Suikawari - A Japanese Summer Game For Kids

Suikawari (スイカ割り suika-wari, lit. Watermelon Splitting) is a traditional Japanese game that involves splitting a watermelon with a stick while blindfolded. Played in the summertime, suikawari is most often seen at beaches, but also occurs at festivals, picnics, and other summer events.

The rules are similar to piñata. A watermelon is laid out, and participants one by one attempt to smash it open. Each is blindfolded, spun around three times, and handed a wooden stick, to strike with. The first to crack the watermelon open wins.

Afterwards the chunks of watermelon produced are shared among participants. Because the watermelon can fall into the sand and get dirty, a sheet, a piece of cardboard, or other element is commonly placed beneath it.

All kids love this game, adults too! 

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Senko Hanabi - A Tradition From Japan

Senko hanabi ( 線香花火 senkō hanabi ) (sparkler - literally: incense-stick fireworks) is a traditional Japanese firework. Essays about them date back to at least 1927.

They are a thin shaft of twisted paper about 20 centimeters long with one end containing a few grains of a black gunpowder. The black powder composition consists of three basic chemicals: potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal .

The pointed end is lit and held straight down, so that the flame is at the bottom. After a few seconds a glowing, molten slag will forml. The molten ball will ignite the second phase of the senko hanabi, silently spraying an array of delicate branching sparks with a range of up to 20 cm] They are ignited away from the wind and held with a steady hand, so that the delicate molten head does not drop and that the two phases of ignition are completed. Senko hanabi are included in packets of fireworks and are ignited last amongst other fireworks.

Senko hanabi are said to somehow hypnotize the viewer into silence and to evoke mono no aware(translated as "an empathy toward things," or "a sensitivity to ephemera"), a Japanese term describing a flash of sadness felt when reminded of the beauty and briefness of life. The poignantly ephemeral has long been appreciated in Japan and is still felt in the quiet celebration of senko hanabi.

Adults and children alike light up senko hanabi. With our superstition, the longer you can keep it burning, is like your life line. Unlike western fireworks, this one is very quiet and gives us a sense of peace and reflection on our lives.

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Tenugi - The Traditional Hand Towels from Japan

Tenugui are Japanese traditional hand towels. The history of tenugui dates back to the Heian period (AD 794 - 1192), when they were very precious and only used for religious shinto ceremonies. Traditional tenugui cloth is made of pure cotton and the borders are simply cut without being stitched. The Tenugui therefore loses fibers at the beginning. The benefit is that Tenugui dry quickly.

About 100 years ago it became popular to add colorful patterns to Tenugui towels when artisans applied the chusen dyeing technique using stencil paper. The dye infiltrates the cloth and the patterns appear on both sides (there is no right or wrong side). When the dye fades the tenugui gets a beautiful aged look. At NIHON ICHIBAN we also offer Tenugui using other dyeing techniques such as Arimatsu tie dyeing.

Most of tenugui is 90cm in length and it could be easily used in many ways. For wrapping a gift, wrapping a lunch box, as a small bag, a handkerchief, a fashion accessory, a wash cloth, a towel, head covering under a helmet, a souvenir, etc. 

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Kakigori - Japanese shaved Ice

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Kakigori is shaved ice in Japanese style which is flavored with syrup. There are many kinds of syrup that you can choose your favorite one or more than one. A super refreshing treat during the hot summer. On top is some sweet condensed milk. 

The traditional one is Japanese green tea flavor which some shops will serve you with Azuki (sweet red bean paste) and Dango ( ball-shaped mochi dumplings).

Now there are many flavors including melon, lemon, strawberry, orange, rumene, caramel, tea, coffee are usually available on the street. There are speciality places that also sell inventive recipes using avocado, chili, tiramisu, mango, and many more recipes.

It is a summer treat that we all love and seeing the Kakigori Kanji flag always makes us feel like kids again. This is probably a universal delight but we call ours Kakigori. 

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Summer Fireworks in Japan

Hanabi’s literal meaning is Flower Fire.

