SEASONAL DELIGHTS (Summer 2024) - Picnics: Food, Friends & Fresh Air

Microwavable Black and Brown Rice

Microwavable Black and Brown Rice
Producer:Ogata Village Akitakomachi Rice Producers Co
Prefecture: Akita

Combining kuromai (black rice) and genmai (brown rice) in a single-serve microwavable package, this rice is perfect for those leading busy lives and looking to improve their diet. Not only is this rice delightfully chewy but it also boasts many health benefits. Kuromai, Japanese black rice, is frequently called “forbidden rice” as it was once reserved only for royals given that it was thought to be a miracle food. In some ways, it still is as it is lower in calories and higher in fiber, protein, and antioxidants than typical white rice. Genmai, Japanese brown rice, is also very nutritious given its higher levels of vitamins and iron. The dietary fiber in this rice helps to balance blood triglyceride levels after meals. This blend of black and brown rice is chewier and denser than white rice. It also has a mild nutty taste that is subtle enough not to overwhelm other ingredients, making it easy to substitute into your favorite meals. 

Founded in 1987 by farmers in Ogata Village in Akita Prefecture, the Ogata Village Akitakomachi Rice Producers Company strives to pursue all the possibilities of rice. Not only have they worked hard to develop a wide variety of rice-based foods but through their cultivation of local rice and efforts to promote agriculture they hope to support future generations of farmers. The company takes pride in its eco-farming initiatives such as its rice bran organic fertilizer which makes use of the byproducts of milling by fermenting the rice bran and returning it to the rice fields to support the growth of the next crop. The rice grown in Ogata Village is also produced with reduced pesticides and chemical fertilizers and certified by the Akita Prefecture Agricultural Public Corporation. In addition to rice, the company is now expanding to include other items such as gluten-free pasta, amazake, and allergy-friendly emergency food rations and aims to be a one-of-a-kind rice company. 

Ingredients:Brown rice (Akita Prefecture), Black rice (domestic), isomaltodextrin (dietary fiber)
Suggested uses: This pleasantly chewy mix of black and brown rice is ready to eat in mere moments making it perfect for those with busy lifestyles. Simply heat the convenient single-serving rice pack in the microwave for 3 minutes and enjoy! It’s delicious as is or try it as part of your favorite Japanese dishes such as doria, curry rice, or onigiri. Please note that the packaging design includes steam vents and while heating the rice in the microwave the sound of steam being released can be heard.


Smoked Tofu Bar (Pepper)

Smoked Tofu Bar (Pepper)
(豆腐の燻製スティック (胡椒))
Producer: Tanakashoku
Prefecture: Kochi

 Using domestic soybeans and years' worth of tofu-making know-how, Tanakashoku has developed a momen tofu perfect for smoking. Momen tofu is a firm tofu made by coagulating and then straining soy milk solids. With higher levels of calcium, iron, and protein than its counterparts, momen tofu is a great choice for vegans and vegetarians. Patented technology that allows the company to source local seawater from the Muroto Sea and a secret recipe soy sauce give the tofu its unique flavor. Additionally, smoking the tofu with cherry wood chips and Shimanto chestnut tree bark imparts the tofu with a pleasantly smokey undertone which is complimented by the subtle spice of the black pepper.

For 50 years, Tanakashoku has centered all that they do around the philosophy of loving people and the environment alike. It is with a sense of gratefulness for the nature that gives them soybeans and water that they support endeavors to better the mountains, forests, rivers, and seas of Kochi and beyond. Mindful of the potential environmental impact of the tofu-making process, they have instated wastewater standards and developed a system for treating the wastewater produced by the factory. Additionally, they have found ways to give back to the community and reduce industrial waste by providing okara (soybean pulp leftover from making tofu) to local dairy farmers as feed for livestock.
Ingredients: Soybeans (domestic), soy sauce, sugar, mirin, black pepper, coagulant (bittern)
Suggested uses: This unique smoked tofu bar offers a taste similar to that of a seasoned hard cheese. With subtle notes of pepper, it is perfect for adding to any dish. We recommend cutting it up and adding it to salads or fried rice, but it can also be enjoyed as is for a portable protein-packed snack!


