Spring is here, the weather is warming up…. be prepared for the hot, sweltering months ahead.
Handkerchiefs are an essential item in Japan – in the sweat-inducing, humid months of summer, the small piece of cloth provides a discreet way to blot up a less-than-matte brow, and is the indispensable companion for any restroom trip. As many public restrooms are not equipped with drying devices, a handkerchief is needed unless you want to come out shaking your hands to get rid of water.
In the warmer months especially, handkerchiefs are available literally everywhere: they come as a freebie with fashion magazines, and rows of designer editions are displayed at department stores. Every designer you can imagine usually does their own twist on the cloth square, so you can dab your face in style.
If you’re looking for something traditional, you can get your hands on some naturally dyed fabric with patterns such as komon, an Edo-style technique of tiny dots arranged in dense patterns, that form larger designs. The dyeing process is all done by hand, and those handkerchiefs make a great complement to your suit pocket. Tokushima prefecture is renowned for its tie-dye like patterns, which use Awa Indigo, a rare dye made from the indigo plant indigenous to that region. The lye dyeing method, used on the highest quality Imabari towels, make for great gifts and handbag essential all year-round.
To have a look at more items like this and to get more information on the craftspeople of Japan, or indeed to buy some of the products talked about here, visit JCRAFTS.com, who have in part sponsored this article. Jcrafts is an online shop that sells items with engrained Japanese spirit to 120 countries worldwide while aiming to also teach you all about where they come from.
Text by Vivian Morelli