Originally used to ward off evil spirits, fireworks (花火, Hanabi) have a long history in Japan and are an integral part of Japanese summers. Hundreds of firework shows are held every year across the country, mainly during the summer holidays in July and August, with some of them drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators. 

Japanese firework shells range in size from smaller ones to the world record holding Yonshakudama shells which are 1.2 meter in diameter and weigh several hundred kilograms. The most common are starmines, which are spherical shells that have a variety of burst patterns. Other unique fireworks include Niagara sparklers that are set under bridges and resemble the famous waterfalls, and formed shells that burst into familiar shapes such as hearts, smiley faces and cartoon characters. Most locations for viewing are by a river, the ocean, or a sports stadium.

Every district and prefecture in Japan has it’s own celebration. We dress up in Yukata (cotton summer Kimono’s) take our fans out and enjoy the day eating food prepared especially by street stalls. There are multiple games for children, then find a good spot to put a mat down and watch the show which are quite elaborate and more creative every year. After the show we continue the night eating and drinking. We usually have Yakitori (chicken and vegetables grilled). Joined by family and friends. It is and event that children and adults look forward to every year!

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Konjac Sponge From Japan

Konjac Sponge is made with vegetable called “mannan” extracted from the root plant that has been used for cuisine and beauty in Asia for centuries. 

Konjac fiber is covered with a layer of water which functions a a barrier to protect the skin surface. The mild alkalinity of the sponge with water neutralizes the acidity of dirt on the skin without soap.

The aqueous layer neutralizes the pores and and cleanses the dirt, leaving you fresh and clean. 

Since it is completely organic, it will decompose. We recommend to use it for 3 weeks. 

How to Use: 

  1. Soak in hot water and gently squeeze until soft. 
  2. Gently wash your face, with or without soap. 
  3. Rince your face and use your usual tonic and face creme. 
  4. Store your sponge in a well ventilated area. 

In our store Bows & Arrows, in Paris, we offer several types of Konjac sponges which come with different infusions:  Yuzu lemon, camellia flower, green tea, sakura cherry, and charcoal. 

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Bonsai - A Traditional Art Form from Japan

Welcome to Bonsai-cho, Saitama Prefecture. Here, bonsai master Takatoshi Kato serves as the fifth- generation owner of Mansei-en Garden. Bonsai has become widely known throughout the world as a traditional Japanese art form. Together with the interior brand TIME & STYLE, Kato is engaged in initiatives to connect this art form with the modern lifestyle and popularize it not simply as a symbol of traditional Japan, but rather as a Japanese aesthetic form with an extensive cultural background.

Unlike gardening, which provides the pleasure of observing superficial transformations, such as the blossoming of flowers or the changing colors of leaves, bonsai involves a deeper and more time-

consuming relationship with nature embodied in a miniature, aestheticized format. This highlights the importance of“tree-likeness”as the essential image of trees rooted in the original landscape as we imagine it. Trees that are taken from a mountain have spent a long time in the harsh natural environment, developing a character that cannot be replicated by the human hand. The philosophy upheld by Mr. Kato is that bonsai is not a man-made true-to-life miniature of a real tree. Rather, he believes that by subtracting from the natural environment to the maximum degree and crafting an abstraction of a“tree,”and creating a bonsai “composition,” it is possible to create elements that stimulate people’s imagination based on what is rendered imperceptible.

Moreover, bonsai is not just about trees. A bonsai composition for presentation includes a vessel and a table arranged in an appropriate spatial setting. The timing of a bonsai presentation is also very special. It happens in front of visitors, when the tree is in its most beautiful state. A large portion of the time the artist spends with the bonsai to achieve this state is dedicated to painstaking watering and pruning. The popular image of a bonsai composition involves a traditional Japanese room alcove replete with a hanging scroll and suiseki, or small decorative “viewing stones.” According to Kato, however, a bonsai composition does not have to be placed in an alcove and it is possible to enjoy bonsai in a contemporary setting as long as it conveys a story that smoothly

integrates all elements of the space where the bonsai is placed.