Dried Sweet Potato Slices

Dried Sweet Potato Slices
(干し芋 紅はるか)
Producer:Tea Life
Prefecture: Shizuoka

Beni haruka is a relatively new arrival on the sweet potato scene in Japan, first being grown in Kagoshima Prefecture in the late 2000s. However, it is already gaining popularity and after trying this snack you’ll see why! Aside from its visually pleasing red-purple peel and bright orange inside, beni haruka boasts a strong sweetness and pleasantly chewy texture. The chewy texture comes from a unique technique where the sweet potatoes are stored for a short while after harvesting, which also increases sweetness levels. These sweet potatoes contain a fair amount of moisture, even after drying, making them melt in your mouth. They are low in fat and contain dietary fiber making them the perfect healthy snack!

These honey-sweet slices are made using 100% domestically grown beni haruka sweet potatoes. Great care is taken during each step of the production process, from washing to packaging. The sweet potato slices are dried in a dehydrator for about half a day to get the perfect balance of chewiness and moisture. Then they are carefully packaged. To ensure safety the final product is passed through a metal detector system before it is sent out, giving consumers like you peace of mind.

Since its founding in 1983 Tea Life has been committed to putting customers first and prioritizing high ethical standards. Today, the company strives to put customers first by providing them with the means to support a healthy lifestyle. To support their goal of helping people live to be one hundred the company offers a wide variety of unique goods including health foods, beauty products, and of course their namesake teas. Tea Life takes pride in providing “wellness and life support” to customers via their high-quality products, all made easily accessible thanks to their e-commerce platform.

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes (domestic)
Suggested uses: This naturally sweet snack is great as is! Try heating these delicious sweet potato slices in the toaster oven for a warm and slightly crispy treat. Simply toast until the thin slices begin to turn a little bit white and then it is ready to eat. Alternatively, try heating them in the microwave! Transfer to a microwave-safe container and heat for about 20 seconds at 500W. It also makes a great topping for ice cream and soups, adding the perfect touch of sweetness.
Storage: Room temperature


Carrot Granola (Savory)

Carrot Granola (Savory) 
([Salad to Go] にんじんグラノーラ Savory)
Producer:Tokyo Bal
Prefecture: Ibaraki

Set aside the chips and try this tasty tidbit! The natural subtle sweetness of the carrots is masterfully balanced by the addition of savory ingredients such as black sesame, soy sauce, and green seaweed to make this granola starkly different from the sweet ones found on most shelves. Meanwhile, the spice blend, including turmeric and sansho pepper, brings a bright burst of flavor and spice to your tongue. With no artificial additives or gluten, this granola makes the perfect snack for those looking to better their health.

By partnering with Bell Farm, an organic farm and juice stand, Tokyo Bal’s KAWAIINE Salad To Go product line has found a way to transform the by-products of the juice-making process into a delightful snack that incorporates the nutrition of vegetables in their entirety. Bell Farm’s unique juice manufacturing process preserves the nutrients and dietary fiber in the peels of the carrots, allowing the pulp to be repurposed into this sustainable snack

With their unique technology, Tokyo Bal is seeking to support not only the food of the future world but future generations as well. Using their upcycling methods to create natural, delicious, and healthy goods from what would otherwise be considered food waste they hope to help solve the world’s food problems. In addition to creating sustainable food items through their upcycled brand KAWAIINE, they also believe it is important to promote a positive image of vegan and vegetarian lifestyles in an effort to benefit society, animals, and the global environment as a whole. They aspire for their EASY VEGAN brand to be a gateway for people to try a taste of the vegan lifestyle in a way that is easy and stress-free.

