From our deep respect and adoration of Japanese culture, we drew the word “omakase” (meaning “expert’s choice”) in 2016 to name our annual collection of collaboratively produced, limited edition and early release products we offer readers. This year’s collection of gifts is crafted entirely in collaboration with Japanese artisans. Every design object we’ve developed has function, but to decipher its untold value requires history lessons. With products thoughtfully made by Asahiyaki (now led by a talented 16th generation ceramist), Chi Chi, Grisal, KIUN, Taro Tabuchi, Hajime Shoji, Zillion and others, this is an exclusive and high-quality gift for any Japanophile or lover of textile, design and craftsmanship.
Designed in Japan, this kimono comes features a traditional, hip-length silhouette, but is extra durable and warm thanks to its 100% polyester POLARTEC® 300 make-up. The kimono—because of the technology at play in the fabric—regulates the interior temperature to suit the wearer’s current needs, thus preventing overheating or sudden chills. Altogether it’s a stylish and functional garment that can be worn in the city, or even on a camping trip.
Made in Japan from 100% cotton, Pure Blue Japan’s sturdy but cozy knit hoodie has been washed once. In a rich indigo, the sweater is adorned with thread details and features a button neck closure, making it a sophisticated take on the humble hoodie. Made entirely in Japan, it has been crafted with a focus on Japanese craftsmanship—from dyeing to distressing.
Made in Japan, Anonymous Ism’s crew socks are unevenly dyed in either indigo or gold colorways. Constructed from a heavy cotton blend, they feature a structured heel and toe for extra durability. While the rib-knit and shape of these socks are classic, the marbled, tie-dye effect sets them apart.
This chunky navy 100% wool sweater from Japanese luxury brand Sacai features a boxy shape that’s slightly cropped, and is accented by contrasting gray stripes and the brand’s name knitted in a mirror image across the back. The funnel neck folds down when unbuttoned or fits like a turtleneck when buttoned up, to protect from the cold wind. Functional and cozy, it’s still a sophisticated take on the classic winter sweater.
Comprised of 24 pages full of photographs, Benjie Escobar’s Vamos a Japan! spotlights scenes the creative captured during trips there (specifically Tokyo and Kyoto) in over the past few years. Based in LA, Escobar is a designer by trade, and his photographs are evidence of his broad skills and artistic talent. This first edition of the zine is printed by Buenas Vibras DC.
In Japanese households it’s customary to remove your shoes upon entering the home. Thus comfortable and durable house slippers are a necessary accessory. SUBU, a Tokyo brand making such slippers, also makes a packable iteration. With a cushioned sole and a poly fill, they’ll keep your feet comfortable and warm. Available in sizes 5.5 to 12, they’re also available in three colors: gloss black, foil silver and neon yellow.
Unlike typical gift boxes, Kokoro Care Packages puts the emphasis on producers—oftentimes generational, hard-to-find ones. Their Seasonal Delights box (which can be bought as a one-time gift or as a quarterly delivery) comes with over seven all-natural Japanese treats, ranging from noodles and sauces to seasonings and snacks. Each comes with its own translated directions for preparation and taste profile, and a little information about the producer. Kokoro prides themselves on picking ingredients for their quality, thus oftentimes including limited production items that rarely make it beyond the bounds of the archipelago nation.
Shaped like a freshwater bream, this Welcome Soap is moulded with a Kashigata, and replicates the popular fish-shaped Taiyaki cake. Available in three colors, each one boasts a different fragrance: red is pomegranate, white is lily blossom, and black is brown sugar. With lovely, minimal packaging, this soap-on-a-rope is made in Japan.
Sourced from the mineral deposit on Mt Yakedake in the northern part of the Japanese Alps, this mineral-rich powder is 100% all-natural and as nourishing as it is stress-relieving. With a low alkali base, it shouldn’t throw your body’s pH, and also won’t stain your tub. Simply mix two tablespoons of the powder into a tub full of water and mix until it’s dissolved.
Infused with Binchotan activated charcoal, this Japanese body scrub towel affords a little extra exfoliation and will leave skin feeling super-soft and refreshed. The two gray hues indicate a coarse and gentle texture, and offers the towel a minimal appeal. After use, slather skin with your favorite body oil or moisturizer for best results.
Crafted in Japan from porcelain that’s made from natural Amakusa pottery stones and potter’s clay, Hasami Porcelain’s tall teapot is a high-quality and elegant vessel. With an organic feel, it’s still ultimately sophisticated—and is safe for microwaves and dishwashers. There are various cups, plates and accessories from the Nagasaki-based brand available too.
A non-alcoholic standout in Suntory’s beverage portfolio, BOSS Coffee is a line of canned, caffeinated drinks. One of our favorites from the range, the Cold Café Au Lait, is now available stateside after years of success in Japan. Its perfectly proportioned formula of flash-brewed coffee, cream and sweetness afford easy drinking in all seasons. For the listed price you’ll receive 12 eight-ounce cans (with the brand’s William Faulkner-depicting logo)—which are best served cold or over ice.
Bright, bold and yet still delicate, these gorgeous fans have been handmade in the same Japanese factory since 1585. Designed by Rikki Sato, this specific iteration is made from bamboo, cotton and polyester. Available in three colorways, they are cheerful accessories for when the weather (and the subway platform) starts heating up.
More than an appealing design, this bag’s pleated body is also practical, as it expands to accommodate whatever is placed inside. (It can grow to several times its original size.) Made from biodegradable, corn-based PLA, this clever tote is also water-resistant and eco-friendly. Available in blue, yellow, black or red (which is made from recycled polyester) it’s a stylish Japanese design that originated back in 2006.
Made in collaboration with Tsubota Pearl, this green croc stash case is designed to hold six joints. With gold symbols embossed on the front (smiley face, heart, peace sign, crescent moon and Verde’s logo), it closes securely with a clasp. Inside, your goods are kept in place with a hinged guard.