Category Archives: This inspires me

The best t-shirt ever in the history of t-shirt existence. And I am not even exaggerating.

I told you I was down the rabbit hole of Creators, the designer’s market in Japan. (Remember? Japanese Etsy?) And now, I think I have found the best t-shirt EVER in the history of existence. From designer ti.geR.

Yes, an Old T-shirt featuring, yup, Old People.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this. Perhaps it’s the spirit of lightness that comes through. It’s not that the shirt is making fun of old people. Instead, it’s showing smiles and activity and levity and really, it feels like it’s honoring old age and not ignoring it. I love it.

Perhaps Fairy Tales are more your thing? That’s available too.

Another winner? Art Gallery. Look at the guy playing the flute! Genius!

Could you want more than this? The gallery crowd, with their messenger bags slung across their backs? I adore you.


And as someone with two degrees in history, I am all kinds of geeking out about this History t-shirt. (Plus, how adorable is she in that mustache?)

I think we need to see this one again.

Famous, and infamous, historical figures wearing t-shirts. And yes, I like that ti.geR wasn’t afraid to acknowledge the ugly parts of our history by showing all kinds of historical figures, not just the pleasant ones. (Can you identify them?)

Not the t-shirt type? Phone cases.

So, if someone could get their hands on that Old t-shirt for me, and send it on over to Massachusetts, I’d be mighty grateful.

And ti-geR? Thank you for showing the t-shirt world how it should be done!

Cherry blossom goodness in my own backyard.

It’s Cherry Blossom time at my house, one of my favorite parts of the year. Such a short span and so worth waiting the rest of the year for.

Right now, the blossoms at our house are supremely lovely, especially behind our pool. (Yes, that building is our pool. Crazy, I know.)

What’s blossoming at your house these days?

My son’s friggin’ awesome Transformer costume! (Made out of duck tape, for reals!)

My son rules. It’s true. I love him to bits. And his Transformer costume is pretty dang awesome too. Cardboard, duck tape, and a hell of a lot of creativity.

Pretty cool, right? And not even the finished product. And yeah, have I mentioned that he’s 11? I marvel at his creativity EVERY DAY!
More to come, I promise!

Food I’d like to eat off of Dishes I’d like to own.

小山乃文彦さんの 「粉引きの飯碗」

I have had this site open on my desktop for months now. Occasionally, I return to it, drawn in by the beauty that is the combination of ceramics and delicious looking food. It makes me want every single thing. And as corny as this makes me sound, brings me the feeling of peaceful times spent together over the simplest of pleasures.

From Handcraft Gallery Choice, such variety of loveliness for your kitchen table.








日比野寿美子 八寸盛り鉢(24cm)


ミルクティー色の丸ボウル(洋梨柄) 和食器通販【ギャラリー*チョイス】 


And when your meal is complete, of course there should be one of these on your table.

Sigh. Wouldn’t breakfast, lunch, and dinner be that much better with any of these as your table settings?

The surreal world of Okame Hitokajiri

I promise more Vietnam goodies soon. I’ve been working hard on loading new products at Japanistic so haven’t had as much time to get the trip photos up. In the meantime, a little something to fill in the gap.

By now,  you know my love of the unique aesthetic of Japanese illustrators. And yes, I’ve found another to love and I am getting completely caught up in the world of Okame Hitokajiri.

This next one is so compelling to me, and yet so sad.


Paper Worlds from Yuka Okubo.

As you might have noticed, I have developed a sudden fascination with Papercraft artistry. Today’s artist – Yuka Okubo.

Meticulously made, and sometimes otherworldly, I wish I could step inside these tiny universes.

Matthew Hashimoto takes a stand against bullying and proves that 6th-graders can be awesome.

Breakthrough Project sponsors essay contest about bullying

I came across this story today and had to share it. An essay about bullying, written by 6th grade student Matthew Hashimoto, has won the Art Raab Memorial Essay Competition sponsored by the Breakthrough Project.

Writing about his grandfather’s experiences in an internment camp, Hashimoto makes a case for working together to prevent bullying. Matthew, thank you for taking a stand! (Essay reprinted from Lodi News.)

Matthew Hashimoto, sixth grade, Vinewood Elementary School

Imagine going to school in fear every day. This is what victims of bullying experience. Bullying is a serious problem in many schools throughout the U.S. A. A bully is someone who relentlessly intimidates another by using verbal or physical assaults.

Bullying can affect the person who is being bullied, whether it is an adult or child. It is important for people to learn more about bullying so they know what it is and how to prevent it.

Physical bullying can be repeatedly tripping, punching, hitting or pushing. Verbal bullying is just as harmful. It includes saying unkind things and constantly insulting someone. Posting insults or sending bitter email messages are examples of cyberbullying. Bullying can happen at home, school or at work.

