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.
Whether it’s for the interior-fanatic or fashionista in your friend group, here are some ideas for last-minute holiday gifts. Because it’s never too late to remind somebody you’re thinking of them this season!
1. decobranche KYOUKA series by MARUFUKU SHOTEN CO., LTD.
This series of bags and wallets is made by dyeing leather with kyo-yuzen dyeing techniques. By leveraging a manufacturing technique accumulated over 70 years since the company’s founding, all processes from design to production are carried out at the company’s factory in Osaka. ¥14,000-¥43,000, www.decobranche.co.jp
2. Tsukareshirazu socks (Anti-fatigue socks) by ECONOLEG CO., LTD.
These thin socks suit casual and formal shoes, offering comfort through moisture prevention and foot support. The socks’ innovative structure solves typical sock problems while doubling as an insole that reduces fatigue. Meant for those who spend their days on their feet and those who need comfort for daily activities. ¥1,600-¥1,900, www.nishikutu.co.jp/lp/tsukareshirazu
3. Long Wallet by MAEKAWA leather craftsCO., LTD.
These leather wallets are made using a traditional Japanese craft called inden, in which deerskin leather is decorated with lacquer patterns using stencils. Skilled artisans carefully select the leather before applying lacquer for a durable and beautiful finish.¥27,000, ja-jp.facebook.com/indenmaekawa
4. the BLOSSO by Myu-tech 35 Inc.
Using the company’s processing methods, this lineup of lustrous items is made out of high-quality stainless steel that is resistant to corrosion. All products are handmade by craftsmen and use strong magnets so the wearers don’t have to worry about ruining expensive fabrics or clothing. ¥10,000-¥50,000, www.blosso.tokyo
5. SPRING SPRING by Enshu Spring Co., Ltd.
The Spring Spring series was made with the idea of delivering products that make users’ hearts leap. Enshu Spring, a spring manufacturer, initiated the series to highlight the value of coil springs, not just as a functional component, but also as accessories for our daily lives. ¥1,000-¥18,000, spring-spring.jp
6. Koukin Fuji by Sanko-seisaku.CO., LTD.
Inspired by Japanese cultural icon, Mount Fuji, this product series includes a bookmark, bottle opener and chopsticks rests, among others. Developed through a collaboration of two local companies in Shizuoka Prefecture, each item is meticulously handmade by craftspeople and, of course, infused with passion. ¥420-¥4,200, koukinfuji.com/en/index.html
7. OMOSHIROI BLOCK by TRIAD Inc.
What looks like a memo paper cube at first actually reveals intricate paper art as the pages get used. Each sheet, which is uniquely and intricately designed, is stacked up manually with special attention paid to the texture of the paper. The products are inspired by beautiful designs, including famous architectural landmarks of Japan. ¥1,980-¥10,000, www.triad-japan.com/en/omoshiroi_block
8. KANAMO by CHROMES Corp.
This art object and flower vase was created by Chromes, a company specializing in production of made-to-order ornamental metals. Inspired by the shimmering water and waves of light, this product incorporates its long-cultivated techniques to express fluctuation in its design. Every item is unique, made only for each specific customer. ¥160,000, chromes-2016.com
9. Secret conversation by Marukanou Murata CO., LTD.
This unique stick of incense brings pleasure to everyday life. Write a message using special ink on this uniquely developed incense. Watch as it burns and the message is revealed. Enjoy this fascinating product in a multitude of ways, such as writing a message to yourself or gifting it to someone special. ¥1,500, www.marukanou.com/item/250239
10. No Tie Shoelace COOLKNOT by COOLKNOT JAPAN CO., LTD.
This product was developed over two years with the idea to save everybody a little bit of time. The innovative inner rubber core offers enough stretch for you to slip the shoes on and off easily while still holding your feet firm. No need to adjust your laces or worry about tying them again! ¥908, www.coolknot.co.jp
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 other gift recommendations, see here.