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?
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.
Kananzawa is a town in Japan known for its castles, shrines, amazing Museum of Contemporary Art and production of gold leaf. The glittering gold that surrounded us in Kanazawa, actually sparked inspiration for this year’s holiday collection. The city alone produces 99% of Japan’s gold leaf production thanks to its excellent quality of water and masterful craftsmen who have been practicing the art of gold leafing for hundreds of years. When we visited this magical place, we marveled at how many buildings, ceramics, and varieties of food were adorned with gold leafing.
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?
We go there. We travel to discover. To dream. To connect. We want to open up the world for all little citizens – whether it’s exploring a new place or having a new experience in a new neighborhood. This fall, when it came to casting models for our catalogs, we skipped our usual agencies and instead, went to Japan! We wanted to connect and meet local families and we were thrilled to find such a mix of culture backgrounds. We met some pretty adorable and imaginative kids (and their parents too!). We had the chance to bring these families along with us to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and talk to them about their lives in Japan. Today we’d like to introduce them to you!
Tea is a drink shared in nearly every culture around the world.Over a cup of tea, people can find a moment of connection and understanding. Tea is something we all have in common. (That’s why we made it our namesake.) Learn about the different teas enjoyed around the world, illustrated by Wednesday, one of our fabulous in-house artists!
Mitarashi dango is a delicious treat found in street vendors throughout Japan. Dango are balls of rice flour that take on a dumpling-like consistency when cooked. First they’re boiled and then placed on a skewer to be grilled. Once grilled, they’re covered with the sweet mitarashi sauce, which is made up of soy sauce and sugar. So simple, yet so delicious!
A woman makes Konnyaku dango, made from Konnyaku potatoes, on the street in Japan.