This post was inspired by the wonderful post about zakka written by Tina, she goes into much more detail than I have in this post so I can highly recommend reading hers as well. I was going to write something just about zakka sewing, but then thought it would be interesting to find out more about other Japanese crafts: this is therefore a quick and very basic guide to different types of Japanese crafts.
“One translation of Zakka means “household goods” in Japanese, and the term has become synonymous with simple yet beautiful hand-sewn items that are both attractive and useful. Another description for Zakka is to describe homemade accessories or home decor that add simple touches of beauty to day to day life.”
(Quote from Tina)
If you’re looking for zakka inspiration, there are plenty of interesting websites available, such as Zakka Life. I have a great book (below) filled with lovely projects, or check out an interview with one of the authors of the book for more information on the craft.
Most people will be familiar with the Japanese art of paper folding. My sister Tori loves all things Japanese and makes lovely origami. She has a range of pretty Japanese style papers, my favourite is washi, a handmade paper made using traditional Japanese techniques. Washi is often printed with wonderful designs as a practice for kimono silk designs.
Tori makes lots of different origami, these are some of the things she has made.
As you can see from the picture below these are only a couple of centimetres in size! I love how small they are.
These figures look great and show off pretty patterned papers, like those below, so well.
Amigurumi means knitted or crocheted soft toys, normally small and cute. They are most commonly anthropomorphic creatures. There are many lovely books available and patterns are freely available on the internet. (Check out Free Amigurumi Patterns blog, chock full of free patterns!) My sister makes wonderful amigurumi: there are many around our house that she has given us as presents!
Sashiko is essentially a running stitch where the ratio of the stitch is 3:2 with the longer stitch on the top. There is a very good tutorial on the Purl Bee blog. This simple but effective stitch can be used for simple patterns or complicated designs.
Kirigami is paper folding and cutting, it is like cutting out snowflakes from paper, but can be used in much more intricate and delicate designs, such as these lovely pop up cards.
I really like the materials that are used for these Japanese crafts, particularly washi paper, fabrics such as echino and those with really cute characters on them. After some googling I have found that there are websites selling these products in the UK, however the best place to look first to get a feel for what is out there is a site like Etsy. Muji is a good place to try for origami paper, pop up kirigami style cards and much more. I also found a fascinating craft blog written about crafts and buying craft items in Japan, Japan Craft Journal: which makes me what to go to Japan for a shopping trip!