Ingredients: Organic carrots, organic oats, rice oil, sake kasu, rice flour, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cane sugar, black sesame seeds, soy sauce, salt, onion powder, green seaweed, turmeric powder, Japanese pepper, pepper, chili pepper powder (product contains walnut, sesame, and soy)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is for a delicious and nutritious snack that is perfect for those looking to boost their vegetable intake! It is great as a quick bite or light meal when you’re on the go. Given that it is handheld and packed with vegetables and fiber it is also a healthy choice for children ages 3 and up.

Shogi (Japanese Chess) Pasta

Shogi Pasta
Prefecture: Yamagata

Tendo City in Yamagata Prefecture has two claims to fame and this whimsical pasta merges them into one delightful bite. First and foremost, the city is known for making the vast majority of shogi koma (pieces) in Japan. Shogi, also known as Japanese chess, is one of the most popular board games in the nation. During the mid-19th century, samurai warriors from the Tendo Oda clan began handcrafting shogi koma as a means of income. Then in 1912 when mass production methods took hold Tendo became the biggest producer of shogi pieces in Japan. Today Tendo hosts a plethora of shogi-related events, including Ningen Shogi, where people fill the roles of pieces on a life-sized board. This pasta features four of the designs from game pieces. Tendo City is also the number one producer of La France pears in Japan. Strict standards for sugar content, size, and shape ensure that only the best fruit with a pleasant aroma, sweet taste, and smooth texture makes it to market. A welcome addition to everything from juice and wine to jam and cake, the pear flavor subtly shines in this pasta. Made from pears that are considered small and may otherwise go to waste, this pasta preserves not only the fruit but also the history and culture of Tendo City.

While Tamaya Seimenjo excels at producing traditional noodles that bring a taste of Japanese home cooking to tables around the world, they also push the boundaries of their imaginations to create new products. This shogi pasta is a part of their “art pasta” series, one of their newer endeavors, which focuses on attention to detail with precise yet whimsical shapes and creative colors. Featuring smiling suns, sakura blossoms, cherries, snowflakes, flowers, and even soybean pod shapes the new pasta line is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Situated at the foot of Mt. Gassan in Yamagata in Nishikawa Town, Tamayaseimen is a generations-old noodle manufacturing company. First established in 1949 as a dry noodle manufacturer, the company has since expanded to also include a wide array of raw noodles. While Yamagata is sometimes called the hometown of soba, today they also proudly produce udon, ramen, hiyamugi, somen, and pasta. Making the most of the natural resources in the area, they utilize locally grown buckwheat in their soba and make their noodles with water from Mt. Gassan, which is one of the best sources of natural water in Japan. As the company nears its 75th anniversary, it continues to embrace age-old techniques in hopes of preserving soba culture for the next generation.

Ingredients: Durum wheat semolina (domestic), La France pear paste (from Tendo City, Yamagata Prefecture)
Suggested uses: This distinctive pasta is carefully dried to retain its unique shape and pleasantly chewy texture even after boiling. It adds an eye-catching touch of Japanese iconography to everything from salads to soups and other simmered dishes. We recommend cooking the pasta by adding it to 1 liter of boiling water with 1 Tbsp of salt and cooking for about 6 minutes for the perfect al dente texture. Drain in a colander and enjoy with your favorite sauce!
Storage: Room temperature

Gluten-Free “Panko” Rice Flakes

Gluten-Free “Panko” Rice Flakes
Producer: Ueman Ryosyoku Seifunsho
Prefecture: Hiroshima

Through years of research, Ueman has perfected a unique manufacturing method that allows them to turn rice into gluten-free “panko”, allowing more people to experience tasty Japanese dishes like croquettes and cutlets. Ueman uses only domestically produced rice flour with no fillers or additives, making their rice flakes different from other rice flour breadcrumbs on the market. The use of rice makes for a satisfyingly “saku saku” crunchy exterior that sets it apart from regular panko breadcrumbs.

