Elm-Yukara ori: woven woollen fabric of Hokkaido



Elm-Yukara ori is an entirely hand crafted textile of Hokkaido that is typically used for items such as kimonos, obi sashes, haori coats, bags, rugs and cushions. The main material is locally made wool that is hand dyed, spun into threads and woven on a loom using the ‘tsumugi’ technique. It is a light, warm fabric with designs that are inspired by the picturesque scenes of nature in Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan, and the patterns of traditional folklore. Up to two or three hundred colors may be combined in any one work, creating a textile that resembles an oil painting.

Although ‘Yukara’ is an Ainu word meaning lore, legend or epic poem, the textile is a relatively recent product of Hokkaido and is not a traditional Ainu fabric. (Ainu is the language used by indigenous people of Hokkaido.) Yukara-ori was created by textile artist Aya Kiuchi from Asahikawa City, Hokkaido during the 1950s; in 1962 she established a full scale manufacturing house. Kiuchi chose the word ‘yukara’ in the hope that the craft would endure and be passed on to future generations. Her work has been widely acclaimed both nationally and internationally. In 1977 she received the highest award at the Japan Folk Crafts Public Exhibition, and in 1978 she was awarded first place at the Hungarian International Textile Biennale.

This small coin purse with two compartments is a fine example of elm-yukara woven wool.  It was found at a temple market in Osaka.


ERUMU-YUKARA (ELM-YUKAR) ORI | Dyeing and Weaving. (2018). Kimono.or.jp. Retrieved 7 January 2018, from http://www.kimono.or.jp/dictionary/eng/erumu_yu-karaori.html

Yukara-Ori Textile | Authentic Japanese product. (2018). Japan-brand.jnto.go.jp. Retrieved 7 January 2018, from http://japan-brand.jnto.go.jp/crafts/textiles/2760/

和の用語の全てを集約した総合着物辞書きもの用語大全. (2018). So-bien.com. Retrieved 7 January 2018, from http://www.so-bien.com/kimono/


Please visit my Etsy store to see my collection of vintage and antique Japanese treasures.

Yaki-in branding irons

Kanazawa is well known for its wide variety of traditional hand made Japanese sweets.  Last week I visited the Kanazawa Museum of Wooden Japanese Sweets Molds located on the second floor of Morihachi Honten, a sweets store with a history dating back to 1625. There are over a thousand wooden sweets molds on display, grouped into several time periods starting from Edo and finishing with the  Showa period.

Kanazawa Wooden Sweets Molds Museum Kanazawa Museum of Wooden Japanese Sweets Molds Continue reading Yaki-in branding irons

Hashi-oki chopstick pillows: Genji-mon crest


I bought this pair of pretty hashi-oki chopstick pillows at a temple market held at Gokokujinja in Rokko, Kobe city on the 4th Sunday of each month.  The temple grounds are a lovely setting for a market and the roving musicians add a delightful carnival atmosphere. Continue reading Hashi-oki chopstick pillows: Genji-mon crest

Nambu cast iron ware, Morioka

Morioka city, Kitakami river
Morioka city, Kitakami river

 I  spent a few days participating in the Japan Writers conference and basking in the glorious autumn sunshine and open blue sky in the charming old castle town of Morioka, Iwate prefecture.  (October, 2014). Continue reading Nambu cast iron ware, Morioka

Re-purposing vintage ashtrays

Remember when smoking was glamorous?  I used to have quite a collection of cigarette holders that I loved to take to parties.  Those days have long gone…lamentably…sometimes it would be nice to throw all caution to the wind again and forget about lung cancer and damaging my skin!  Anyway, I couldn’t resist buying these two gorgeous ashtrays recently, even if I never get to use them.  But I’m wondering how I could re-purpose them…

Blue and white imari ashtray
Blue and white ceramic ashtray

Continue reading Re-purposing vintage ashtrays

Parasols with love AND anti-UV care: 5 hot tips 

Cool Plus parasol blocks heat and 99% UV radiation.
Cool Plus parasol blocks heat and 99% UV radiation.

Has the heat wave in Australia sent you seeking shade and a parasol or sun umbrella?




5 hot tips:

Continue reading Parasols with love AND anti-UV care: 5 hot tips 

Vintage Japanese nylon furoshiki: surprising beauty

CIMG4706 Japanese ‘furoshiki’ gift wrapping cloths are eco friendly, pretty and an economical way of wrapping gifts.  There are many charming designs in silk and cotton, but I have discovered the surprising beauty of vintage nylon furoshiki which were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Not only are the designs stunning, but they are super lightweight, and very easy to wash and re-use over and over again. I love  searching  for them at  the temple and flea markets.   You can find a selection of them for sale in my Etsy store.