“The important thing is to display the bonsai, appreciate it, and develop a connection with it. This forms the foundation for more sophisticated bonsai cultivation techniques and understanding of the tree’s individuality.”A life with bonsai is a life with a higher aesthetic consciousness. It involves learning the traditions and historical background of this ancient art and considering the contemporary living space from the perspective of bonsai. There, you can find the condensed essence of Japanese sensitivity. 

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Tawashi - A Product of Japanese Wisdom

Since being invented in Japan in the Meiji period, the traditional Japanese scrubbing brush, called a tawashi, has been an essential item to the Japanese. The majority of tawashi still made from the hard fibers of the palm tree, but this product is made from Trachycarpus (a kind of palm plant) that grows in Japan.

It can clean without scratching materials, and can easily scrub the dirt off vegetables without damaging the vegetable surface. It is so gentle that some type of tawashi can even be used for bathing. Each one is handmade by a craftsman who has inherited the technical skills to make this scourer to last for a long time. This tawashi is a product of Japanese wisdom applied to everyday living that makes the most of nature’s gifts.

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Time & Style - The Story Behind Katsutoshi Mizuno

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The works of Katsutoshi Mizuno are innocently beautiful and project an image of exquisite quality. At the same time, they possess a serene ambience that deftly winds its way straight into the observer’s heart. The well-proportioned and beautifully shaped bowls, plates, and other tableware are created using the impression-die forging technique, in which the clay shaped using a potter’s wheel is then placed in a plaster mold carved by the artist himself, and pressed down to form the desired shape. Although to some extent, this method enables mass production of a fixed number of items, all operations are done by hand, so in reality no two finished products are alike.

“I have not even once considered myself to be skilled at what I do. When I am making, I think about what it takes to create universal tableware with a strong connection to society."
"This fierce-yet-humble dedication to the art of ceramics has been cultivated through an 8-year- long apprenticeship at Kutani Seiyo, the birthplace of many up-and-coming artists. There, his mentor Yoichi Hata often said:“If you want to create new things, take your lessons from the classics.”

Mizuno is driven by the belief that artifacts that have survived to the present day possess a certain intrinsic universality. He seeks inspiration in the past by visiting Art museums and antique stores.

“Getting too absorbed in the creation process makes your hands move in a contrived, artificial way. This imprints the personality of the artist in the finished work. But tableware used in everyday life must be simple, like the air we breathe. The last thing it needs is an artist’s self-assertion.”

Although Mizuno’s tableware is designed for traditional Japanese cuisine, it provides the perfect backdrop for a variety of ingredients and dishes.

Mizuno still uses Tobe clay from Ehime Prefecture, where he established his atelier immediately after becoming an independent artist. Vessels made with Tobe clay are known as Tobeyaki. There is a poem by the renowned poet Masaoka Shiki that goes “I arranged plum blossoms and camellia in a milky- white Tobeyaki vase.” According to Mizuno, this distinctive soft white color is the reason why Tobeyaki porcelain brings out the appeal of any kind of dish.

“The modern dietary lifestyle is extremely rich and diverse. In order to pair with all kinds of cuisines, tableware must assume the role of a simple base.”

Day after day, Mizuno faces the potter’s wheel and continues creating, inspired by a sense of empathy with the people who use his works. 

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Ramune - A Japanese Soda Drink for Summer

We now have Ramune in our store, Bows & Arrows in Paris !

Ramune is as summer soda drink and it favorite summer drink for children and adults alike. The top is made with a Codd-neck bottle to keep the pressure of the soda carbonated. There is a small marble at the top and small device that we used to push the marble down. 

People trying Ramune for the first time, sometimes find it difficult to drink, as it takes practice to learn to stop the marble from blocking the flow. You have to angle it in a specific way so that marble doesn’t block the soda. This give young kids lots of fun both playing with the bottle to get it open as well as well as trying to get the marble out afterwards, which of course impossible. The bottles are nice to keep and collect through summer as they have a cute shape. 

We keep cold ones in our fridge at the store if you want pass by on a hot summer day and try one of these refreshing drink. 

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HAQUA - The New Generation of Japanese Tattoo

HAQUA is a new style of fashion tattoo accessory that can be applied easily with water.

The design concept is based on “haku (film) + aqua“.

