Sourcing Trip to Japan 3 – Quest of Accessory Range

Japanese Tie Dye

Amongst all the workshops and showrooms I visited for sourcing in Kyoto, the Kayatama Bunzaburo shop was particularly charming.  It is a traditional house which was converted to a shop.  I took off my shoes (as you do in Japanese houses) and sat on tatami mats with the owner to chat.  Japanese tie-dyeing is another ancient and sophisticated form of art.  Please do not associate it with a tie-dye T-shirt which you might have made in an art lesson.  It is extremely labour intensive and can take up to one whole year for a skilled craftsman to create a roll for a tie-dyed kimono (37cm x 12 metre).  Click here to be amazed!  As Japanese don’t wear kimonos as much as before, Mr Katayama started to create beautiful accessories with the technique.  I was interested in lighting fixtures as the designs were so unique.  Unfortunately, it did not work out – again.   A choice of light bulbs were limited to the ones which were used inside microwaves and of course plugs needed to be changed in order to comply with EC regulations for the electrical goods. I thought it was too risky.


Bunzaburo Katayama's Tie Dye scarf
Bunzaburo Katayama’s Tie Dye scarf


Our Decorative Handle Collection is beautiful.  However, it is difficult to produce bespoke pieces.  Because they were made in casts, the minimum order for production is at least fifty to make the price reasonable.  So, I visited Takeuchi in Kyoto.  There is an introductory video on the website which will amaze you.  (Please click here.)  They specialise in making and repairing accessories for temples and shrines.   There are at least two thousands of them, which keep them busy.  When I visited them, they were busy fixing one of Yamaboko, a festival float of the World famous Gion Festival. They do not specialised in decorative handles, however, works they produce were so intricate; they seemed almighty.  They kindly produced beautiful prototypes.  Handles are large enough for interior doors and the checker box design with needle points was absolutely beautiful with the warm feel of great handmade products.  However, it was the colour of gold which got in my way.  Do you know which shade of gold is popular in each region of the world?  The gold they applied was, of course, for shrines and temples in Japan and it was too yellow to be accepted here.  They could not change I was told. 


Float at Gion Festival



Kuniko Thompson

Kuniko Thompson

Founder of Biden Designs established in 2008. She is passionate about creating beautiful interiors working with designers, architects and Japanese craftsmen.

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