Breeding Bluefin Tuna in captivity: A recipe for success?

When I went over to Japan- I went there with an open mind to try as much as possible. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post the first 3 weeks were a sort of ignorant bliss- I ate, enjoyed but frequently was at a loss to identify what I was eating. With one exception- I knew very well of the Japanese love of Bluefin tuna Read more

HiNGEd on Unique Stories

 “i’d rather wear a unique story…”- Boticca I’ve always been fascinated with the origin of the product I am using, eating, wearing, smelling or consuming in some way or another. I am curious about the intricate relations, history and most importantly the story that lies behind a product. I assume this is what lends itself to my passion for sustainability, and ethical issues since full transparency and Read more

Free Money + Sloths= a better life?

On the 15th September, in over 15 countries worldwide, people handed out their money two coins, or two notes at a time to complete strangers with one condition attached: the recipient must pass half this amount to someone else. Who are these people? Benevolent billionaires who would like to donate to my new handbag fund (a bona fide cause I assure you…)? Well, no Read more

Kuromame-Cha cha cha

In other words black soybean tea; possibly my most treasured discovery during my sojourn in Japan. It all began one cold spring trip to Hakone-the mountain escape for Tokyoites for a bit of rest and relaxation. My boyfriend and I were visiting to try out my first onsen (hot natural springs/baths) and experience the calmer, more picturesque side of Japan which had somewhat evaded Read more

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

I'm really sad to hear and see the terrible impact of the earthquake of magnitude 8.9 and subsequent tsunami in Japan, whose far reaching destruction is slowly revealing itself day by day. For any worried English speaking expats in Japan-a great and reassuring resource can be found here: http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2011/03/earthquake-in-japan-links-resources.html For those on twitter you will find a number of regular tweeters who are keeping everyone Read more

How unique is UNIQLO?

UNIQLO is among one of Japan's best exports, along with their ubiquitous technology, anime, manga and J-Pop. For me UNIQLO signalled a welcome sense of familiarity when I first stepped into Japan- a country which managed to confound all my senses upon arrival. And when I say 'first stepped into Japan' I mean this in the strictest sense of the word; since my interest in Read more

Ja-Pan du jour

'This bread demands a very slow fermentation and a lot of attention. However the result is worth it; the taste is incomparable, its texture sealed in and honeycombed...an authentic, handcrafted product' Beck Pain Gris (2010) Toit Vert- A Japanese Bakery The translation is not quite as poetic as when read in French, but this description on the bread paper sachet demonstrates the care, attention and Read more

Ain't no Blue Mountain high enough

“Coffee should be as black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love"- Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. And that's exactly how I take mine. Coffee and I have had their ups and down, I briefly abandoned my caffeinated companion following my dissertation induced sleep deprivation, in the final year of my degree. It would be more accurate to describe this Read more

Toilets ...a metaphor for Japan?

Toilets are Japan in a nutshell. Ok stick with me here, on first observations, what I have just said may sound a little disparaging about the Japanese culture, people and land. I see Japanese toilets as a wider metaphor of Japan, the paradox between tradition, ancient history and culture juxtaposed with modernity, high-technology, and the latest fashions in Asia. Juxtaposition of a traditional Inari shrine Read more

Bling bling fruit and bargain bananas

When we think of bananas and the Japanese, the heralded 'Morning banana diet' may come to mind. Indeed a banana buying craze broke out in Japan when this diet debuted in March 2008. In a week, sales increased by 70% causing a price spike and pressure on imports.  The basic premise is that by only consuming bananas for breakfast with a glass of room Read more

Negotiating the foggy waters of product labels

My greatest difficulty since arriving in Japan has been the interpretation of product labels, be it food, cosmetics or simply flushing the toilets (some of which are more hi-tech than my mobile phone-I'm sure.)  This has been a sticking point for me since I tend to analyse everything I put onto my skin and into my body-an obsessive label checker some may call it. Read more

Japanese design

HiNGEd on Unique Stories

 “i’d rather wear a unique story…”- Boticca

I’ve always been fascinated with the origin of the product I am using, eating, wearing, smelling or consuming in some way or another. I am curious about the intricate relations, history and most importantly the story that lies behind a product. I assume this is what lends itself to my passion for sustainability, and ethical issues since full transparency and honesty is integral to a product to be considered as “green” or ethical. How else does one know if the product they are using has been crafted by happy workers, in an ecologically friendly (or not so eco-friendly) manner, without probing into the complex relations of a product’s naissance and creation?

