We love meeting new people and learning about their families. At the launch of our Studio Tea space, we had the pleasure of meeting Amy Kimoto-Kahn, mom, wife, cook, traveler and author of the cook book Simply Ramen + the blog easypeasyjapanesey. Amy is a lovely woman who has a successful and interesting life raising three little ones and sharing Japanese-American recipes via her blog and cookbook, among other things! It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of ramen (any noodle really) so we were thrilled to flip through her cook book. Read on to see our recent interview with Amy and get her recipe for mochi!
The kitsune (fox) mask is one of the most famous traditional masks in Japan. Masks have been a part of Japanese song, dance, religion and celebration for hundreds of years. Lately, they have also become popular in pop culture, seen throughout Japanese TV shows and anime. Learn more about kitsune masks and download a mask DIY activity for your little citizens.
In Japan, it’s tradition to write your prayers or wishes on small wooden plaques and place them outside the Shinto shrines around Japan. These wooden plaques are called ema. You may also see paper fortunes tied to tree branches. These are called omikuji. When we visited the shrines in Japan, we loved seeing all of ema plaques and omikuji fortunes hanging outside. We even had a chance to write our own wishes for Tea on an ema. Learn more about the tradition of the ema and omikuji and see our special Tea ema!
A puzzling design of layered thread, temari balls have been a traditional Japanese craft for over one thousand years and are still popular today. When we traveled to Japan, we saw beautiful temari balls in markets and museums, further proving the point that this handicraft has indeed been around for many years, but lives on in modern day. Temari balls are created by making a core base and wrapping layers of yarn, thread, paper or fabric around it to create a round shaped ball. Each temari ball is different, but typical patterns you can find are geometric and symmetrical. A lot of designs will also include some element of nature, which is a popular focus in Japanese tradition and culture. Temari are traditionally given as a gifts, and symbolize friendship, loyalty and good luck. It’s traditional for a mother to make her daughter a ball as a New Year’s gift. We loved this tradition and after speaking with some moms in the office, we realized that this craft lives on in the U.S. too. One Tea mom makes something very similar to a temari ball, for gifts for her little citizen, called surprise balls. After doing some digging we found out it is really popular! Here we’re sharing an activity perfect for gifts for the holidays, inspired by the temari balls. If you want to learn and try your hand at making a traditional temari ball, head on over to TemariKai.com where you can find step-by-step instructions.
Saju wears our Chie Graphic Dress and Tenley wears our Tankuki Teapot Graphic Tee.
The Japanese city of Kanazawa is known for it’s production of gold leaf and use of it in many traditional and modern handicrafts. Artisans and craftsmen throughout Kanazawa have practiced gold leafing for hundreds of years. We saw many artifacts throughout museums and adorning ancient temples and buildings in this magical city. Gold leaf is also extremely popular in crafting and housewares today, throughout the world. You can even see a hint of gold on the logo of our holiday catalog front cover. When we traveled to Japan to shoot our holiday catalog, we took our new friends Tenley and Saju, to try their hand at gold leafing. Learn how you can do it too, right at home!
Tea and cake are a perfect pairing for an afternoon snack in many countries. In Japan, kasutera is a popular sponge cake, derived from the Portuguese castela cake. Originally introduced to Japan by Portuguese sailors in the port town of Nagasaki, Kasutera is now a specialty of the city. Soft, spongy and sweet, kasutera cake can be flavored with almost anything… matcha green tea, peach, honey, even gold foil! During the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, it is common to serve sweet treats alongside matcha green tea. Here’s our recipe for a honey-flavored kasutera cake. What flavor will you make?