Tag Archives: Japanese

The Ever Elegant Kimono

Yes, fashionable japanese ladies still wear kimonos. Usually they are worn on special occasions, such as a wedding or some other milestone event. The quality of the silk and the elegant color combinations, which are intended to reflect the four different seasons are awe-inspiring. I wish my camera could pick up the color nuisances!



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Washi Paper: A gift box Makeover

When you walk into a craft store in Japan, you usually see not only fabrics and craft notions, but also long horizontal pull-out shelves showcasing handmade washi paper. Washi paper is traditionally made from the bark of three native plants: the konzo, mitsumata, and gampi. Others natural fibers include abaca, hemp, and horse hair. The paper very flexible, almost fabric-like. Washi paper is also very durable making it the ideal material for covering boxes, picture frames, glass beads…

I recently decided to makeover a dollar store gift box by covering it with washi paper. You could use the same technique to cover a desk set or pictures frames. It is surprising easy to do! However, I will warn you that I did not use the traditional rice glue, but decided, for convenience sake to substitute a glue stick.

What you will need:

Washi Paper

A glue stick


A ruler or measuring tape

First, measure your box, (If it is a square box) beginning on the outside one side of the lip and up and over the side of the box, and about an inch over the other lip. If your box is round, like mine, just wrap the paper around the box, allowing about an inch overlap on the top and bottom of the box. Cut the paper to your measurements and rub the glue stick on the box. Press the paper to the box taking care to smooth out any air bubbles.

If your box is round, you will need to make little cuts about half an inch apart before you fold down the overlap. If your box is square, you should only have to do this on the corners.

Use the same technique on the lid of the box. Voila! Wasn’t that easy? You can cover your box in varnish, if you wish.

Now is the fun part! First, I embellished the box with kanzashi flowers. Here’s a tutorial from minisweethearts for the black and white flower.

Then I tried pinning vintage brooches on the ribbon.

The possibilities are endless. Upgrade your gifbox and send me a pic!

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Top Knot: What do you think?

The hairstyle that I have been seeing a lot of in Japan is the Top Knot. Usually, the style is being worn by teens or twenty somethings. I think it might be a little too edgy for this 30 something to carry off. What do you think? Is the top knot cute or just over the top?

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Chirashi Sushi

Do you like sushi, but just do not have the time to fashion all those precise little rolls? I have a fast, fun alternative to traditional sushi called Chirashi Sushi. As you can see in the picture below, it’s rather like a free-form sushi, almost like a casserole. It’s so fast and easy to make and would make a great week-night meal or even an easy dish to serve guest.

The ingredients can vary to include pretty much anything you like, however, the base of the sushi is rice, kinshi tamago (egg crepe), vegetables, and some type of protein. Our example includes salmon, fried tofu, mushrooms, cucumber, and fish powder.

To get started you will need:

Egg, one per person

Rice, about a cup, cooked, per person

Beef, poultry, fish or tofu, about a 4 ounce serving per person

Vegetables of your choice: carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, onion



Garnish of your choice. Fish flakes, pickled ginger, seaweed strips, rice seasoning

First, flavor your cooked rice. The idea is to make sushi rice, so flavor one cup of cooked rice with about one tablespoon of vinegar, 1/4 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle this mixture over your cooked rice and then mix into the rice with a slicing motion. Set the rice aside.

Next, cook the kinshi tamago (egg crepe) by cracking the egg into a bowl and whisking vigorously then frying the egg in a medium-hot pan until done.

After it has cooled, julienne the egg into very thin strips. Next, cook your protein, I chose salmon.

Cut your protein of choice into very small slices. Now combine the egg, salmon, rice, and whatever vegetables and garnishes you choice in a medium size serving dish. This dish is wonderful served with miso soup. Enjoy! Wasn’t that easy?