Ueman believes in doing honest and sincere work and strives to be a company its employees can be proud of. Named after the company’s founder, Manpei Ueno, the brand got its start as a rice flour milling business in 1928. Rice flour making is a steady business and while times have changed the company continues to stick to the old ways. Using generations-old methods they still roast their soybeans and rice in a double kettle surrounded by bricks. In combining this passed-down knowledge with the latest technology they hope to deliver the splendor and authentic taste of handmade products to people nationwide.

Ingredients: Rice flour (domestic)
Suggested uses: These gluten-free “panko” rice flakes are perfect for making your favorite fried Japanese foods like croquettes and cutlets. They can also be used to make Western-style Japanese dishes such as doria and gratin. Try mixing the rice flakes with herbs and using them to bread your favorite proteins like fish, chicken, and pork!
Storage: Refrigerate after opening

Umami Dashi Salt and Pepper

Umami Dashi Salt and Pepper
Producer:Kanesa Katsuobushi Shouten

A staple in any seasoned chef’s kitchen, salt and pepper are the foundation of cooking across cultures. This umami dashi salt and pepper gives these reliable staples a bit of Japanese flair. Kanesa Katsuobushi Shouten’s high-quality dried bonito, made using their unique “hand volcanic roasting and drying” method, gives this spice blend a smoky, savory, and slightly fishy taste. This subtle taste of the sea is echoed by the addition of dried kelp. Meanwhile, dried shiitake mushrooms lend a rich earthiness that further builds the umami flavor. Garlic, ginger, and onion balance the richness of the umami with their bright vegetal and aromatic notes, rounding out the spice blend and making it versatile enough to use in any dish you choose.

Kanesa Katsuobushi Shouten has centered its business around keeping traditions alive while embracing the challenges modern-day life may bring. The company continues to adhere to its tried and true methods of producing katsuobushi, many of which have been around since its founding in 1882. The company’s unique processing method, called “hand volcanic roasting and drying”, has been used in the region for more than 300 years and is thought to be one of the oldest in existence. Bonito flakes are smoked at a high temperature over the open flames of a fire built in a two-meter-deep hole, a sort of manmade volcano. Given the hard work that goes into executing it very few modern manufacturers use this method. However, Kanesa Katsuobushi Shouten is committed to keeping the tradition alive and sharing bonito culture with the children of Izu and the world. The company is also a proud participant in the Slow Food movement which is working toward a world where foods are healthy, environmentally friendly, and produced under fair working conditions.

Ingredients: Bonito flakes (domestic), black pepper, salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, onion, yeast extract, kelp, shiitake mushrooms, fermented rice seasoning
Suggested uses: This umami dashi salt and pepper can be used as an alternative to regular salt and pepper in all your favorite dishes. Dried bonito, kelp, and shiitake give it a delightful depth of umami, while garlic, ginger, and onion add underlying vegetal and herbal flavors. Try sprinkling it on karaage, egg rolls, or even plain rice!
Storage: Refrigerate after opening

Shiitake Mushroom and Kabosu Citrus Ponzu

Shiitake and Kabosu Citrus Ponzu
Producer:Mori Shouten

This uniquely flavored ponzu sauce shines the spotlight on two of Oita Prefecture’s prized produce, shiitake mushrooms and kabosu citrus fruit. The producer of this ponzu, Mori Shouten excels at growing flavorful shiitake mushrooms the natural way. While Oita is the largest producer of dried shiitake mushrooms in Japan, much of the harvest is artificially cultivated. However, Mori Shouten proudly grows their mushrooms naturally on oak trees in the forest, taking up to 2 years to be ready for consumption. This time-consuming process pays off, as the raw wood-grown mushrooms have a deep color, strong aroma, and rich umami taste. The earthy smokiness of these shiitakes gives this ponzu a depth of flavor that makes others pale in comparison.

