The holiday season is closing in fast, and if you’re looking to send gifts — especially to overseas destinations — you likely only have a week or so at the most to get to the post office. Here are a few ideas that won’t need more than a Jiffy bag to pop in the mail.
Fukunaga Print is a go-to for fun Japanese paper products, with one of its popular items being its Gu-pa brand Top to Tail range of animal model kits designed by paper craft artist Yasuyuki Wada. Priced from ¥1,760 to ¥2,090, each animal comes as sheets of laser-cut pieces that you fold and assemble with paper glue.
The current lineup includes a polar bear, crocodile, zebra, giraffe and panda. On Nov. 29, however, three new animals are being added to the menagerie — a chimpanzee, an elephant and a family of penguins.
Fukunaga Print always likes to add an extra detail to its products, and for Top to Tail it’s the fact that every animal has at least one moving part. For the new additions, the chimpanzee can raise its arms and lift its hands; the elephant can move its trunk and neck; and the penguins have flappable wings.
bit.ly/toptotail (Japanese and English)
Ha Ko takes its name from the words “ha,” meaning “leaf,” and “ko,” meaning “fragrance” or incense — and as the name suggests, it’s a series of leaf-shaped incense. What makes the lineup unusual, though, is that it is made of washi (Japanese paper).
Designed by Toshimi Hayashi of Tokyu Agency for Kunjudo, an incense company with over 125 years of history, Ha Ko won a Good Design Award in October. Each leaf is individually hand-crafted using a unique technique of simultaneous embossing and debossing the washi. It not only gives the paper shape and form, but also details it with realistic veins. If it were not for their pastel colors and infused aroma, they could easily be mistaken for real leaves.
There are nine scents in three leaf shapes, each from a tree popular in Japan — zelkova, persimmon and hibiscus syriacus. To use, simply light the tip of a leaf, extinguish the flame and allow it to burn out. Or, as Kunjudo also suggests, don’t light it at all and use it like a potpourri air freshener. You could even pop one into an envelope to perfume a letter.
Ha Ko is available as single leaves for ¥418 each or in sets from ¥2,420 to ¥9,350.
hako-paper.jp (Japanese and English)
At a pinch, many people have found themselves recycling an empty wine bottle or jar into a makeshift vase, but what about a PET bottle? Not the most attractive of items, disposable plastic containers need imagination to become vessels worthy of flower arrangements.
The Silhouette — a brightly colored knitted cover by lifestyle brand Moheim in collaboration with textile designer Tricote — doesn’t try to disguise the fact that it’s designed to go over a PET bottle. In fact, it celebrates it by making the silhouette of a bottle its a defining feature.
Tricote specializes in knitted fabrics and lifestyle goods, all made in Japan. For Shigeichiro Takeuchi’s design, it has created a sturdy material that is flexible enough to hug most kinds of 500-600 milliliter plastic bottles. In fact, the side ruffles of the Silhouette change depending on the shape of the bottle it’s covering.
Simple, effective and durable for plenty of reuse, the Silhouette is ¥3,850 and comes vacuum-packed flat for easy mailing.
www.moheim.com (English and Japanese)
Scramble for a hankie
When Shibuya Scramble Square opened on Nov. 1, Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten also launched its largest flagship in Japan as one of the shopping complex’s first tenants. To commemorate the event, it released of an array of Shibuya-related goods, available in-store only, including a cute Scramble Crossing handkerchief (¥1,540) and a pair of matching socks (¥1,430) — great gifts for any fan of the capital.
Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten consults a roster of artisans across Japan, collaborating with designers to create new contemporary brands that promote traditional crafts. The Scramble Crossing handkerchief falls under the Motta brand, and is made from a gray hemp printed in white with the layout of the Scramble’s zebra crossings.
The socks, too, are gray and white striped, though for the full Scramble effect, the hankies are more effective. Customers can also personalize both items through an embroidery service, which for a limited time will offer specific motifs, including a Hachiko dog, pedestrians and a police officer.
bit.ly/mns-scramble (Japanese only)