Looking for something quintessentially Japanese for that perfect gift or souvenir? Each month, we round up some of our favorite artisanal items made by local craftsmen and designers.
CONGRATULATORY ENVELOPE PEN CASE BY ACTILIFE INC.
Created by a recycling business, this unique pen case is modeled on the traditional Japanese congratulatory envelope and made of 100 percent domestic materials, including Echizen washi paper.
KIKORI’S TSUMIKI LAND BY OCHIAISEIZAIJYO
While most conventional wooden blocks are made from hardwood, this set is produced from hinoki cypress wood from Shizuoka Prefecture, making them lightweight and soft in texture. Plus, the blocks’ edges have been smoothed by hand to help prevent injury.
From ¥5,000-¥12,000 www.ochiaiseizai.com
STYLE FUKUSA BY DAIICHISOUGEI CO., LTD.
Offering a modern version of the traditional fukusa (a piece of cloth used to wrap a monetary gift), this series of products features brand-new designs created by one of the few Japanese companies specializing in fukusa manufacturing. Among the products, you’ll find reversible, compact and pocket fukusa in a variety of patterns and colors.
From ¥1,500, hukusa.co.jp
KOTOHOGU UTSUWA IN ARITA BY KOURAKU KILN
Kouraku Kiln, a pottery factory in Saga Prefecture, is dedicated to upholding traditional craft techniques while breathing new life into the art of Arita ware. To this end, their Kotohogu Utsuwa series is made by young creators and features animals such as the turtle and the crane, which have been known as auspicious symbols since ancient times in Japan.
From ¥2,300, kouraku.jp.net
BABY RING MIRAI BY JAPAN COUTURE LTD.
Created to help foster family bonds, this tiny ring is made in the size of a baby’s finger and decorated with a rare Akoya pearl. The idea is to wear it as a pendant to remind you of the joyful moment your baby was born and, when the child is older, the ring can be passed on to your son or daughter as a representation of your unconditional love for them.
ROMPBABY CHAIN WALLET BY MITSUOO PROJECT CORP.
Designed with busy working moms in mind, this functional but elegant wallet is spacious enough to fit in everything you need to get through the day including pens, cards, a smartphone and even that essential Maternal and Child Health Handbook.
SOUL PETIT POT KANATA BY MEMORIAL ART OHNOYA, INC.
Keeping some of the ashes of a loved one close in a small urn is gaining popularity in Japan as a rite called kuyo. The Soul Petit Pot Kanata is expertly made using the traditional copperware craft from Toyama Prefecture, with both the outside and inside of the urn treated using a technique where metallic materials are oxidized to create unique colors.
PLATINUM WET TOWEL BY NISHISENKOH CO., LTD.
From Ehime Prefecture, known to be home to Japan’s highest quality towels, Imabari towel dyer Nishisenkoh has introduced this lightweight wet towel characterized by its unique thin fabric woven from fine strings and containing platinum nanoparticles with bacteriostatic and odor-blocking effects. It can be used repeatedly without losing its deodorizing power, making it both ecofriendly and economical.
AIRWEAVE PRODUCT LINEUP BY AIRWEAVE INC.
Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? Airweave’s range of sleep solution products are developed with integrated technologies – such as “airfiber” technology which helps to achieve an even dispersion of body pressure – and highly resilient materials that respond to the body as it moves.
From ¥14,000, airweave.jp/products
SHIGANOSATO NAMETAKE BY TAKAMISAWA CO., LTD.
This special nametake (a topping for rice or pasta made from soy sauce-flavored enoki mushrooms) is produced in Nagano Prefecture in collaboration with a local food analyst. Enjoy its crunchy, juicy texture and choose from seven flavors to suit a variety of dishes.
ZAIHO PREMIUM PUDDING BY ZAIHO CO., LTD.
Zaiho Premium Pudding owes its smooth texture and rich flavor to its unique ingredients including fresh eggs produced by chickens who are fed a special diet containing natural ore powder and lactic acid bacteria well as Zaiho natural alkaline hot spring water. Other specially selected ingredients include Jersey milk and Kagoshima-produced sweet potatoes.
¥2,280 for a set of six, www.zaiho.jp
AROMA CONFITURE BY ATRIUM CO., LTD.
Developed by an aroma coordinator, these citrus confitures combine specially selected herbs with fruits grown mainly on organic farms in Ehime Prefecture. They can be enjoyed as jam or as a sweetener for herbal teas.
¥3,000 (plus ¥600 shipping fee), www.atrium-atrium.co.jp
T’S TABLE BY LOGIC SYSTEM CO., LTD.
These dressings are made using specialty ingredients from Tokushima Prefecture such as sudachi citrus, Naruto kintoki and Naruto seaweed. To bring out the flavors, the recipe is kept simple and doesn’t use any coloring, sweeteners or preservatives. Use them to add a twist to main dishes such as meat or fish.
KISAI OILS BY HIDA KANKITSU FARM
These flavored olive oils were produced by extracting the aromas and flavors from several kinds of citrus fruits grown in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. Only seasonal ingredients are used and approximately 20 to 25 varieties of oils are available per year, including flavors such as iyokan, setoka, lemon and yuzu.
HAMICO BABY TOOTHBRUSH BY HOKUBI CO., LTD.
Getting toddlers to brush their teeth is no easy feat, mainly because kids’ soft gums can easily be hurt by brush bristles. This toothbrush is designed to reduce any discomfort with a minimized brush head and soft bristles. It also has an easy-to-grip, ring-shaped handle.
EGG BATH MAT BY TOKYO TAMAGO BIYORI / NIHON MTECS CO,. LTD.
Did you know: when eggshells are crushed into particles, they become highly absorbent and quick to release moisture? This innovative bath mat is produced using a mixture of crushed egg shells and clay that’s then fired to create Mino-yaki tiles which make up this comfy, moisture-wicking mat.
SILK & WHITE BIRCH ADDITIVE-FREE HAND-KNEADED SOAP BY AUTHEN ENGINEERING CORPORATION (TAMAGAWAKOMACHI)
This hand-kneaded soap is made from carefully selected ingredients that are good for the skin such as lava from Akita-Yakeyama, herbs from Shonai City in Yamagata, and Manuka honey.
360DO BRUSH BY STB HIGUCHI CO., LTD.
Experience the next generation toothbrush using technology developed in Higashiosaka in Osaka Prefecture. With ultrafine bristles and a 360-degree head, it effectively removes more plaque than regular toothbrushes and enables you to clean teeth without twisting and turning your wrist.
¥568 for a set of two, www.ochiaiseizai.com
All featured products are part of Omotenashi Selection, a project that brings together fine handcrafted items from around Japan and shares them with international audiences.
For more info, go to omotenashinippon.jp/selection/en