Where can I get an original Japan gift?


Another creperie

In reply to Sophie’s recent plea for an authentic creperie in Tokyo, Yolande writes: “I am French and always enjoy the exquisite and authentic crepes served with delicious Brittany beer at ‘Le Bretagne’ in Kagurazaka. They also have a restaurant in Omotesando.”

Their Web site is at www.le-bretagne.com/e/top.html

Yolande adds that she wrote to us a while back about her dentist. “As soon as I read your reply in the newspaper, I printed the article and took it to my dentist. He seemed extremely confused at first, but finally made it clear that he would prefer that I look for another dentist.”

Fly the flag

Cathy is looking for something really original to give her brother back in Sydney as a wedding gift. “I want something uniquely Japanese, but also personal. Any ideas?”

I am wondering if Cathy has seen fishing boats flying “Tairyo Bata” at New Year (“O-shogatsu”). “Tai-ryo” means big fishing; “bata” is flag. You can see two such flags, designed to bring good luck to fishermen, flying as intended on the following Web site: www.city.choshi.chiba.jp/english/img/winter06.jpg

There are a few companies still creating them, two of which are in Chiba Prefecture. One, the Nukagaya dye works, is near Choshi Station (0479-22 1135).

The Ozawa dye works is further away, but especially friendly and helpful. The Ozawa family, which moved to the outskirts of Choshi City eight generations back, will work with customers at long distance by sending color photocopies of traditional Edo-period designs for weddings and other celebratory events.

You choose the design you want, tell them the wording you require — in any language — and they will do their best. The design is outlined on fabric stretched firm with strips of bamboo, then overdrawn in detail with a paste made from seaweed and black dye. When this is dry, the areas of color are filled in by hand. When rinsed, the paste washes out and the design remains.

Plain-edged or fringed, a custom-printed celebratory Tairyo Bata would cost from around 30,000 yen. Phone Ozawa Somemono Kojo (dye factory) on (0479) 22-1135 (Japanese only). The address is 3-10968 Tokawa-cho, Choshi-shi, Chiba 288-0014.

For collectors of antique and vintage Tairyo Bata (and other historic pieces of printed, woven and embroidered Japanese fabrics) the following Web site offers a good selection for sale: www.ichiroya.com/item/list.php?pg=1&ct=009


Ben is coming back to Japan on business after several years, and is wondering if his favorite music store is still in Roppongi.

“When I was working in Tokyo, I used to hang out at WAVE a lot. Do you know it?”

I remember it well, but sadly it went under the wrecker’s ball when the Mori Corporation decided to redesign the whole of that area in its own corporate image.