Come browse a variety of products that highlight the many sides of Japanese culture at the OMOTENASHI Selection retail event at Takashimaya Nihonbashi.
The Japanese term omotenashi is often defined as a kind of hospitality that seeks to anticipate another’s needs, even before they are expressed. And while most of us would find it strange to think of a product as being “hospitable,” many of the items that we use on a daily basis exist thanks to the thought and consideration of the product designers, farmers, or artisans who helped to bring them into being.
It could an item of clothing made with extraordinary attention to the materials involved, a food product made in a traditional, time-honored method, or just a small household piece that brings a smile to your face when you see it. These are the kinds of products that have been curated by the OMOTENASHI Selection, a project that brings together fine goods from around Japan and shares them with international audiences. Ninety items, drawn from thirty of the country’s prefectures, were chosen for their craftsmanship, the quality of the materials with which they were made, their expression of Japan’s many regional traditions and unique beauty, and even their sense of whimsy and playfulness. From this group, twenty-three items were recognized for their excellence with a Gold Award. Here are a few of our favorites, which are on sale until March 8 at Takashimaya Nihonbashi.
Cha cha cha
Uogashi-Meicha Co., Ltd.
Prepared using a traditional method known as kaori mushi, these tea leaves yield a delightfully bitter brew that is yellow-gold in color, not green. Each one of these colorful triangle packages contains five little bags: three bags of “green” leaf tea, a bag of roasted tea, and a special leaf known as “Kama Iri Cha,” which has a uniquely smoky flavor.
Kiseki no Ringo Karinto
Hirosaki Cuisine Ltd.
Karinto are crunchy snacks made with flour and tofu products, and have been beloved in Japan for centuries. Hirosaki Cuisine is putting a flavorful twist on the traditional treat, using the famous “Kisekino Ringo” from Aomori Prefecture. These apples are grown without any artificial chemicals, and impart a unique taste to these tempting morsels.
Wagashi Artisan’s Juice (The Fruits of Shikoku)
These artisanal juices are made from three of Shikoku Island’s best known fruits: yuzu from Kochi Prefecture, and from Tokushima Prefecture, sudachi and yamamomo. The concentrated formula makes them an ideal base for hot or cold drinks, a mixer for alcoholic beverages, or as a subtle flavor for your favorite recipes.
TRART Mizuhiki Accessories
knot standard Co., Ltd.
Just because these unique accessories are made from paper, don’t think that they won’t hold up to daily wear and tear. These seemingly delicate pieces have been treated with a hypoallergenic coating made from stones that makes them water resistant, as well as an ideal accent for work days or nights out.
Kouji Hada Cream
ROHTO Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
As it turns out, kouji, one of the primary ingredients of sake, has remarkable benefits for the skin. ROHTO Pharmaceutical and Furumachi Kouji Manufacturing have collaborated to create a kouji-based, moisturizing skin cream, which is light to the touch and has just the slightest smell of its spirited origins.
a wa glass
Sugahara Glassworks Inc.
Although they’re designed for champagne, even plain water is given an unforgettable appearance in these exquisite glasses. They have been specially created by Sugahara Glassworks’ expert glass blowers to contain a scattering of bubbles, using a technique that brings out the beauty of the material, and anything the vessels contain.
Vermicular Oven Pot
Aichi Dobby LTD.
A carefully handmade enameled cast-iron pot that cooks just as well as it looks. Thanks to the steam convection generated by its extremely air-tight design, it brings out the original flavors of your food. Included with each purchase is a recipe book and Japanese-style, courteous aftercare service.
Tin is a highly malleable metal, and the KAGO tin basket makes ideal use of this quality, with a product that can be transformed into as many shapes as you can imagine. This flexible piece is made in Toyama Prefecture’s Takaoka city, a region where metalworking has been practiced for centuries.
VEGETARE Tomato Crystal
Forget what you know about old-fashioned tomato juice. VEGETARE Tomato Crystal offers a distilled version of the beverage, made using a method from the world of traditional sake. It takes about 10 organically grown Echizen tomatoes to make one bottle of the clear, light juice, which has no additives or preservatives.
goromaruya Co., Ltd.
Frequently served alongside green tea, usugoori has an appealing balance of sweetness and a soft consistency. T-Go is a colorful and stylishly designed take on this tea house favorite. Each hand-made piece in the set of five – sakura, green tea, yuzu, wasanbon (refined sugar), and sesame – has its own flavorful appeal.
Nishimura Precision Co., Ltd.
More than 100 steps go into the manufacture of these incredibly slim spectacles. Thanks to a patent-pending design approach that mounts the temples 20 degrees lower than normal, these reading glasses can fit perfectly on the curve of the face and fold closed to a width of 2 millimeters.
Hito-Nomi Sake (Single-Portion Sake)
TAKARAYAMA Brewing Co., Ltd.
These small bottles of single-serving sake are studies in petite elegance. An award-winning sake tradition goes into each one of the 200ml vessels, but the design of the bottles have a modern appeal that make for perfect gifts or for taking out on your next hanami session.
Twist Hair Brush
Art Forme Co., Ltd.
According to Hiroyuki Hashino, owner and founder of Akita Artforme, products that are made with careful consideration for their material, shape, and function produce a more beautiful and timeless result.
Artforme has long been striving to create exquisitely handcrafted wooden products that reflect the long tradition of craftsmanship in Akita, yet they are always searching for new design inspiration to create truly innovative forms. One of the company’s most popular items is the Twist Hair Brush, which is both organic in form and unique in conception.
The natural contours of wood were just a part of the inspiration behind the shape of this carefully fashioned comb.
This artfully shaped wooden comb won a Good Design Award in 2013 and a Tohoku Invention Award. It’s easy to see why, with its user-friendly shape and striking, unconventional appeal. The comb’s shape is known as hineri kamisuki and features a unique, three-dimensional curve—a world first, and one that produces an invigorating massage effect on the user’s scalp. It is made from a special Japanese wood called ono-ore-kanbo. According to legend, the wood from this 600-year-old tree is so hard that an axe would break if taken to its trunk. Of course, the Twist Hair Brush will be much gentler on your head.
100% Organic Baby and Kids Underwear
Baby underwear shop MARMAILLE / Bisen Co., ltd
For children with extremely sensitive skin, clothes made with synthetic fabrics or dyed with harsh chemicals can be uncomfortable, or even painful to wear. Keeping their littlest customers in mind, Marmaille makes undergarments for infants, toddlers, and children, with natural comfort sewn into the smallest stitch.
It begins with the thread, which is made from special 100% organic extra fine cotton that has been imported from Switzerland and woven according to strict standards in the company’s factory in Nagasaki. Not satisfied with just making the main part of their garments from organic material, Marmaille ensures that even the labels and strings used for their clothes are 100% organic. Finally, the garments are stitched flat, which further reduces the potential for skin irritation.
Marmaille’s clothes have been chosen by the Japanese Atopic Dermatitis Association, Nippon Select, and the Nagasaki Design Award Grand Prix. They have also been recognized with a Kids Design Award. But most important for the firm is the peace of mind that families have when buying Marmaille’s 100% Organic Baby and Kids Underwear for their children.
You can find these products, and many other OMOTENASHI Selection items, for sale on the 1st and 8th floors of Takashimaya Nihonbashi department store. But act fast – the shop will be gone after March 8.
More information: www.tokyoweekender.com/events/omotenashi-selection-at-takashimaya-nihonbashi/ and omotenashinippon.jp/prize/2016/ (Japanese)