With its fine and elegant designs, wearing a HAQUA gives a woman a kind of sophisticated sparkle.

The simple design can be used like jewelry in any season.

Its seal form lets you arrange it however you want: as a bracelet, anklet, ring, or other accessory.

It produces a feeling of casual elegance suitable for all kinds of situations.

It is water resistant, and depending on how it is used it may last for up to a week.

HAQUA can add a sparkle not only everyday life but to travel, sports, and a variety of other situations.

How to Apply HAQUA:

  1. Cut the sheet to your desired size and remove the clear film. Then place the sheet tattoo-side down onto clean, dry skin.
  2. Thoroughly wet the sheet with a wet tissue or cloth for about 10 seconds.
  3. Remove the sheet slowly, making sure the tattoo is stuck to your skin.
  4. Dry for 10 minutes. The tattoo lasts 3 to 5 days depending on the person.

Precautions !:

  • Do not use around eyes or areas with soft skin.
  • Do not use if you are allergic to adhesives or have sensitive skin.

  • To remove the tattoo, apply baby oil or olive oil on the area then wash off with water.

  • Not for use for infants or young children and pregnant women.

Available Patterns:

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Usuhari Glasses from Japan

Established in 1922, the Shotoku Glass company was initially a manufacturer of glass for light bulbs. They have applied that knowledge to creating a line of glassware that is incredibly thin, only 0.9mm, yet incredibly strong and durable. Many people are surprised to find that these are made of glass

These remarkably thin drinking glasses are called "Usuhari", (Usu meaning thin and Hari meaning glass) are each carefully hand blown and crafted by craftsmen using the same techniques making light bulbs have been passed on through the company’s craftsmen.

The thin feel of the glass in your hands, the sound the ice makes when it swirls in the cup and how fine the rim is are all exquisite and unique to this glass alone. This series appears to be extremely delicate but it can be handled with the usual care as other glassware. Dishwasher safe but with all glassware, treat it gently.

So experience and enjoy this fine and exquisite glass for yourself. The glasses come in various shapes and sizes. All delivered in beautiful kiri boxes.

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Cubic Bibs - The Right Apparel For Your Child

The founder of the brand, Naoyuki was born in Tokyo in 1977. She graduated from Fashion Institute Technology New York.

She continued to do packaging and graphic design for the client such as Isetan, Converse, Nike and various fashion stores as a freelance designer since graduating from university.

"I was at a turning point 7 years ago. Almost my works were not independent but depending on the partner of brand. It was that that I decided start over and study design again." said Naoyuki.

While being a huge fan of Japanese craftsmanship she started noticing that many prominent factories have moved to China. The quality of, “Made in China” products are improving every year, however she started to think about what Japanese identity is.

She collected any historical graphic design and typography books all over the world. With her collection she started up the online library and book store for graphic designer and students. http://page-spread.com. Most visitors of her website are based in Europe. Among other activities, she regularly teaches graphic design in Tokyo.

After becoming a mother 3 years ago, she studied and learned about childcare including baby and kids fashion, child education. Her impression was that children need to be surrounded by and have an education in art and design, along with her older students.

She came up with product idea with Japanese standard baby products, adding modern design concept for baby and kids item. Each product contains a wish for a good design education.

This is how bib brand began. As her son grew she added additional products including baby and childrens apparel.

The name of a brand is “buube", this doesn’t mean anything and can be pronounced in different ways, because all of new-born babies can’t speak a specific language. It’s just the word which you could imagine coming from a baby in any country. 

These are wonderful gifts for new babies and toddlers.

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HAKUDO - The Diffuser of Activated Charcoal

Based on a philosophy derived from Kohdo, The Japanese Ceremony of Appreciating a subtle and exquisite fragrance, Hakudo source the finest raw materials selected for both their unique scent profile and the purifying qualities of each plant. Combining essences and absolutes that are extracted from wood, roots, moss, leaves, herbs and citris.

Hakudo represents fascinating qualities of the white clay through the scent that is rejuvenating, vitalizing, and purifying to the mind & spirit.

“Listening” to scent allows your senses to be infused and to experience it with one’s entire being. It invites you to take deep breaths, to prepare yourself for the day and to feel a sense of tranquility in the evening.

