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Nagoya shop offers unique handbags made by workers with disabilities from recycled obi

Chunichi Shimbun

The souvenir shop Nagomya in Kinshachi Yokocho, a shopping area that opened right outside the grounds of Nagoya Castle late last month, is selling handbags made by people with developmental disorders using recycled Nagoya obi.

“Try our light but durable handbags made of Nagoya obi,” the sales clerk suggests.

The bags are made by three women in their 20s working in Hotto Hitoiki, an establishment in Nagoya’s Naka Ward that provides work for people with disabilities.

The Nagoya-based firm involved in planning the product selection for the souvenir shop, Oike Co., approached Hotto Hitoiki, which was already creating bags from the broad sashes, typically worn with a kimono. The second-hand obi are purchased from stores in the city or donated by individuals. They come in a variety of patterns, such as gold fans printed on an orange sash or orange butterflies on olive green.

The handbags are made by cutting out the part typically used for the otaiko drum knot and sewing it onto the bags’ inner lining fabric with a sewing machine.

The colorful patterns of Nagoya obi make the bags distinctive.

“Because of the beautiful patterns, (workers say) it is more fun to work with than handling plain cloth,” said Kazuyo Hibino, 66, who instructs the women at Hotto Hitoiki.

The bags are available in A4 and B4 sizes, priced at ¥10,800 and ¥8,640, respectively.

“We made the bags with varying colors and patterns to meet the needs of people of different ages and tastes,” Hibino said. “I hope people can find their favorite design.”

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on April 15.