All over Oita, groves of citrus trees produce a fruit called kabosu, which is said to have been grown there for over 300 years. Similar to the infamous yuzu this fruit is slightly sweet with a lemony sourness. It is commonly used in drinks and teas but also highlights the flavors of meat and seafood quite well. Given its acidity, it can also be used in place of vinegar in some dishes. The refreshing citrus notes of the kabosu cuts through the richness of the soy sauce and shiitake to create a light sauce that refreshes the palate with each bite.

Although Oita produces 40% of all dried shiitakes in Japan, the art of growing and drying the mushrooms is struggling as producers grow older and their numbers decrease. Mori Shouten considers it their responsibility to help preserve the knowledge of the craft and protect what they believe to be the best dried mushrooms in Japan. Since their founding in 1950 this long-established store has been devoted to researching growing methods and supporting local producers. As times have changed the company has skillfully adapted by creating a wide range of easy-to-use goods to cater to customer needs, including instant mushroom dashi and umami mushroom powder. Mori Shouten hopes to educate new generations and show them the charm of shiitakes one delicious bite at a time.

Ingredients: Soy sauce (including soybeans and wheat, domestic), kabosu juice (from Oita Prefecture), sugar, brewed vinegar, kombu (kelp) extract, salt, dried shiitake mushrooms, yeast extract
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is! Drizzle over your favorite steamed vegetables, thinly sliced meats, and cold tofu, or use as a dipping sauce for somen, sashimi, and dumplings. When mixed with olive oil it makes for a lovely light salad dressing. For a refreshing dipping sauce that pairs well with meat, fish, or vegetables try mixing a splash of the ponzu with the freeze-dried grated daikon included in this care package!
Storage: Refrigerate after opening


Freeze Dried Daikon Oroshi (Grated Japanese Radish)

Freeze Dried Grated Daikon
(フリーズドライ 大根おろし)
Producer:Asuzac Foods

Looking to enjoy the traditional Japanese condiment, daikon oroshi, but don’t have access to daikon or time to grate it yourself? Asuzac Foods has the perfect solution. By freeze-drying freshly grated domestic daikon radishes they have created shelf-stable daikon oroshi that can be ready whenever you are. Simply add water and you’ll be greeted by the aroma of fresh daikon that has a smooth texture, superbly sweet and tangy flavor, and a peppery bite. Similar to ginger and horseradish, it is often paired with rich or fried food as not only does its refreshing flavor help cut through the fattiness, but this aromatic root vegetable aids in digestion. Additionally, it is often served with hot dishes such as noodles or hot pot as it helps to enhance the savory flavor of the dish.

For over 60 years Asuzac Foods has been producing dried and freeze-dried goods with the goal of making foods more delicious and easier to use. Through their food processing technology, such as their freeze-drying and air-drying systems, they hope to provide customers with safe and sustainable foods that bring people joy. Mindful of the environment, the company believes that drying its products not only makes them healthier, as they require no preservatives but also means they create less waste and are better for the earth. Based out of Suzaka City in Nagano Prefecture, Asuzac Foods has now expanded, opening branches in Vietnam and China, and continues to make a wide array of dried goods including fruits, vegetables, soup mixes, beverage mixes, and confections.

Ingredients:Grated radish (domestic), dextrin (binder), starch
Suggested uses:In a bowl pour 2 Tbsp (30-45ml) of water over the block of freeze-dried grated daikon and stir to combine. Serve alongside grilled fish, simmered eggplant, tamagoyaki,  noodle soup, Japanese-style hamburger patties, or sukiyaki-style meat. For a refreshing dipping sauce that pairs well with meats, fish, or vegetables try mixing the prepared grated daikon with a splash of theshiitake and kobosu citrus ponzu included in this care package!