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CONTEMPORARY  PURIFYING CEREMONY

Hakudo offers you a quiet moment to unwind in from everyday life and uncover your authentic soul. It keeps the space around you purified with 11 botanical essences that work in synergy.

The scent of HAKUDO is inspired by the invisible layers of the mountains ground – the earthy & green velvety moss, the soils that distribute their lives deep underground. It’s profile offers a dark and rich impression, dry and most temperament, and with a hint of smokiness in the background.

The scent is composed of: Hiba Wood, Yuzu, Oak, Moss, Amyris, Copaiba, Vetiver, Elemi, Green Oregano, Palmarosa, Ajowan, Cypress.

100 % NATURAL / 100% PURIFYING

BOTANICAL AIRMIST

  • The fine mists with 11 botanical essences blend immediately with your surroundings to unlock & refresh the senses.

CERAMIC x COAL DIFFUSER CUBE

  • for CERAMIC x COAL DIFFUSER SET

Activate the Diffuser by placing a couple of Drops of botanical essence on the surface. The essence will subtly distribute in the space.

FRAGRANCE CARD

The fragrance infused card comes in a smart re-sealable bag. Simply place it in your wardrobe or take it on your journey.

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We hope you enjoy our scents!

Juttoku’s INKO - An Incense Fragrance of Good Fortune

Incense has been an important element of Japan’s way of life and culture for centuries. Ichimiya-ku in Awaji Island, situated in a fan shaped valley over flat land, produces 70 percent of all incense made in Japan.

The history of Ichimiya ku’s incense industry began in the mid-19th century, a period during which the local people had been making a living as fishermen. Unfortunately, they couldn’t go out to sea during winter because of the strong northwestern wind. As such, the fishermen had been looking to utilize abundant dead branches of trees to create a winter industry. One day, villager Tatsuzo Tanaka happened to come across incense making in Sakai, south of Osaka. He was a visionary who saw the future for his town and brought the incense art form home.

They purchased pine needle resources from the neighboring province (current Tokushima prefecture) and began production. As Awaji provided geographically favorable conditions, including good transportation and a generous climate, the industry soon flourished.  And approximately 60% of the current population became engaged in the many aspects of incense making.

Incense has a long history, closely imbedded with Buddhism. Its origin said to be in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, after which it was brought to India for further development. The birth of Buddhism around the latter half of the 5th century BC had a great impact on incense making, as it became a part of the religious practice, leading to it finally arriving in Japan. 

Incense Culture Develop By Aristocrats

When first introduced, incense was only associated with Buddhist prayer.  However, starting in the Heian Period (A.D. 794-1192), Japanese nobles adopted it as a sign of affluence or attractiveness. This gave rise to the culture of secular Japanese incense.

The form of incense at this time was mainly balls of powdered ingredients that were pressed together. This new way of using fragrance was called soradaki (empty burning).  Blending their own recipes, people would scent their room, clothes, hair, and parchment (among other things) as a way of making themselves more appealing.  It is not unlike current-day scented candles or perfume.

Whether it be in the home or in fashion, incense already had a firm place in expression and enrichment of the daily lives of those living more than 1000 years ago.  Even to this day, the power of incense remains.

Warriors as Incense Connoisseurs

Incense culture evolved with the transition from the Heian period, the age of Court-centered government, to the Kamakura period (A.D. 1185-1333), the time of Samurai government.  In the old era, it had mostly been the nobles who used a type of blended incense called nerikoh, but in the new period, the samurai warriors began to burn the incense wood itself.

It is said that samurai engaged in battle wearing helmets scented with incense, likely in order to calm and focus them while fighting. In addition, even after decapitation (if they happened to lose), fragrance from the helmet was indicative of a certain status and pride.

What Is “Ko Juttoku”?

Our brand “Juttoku.” was created with the goal of connecting contemporary lifestyles with “Ko Juttoku” – 10 mottos and effects of incense that have been passed down over thousands of years.

