A custom-made authentic Kyoto souvenir that can be a part of your everyday life after you return home. Recall your Kyoto travel memories while relaxing with our handcrafted cushions made of vintage kimono fabric that you chose!
Copenhagen based Danish-Japanese fashion designer Mika Ishii explores Kyoto’s Toji Temple antiques market and selects some vintage kimono fabric that Takaokaya makes Mika’s unique souvenir collection of zabuton cushions with.
Kyoto is visited by countless tourists both from Japan and abroad. In recent years, the numbers of overseas tourists has increased radically — so has the number of souvenirs. And not for the better. So, what does a thoughtful and cultured traveler choose as a unique and quality souvenir to remember their visit to the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto with?
The International Business Development Team at Takaokaya has an idea!
We think that a good Kyoto souvenir should be ‘Kyoto-rashii’ — that means ‘of’ or ‘like’ Kyoto — something authentically ‘Kyoto’. Historically, as it was the seat of the imperial household and the aristocracy, products made in or for Kyoto were completely handcrafted by the highest skilled artists and artisans in all the land. Most of the Kyoto souvenirs available aren’t even made in Kyoto, many are even made by outsourcing overseas. Well, we think that an authentic Kyoto souvenir would be handcrafted, in Kyoto. When in Kyoto, go for quality!
Kyoto is the most historic city in Japan, founded as the imperial capital in 794 and remained so until 1869. Over the centuries, one of the most sophisticated and sublime cultures in all the world developed. Fortunately most of its cultural heritage is intact as the city was nearly untouched by the wars of the 20th century that laid Japan’s cities to waste. So, we think an ideal Kyoto souvenir would have some connection to Kyoto’s history.
Since the founding of Kyoto, Japanese — men and women — wore kimono. Over the centuries a vast array of weaving and dyeing techniques were developed for kimono and obi. Kyoto, serving the court and aristocracy was and remains, a leading producer of the finest Japanese textiles. Many fine examples of Kyoto’s textile culture can still be found and purchased fairly inexpensively in the markets and antiques stores of the city.
Our Unique Souvenir Idea: Our unique and popular cushions are lovingly handcrafted in our Kyoto workshop by our highly skilled artisans — the old fashioned way. We developed the Ojami shape based on the traditional Japanese ‘tedama’ beanbag toy called ‘ojami’ in Kyoto dialect. So, it is very unlikely that you will find a similarly shaped cushion. Now we use both traditional Japanese fabrics but also contemporary ones from all over the world, especially high-end fabric from Europe.
An ideal souvenir would also be something that would be a part of your everyday life after you return home too. Many people buy beautifully painted folding fans when they visit Kyoto. These are very nice but they usually end up in a drawer, rarely to be seen again. Food items are popular too. But, once eaten they are soon forgotten. But how about something that could adorn your home or office — like a unique collection of cushions?
Kyoto has numerous antique dealers and several monthly antique markets. Here, among other cultural treasures available are vintage kimono and obi sash. Why not visit a market or some of the antique dealer neighborhoods and find a few pieces of vintage fabric and have Takaokaya make them into cushions for your home? It’s a souvenir cultural treasure to remember your travel adventure with!
In February 2015 we were paid a visit by up-and-coming Copenhagen based Danish-Japanese fashion designer Mika Ishii. We accompanied Mika to Toji Temple’s monthly ‘Kobo-san’ antiques market to explore for some vintage kimono to make her collection of Kyoto souvenir cushions with.
At the Toji Market we visited many stalls together and inspected the vintage kimono and obi offerings. After an hour or so, Mika selected three kimono for her collection. First, a traditional wool winter kimono woven in the tsumugi style. Second a duo-tone silk kimono with a minimal and fairly modern repeating motif. And finally, a very colorful synthetic children’s kimono dyed in the yuzen style.
As is common, these kimono seemed not to have been worn much. They were probably 50 years old or so. So, the fabric itself is in good condition, nearly new.
Nanako helped negotiate the final price which came to ¥8,000 yen. Quite reasonable — about the same as an average priced dinner for two in Kyoto.
Back at Takaokaya, Ready for Production
The next step is for our artisans to make Mika’s collection of Ojami, Ojami Settee and Cojami zabuton cushions.
from left to right: colorful yuzen dye children’s kimono (for Shichi-Go-San Children’s Festival), wool tsumugi weave kimono and duo-tone silk kimono.
More about Kyoto’s Three Main Monthly Markets
Kyoto Markets: Kitano Shrine Tenjin-san, Toji Temple Kobo-san and Tezukuri-ichi
Want to Learn More?
If you are visiting Kyoto and would like to learn more, contact Takaokaya here!