 10 years ago, came about as a result of a request for cast metal tableware from a staff member at a shop selling Nousaku products. While other metals are normally mixed with tin to provide hardness, Nousaku leverages the softness and easy bending of tin in its products, qualities that are normally considered to be demerits of the material when used unmixed.

Katsuji Nousaku, representing the fourth generation, explains,“I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that casting work is like melting the Earth. We take material from the Earth and melt it to create form. I honestly believe that this is a magnificent endeavor, which is exactly why I believe there is still untapped potential to do much more.”The technology of casting is continuously updated even as the long tradition is carried on.

Brass melts at 1,100 degrees Celsius. Impurities contained in the metal are removed as it is melted, much as one removes unwanted froth from the surface of a boiling pot of soup. The work is extremely taxing, with summer temperatures at the workshop reaching 40 degrees Celsius.

When Nousaku was originally founded, products primarily included Buddhist ritual articles, teaware, and flower vases. However, in recent years, the appeal of Takaoka Copperware as a traditional art form is communicated to the present through such products as interior accessories, tableware, lighting fixtures, and objet d’art. The company looks at their inherited tradition through the eyes of the modern day to focus on the material, technology, and product development that should be passed on to later generations.

The cast items are finished either by machine or by hand depending on the material used. As for tin, it is hard to grind as the metal is soft and flexible. For that reason, the degree of perfection of the casting process itself is quite important.

As a rule, molds are kept forever. The collection of molds here includes such things as ship emblems. There are also many molds that were collected from other manufacturers that went out of business. This means that there are an immense number of molds stored in the warehouse.

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Japanese Knife Sharpening Whetstones

Every knife, no matter how good it is, will eventually dull. A Japanese workman’s tools will dull as well. For professionals, they all have their own stones. In old neighborhoods three would be a professional sharpener who you could bring your knife to have it sharpened. Since there are less neighborhoods and more apartments, these services are rarer. Now a days, it is more and more common for people to learn to sharpen their own knives. Once you learn the technique it gets easier to do, especially for those who use Japanese knives overseas.

Whetstones are the best way to grind, sharpen and hone an edge. This is the method used by the factory or workshop where the knife was originally made.

Stones come in a variety of grades, from rough (low number of grits) to ultra-fine (high number of grits). The grits themselves also have different shapes - nipple nodule, cone shape and shard shape – varying in performance in that order. These grits are all man made (silicon carbide or aluminum carbide) and then used to create a stone using clay or ceramic as a bonding agent to create a ‘brick’.

Soak the stone in water and Hold the knife in your right hand (or left) with your index finger along the spine of the knife and be comfortable, hold it tight enough so it doesn’t move as you sharpen but you don’t need a death grip on it. Wear shoes and if possible stand on a mat that will absorb the impact of the knife if you drop it.

The height of the spine of your knife off of the stone below it will determine the angle. A typical sharpening angle for a typical chef knife is 19 or 20 degrees per side. For the sake of removing confusing obstacles that could hinder your progress, let’s just sharpen your knife at 20 degrees per side. You can determine exactly how high off the stone that knife should be held by measuring the height of your blade at the heel and then dividing that number by 3 for a 20 degree angle.

It is best to consult the shop where you buy your knife about what stone they recommend for the knife. They should also teach you about knife sharpening techniques.

If you already have experience sharpening knives and see the stones that we have.

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Banshu Hamnono - Higonokami Folding Knife Brass
from 35.00
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Banshu Hamono - Higonokami Folding Knife Black Oxide
from 40.00
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Camellia Oil

Camelia flowers are quite thick and their seeds are very large. The oil is extracted from the seeds. This is a quite a thick oil made from pure camellia called tsubaki. The oil is rich in Oleic Acid which doesn't evaporate or get dry. It is originally created for Japanese woman’s hair, which is thicker than lighter colored hair. Until the Edo period, Japanese women kept their hair very long sometimes never cutting in during their lives. Some women’s hair grew up to 7 meters long. This strong oil kept it shiny, soft, and healthy. From princesses to geisha to regular women, this was the oil that women used. In fact  Maiko and Geisha apply much more than normal woman because they want that super shiny look.

- 100% vegetable oil

- Free of fragrance and color

- For Hair Treatment, use 1-3 drops on damp hair, then blow dry (see illustrations on website)

- Other uses: It can also be used as scalp care oil pack, and moisturizer for your skin.

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Eyeware from Sabae Prefecture

The prefecture of Sabae, in Fukui, has a long history of artisanal handicrafts that locals are proud of, stretching back to the era of Emperor Keitai and Wakasa.

The prefecture was famous for more than 1500 year-old Echizen lacquerware, cutlery, and sake. The shift of efforts into eyewear began in the early 20th century, when making eyeglasses became a widespread sideline to farming in winter due to the heavy weather conditions. The beginning of the craftsmenship was that each craftsman started specializing on specific parts of opticals. With the division of labor raising the expertise and level of each craftman’s skill. This is how the relatively new craft of opticals evolved to become one of the most sophisticated craft arts from Japan the world has seen.

