In bloom: an introduction to Japan’s sakura season

Sakura or cherry blossom season is a magical time of year to visit Japan. Varying by region and weather, the season starts at the end of March and can extend through May. The gorgeous, tiny pink flowers called sakura in Japanese are so popular that they are the unofficial flower of Japan. The arrival of blossoming sakura flowers is celebrated throughout the country with food, music, dancing and camaraderie.  

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The low-down on protective covers

Shikibuton covers are different to fitted sheets that you would use on a western mattress. They are made specifically to encase the whole futon, rather than just covering the top and sides as a western style fitted sheet (clinging for dear life onto each of its four corners). Our futon covers fully encapsulate your item in a high quality cotton zipper case. Our kakebuton covers also envelope the whole duvet with a cute top window showcasing the gorgeous pattern. Depending on the size, your kakebuton cover might have a mesh covered window which helps to keep the duvet in place while you move around in your futon while sleeping. 

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New Year traditions

In Japan, the start of the each new year is very important! If you don’t follow us on Instagram yet, please do. We always share photos from behind the scenes in the workshop in Kochi. Last month, we shared a series of photos detailing the end of year and start of the year traditions in the business. Go check it out, please and thank you!

On the last working day of each year, the family drive up the mountain to a shrine to give offerings of snacks and light candles and incense for a positive new year. The views driving up the mountain are jaw dropping. The landscape in Kochi is gorgeous and varied. 

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Tips for long lasting futons

Airing or “sunning” a futon is an important part of using it. As futons are made only from cotton, they need to breathe, air out, and fluff up. The UV rays kill microscopic bugs and allow moisture to dissipate, thereby preventing mildew and mould from growing.

On sunny days in Japan it is common to see futons hanging out of windows and on balcony banisters, secured with plastic clips.

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Tatami … not just for futons

畳 – tatamu

Tatami is derived from the verb tatamu which means “to fold” or “to pile” which corresponds to the construction of the early tatami mats but also to the fact that they were originally foldable and piled up when not in use.

Firstly, mats were made with a compressed rice straw core (doko) which was wrapped in a braided mat of the same material. Contemporary mats use extruded polystyrene foam or compressed wood chips for the core. The wrapping is a weft-faced weave of soft Igusa grass on a warp of hemp or weaker cotton. The long edges of the mats are finished with a colourful ribbon (heri), with or without a motif.

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What are Zabuton?

 座 za – sit

 布団 futon – cushion (or bed)

Literally: sit cushion. Zabuton is a small futon, used to sit more comfortably on the floor.

The traditional way of sitting called seiza (pronounced: SAY-ee-zah) which translates as “proper sit”) is practiced when you kneel with your legs folded underneath you with your bum resting on your heels. This way of sitting conveys respect and is a healthy way of sitting. Sitting seiza opens your knee and ankle joints, engages your core muscles. It also maintains proper spinal alignment. Because sitting seiza creates a shape that is longer than wide, the zabuton are rectangular, rather than square in shape.

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