Ko Juttoku (10 mottos of incence)

  1. Heighten sensitivity
  2. Purify body and mind
  3. Take away impurity
  4. Rouse us from our sleep
  5. Make us feel at ease in serenity
  6. Soothe our heart any time
  7. Has an unobtrusive scent
  8. Gives off enough fragrance even in small amounts
  9. Can be stored for a long time
  10. Safe for daily use

Let your mind and soul unwind and relax with our products

Juttoku’s INKO is a pressed incense that gives off a light fragrance even without burning. Best suited for indoor use, you can enjoy these light aromas without the anxiety of having an open flame by simply placing them in places such as your foyer or bedroom. Once the initial fragrance disappears, you can then get continued use out of the INKO as burned incense or as an aroma diffuser by dripping your favorite essential oil directly onto it.

Some of our INKO are designed to look like Japanese sweets to bring inspiration from each of the four seasons, while others are designed as various Japanese good luck charms with the hope of bringing good will and prosperity. Our wish is that as the aroma fills your senses, so will the property infused in the incense by its shape. We are now showing red heart shaped incense, which can be purchased individually or in a box of 3, a perfect gift.

INKO gives the fragrance just by placing it anywhere you like. The fragrance lasts for 1 – 2 months.

It can also be used as a diffuser after the fragrance weakens, by putting on a few drops of any essential oil. You may also light fire and enjoy it just like regular incense sticks.

Additionally we have a selection of regular stick incense with: Renrin, Kouzuki, Full Moon, New Moon,

Instructions and directions for use:

  • Please be careful when handling fire
  • Please use a non-flammable incense stand
  • Make sure to keep our of children’s reach
  • Please do not use this for anything other than its original use
  • To keep its quality, avoid high temperatures and humidity for storage

May this graceful scent enrich your life with nature’s blessing’s.

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Sola Cube - Perpetuation of the Beauty of Plants

3.8 billion years have passed since the one single life began on Earth. Later, these lives evolved into flowers, fruit and seeds. These lives maintained the life cycles for millions upon millions of generations.

The colors and materials each have their own unique purposes. These intriguing shapes have form unpretentiously with each functional purpose by the hand of Mother Nature.

We offer beautifully preserved plants, exquisitely in the form of a 1.6 x 1.6in acrylic cube. Sola cubes can be arrange and combine in multiple patterns to inspire sensitivity and learning. Arrange your Sola cubes, observe them intently, and appreciate the wonder or botanical lives.

By observing a small plant carefully, we are able to glimpse a more perfect world. We express the name “Sola” with the Chinese kanji 宙, which means “universe.” This kanji explains everything we know and don’t know, including time and space, with a single character.

Sola also has another meaning: “blue sky.” An imaginary world spreads out like the sky before us.

Every Sola cube is carefully handmade by an experienced Japanese craftsman, and each one takes considerable time and effort to complete. Outstanding craftsmanship is required to ensure that this small transparent cube, which measures only 4cm, holds a plant at its very center and that no air bubbles get inside.

Manufacturing process:

Step 1 Foundation creation:

In the first step of manufacturing, liquid acrylic is poured into a mold, which is 5-6cm square, slightly larger than the Sola cube. The dried plant is carefully inserted when the liquid hardens to a gel.

Step 2 Pressurization:

Additional liquid acrylic is then poured into the mold.

The mold is placed into a vacuum kiln, then pressurized to force out any air bubbles.

Step 3 Heat treatment:

The product then undergoes a heat treatment. The cube is showered with hot air, at temperatures of 80 degrees for 3-4 hours. This stabilizes the binding of the acrylic, and ensures the cube is durable and long lasting.

Step 4 Processing:

The cube is cut to precisely 4cm on each side, then planed. The corners are rounded and smoothed at the end of this step.

Step 5 Polishing:

The surface of the cube is polished until it is shiny, and a clean, glossy finish is achieved.

These have multi functions, it can be a paperweight, a display piece, whatever you imagine. They are lovely on there own, also collectors items to enjoy the whole set. Each piece is handmade and unique.

