etsy shop

felt cafe japan elsewhere


part of the september new skills festival on

japanese craft books in english

more japanese crafts
craft and design shopping
arts and design
craft projects
travel info

happy 2013

it turns out, in 2012 i had even less time to blog. i started a new full time job, and am now in the final stages of dissertation writing. craft project time was (and continues to be) at a premium. but at the end of the year, and especially around christmas, i threw myself into making a few things. above: paper snowflakes on the shoji doors in my apartment. i love these--thinking about leaving them up all winter.

some christmas paper crafts, plus decorations from the 100 yen shop.

actually, this was the first project of the christmas season: paper cut out light covers (lights from ikea).

chrismas mantle (tiny felt tree from muji; the tiny paper chain was a fun project)

and a new teapot and calendar for 2013. in japan, new years is a quiet holiday, spent with family at home, eating, visiting the shrine. starting out the new year with a clean house from top to bottom. this year i actually did the oosoji (big new years cleaning)! now just to see if it sticks.

ikuta shrine in kobe

2013 is the year of the snake (image from crictor, modified ;-)

i dont really like snakes, but i always loved the illustrations and the story of crictor the boa constrictor.

happy 2013 to you and yours!

hopefully it will involve crafts...once i start it's hard to stop.



support tohoku through funbaro project

today is the 11 month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in tohoku on 3.11.2011.

as i have mentioned here before, by main work/study in japan is related to disaster recovery, and in the past 11 months, i have been focusing on the tohoku area, trying to think about how i can contibute, by volunteering or more related to information sharing. actually i started another blog, as a kind of information resouce about the disaster and recovery, here:

up until now, my interests in disaaster recovery and crafts have been pretty much separate. but as we are approaching 1 year, and i have been thinking more about liveilhood recovery in the tohoku region, i keep feeling that they area connected -- the handmade and craft aspect of livelihood recovery -- and feeling like i can perhaps do just a little bit to connect them more in this blog.

and just as i was wishing there was an etsy store to sell products made by folks in tohoku...i found out that there already is!!!

the handmade support project etsy shop is doing just that! and selling bags and japanese slippers (those are the one's in the image at the top of this post) made by disaster survivors from minami sanriku as part of the funbaro project.

and, not only are they selling the projects on etsy, it's part of the larger funbaro project, and they received sewing machines to support economic independence. how awesome is that!!

so support these folks! either by buying from them, or spreading the word. and if you know of other crafty projects that support japan's recovery, please let me know, and i would be more than happy to share them.


little houses project

jo at jojoebi is organizing a wonderful project to create some handmade lovelies for folks living in temporary housing.

it's easy, you can make a house or two and send it by feb. 21. for all the details visit jo's blog:


year of the dragon

although japan follows the same zodiac calander as japan, and this is the year of the dragon, actualy japanese new years is january 1st.

this is the stamp i carved for my new years cards this year.

as for this website, i'm going to try to be a bit better of updating it at least a little more regularly!

best wishes for a great dragon year.






new skills festival and wonderful work of dosanko debbie

painting by dosanko debbie


the lovely jo of a bit of this and and a bit of that invited me to participate in the september new skills festival she is hosting on her blog this month, and i was honored to join! my felt ninja tutorial will be up on her blog next week. it was a great motivation to get a tutorial together and share it, something i've been thinking about doing but has been on a very back burner for long time. also i've been thinking of new ninja projects...

since march, i've been spending a lot more of my online and offline time and energy in directions related to disaster recovery--which is my field of study and research, and my primary reason for being in japan.

i miss the time that i used spend reading craft blogs, but i have to be practical (and i have been squeezing in some crafting-for-myself time when i can, which is a great feeling!). finding balance is something that i am continuously working on, and i suspect is an eternal project;-) for now, i feel like i have figured out a situation that works for me, continuing to run the felt cafe japan shop on etsy at a slightly slower pace, but blog posts have been few and far between!

but through jo's new skills festival, i discovered the beautiful work of debbie, who paints traditional japanese etegami (literally picture-letters). i love her work, and the emotion that she conveys through it. especially the earthquake series.

today, as i'm getting ready for a 1 week trip to china that starts tomorrow morning, there's a large typhoon moving across japan, and this umbrella feels especially fitting for today, as the winds just broke my umbrella this afternoon.

but actually it's a reference to the famous peom of kenji miyazawa, who was from the part of japan that suffered the tsunami.  the poem is called "ame ni mo makezu" which means ''be not defeated by the rain." it's a powerful message about how to live, and has been widely used as inspiration for rebuilding after the tsunami. (link to wikipedia)

david sulz's translation:

Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better. Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.

Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy. Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you. Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.

A thatch-roof house, in a meadow, nestled in a pine grove’s shade. A handful of rice, some miso, and a few vegetables to suffice for the day.

If, to the East, a child lies sick: Go forth and nurse him to health. If, to the West, an old lady stands exhausted: Go forth, and relieve her of burden. If, to the South, a man lies dying: Go forth with words of courage to dispel his fear. If, to the North, an argument or fight ensues: Go forth and beg them stop such a waste of effort and of spirit.

In times of drought, shed tears of sympathy.
In summers cold, walk in concern and empathy.
Stand aloof of the unknowing masses: Better dismissed as useless than flattered as a “Great Man”.

This is my goal, the person I strive to become.

the umbrella print, and many others, are for sale here, and originals in the dosanko debbie etsy shop