NEWS

New and old stories about Japanese Crafts. 

Matcha Storms New York!

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We recently introduced a Matcha story in Bon Appetit magazine on our Japan Suite Facebook site. It seems now that nealy everyone is talking about the wonders of Matcha mania as evidenced by this Huffington Post article — and also discovering where to go to enjoy it here in New York City

Matcha bar in Brooklyn has been enjoying a lot of pub in the media lately, and newer Matcha cafes are popping up every month. We Manhattaners can also enjoy great authentic Matcha at places like Ippodo and at a new tea room opened by Satoko Souheki Mori in the great Japanese furniture store, Miya Shoji

Matcha is a powdered green tea, so we are literally drinking the whole green tea leaves that contain health-giving antioxidants, and “anti-aging” catechins as well as providing Matcha’s “relaxing effect” due to the L-Theanine contained in the leaves.

Matcha does have caffeine, but it releases its effect slowly over time not like coffee that and other caffeinated drinks that hit you very quickly. So, we enjoy the calm alertness all day long with one or two cups of Matcha a day. 

I have been taking Tea Ceremony classes, learning how to serve and enjoy Matcha properly in a more ceremonial manner, which is certainly different from grabbing Matcha latte at a cafe. However wherever you get your Matcha fix on, the core spirit of it is simply to enjoy the tea.

Now, if your neighborhood doesn’t have a Matcha cafe, can you make a cup of Matcha at home? Of course. We now offer Matcha whisks and scoops at our store. We particularly love the 100 tine whisk that makes creating the finest foam easy - even for a beginner. The subtle combination of the bitter taste with slight sweetness is sure to satisfy and make you happy.
Please let us know if you have any questions, we would love to share information about making and enjoying a great cup of Matcha…!

Infographics curtesy of © Epic Matcha 

Cloud and Moon

Warabi Mochi from Ungetsu. Cool paper package.

Warabi Mochi from Ungetsu. Cool paper package.

We are now in Tokyo! … meeting with great artists and seeing amazing designs everywhere.

After one of the meetings — at the studio of a bamboo artisan from Kyoto — we walked by a beautiful little store in Minami Aoyama, called Ungetsu. This is a satellite store of a Kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto, and it means Cloud and Moon. It’s named after a piece of Zen poetry describing a late evening conversation about mountains, clouds, the ocean, and the moon between close friends.

In keeping with it’s poetic name, the store is designed in Kyoto style, and the women working there are all dressed in pretty kimonos. We tried Komatsu Kombu (salted sea weed, which was not so salty and was full of umami!), some Plum Paste (also super yummy... and great with bowl of rice!) along with a cup of green tea. We also purchased some sweet cakes and Warabi Mochi too. We can’t seem to get enough Japanese sweets!

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Stay tuned for more about our time in Tokyo meeting with new and exciting artisans — and finding little treasures around every corner.

Ishikawa Artists Shine in NYC This Month

New York City played host to several artists from Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan in September. We were in Ishikawa last year visiting Kanazawa and Yamanaka, and have met many great new artists there. We are encouraged and excited to see their work being recognized broadly.

It started with with Toshiharu Hisatsune, an artist displaying Kaga Yuzen, a style of textile craftsmanship unique to the Ishikawa region. He exhibited his Kimono and Noren (a room divider made of fabric) in Brooklyn, and he demonstrated for the audience how he dyes fabric. He told us some interesting stories about the history of Yuzen and about traditional wedding rituals in the Ishikawa area.

Then, we met Satomi Den, who is a glass artist working in Kanazawa. Satomi-san has been working on a unique method of glass-making, which was inspired by her previous study of metal work. Satomi-san had her latest show at the tatami room at Globus Washitsu. It was great to meet her and discuss her work. It was quite interesting as her work is influenced by European lace design, but its beauty still shined through in a Japanese setting.

Finally, we saw an exhibition and lecture by Toshio Ohi, who comes from a long line of great craftsmen. His father is a renowned 10th generation master Ohi Chozaemon, and Toshio-san has been developing his own style in the genre. He is a true jet-setter, coming to NYC twice this month in between busy days as an artist, lecturer, jury, tea master, and teacher in Japan. His energetic and magnetic lecture was rich with knowledge in Japanese history, culture, and traditional tea ceremony background. We really enjoyed his thoughts and global perspective.

Meanwhile, we have been talking to a lacquerware artisan from Ishikawa, who has a fascinating philosophy, which is reflected in his life and work. He inspires us everytime we communicate. We are looking forward to showing his work in the future.

We sense Ishikawa’s geographical and political position in history has a strong effect in their psyche. As Ohi-san said, these encounters with people is a treasure in life. It is a pleasure getting to know these Ishikawa artisans. They keep inspiring us greatly.

Kaga yuzen wedding noren by Toshiharu Hisatsune

Kaga yuzen wedding noren by Toshiharu Hisatsune

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Glass work by Satomi Den

Glass work by Satomi Den

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Toshio Ohi talks at exhibition opening

Toshio Ohi talks at exhibition opening

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