Wakame Seaweed and Shimeji Mushroom Miso Soup

Wakame and Shimeji Dried Miso Soup
(All Domestic Ingredients)(大地の贈り物)
Producer:Matsuai Foods
Prefecture: Kumamoto

Using freeze-drying technology Mastuai Foods has created a lightweight and convenient to carry authentic miso soup that you can enjoy anytime, anywhere! Additive-free miso made from Aso soybeans, Kyushu rice, and Kyushu barley perfumes the soup with an appetizing aroma and gives it a deep umami flavor. Crispy shimeji mushrooms and onions give the soup a variety of textures that make it feel as if it was just made. The nutty, umami flavor of the shimeji mushrooms combines with the briny saltiness of the wakame to create a beautifully balanced broth that is sure to delight your tastebuds.

For more than 190 years Matsuai Foods has been dedicated to producing safe foods. From the careful selection of their raw ingredients to time-tested in-house manufacturing equipment, they are pursuing safety, security, and deliciousness. They know the importance of high-quality ingredients in daily meals and take great care in producing miso, soy sauce, and vinegar-based products that taste good and are good for you. Working with local farms, they source whole soybeans from Hano Village in Aso City and organic, pesticide-free wheat and barley from Kikuchi City. Additionally, the company has begun growing its own rice right in Kumamoto and gives back to the community by offering opportunities for local families to participate in planting and harvesting workshops. They have also found ways to give back to the environment by repurposing the byproducts of production, like soy sauce lees and soybean broth, as fertilizer and feed for both the company’s and local farms. Through these and other efforts they continuously work towards being an environmentally friendly company.

Ingredients: Mixed miso (domestic), shimeji mushrooms, onions, green onions, dried seaweed, kelp extract, seafood extract, yeast extract, salt, (contains soybeans)
Suggested uses: This freeze-dried miso soup is perfectly portable, making it great for those on the go! From world travelers to busy workers, everyone can enjoy delicious miso soup in an instant. Simply mix the contents of the package with 160cc (about ⅔ of a cup) of hot water, stir to rehydrate the ingredients, and enjoy!


Dark Roasted Barley Tea (Caffeine-free)

Dark Roasted Barley Tea (Caffeine-free)
Prefecture: Yamagata

In Japan, mugicha (barley tea) is one of the quintessential tastes of summer, appearing in fridges across the country as soon as the weather warms up. Using their independently developed low-oxygen roasting methods Kuwanaen has crafted this dark-roasted barley tea with flavor and convenience in mind. The slim rectangular tea bags fit into both kettles and water bottles with ease, allowing you to make this refreshing tea at home or on the go. The blend of two types of barley is dark roasted to bring out a deep, savory richness in taste and aroma while using no additives or colorings. The soft sweetness of the barley is complimented by notes of nutty earthiness making it pleasant to drink sweetened or unsweetened.

Kuwanaen is a long-established tea shop that has been selling tea for well over 100 years. Founded in 1887 during the Meiji era, it began with the first generation of the family peddling tea in Takahata Town in Yamagata Prefecture. Today the company has expanded to include a wide array of tea-flavored sweets and tea-serving utensils. In addition to their online shop, they have opened 6 storefronts across Yamagata with locations that offer everything from tea and sweets to pasta and full meals. Additionally, the galleries of these storefronts host culture classes and art exhibitions. To help others embrace tea culture, Kuwanaen has also implemented a “tea passport” program at their central store that allows customers who have purchased it to come in as often as they like during a month-long period and try 9 types of tea.

