When the last cherry blossom petals have fallen to the ground, summer is just around the corner. Days get warmer, nature turns lush and green, and soon we will be spending a lot of our time outside in the garden, park, or by the beach. If you are looking for a special gift for a loved one this time of the year, or maybe a treat for yourself, look no further: we have compiled a list of some of our all-time favorites that will bring the beauty and magic of Japanese summer to you.
1. MARUMO TAKAGI SAKE CUP HANABI (FIREWORKS) MAGIC 2 PIECES
Summer in Japan is associated with lively festivals. On these special days, when evening descends, people gather in parks and on river banks to enjoy spectacular firework displays that light up the night sky.
Live out the same experience with these unique sake cups: as you pour your preferred chilled drink to refresh yourself from the summer heat, colorful firework patterns will appear like magic at the bottom of the cups.
These cups are part of a special series of pottery that reacts to hot or cold temperatures to display beautiful patterns representing Japan’s four distinct seasons.
2. HOKUYO GLASS NEBUTA OIL LAMP
Summer days can sometimes be scorching hot, but pleasant summer nights in the garden or terrace are perfect for cooling down and breathing in the scent of the season’s many flowers.
In case there aren’t any fireflies around, fear not: this delicate oil lamp handcrafted by skilled Japanese craftspeople will provide just the right atmosphere with its soft light.
Its design is inspired by Aomori Prefecture’s Nebuta Festival, one of Japan’s most famous summer festivals where giant, colorful floats are carried through the streets accompanied by music at night.
3. WASHINO PRINT FACTORY PARASOL STAR GREEN
Protecting oneself from strong sunlight and harmful UV rays is essential in summer, and that's where a parasol comes in useful.
Washino Print Factory was established in 1930 in Kyoto, once known for its thriving textile culture, and is today the city’s last remaining manufacturer of hand-printed parasols. Their special dyeing technique makes colors pop like machine-printed fabric never could, resulting in high-quality parasols that feature bold patterns and are very durable.
Seek shelter from the sun with this summery green version, or choose one of the other striking colors that best fits your mood and style.
4. ASAKURA SENPU TSURU KASUMI TAZUKASUMI (CREPE 96 CM) FUROSHIKI
Furoshiki is Japan’s traditional “wrapping paper,” and the ever-popular piece of fabric comes in a plethora of designs and colors.
Asakura Senpu is a century-old textile specialist located in Gunma Prefecture, and with the invention of completely water-repellent furoshiki, they have taken the versatility of this traditional Japanese craft to a new level, which makes it especially handy in summer.
Use it as a light shawl by draping it around your shoulders to protect them from the blistering sun, or use it to carry your lunchbox to the park - and when you get there, your furoshiki also doubles as a picnic mat.
5. OHNISHI TSUNE SHOTEN SUNSHINE X DAPHNE FLOWER FRAGRANT HAND FAN
Beat the heat with a handheld folding fan, the quintessential Japanese summer accessory. Lightweight, easy to carry, and environmentally friendly, a folding fan is the perfect way to cool down and has been used by men and women in Japan for centuries.
Each region has its own unique take on the folding fan, but we love this cheerful Kyoto-style fan in summery shades of yellow and orange. What makes it even more unique is the delicate fragrance of flowers which will waft towards you with every flick of your wrist, capturing the very essence of summer.
We recommend pairing this high-quality fan with a matching bag so that you can carry your newfound summer companion around in style.
6. VEDUTA YUKATA & OBI: ALES FOR WOMEN
Originally developed as a robe worn when visiting an onsen (hot spring), the yukata is still very popular in Japan centuries after its invention. Made from cotton and requiring few accessories, it is much lighter and less formal than a kimono, making it ideal for summer.
For a more modern take on the classic yukata, look no further than this premium ensemble by Veduta. Its colorful design makes it extremely easy to combine with your everyday Western clothes to create a stunningly unique look. You can also wear it on its own with the rope-like obi belt for a lazy day lounging around the house or garden.
7. I-TSU-TSU INTRODUCTORY DOTAMA SHOGI & GO PLAYER SET (LEFT HORSE)
What better way to pass the time on a long summer day than lazing in the grass with family or friends and your favorite board games?
Shogi is a two-player strategy board game that's also known as Japanese chess. This portable version of the game comes with a beginner’s learning book and is perfect for bringing to the park or beach, as the board itself is in fact a beautifully dyed furoshiki which can turn into a pouch to carry the game pieces.
The idea was born by a professional female shogi player who wanted to provide an affordable way for children to learn and develop a love for this traditional game. The furoshiki boards are manufactured in Kyoto and come in different designs and colors, and the high-quality wooden game pieces are made in Yamagata Prefecture which is known for producing the most shogi pieces in all of Japan.
8. IKEHIKO RUSH YOGA MAT ECO PLAIN NT
Tatami is still a staple in Japanese homes, and for good reason: this traditional flooring feels great under your bare feet with its texture and slight bounce stemming from the woven rush material, and it feels cooler than regular flooring in the summer heat.
This yoga mat has tatami on one side and non-slip thermoplastic rubber on the back, making it ideal for when you want to take your yoga sessions outside to enjoy the sun and warm weather.
It is made by Ikehiko in Fukuoka Prefecture, a manufacturer with a long history of high-grade tatami products made from their own, locally-grown rush.
9. NOUSAKU WIND CHIMES SLIM-SILVER
What does summer in Japan sound like? Personally, we cannot imagine Japanese summer without the chime of the many wind chimes hanging from eaves and store fronts throughout the country.
Japanese wind chimes come in many different designs, all giving off their own unique sound when moved by the wind, but this elegant brass wind chime is one of our favorites with its slender silhouette and minimalistic appearance.
10. TAKUMIICHI X THERMO MUG URUSHI UMBRELLA BOTTLE CHIDORI WAVE (RED)
Japan is famous for its outstanding lacquerware, and one of the most renowned types of lacquerware is made with the Echizen technique originating in Fukui Prefecture. For this product, local craftspeople have teamed up with the popular brand "thermomug" to create a unique thermos flask using Echizen lacquerware.
Holding 300 ml and sporting traditional Japanese colors and patterns, the flask has excellent insulation performance and is perfect for keeping your beverage of choice chilled on the go so that you can stay hydrated throughout the summer.
No matter your plans for the warmer months to come, we hope that these Japanese gifts will inspire and bring joy to you and your loved ones by adding a touch of traditional Japanese aesthetic and charm to your summer.