Japan Less Traveled Spots – Tajimi Mosaic Tile Museum

So while we were in Tajimi to visit our friend’s tile accessories workshop, we also checked out the sights in town. We were most impressed by the Tajimi Mosaic Tile museum which you should definitely visit if you are in the area.

The visit starts on the top fourth floor with a opened roof room with walls covered in square tile mosaics, some of them very large. It’s quite an impressive sight and most people – us included – spend a long time taking pictures of every detail.

Then the floor below explains the history of tile making in the region and gives example of different styles of tiles which were popular across the 20th century in Japan. Fans of the Showa era will feel a rush of nostalgia looks at some of the displays.

The second floor has example of the current production of tile companies in Tajimi, a show room of sorts. Some of the more artful examples are actually products of our partner who’s main business is still tiles for home construction.

Finally, you finish the visit on the first floor with a museum shop selling tiles of various shape and color by the kilo to do your own mosaics. There is also a classroom where teachers lead lessons to help you build your own little mosaic in half an hour.

All in all, it was a really fun one-hour visit. We can also recommend the little cafe outside which serves really good coffee and croissants sandwiches.

Gifu has lots to offer !

Contact info:

2082-5, Kasahara-cho, Tajimi-city, Gifu
507-0901 JAPAN
TEL +81 572.43.5101 FAX +81 572.43.5114
URL http://www.mosaictile-museum.jp/

Workshop visit in Tajimi

This past week we went on a trip to 多治見市 (Tajimi city) in Gifu prefecture for a visit of the workshop that makes our tile earrings line.

Tajimi is the bedrock of the tile industry in Japan and has a thousand years old history of ceramic production, known as 美濃焼 (minoyaki). As a side note, there is a very nice mosaic tile museum in the city which is worth the visit if you’re in the region.

Our supplier has been producing tiles for the housing industry since 60 years ago. Suzuki-san, the grandson of the founder, took over the company some years ago and decided to branch out into more artistic tile products, including delicate accessories.

The earrings and various other art products are pressed, glazed and hand-painted on-site before being sent to an offsite furnace for firing.

It’s always a great experience to visit business partners on their place of work, see each step of the process that goes into the making their products and discuss with them ideas for the future.

Thank you Suzuki-san!

Japanese Sweets – Kuzumochi

As a new series on this blog, I will introduce Japanese sweets we love and want to share with the world.

My first installment is Kuzumochi (葛餅). Made from starch powder, it is usually eaten with kinako (sweet roasted soybean flour) and kuromitsu (black cane sugar syrup).

This particular one is from Funabashiya (船橋屋), a 213 years old shop from eastern Tokyo.

Their kuzumochi is fermented for 450 days to achieve the perfect chewiness. It is said to be great for your skin and digestion too!

Unfortunately, it must stay very fresh and expires within 2 days of production, so when you buy it at the store you must eat it that same day or the next day.

If you’re in Japan, do not miss out and try it! You can’t get it abroad!

Contact information:

Funabashiya – Tokyo, Koto-ku, Kameido 3-2-14 (close to Tokyo Sky Tree)

Japanese Paper

A couple weekends ago, while strolling around Ginza, we ended up at the Itoya flagstore – always a good spot to find cool products and ideas. They had a very nice exhibition of hundreds of various Japanese papers on pin badges spread across a huge table. It was beautiful.

和紙 (washi), Japanese traditional paper, is produced by artisans all across the country but one of the hotspots is the Mino area in Gifu prefecture (see Mino washi) which is also the birthplace of our collection of ceramic earrings!

Tokyo Less Travelled Spots – Teien Art Museum

Our goal with Chuchulu is to bring objects that we like from Japan to a wider worldwide audience. As part of that objective, I wanted to also show you some of our favorite lesser known spots through a series of blog posts.

As the first installment, I will start with our personal favorite picnic spot: the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum (東京都庭園美術館).

Less than 10 minutes walk from Meguro station on the Yamanote line, it is in a very central location but never crowded. The museum is on the grounds of the residence of a prince of the Imperial family who, after studying in France in the 1920’s, had his home built in Art Deco style. The setting itself is beautiful enough to appreciate, with many custom glassworks by Rene Lalique, regardless of the current exhibition on display.

But what makes it one of our favorite spot is the garden, which you can access separately from the exhibition itself with a 200¥ ticket. The wide grass areas, shaded with tall cedar trees, is perfect for a picnic. We love to grab a coffee from the small roaster across the street, sit down on the grass and enjoy a quiet time reading a book.