by Jacqueline Smith
My most recent pastime was spent on the dragon-shaped island(s) of Japan — mainly north-west of Tokyo in the Nagano Prefecture, near and around Matsumoto, Norikura, and Shiga Kogen. In between skiing the endlessly connected Japanese Alps, soaking in steaming onsens, and repeating a limited vocabulary — Konichiwa, arigato, hai, dozo dozo, ushi, and of course, kanpai! — at our usually empty after 8pm dining hall. A few rainy days led my friends and I into the city of Matsumoto in search of sushi, sake, shopping, and tourist stuff.
Randomly, we found the tiniest seemingly historic block full of antique stores. Filled to the ceilings with wood block prints, swords, vintage maps, sculptural art, street-food sweets (waffle-like breading, poured into a fish-shaped metal mold, then filled with warm, red monk bean paste), and endless milky matcha green teas to keep us warm walking between shops.
In one small shop, pictured above, we found two Japanese gems we couldn’t come home without including a stamped silver tea box and a wire cage lamp. A perfect fit for our Found Natural Goods Shoppe.
The Silver Tea Box is made up of three beautiful parts and functions to store either tea bags or loose leaf teas (green tea would be highly appropriate). There is no stamp or date — but it is silver, gorgeous, heavy, and will last forever.
The Blooming Wire Desk Light is really just too cool. It’s stamped with “Made in Japan” and could be hung as a pendant or placed on a desk with the low wattage tubular Edison bulb for atmosphere, shown above.
Many other Japanese tokens came home, including new friends, strengthened immune systems (for serious –– has anyone gone to Asia and not been sick?), and the desire to see Japan in another season. The beginning of plum blossoms, and quick glances at Mt. Fuji through the clouds –– we must get back and bring lots of cough drops.