JAPANESE CULTURE BLOG — CRAFTS

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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Urushi no Hi (漆の日)

CRAFTS KITCHENWARE

Urushi no Hi (漆の日)

Today is Urushi no Hi (or the less fun-sounding “Lacquer Day”) in Japan. The urushi technique dates back to 5000 BC and involves a long and complicated technical process using sap extracted from Asian lacquer trees. Multiple layers of wafer-thin, semi-transparent lacquer are carefully applied by hand to create the distinctive depth and sheen, making urushi goods a thoughtful gift for gastronomes. Have you seen our lacquered chopsticks and magewappa (bent woodware) lacquer covered plates?

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Feeling Blue – The Art of Aizome (藍染め)

CRAFTS DIY

Feeling Blue – The Art of Aizome (藍染め)

Ai-iro, fuji-iro, mizu-iro, ruri-iro... did you know that there are over 30 shades of blue in Japan’s complex system of traditional colours? Ai-iro (indigo blue or “Japan Blue”) in particular is one of the country’s most loved and important colours, seen in everything from the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games’ 2020 logos and Tokyo Skytree, to kimono and denim jeans. As 2020 has, amongst many other things, surprised us with a newfound love for tie dye, you might have even seen or heard of shibori.  It’s a centuries-old Japanese resist dyeing technique, most notably used in aizome dyeing to create...

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