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.
DIAPER SUSHI TAKUMI BY AWAWA CORPORATION
Got a baby shower coming up? What more could any expecting mom want than an adorable diaper set designed to look like a sushi platter? Disposable diapers for sushi rice, an Imabari towel for tuna, a sponge for an omelet, an ice pack as salmon roe, baby socks as cucumber roll and more.
FUDE SHAMPOO BY RIPICA CORPORATION
If you and your kids enjoy practicing calligraphy together, consider adding this brush shampoo to your art set as it can help your calligraphy brushes last longer and prevent the bristles from hardening. It works by wrapping the ink with foam, preventing your hands and sink from getting stained. The pump container makes it easy for kids to use, too.
OSAMPO BINGO BY SUN-AD COMPANY LIMITED
Bingo is back? Not quite, although this mobile game is based on the concept. Designed to make your daily outings with kids more interactive and to take the focus away from digital devices, Osampo Bingo replaces numbers with delightful illustrations so that even young children can play. Once you spot one of the items, simply lightly punch the illustration on the card and exclaim, “Bingo!”
DARUMIKUZI BY KOUEI CO. LLC
Created to introduce more people to the charms of Daruma, one of Japan’s traditional folk crafts that serves as a lucky charm, this toy machine can be found in 200 different venues across Japan. Slot in a ¥500 coin and claim your cute palm-sized Daruma. There are five types of Darumas, each of which is individually made by craftsmen and comes with an omikuji (a strip of paper printed with a short fortune).
WISHING OMUSUBI NORI FOR VICTORY BY NORINO RINSYU CO., LTD.
This nori may have an amusing name but it was born from an earnest desire: Japanese moms hoping to support their children’s success through making onigiri rice balls for their daily lunch box. Selected from quality seaweed, each sheet is carefully and individually toasted, adding an extra dose of umami.
VEGECUP BY SINKATEC CO., LTD.
Every mom in Japan knows the importance of a neatly and prettily packed bento. These reusable vegecups look like lettuce leaves and act as ingredient separators, making any lunch box extra healthy and colorful.
HANDMADE CRAYONS BY HANDMADE CRAYON WORKSHOP TONAKAI
The colors of these crayons are made of various extracts taken from plants, soil and shells, before being mixed with beeswax. The shades are unique and unlike anything you might find in commercially available crayons. Created with all-natural ingredients, they’re perfectly safe for kids (and parents) to use.
KUMIHIMO ACCESSORY BY MASUMIMUSUBINO KTP
Made using the craft of Japanese kumihimo braiding (traditionally a part of samurai attire), this range of accessories is imbued with the hope of creating unbreakable bonds between people. Including earrings, bracelets, bookmarks, eyeglass cords and camera straps, each item in the series is intricately designed and created with high-quality silk threads and traditional tools.
TITANIUM ART JEWELRY BY ATELIER YOU CO., LTD.
Every piece in this jewelry line is meticulously crafted using light titanium and traditional techniques. Since titanium is known for being gentle on sensitive skin, the line was created with the intention of being suitable even for those who suffer from severe metal allergies.
SAMURAI BRACELET BY LOVEJAPANBRAND CO., LTD.
This triple cord bracelet features a weave pattern made using Japan’s traditional Sanada string, which is said to have been created by samurai warrior Sanada Yukimura as a strong and durable material for wrapping a sword’s handle or to secure one’s armor and helmet.
KOMENUKA LOOSE SOCKS BY SUZUKI KUTSUSHITA CO., LTD.
Made from a uniquely developed fabric using eco-friendly rice bran, these socks boast a smooth texture and are specially designed so as not to constrict the ankles while still staying securely in place. They were originally developed by a father and daughter duo to help the family’s grandfather in his struggles with swollen feet, however they’re suitable for anyone and all ages.
THERMAL UNDERWEAR “HIDAMARI” BY KENSEN CO., LTD.
Your winter woes sorted. This premium thermal underwear series is made with a special fiber called Danron® and a sophisticated knitting structure making it excellent in retaining heat – so much so that it’s been selected by several mountaineers for their Mount Everest adventures.
ROOM’S BY FRONTIER INC.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive home during Tokyo’s chilly winter? Slip out of your shoes and into your slippers, right? We love the simplicity of room’s soft and stylish slippers. They feature curved toes for better grip as well as anti-slip soles, and come in beautiful box, making them a great gift option.
PURE DOMESTIC TOMIOKA SILK BRAID HAT BY YM AGENCY CO., LTD.
This hat is handknitted with exceptional craftsmanship using 100 percent raw silk thread produced in Gunma Prefecture’s Tomioka Silk Mill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As silk is known to block approximately 90 percent of UV rays, this chic headwear helps to protect your scalp and hair from the summer heat, while also keeping your noggin warm in winter.
SHARK LEATHER WALLET SERIES BY ATELIERSHARK LLC
This Japan-made wallet series is produced from shark leather that’s sourced from wild sharks caught for food. Durable and water impermeable, these 100 percent natural wallets are vegetable tanned and carefully crafted by hand for only the highest quality.
USUKANE CARD CASE BY MORPHA CO.
Inspired by the traditional Japanese joinery technique of kumiki (using interlocking wooden building blocks rather than screws), this Usukane business card case features a sliding lid. Made from ultra-lightweight duralumin, a solid material used in aircraft construction, it has a matte finish and beautiful arabesque pattern in relief.
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