When he was about 7, my grandpa had a bullying experience. In the [Japanese] internment camp, he was taught mathematics, but very little writing or language arts. After being released from the camp, he was placed in second grade because he was good at math. He had difficulty with writing and spelling, so the kids in his class constantly made fun of him. They teased him by calling him names, and he was assumed to be dumb.

The teacher did not support him, and the kids didn’t get in trouble for bullying. Because of this, my grandpa had to stick up for himself and got in many fights. The result was being whacked on the hands by his principal.

He thought that nobody understood him and felt so frustrated. Many of his Japanese friends were having problems, too, so it helped to have their support. On the other hand, his parents said to be strong and put up with it. They didn’t want him to complain and tell a teacher. In the Japanese culture, they were taught to respect authority and not to complain.

After about a few years, his classmates eventually stopped bullying him because they realized he was not going to put up with it. He was also growing taller than many of them, which probably helped convince them to stop. He was very athletic and good at basketball, so the boys started to want to have him on their team, and as a friend instead of an enemy.

People bully for many reasons. One reason why is because the bully wants attention and higher social status. If they bully others, they think they will receive respect from their peers. Sometimes, bullies act this way because they want to make themselves feel better. Victims could become bullies, too. Bullies sometimes harass victims because they are bored and do it just for fun.

Prevention can help bullying at school. You can help prevent bullying by stepping up to help the person who is being bullied. Bullies usually like to pick on kids who don’t fight back. To stop a bully, say “Stop!” or “Stop! You’re bullying” because most bullies stop within 10 seconds.

Schools are helping kids understand and respect other people’s differences. Many schools hold assemblies or have programs to create awareness.

Bullying is a big problem whether at home school or at work. I think the world would be a better place without bullying. Everyone is different in a good way, and it’s unkind to make fun of hat. Everyone deserves to feel safe and to be treated equally.

Matthew, I completely agree. Congratulations on a terrific job!

Japanistic hits the road, headed to Taro’s Origami Studio!

Japanistic is hitting the road this week. Well, sort of. My son is going to New York with his grandmother, and lucky him, he gets to go Taro’s Origami Studio.

Recently profiled in New York magazine, the shop is the brainchild of origami artist, and Patent Attorney (!) Taro Yaguchi.

Taro’s Origami Studio is a space dedicated to the art and expression of origami folding. By folding origami one at a time with focus and care, one can enjoy the beauty of process itself while your creativity is expressed from a sheet of paper to something completely new. Taro’s Origami Studio offers Drop in & try out corners, classes and workshops for all levels of children and adults.

The shop welcomes everyone from beginners to more advanced origami practitioners and has classes for kids, adults, and space for parties too. My son’s birthday is in January and I only wish we lived close enough to have his party there!

No reason to be nervous, as Taro’s motto lets you know.

Motto at Taro’s Origami Studio

Even if you are totally new to origami, with a little practice, you’ll be making beautiful origami in no time. Just remember the following tips:

  • Tip 1- Make the folds nice and crisp. It’s important to flatten the creases completely. Puffy creases make for sloppy results. Flatten using your fingernails.
  • Tip2- Make the corners neat and pointy. You may use the tip of your nail or a ballpoint pen to guide the paper so it folds perfectly sharp.
  • Tip3- Take your time. What’s the rush? Enjoy the process of creating something beautiful and you’ll be greatly rewarded.


If you are in NY, support a small independent business, hone your origami skills, and, of course, send us a photo of your work.

Can’t wait to see what my son comes home with!

A Travel Guide Photo a Day helps you visit Japan

A photo a day, from Color Travel Guide blogger Naoya Okazaki.


What do I like about them? Almost like a series of polaroids that capture a moment in time.

What else do I love? It’s like these photos were all taken through a 1970s lens, as if they belong in the film version of The Virgin Suicides.

It’s like the best of Japan, through a Hiptasmatic lens. And doesn’t EVERYTHING look better in Hipstamatic?

A Handmade Orange Cable Knit Suit? Heck yeah, hipsters.

My obsession with vintage books continues. Down the rabbit hole I go and into the “stacks” at Modern Classic. Books, magazines, cookbooks and more from a “Classic but Modern Bookstore.”

I love this Okusama series of cooking magazine images from the 1960s.

Vintage Japanese craft books? Yes, please.

Cookbooks with cute characters? Yup.

And vintage fashion? Oh Yeah Baby!

Don’t we all need a suit like that one?

Picture books too. This one feels reminiscent of one of my favorites, The Lonely Doll.

I am not sure what to make of these guys. But I like ‘em.

Trust me when I say that these books are worth some time spent on the internets. In fact, I am having to pull myself away because I want to look at EVERY SINGLE ONE.

If you find a personal favorite, let me know. I’d love to see it!

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