JAPANESE CULTURE BLOG

Our Guide to Osake (お酒)

Our Guide to Osake (お酒)

Although many think of rice wine when they hear the word sake (酒), in Japan the kanji generally refers to any alcoholic drink.  Instead, 'rice wine' is more commonly known as nihonshu (日本酒) over there.  As we enter the festive season and start to think about Christmas gifts or (virtual) parties, here’s our beginner’s lowdown on the renowned tipple… How It’s Made The raw ingredients of sake are: sakamai rice, water, koji (a type of mould spore) and yeast.  Although the high starch content of sakamai is key, it’s actually the “polishing” process of removing fat and protein that’s significant. ...

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Senbazuru(千羽鶴)

Senbazuru(千羽鶴)

If you could have one wish, what would it be? Or, perhaps you’re hoping for a happy and healthy 2021? The ancient legend of Senbazaru (“one thousand cranes”) goes that anyone who crafts a thousand origami paper cranes will be granted one wish from the gods. One of the most mystical creatures in Japanese folklore it’s said that the crane can live for a thousand years, so wishes are often for long life or wellbeing. There are a few variations to the tale, with some believing that you’ll be blessed with eternal happiness and good luck, or that the cranes...

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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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