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Chiritori Broom and Dustpan - A Master Piece by AZMAYA

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Edo sashimono refers to a method of woodworking passed on to Edo (modern-day Tokyo) from the imperial capital of Kyoto in the mid-Edo period (1603-1868). The technique is characterized by extremely close and delicate interlocking of pieces of wood without the use of any nails whatsoever. The method was originally developed in medieval Kyoto in tandem with the establishment of tea ceremony culture and was characterized by elegant and minutely detailed craftsmanship. After its inception in Kyoto, the method was taken on by artisans concentrated in eastern Edo, who further evolved the method and developed their own unique techniques.

Yoshio Inoue is the second generation of his family to have devoted his life to Edo sashimono, having been captivated by the ingenuity and precision of the craft. His skills as a master craftsman are invaluable for passing on the knowledge of this extremely complex woodworking technique to future generations. At the request of Azmaya, a company that works with domestic craftspeople to produce items for daily use, he has been working on the production of hand sized dust pans made using sashimono techniques. Although at first glance it may be hard to appreciate, if you look closely at the wood and the structure of the dust pan, it becomes evident that it is an item born from extremely delicate handiwork.

The basis for all sashimono woodwork is what is known as the hozo, a joint technique whereby two pieces of wood are fitted together. No matter how much experience you may accumulate, it is said that it takes approximately 10 to 15 years to be able to master the art of a basic hozo joint. The almost mystical work of quickly and carefully fashioning a piece of wood using dozens of different kinds of planes and chisels is a technique that is nurtured over long years of experience, with the craftsman relying on the feel of the wood in the palm of his hand. Another crucial aspect of creating sashimono is to be fully aware of the qualities of the wood that is being used and to carefully check its qualities from time to time. An entire tree is dried for a period of three years. After this, when assembling an item, the craftsman searches for the parts of the tree that will show off the wood grain to best effect. This is another aspect of sashimono that requires the craftsman to nurture an outstanding eye for beauty, through long years of interaction and experience with the grain of the wood.

Wood from the Akita cedar tree is the material used for the dust pan. Among the many cedars in Japan, it is prized for its beauty. After the wood has been cut using a plane it is then carefully polished to the extreme using a file in order to adjust the thickness. This process brings out the uniquely soft grain of the cedar wood. The brush made from straw carefully wound and bound with with steel.

A perfect accessory for tidying dust from your desk or working area. 

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Japanese Soba Noodles - An Easy & Healthy Dish For Your Weekend

How to make Soba noodles

Soba is made with buckwheat flour and is very good for your health. In Japan we eat these noodles regularly but especially just before New Years as noodles represent longevity and good luck. These can be eaten hot or cold. 

Want to try cold soba noodles in Summer?:

Boil water and add the noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes depending on if you like them soft or al dente. We usually eat this cold in summer and rinse in cold water immediately. There are a few types of sauces that we use for dipping. 

  • Tsuyu : a mix of fish stock, sake, salt.
  • Ponzu : which is made with fish stock and Japanese lemon called Yuzu
  • Sesame : You can make these at home by grinding sesame with soy sauce.

We garnish this this with spring onions (negi) which can be found in most supermarkets. If you can find it, we put some wasabi or grated ginger for extra taste and vitamins. 

Cold soba can also be eaten with mixed salads, daikon radish, tomato, carrot’s, cucumbers, avocado, etc, with mayonnaise or your favorite regular salad dressings. 

Or if you prefer the traditional hot soba noodles?:

For hot Soba recipes cook the noodles for less time (2-3 minutes) and pour it out, then make a bowl of boiled water with hot water and Tsuyu sauce or ponzu sauce.

Inside the hot soba you can put spring onions, vegetables, spinach, corn, peas, mushrooms, seafood, beef, chicken, duck, as well as tempura.

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Banshu Hamono - the Secret Behind the Excellent Cutting Edge

Since ancient times, the Banshu region of southwest Hyogo Prefecture has been a producer of iron sand. It was here that the culture of the sword smith was developed. Within the region, the city of Ono is famed as an area that spearheaded its own unique development of the cutlery industry, producing everyday items such as razors, scissors, knives and scythes for agricultural use. The origins of this development lie in the Sword Abolishment Edict* of 1876, when craftspeople who had lost their trade as sword smiths gradually turned their hand instead to the production of everyday utensils.