Little Bird out of the Cage by Manolo at Boticca

So for me, what is more enticing than a company which brands itself on wearing unique stories? Where a sparkly necklace or funky leather bag is more than just an attractive addendum to an outfit, it in fact reflects an entire journey of creation, inspiration, design, toil, travels, and emotion intricately interwoven. Boticca gathers these unique stories together, from around the world and then presents a stunning smorgasbord of these to the gleeful visitor of this online boutique.

So where did my story with Boticca begin? Ahhh Boticca, Boticca…it reduces me to the typical female cliché within a wink of an eye when I click on to their site, I transform into a hopping erm…grasshopper of hopping joy (ok not the sexiest of images but adequate in evoking my elated state) in looking at all the pretty bags and delectable jewellery. Boticca was a chance discovery, whilst I was surfing the highways of the internet one evening (ok, ok I was procrastinating, doesn’t sound as jazzy as surfing…) and I was instantly struck by the unusual and distinctive designs which Boticca offered. I soon realised that Boticca was more than just an online accessories store- it was a hub of distinctive design and unique jewellery from around the world. And what’s more, each designer tells their story so whilst browsing their products you also get a deeper insight into the

designer’s process, and their tale. It’s hard to believe that Boticca has only just celebrated its first birthday seeing as there is such an extensive range on offer (a few of my favourites dotted around this post) and it is a beautiful experience meandering through the different designers, products and stories. Boticca actively celebrates difference in design and came into being thanks to

Tapestry Crossbody Clutch by Vanessa Boulton at Boticca.

founders Kiyan Foroughi and Avid Larizadeh. Kiyan, on a trip to Morocco met a designer named Miriam and was not only enthralled by her beautiful pieces but also what lay behind the designs- what Miriam’s works truly expressed and their tale. Kiyan and Avid were frustrated that only the lucky few would ever get to experience Miriam’s pieces, from which blossomed the beginnings of Boticca which actively sought to change this and provide a platform to showcase top emerging  independent designers and their ‘story’.

Twig Stacking Ring Set by Michello Oh, one of Boticca’s featured ethical designers

On another evening, a further exploration of Boticca’s site revealed to me that they also have an entire section dedicated to ethical designers, which in itself is not exhaustive, as I later discovered since there are many other designers who are also committed to ethical and sustainable practices in their own ways.  One of these discoveries was the Japanese company HiNGE-Dept. Accessory- a wonderful ensemble of earthy, rustic yet at the same time ethereal jewellery. And it turns out I’m pretty spot on, the founder and designer, Liisa Hashimoto from Osaka in Japan, cites her inspiration as channelled from nature, inspired by seeds, mosses,  and branches amongst other beauties which Mother Nature throws her way. Liisa adds that:

They have a very interesting shapes and forms and are never the same. My works, especially melting silver, hammered copper and brass, evolve on their own. I never know what kind of shapes these materials will become. The shapes are made naturally and different each time. This is what makes them similar to processes in nature, and the beauty of nature is where I get my inspiration from.”

Shoe Necklace by HiNGE Dept. Accessory at Boticca.

It’s hard to pick out a favourite from Hinge-Dept. Accessory’s collection, but I think the child ballerina pirouettes out of me when I see this shoe necklace which reminds me of my ballet shoes as a child and evokes strong nostalgia for my dancing lesson days, the pink leotards and my mum’s failure at ever accomplishing a ‘proper ballet’ hair bun. By this I mean that she would stick about 5000 hairpins into my hair, fashioning a bird nest like construction upon the crown of my head prior to my ballet lessons, for it all to fall apart within 5 minutes of arabesques and glissades. Consequently my dance teacher would grudgingly have to re-do my hair each lesson. Ahhh memories. Reminiscing aside, I am also keen beans on this little number, the image is inspired from a water bay with little seeds growing all around:

Hoop red mebae earrings by HiNGE-Dept. Accessory at Boticca

Liisa Hashimoto has been making jewellery for over 20 years, a passion stemming from her school days, with a heating torch as a key tool of her trade for forging the 3 different metals she employs. Liisa’s other principal tool is the hammer which she uses to shape the metals, particularly the scraps of silver which she has been collecting for over 20 years and then recycles into interesting textures and organic shapes. Her latest creations using silver, from her collection of contemporary jewellery are wholly made from these recycled silver pieces, whilst the rest of her works are organic.

This is the unique story of Liisa Hashimoto; her inspiration is nature, her passion is contemporary jewellery, her process is fluid and organic with the materials to match, and she expresses her extraordinary talent through her creations with the aim of making others happy. It certainly pleases me, and I can’t help but fall in love with HiNGE-Dept. Accessory a bit more now I understand the story behind the designs and jewellery just that little bit better.

Visit Boticca to see more unique necklaces and earrings for women created by inspiring, independent designers. I’ll join you there.

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