Upcoming events for fall 2017
Thu August 31, 2017, 10:09 pm
Category: Events

We've got several events coming up over the next month and I'd like to take a quick moment to tell you a little more about them. :)

First up is the Pensacola FL BonFest on 9/9. This event is organized by the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida and Florida Okinawa Kenjinkai. There will be food, Bon odori(dances), games, local vendors, and a whole lot of fun for all age groups. And also excellent taiko music performed by Matsuriza Taiko!

Next is JapanFest Atlanta on 9/16-9/17. Put on annually in Duluth GA by the Japan-America Society of Georgia, this will be the festival's 31st year. Over the weekend it will draw crowds of over 30,000 people so it's best to be early to avoid the rush. Inside you'll find food stalls, traditional Japanese artisans, craft and martial arts demonstrations, Japanese dance and performance arts, beautiful music, and many unique vendors.

The following weekend, we'll be at the Memphis Japan Festival on 9/24. In addition to food, music and vendors, there will also be kamishibai paper theater for the kids. As well as lectures on the Japanese tea ceremony, kimono, bonsai, origami and the game of go. So many awesome things to experience all in one day!

And rounding out the month of September, we will be attending a Sake tasting event sponsored by the Clearwater Sister Cities organization on 9/30.

Check out our calendar of events for more details including event locations and times. We hope to see see you soon!

First blog update of 2017
Wed February 1, 2017, 2:30 am
Hi there everyone, it’s been a looooong time(read almost a year -_-) since I made a blog post and I had some down time today so I figured I should try to get that problem resolved and kick myself into writing again. A lot has happened in the last year. We’ve been all over the place meeting great people and enjoying the different local scenes while selling our lovely kimono. As many of you already know in a week I’m heading back to Japan to do more restock, and this time my mom is going with me! We’re excited beyond words as this will be her first time staying in Japan since she lived on US Air Force bases there as a young girl in the 60’s and 70’s.

There may be some changes to our event scheduling in the coming year. Though I know many of you want us to sell at conventions, so far they have been very neutral venues for us as far as cost vs profit is concerned. Though I have signed up for a few this year, we may eventually be cutting a lot of them out, possibly to just one or two a year. In an attempt to make them work and because I enjoy doing conventions, I’m going try a new approach this buying trip at finding merchandise that would also appeal more to the convention goer. And of course we will still continue to stock all our regular items, but not bring as much of the traditional clothing items to the conventions. We’ll see how this works out for us, and as usual, if there is anything specific you’re looking for that we carry and you know in advance that you’ll be looking to purchase at an upcoming event, just send us a message and we’ll be sure to bring it along.

While we’re in Japan the online store will be closed (from the 7th-27th of February), and I’m trying to figure out how to more effectively use my social media sites so that I can give you some interesting content from our trips. So be on the lookout for a few live feeds from Japan on our Facebook page in the next few weeks. I’m also doing some personal shopping for a few customers so if there’s something you’ve been wanting to purchase from the Kansai and Kanto regions, send me a message and we'll see if we can work out a way to get it to you.

That’s pretty much all for this blog update. We hope your 2017 is off to a great start and we’ll see you in a weeks at Florida Anime Experience in Kissimmee!


Keeping the Japanese traditional textile industry alive
Mon May 16, 2016, 11:17 pm
Category: Culture Musings

The traditional textile and kimono industries have seen such an alarming decrease in sales over the last few decades that talk of them dying out has become a subject that I think I should probably discuss at some point here. But many other people have already written very good articles on the subject, so if you get the chance you should take a look at those too. I'd like the focus of this entry to be on ways consumers can help keep these industries alive. For some dressing in kimono has become like second nature, but I realize that for the majority, this is not going to be a realistic possibility. However, with Japan's dwindling population and the lack of interest the country's citizens have in kimono, I think it's going to take a global scale effort to help it's time honored textiles continue.

The traditional way of wearing kimono probably seems like a lot of work and hassle to a public for whom wearing jeans and t-shirts has become the daily norm (and I include myself in that group, since this is what I wear a lot of the time). Convenience has become king. But, there are lots of ways becoming available that we can incorporate parts of these old-fashioned items into our daily lives.

Japanese textile industries are working hard to modernize and coming up with innovative new products that make use of traditional methods. For example there are a style of Converse All Stars made from Nishijin-ori weave textile, traditionally used to make obi. Or how about a wedding dress made with fabric that is usually reserved for kimono? There are even some really cute gamaguchi wallets made of Bizen woven cotton or Ise cotton. The list goes on and on.

In addition to these modern items, second hand textiles when worn as accessories or used to create something new, can help draw the attention of other industries to the beauty and timelessness of these designs and help create an even greater and growing market for traditional artisans.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How do you think we could make a lasting positive impact on these industries? Have you ever bought a vintage item with the intent of giving it a glorious new purpose? Or a product of modern design using the old techniques?