The secret behind the excellent cutting edge of Banshu hamono (Banshu cutlery) is the forging process that sees the steel repeatedly beaten out finely, and then sharpened by hand. This forging technique is unique to Japan and it is no exaggeration to say that it has helped to create razors and scissors that have a truly world-class cutting edge.

As the needs of the times have changed, so too has the number of craftspeople dwindled. Today, among those few that remain, Osami Mizuike is the only fourth generation craftsman. He continues to create cutlery using tools that have survived from 120 years ago, following processes and techniques that have remained unchanged since olden days. To make a razor blade, the steel is heated at 800 degrees Celsius, beaten into shape and then painstakingly sharpened by an experienced craftsman. To make a pair of grip scissors (known as nigiri-basami), the craftsman uses a hammer to beat out each deformity in the metal by hand, ensuring that the edges of both blades are in perfect alignment. This results in scissors that are both supple and sharp. The sharper the blade becomes, the more it comes to resemble a Japanese sword in miniature; a fine piece of craftsmanship that is pliant and beautiful to behold.

Against this backdrop of a long and distinguished history, Banshu hamono items are now entering a new era. With demand for high-value, hand- crafted blades dwindling due to the mechanization of agricultural tools and mass production, efforts were initiated to rediscover the value of items that could only be crafted by the hands of the artisans of Banshu and create a new sense of awareness of the Banshu hamono brand. It is ironic that a young designer, who was a native of the region and was invited to provide advice on redesigning items of cutlery, concluded that the best solution was to leave the items in their traditional form. He identified that what is important is not to recklessly pursue modernization, but to convey the unique and irreplaceable value that these traditional blades possess. The divine nature that has been imbued in Japanese swords since ancient times is thus passed down to the milieu of our daily lives.

This tool, which bends rods of steel based on the principle of leverage, has been passed down since the Meiji period (1868-1911). Bending the scissors with exquisite sensitivity, the craftsmen then uses a diamond sharpening stone to hone the blades of the grip scissors to ensure they are straight and aligned.

Centering on the efforts of the Ono City Hardware Wholesalers Association, a project was launched in 2013 to pass down skills and techniques, and to come up with proposals for products. Osami Mizuike, who has been making grip scissors for many years, belongs to a family that has lived in the Banshu region for approximately the last 1,200 years. In recent years, he has inherited the skills associated with the creation of Japanese razors from a master craftsman, and has become a bearer of this tradition too.

These grips are used for sewing, cutting intricate pieces of thread, the sharpness is necessary so as not to pull at the cloth or in any way damage the fabric. These are used by both professionals and at home.

Please visit our store and try them out for yourself. They come in various sizes and occasionally we carry special edition colors.

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Kinto - The Coffee of Slow Style

Time slowly goes by with each drip of coffee.
The series 'Slow Coffee Style' was born to bring you the taste of coffee brewed by the pour-over method with the relaxed passage of time.

The stainless steel filter is durable and can be used repeatedly. As this filter leaves more coffee oil in the dripped cof-fee, you can enjoy rich aromatic coffee. It can be used with the heat-resistant glass carafe, porcelain brewer, or the plastic brewer.

The Filter:

Place the stainless steel filter on the carafe and put medium ground coffee into the filter. Then drip the coffee by pouring hot water slowly. Coffee dripped through a stainless steel filter retains more coffee oil, which brings you the rich aroma of coffee. The stainless steel filter is durable, and so can be used repeatedly. You can see the dripping process in the glass carafe and know the amount of dripped coffee when it reaches the dot on the server. After dripping, you can place the used stainless filter on the holder, which comes as a set. The holder can also be used as a measuring cup for coffee beans. All parts are stackable to save space.

The Kettle:

The gently curved narrow spout lets you adjust the pouring speed and volume of hot water. The lid won’t fall off when you tip the kettle as it is connected to the body. The kettle can be heated on the direct fire as it is made of stainless steel.

The Tray:

A pressed plywood tray with a non-slip coating on the surface. The wide lips on the ends of the tray provide an easy stable grip, while the narrow width lets you use it as a place-mat.

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