JAPANESE CULTURE BLOG

Neko (猫)

COLLECTABLES

Neko (猫)

From ukiyo-e and Soseki Natsume’s “I Am a Cat” to lucky manaki-neko charms and Hello Kitty, it’s no joke that cats have always been a beloved source of inspiration in Japanese culture. Cat islands, such as Aoshima Island and Tashirojima Island, also remain popular destinations for feline-loving tourists. But it's street cats that hold a special place in the nation’s heart and are often cared for by the local community.  Did you know that shorthaired Japanese cats are a unique species? You’ll rarely see purebred Japanese cats today though, as Western breeds were introduced after World War II. To spot a hybrid Japanese cat, look out for:  Rounded noses and cheeks ...

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Pen Day (ペンの日)

Pen Day (ペンの日)

If you’re anything like us, early winter has us thinking about a new year, a new start and... new stationery. Maybe that’s why Pen no Hi (“Pen Day”) was celebrated in Japan yesterday!  Whether you’re looking to start bullet-journaling or need to start buying stocking fillers for loved ones, have a look at our curated range of Japanese pens and notebooks.   https://sway-gallery-london.myshopify.com/collections/stationery  

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Mizuhiki (水引)

CRAFTS JEWELLERY

Mizuhiki (水引)

If you’ve visited Japan, chances are you’ve seen the classic Mizuhiki knot adorning ceremonial gifts, cards and robes. An ancient Japanese artform, Mizuhiki uses colourful, tightly wound cord made from rice paper to craft intricate decorations, sculptures and models.    It’s said that the tradition originates from Japan’s Asuka period (c.538 to 710), when the Emperor of Japan was given a gift decorated with the classic red and white knot, and in the Heian period (794 to 1185) the concept became more widely known as Mizuhiki. Later in the Edo period (1611-1869) it became synonymous with samurai warriors, who tied their hair in the...

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The Humble Tenugui (てぬぐい)

CRAFTS DIY KITCHENWARE

The Humble Tenugui (てぬぐい)

Giftwrap, bento box cover, headband, wall art, and now mask.  Don’t underestimate the humble tenugui. Staples of everyday Japanese life, tenugui are incredibly useful pieces of cotton, silk or hemp fabric that date all the way back to the Heian era (794 to 1185 AD).  Although they were originally considered luxury items, they’ve since become popular for their eco-friendly, multipurpose uses.  Its name comes from the Japanese characters for te (“hand”) and nugui (“to wipe/wiping”).  Sway Gallery Tenugui Collection Today we’re sharing a simple, step-by-step guide from our friends Hamamonyo so you too can make your own DIY tenugui face...

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Shichi-Go-San (七五三) - 15 Nov 2020

Shichi-Go-San (七五三) - 15 Nov 2020

Have you heard of Shichi-Go-San?  Literally meaning “seven-five-three”, it’s one of the most important celebrations for children in Japan, whereby three and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old boys visit a Shinto shrine with their parents to give thanks and pray for health and happiness.  Although it’s not a national holiday, it’s a traditional rite of passage said to have originated during the Heian period (fun fact – 15 is the sum of 3,5, and 7, and the odd numbers are considered lucky in East Asian numerology).  Most girls dress in kimono and boys often wear haori jackets and hakama trousers, then...

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