Ingredients:Barley, yurimugi (raw unpeeled barley) (domestic)
Suggested uses: Cold Brew Instructions (Bottle): Add 1 tea bag to 500ml of cold water in your favorite water bottle and let it brew for about 1 hour or until it reaches your desired strength.Cold Brew Instructions (Pot/Pitcher): Add 1 to 2 tea bags and 500 to 1000ml of water in a pot or pitcher and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until it reaches your desired strength. Then remove the tea bag. Hot Water Instructions (Kettle): Boil 500ml of water in a kettle, turn off the heat, and add a tea bag. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes before removing the tea bag. Cool before serving. We recommend sweetening your barley tea with sugar, condensed milk, or honey. Try making it with milk to enjoy a caffeine-free version of milk tea!
Storage: Room temperature


Black Soybean Jam

Black Soybean Jam
Prefecture: Okayama

Sometimes simple is best and this black soybean jam is an excellent example of that sentiment. Kanetatsu has crafted this addicting jam using only local black soybeans grown in the Sakushu area of Okayama Prefecture and a touch of granulated sugar. This no-frills recipe allows the natural flavors of the soybeans to truly shine, giving the jam a rich nutty flavor. By blending whole soybeans into the jam Kanetatsu achieves a smooth, buttery texture and stunning deep grey color speckled with darker flecks of soybean skin.

Kanetatsu aims to support agricultural producers in the Tsuyama area of Okayama by creating and selling products that utilize local goods. The company works primarily with rice, soybeans, wheat, and grapes, which are staple crops in the region, but is also expanding to include various kinds of peaches and processed foods. In addition to their online shop, which allows them to reach customers nationwide, they also help position products for sale at local supermarkets, tourism centers, and hospitality establishments. Kanetatsu is passionate about developing unique items and partners with universities and celebrities to develop new ideas. Recognizing the importance of passing down responsible agricultural practices, Kanetatsu also runs a training program with seminars and projects that support future farmers.

Ingredients:Black soybeans (Okayama Prefecture), granulated sugar
Suggested uses: This not-too-sweet, slightly savory jam is delicious spread on crackers, toast, or sandwiches. Add a touch of nutty sweetness to your yogurt and ice cream by adding it as a topping. It can also be used in traditional Japanese sweets, such as yokan. Try dissolving it into warm milk for an effortless black soybean latte!
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible


Temari Sushi Tenugui Towel

Temari Sushi Tenugui Towel
Prefecture: Kanagawa
Size: 34cm x 90cm

With over one hundred different patterns and more being released each season, Hamamonyou takes pride in producing vibrantly colored tenugui towels with a pattern to suit everyone’s style, like this one which is adorned with images of temari sushi (dainty sushi balls often served at celebrations). The cotton fabric of the towels, which is carefully chosen by the company, is dyed using Yokohama’s traditional textile printing technique called “nassen”. This technique has a long history, dating back to when Yokohama’s port first opened to foreign trade in 1859. Woodblock artists in the area mingled with foreign artists and began to learn new printing methods. Given that Yokohama was a center for the silk trade at the time it only makes sense that eventually textile printing knowledge was exchanged as well. The process of nassen textile printing can be broken down into six steps. First, an engraving of the design is created and then the dyes are mixed according to the artist's vision. A swath of fabric is then laid out along a 25-meter-long printing table and the engraving template is placed. Dye pastes are applied one at a time with a spatula-like tool. Once all of the color has been applied the fabric is steamed to develop and fix the colors, as the paste itself is washed off after. Finally, when the fabric has been washed and dried it is stretched to correct any shrinking of the fabric that may have occurred along the way.

Hamamonyou says that there are no rules when it comes to tenugui. They can be used for practical and collectible purposes alike. However, some common uses include using them to wipe sweat during hot summer days, washing or drying your hands, wrapping items or gifts, and hanging them up for decoration. To care for your tenugui it is suggested that the first 2-3 times you wash it be by hand without the use of hot water, detergent, or bleach. After washing, wring out the water and smooth out wrinkles before hanging or laying it out to dry, avoiding direct sunlight as it may fade colors. Please note that if it is left wet or overlapping the colors of the tenugui may run. Over time your tenugui will begin to fray. This is because the traditional form doesn’t include sewn edges. However, the frayed edges can be cut with scissors to create fringe, which will help prevent further fraying.


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