JAPANESE CULTURE BLOG

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...

Read more →


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...

Read more →


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?

Read more →


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...

Read more →