Review of Konbini Grand Opening
Wed April 13, 2016, 6:09 pm
Category: Events Reviews

It's been a very busy couple of weeks. We had a great time at the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival last weekend and are looking forward to Hatsume Fair at the Morikami this coming weekend. Last month, my little sister got married and I house sat for her for a few weeks while she was on her honeymoon. I looked for events or places near her home that looked interesting and discovered that the owners of Kappo (a really great omikase eatery in Orlando) were having a grand opening for their latest project, Konbini. With this shop, they're trying to replicate the experience of shopping in a Japanese convenience store. And I really think they've managed to do a great job. For the event they even had fresh and tasty $5 udon noodle bowls. Inside Konbini you'll find premade bento, onigiri, and sandwiches. They have a wide variety of sake to choose from, as well as nonalcoholic beverage choices, sweets, and so much more. I was happy to see that they had a good selection of grocery staple and Japanese knick knacks as well. And I'd really missed those disposable umbrellas that are so commonly found at every FamilyMart, Lawson, and Seven Eleven in Japan. The only thing missing in my opinion are the tasty natto rolls, but in the US those would probably be a hard sell. ;) Konbini is located in Kappo's former location at the East End Market, so hopefully Kappo will be reopening in a new spot and start serving deliciousness again sometime soon. In the meantime they have several upcoming events so head over to their site, www.kappoeastend.com, to see what's happening.

Sho No Ryu Performance in Fort Walton Beach, FL
Tue March 29, 2016, 1:17 pm
Category: Culture
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go watch a really great performance by a dance troupe out of Tokyo named Sho No Ryu (afterwards I promptly got the flu and forgot to do a write up on it until now -_-;;;;). These performers did a fantastic job! They combine traditional elements of Japanese folk dance and music with modern flare to make it more appealing to a multicultural and diverse audience of both the young and old. When I realized it wouldn't be done exclusively in an old fashion after having driven quite a ways to attend (first time I've crossed a time zone twice in a day for an event), I had doubts as to whether I would end up liking the performance. I very strongly prefer the traditional movements and sounds. So imagine my surprise when I loved it as much as I did. I really enjoy Japanese folk music and a lot of the pieces that accompanied the dances had the feel of old favorites, but with the occasional added flair of rock music instrumentals and other new sounding bits. The wardrobe was also quite beautiful and the props were charming. From stunning dance kimono and festival hanten to matching montsuki and hakama, they had it all. Their dance fans even had the troupe's mon carefully painted on them. As to choosing a favorite dance, I think I'd have to pick "Isshinm Tasuke-The Fishmonger". It was performed by Kenta Matsushita (stage name Sho Genshiro), and he gave such vibrant emotion to each movement. But you could definitely feel the love of the art form emanating from all of the dancers.  After the program concluded the audience was treated to a meet and greet with these talented professionals. My selfie skills were lacking pretty badly that day but I did manage to get a few photos. The last is of a stylishly dressed audience member standing to the left of Mitsuki Farsky (her stage name is Sho Senfumi), who runs the only Sho no Ryu studio outside of Japan. I've not been able to find any information on that particular studio yet, but I'll post it if I do. Understandably no video was allowed to be taken, but I did find 2 of Sho Senfumi on YouTube from another performance  she did in 2011 and I'm including them along with the website of Sho No Ryu's main studio in Tokyo.


On a side note, I decided to go out for a bite of sushi after the performance. Since it was a Sunday, most of the smaller Japanese places I would have liked to have visited were closed. So I ended up taking my chances on a Japanese/Korean restaurant named Dosirak House. And as a result my taste buds were rewarded with many tasty nigiri and delicious genmaicha. They had many friendly and familiar customers and the environment was warm and welcoming. And  even though they were short handed because a server had called out at the last minute, they took extremely good care of me. And as such, I'm including their Yelp page to help you find them. :)


Sun February 7, 2016, 6:20 pm
Category: Culture Musings

On February 8th (specifically in the Kanto region, and December 8th in the Kansai region) the Japanese celebrate a 400+ year old festival known as Hari Kuyo (Festival of Broken Needles). Traditionally a holiday geared towards women, kimono tailors and sewing hobbyists alike take their old needles to local Buddhist temples to put them "to rest" cradled on soft beds of tofu. This is done to thank them for their good service in the past year and also for sharing in their owner's personal burdens and sorrows. At this time prayers are also offered for an improvement in sewing capabilities. In addition to reflecting the traditional Japanese beliefs in animism (that all objects have souls), I think this practice also embodies the Japanese concept of mottainai (regret of wastefulness). And on that note, when we wear and use second hand kimono, I think that it's a very similar kind of action. When I wear a vintage kimono with my grandmother's pill hat and purse, I get a deep feeling of happiness in knowing that something that has brought someone else joy to wear over the years, can now bring me delight as well and still have use.

Tue February 2, 2016, 5:38 am
Category: Culture

On February 3rd the Japanese celebrate a holiday called Setsubun. This is the time when Oni(demons) carrying bad luck from the previous year are banished from homes by throwing dried soybeans out the door and shouting "Oni wa soto, Fuku wa Uchi!"(Throw the ogres out, bring good fortune in).  At local Shinto shrines the beans are thrown out over large crowds and it is considered lucky to catch the same number as your age. A traditional food commonly eaten on this day is Ehou maki(a type of thick vegetable roll).

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