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.
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.
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!
The crane is one of the most iconic origami shapes there is. Easily recognizable and found throughout Japan in and around the many shrines, the origami crane, or orizuru, is a representation of the Japanese red-crowned crane, a bird that has special significance in Japan. Cranes are thought to bring good luck and longevity as it is said they can live for 1,000 years. An ancient Japanese legend says that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted one wish by the gods. In Japan, we saw many strings of origami cranes, all folded with such precision and always near a shrine. The many colors and precise shapes left us in awe. While we would never consider ourselves to be “pros” at any craft, we’ve definitely managed to be quite quick at making these origami cranes. From launch parties and pop-up shop photo backdrops, to in-store installations, we’ve made hundreds of cranes over the past few months. If you’ve ordered from TeaCollection.com during our fall season, you’ve probably received your very own set of 8 origami papers with instructions on how to make an adorable origami uni (dog). Learn how to make an origami crane on your own! It might take a few tries to get it down, but once you’ve figured out the folds, you’ll quickly become a pro yourself.
You might remember learning about onomatopoeia in grade school. You probably enjoyed saying these words out loud and marveling at the fact that they sound the way they are spelled. In English, it’s words like “pop” “meow” and “whoosh”. The Japanese language is filled with symbolic ideophones, or words that evoke a feeling, memory or vivid image. Hira hira is Japanese onomatopoeia that means “to flutter”. Kira kira means to sparkle. When a Japanese person hears the word kirakira, it is like they can actually se things that are sparkly. To English-speaking people, these words might now sound like what they mean, but that’s the beauty of different languages. Here are some more Japanese words that are really fun to say. Practice saying them with your little citizen to make the foreign a little more familiar in your home. Can they name things that take on these attributes?