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Make a Washi Paper Doll

I recently took a japanese washi paper doll class. After completing the project the two ladies that were teaching the class asked that I come back the next week as they had a gift for me. When I arrived the next week bringing strawberry shortcake to show my appreciation, this was the surprise they had for me. They taught me how to make a japanese paper geisha. Although the doll is traditionally made with japanese washi paper, this is a perfect craft for using up those little scrapbook remnants you can’t bear to part with.

You will need:

About four inches in paper for the kimono.

About an inch x quarter inch of matching paper to create the collar of the kimono.

About an inch x quarter inch of contrasting paper to create a scarf to go under the color.(mine was pink)

About an inch x half an inch of contrasting paper for the obi belt. (mine was pink and also green, I made two!)

About an 2 inches square of paper for the hair. (mine was black)

Any tiny bit of paper will do for the bow.

A white cardstock circle, about half an inch circumference and a small long, skinny piece for the body.

Glue (Elmers or Tacky)

Step One

Cut your kimono paper into a long rectangle, twice the length of your kimono. Fold your kimono paper in half and cut out the shape as seen above. The top tab will be folded under to create a tuck (see step three for a better view). The edges of the sleeves should be slightly rounded to give the illusion of a sleeve. Cut a tiny triangle at the top of the fold to create the neck of the kimono.

 Step Two

 Glue to Cardboard circle to the cardboard body with elmers or tacky glue. Fold in half and wrap the scarf piece around the neck.

Step Three

Fold under the bottom two tabs and glue. This is the bottom of the kimono. Fold under the top piece to create a tab as shown. Do not glue this part as you will need to insert the body of the doll into the kimono.

Step Four

Insert the body into the kimono. Adjust the scarf so that it is visible. Glue the body and glue the edges of the sleeves together. Fold and wrap a small piece of paper matching the kimono around the neck to form a collar.Wrap the obi belt around the doll and over the collar piece then secure it in the back with a dab of glue (see step five for a visual).

Step Five

Cut three small strips of paper for the hair, taking care to cut two of the same size to wrap on the left and right side of the head, as seen in the picture. The hair can be as long or short as you want it to be. The longer piece, as seen in the picture, will be glued on top and will be wrapped around the head, gathered and secured on the back of the head with a dab of glue. See below for the placement of the pieces.

Now, just add a little twisted piece of paper for a bow and you are done!

Write me and let me know how your doll turns out!

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Punk/Goth style in Japan

This is definately a departure from the usual styles I’ve seen on the streets and in the stores of Japan. But I have to admit, it’s kinda cute! In a punk, goth, leather and chains kinda way!

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Make a Mushi-Pan! Oishii (Delicious)!

If you are looking for a new breakfast recipe to try this weekend, I have something quick, and also healthy. Try a steamed cake called mushi-pan! “Mushi” is japanese for “steamed” and this bread is very soft and sweet and more like a cake than a bread. This is definately a lo-cal recipe, because unlike cake, mushi-pan contains no butter or oil. I will share this basic recipe, courtesy of Misawa City News, and you can use your imagination and add whatever ingredients you want to flavor the mushi-pan. I added chopped apples to mine, but I think that blueberries or chocolate chips would be delicious! This is not a western-style cake, so if you like things really sweet, you may want to add more sugar or eat the mushi-pan with syrup or jam.


1 Egg

2 tsp of Milk

2 tsp of Sugar

50g (1.7oz) of Flour ( I used whole wheat)

1 tsp of Baking Powder

In a small bowl, beat the egg, then add the milk and sugar. Mix well. Add the flour and baking powder, lightly mixing it and taking care not to make the batter sticky. If you have a steamer, boil water in the pot, and place the bowl into the steamer basket. Put on the lid and steam for about 12 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.


If you do not have a steamer, you can turn a plate upside down in a pot, pour about a cup of water around the plate, heat until boiling and then place the bowl on top of the plate. Cover and cook for 12 minutes.

It should look a little like this when it is done. Also, you can try using a toothpick to see if the cake is completely done.

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