In the eyewear industry, Sabae is especially recognised as the birthplace for titanium frame glasses. The fact that the technology of titanium processing has been applied to medical fields and electronic equipment, as well as chosen for Google Glass frames, hints at the outstanding quality.

But it is not the state-of-the-art technology solely that makes Sabae Japan’s most renowned eyeglass-manufacturing district. The craftsmen take excessive amount of time  to make the eyeglasses one by one through more than 200 processes that are difficult to mechanise, such as polishing.

This mentality of “Monozukuri”- craftsmen taking pride in the fact that their glasses will become part of someone’s face - and their uncompromising work ethic lets people visibly see and feel the difference to mass-produced models. It is the fusion of the second-to-none technology with the handicraft of dedicated craftsmen that differentiate Sabae eyewear as pieces of art.

Over the years various brands have sprung up in the area, always using the craftsmen but developing new styles for each age. Some of these lines are, “Boston Club, Kamemannen, Ayame, BJ Classic.

A selection of these brands are available at our store.

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Slim Cera

You can give yourself a face-lift with a simple massage and revitalize your skin just by rolling the metallic hand held Slim Cera over your skin. This can be used for your face and body. The rollers of the Slim Cera imitates a therapist’s hands, thereby stimulating your facial muscles to revitalize your skin.

Roll out dirt and cleanse your pores! The diamond cut roller surfaces will push out and remove any dirt, leaving your pores clear and clean. This also stimulates your skin so

Handmade in Japan, composed of the element Germanium, 99.999% pure germanium plate. Germanium is a trace mineral found in ginseng, aloe, and garlic. When in contact with the skin, it emits heat, releasing negative ions thus stimulating blood circulation. It is also stainless steel so it won’t rust

Not only are semi-precious stones just beautiful, but they also carry a vibrational force known as millennia with different grinding stones. Mr Hirotoshi Hattori created a ceramic version, which contains over 10 different minerals including tourmaline, thorium ore, moonstone, quartz, magnetite, zeolite, rutile and more.

All are known for their beneficial effects on the microorganism of the skin. Through their magnetism, they re-organise the different energy flows circulating in the skin, promoting balance

The feedback was extremely positive. The beneficial results of the ceramic ball, which had the ‘pillows/rollers’, were instantaneous. This included observed effects such as softer, firmer skin as a result.

For best results, use it 3 times a day and then use whatever moisturizing cream you use.

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Hinamatsuri - Girls Day

On March 3rd we have a day called Hinamatsuri. It's for wishing girls happiness are bought every year to represent the emperors family. Over the years many rows are on display on March 3rd, as you grow another year older each year, your collection expands, usually given to you by your Mother and Grandmother. 

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In the Edo period, not so many people can afford to display hina dolls in their homes. Craftsmen started to make, “Tsurushi Bina” instead. The dolls are made of the tiny pieces of kimonos, sewn and made a shape of flowers like plum, sakura, hydrangea, animals like rabbits, pigs, dogs, vegetables like carrots, daikon radish, birds like owls, sparrows, and dolls like babies, etc. They are are hung over a babies crib and likewise new strings with characters are added

Each dolls has meaning:

For instance, rabbits represent that girls grow to be kind. Hydrangeas mean family’s bond. Carrots mean health.

Tsurushi-bina” makes small doll and “Okazari” (lucky motif) with “HAGIRE” (small cloth).
It”s hung on red string from a circle of a thin bamboo stick.

Each doll and “Okazari” contains wishes one by one.

For example.
・Peach: Amulet, longevity and prosperity of descendants.
・”kinchaku” (wallet): Don’t trouble about money.
・Rabbit: Errand of God.
・Book: To be able to read and write.

etc.

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It is said that “Tsurushi-bina” has 110 kinds of motif.

 

There are three famous birthplace of “Tsurushi-bina”.
And, its names are different in the birthplace.

- Fukuoka region: “Sagemon”.
- Shizuoka region: “Hina-no-tsurushi-kazari”.
- Yamagata region: “Kasa-Fuku”.

 

 

However, a mother, a grandmother and even neighbors want to wish a happiness of a new born girl baby, so each makes a small doll. Then they suspend those dolls on a string., “Tsurushi bina,” which become an amulet for a new born girl baby.

 

A dog doll stands for a wish of a healthy baby as well as a charm against bad luck.

A flower of Japanese plum stands for a wish of growing beautifully just like a flower.

“Haikoningyo”, a doll of a baby crawling, stand for a wish of a baby to grow up bravely by crawling a lot.

A strawberry doll stands for a charm against bad luck.

“Harukoma”, a doll of a horse, stand for a wish of growing bravely and playing fun as well as having a steady work when she grows up.

“Houzuki”, a doll of a Chinese lantern plant, stands for a wish of avoiding feminine ailments.

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There are some types of Tsurushi bina, such as to hung, to put on the floor and so on. We can choose them according to the lifestyles. Making small dolls and putting them together to wish a happiness of a baby is one of the beautiful cultures in Japan.

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