With the arrival of December, yet another year draws to a close.
In this article, we’re going to look at some of the cute rat themed things on sale for next year’s Japanese zodiac year of the rat!
The Chinese zodiac is a way of expressing a cycle of 12 years using specific animals; rat, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
With 2020 being the year of the rat, the stores around Kyoto have begun selling a ton of cute rat themed goods and items. Also, as the rat is thought to be a servant of the god of wealth, Daikokuten, there are quite a few things themed around him as well.
Located in touristy downtown Kyoto near Teramachi St. and the Nishiki Market, Suuzando Hashimoto offers stationery featuring original designs made with traditional techniques. Suuzando Hashimoto is known for placing particular significance on Japan’s seasons and the warmth carried by washi paper’s unique texture, both of which can be seen reflected in their stationary.
We particular recommend the pochibukuro envelopes and nioibukuro pouches.
Pictured on the left, pochibukuro are the common name of small gift envelopes often used in Japan. The first half of the name, pochi, is a piece of Kansai dialect, meaning small, a little bit or even a point. Also, in addition to putting money in it, as is the tradition for Japanese New Year’s, there are a ton of other uses for these small envelopes, such as enclosing a tiny letter or even just displaying it as is. On this specific pochibukuro, the rat is dressed like the god of wealth Daikokuten, as the rat often appears as his divine animal servant.
On the right is a fragrant nioibukuro. These incredible smelling bags are meant to be hung around and fill whichever room they are in their amazing smell.
The nioibukuro of Suuzando Hashimoto had hand-printed onto delicate washi paper, giving the kind of warmth only achieved when something is handmade.
RAKUSIKAN is located on the 1st floor of the Kyoto Cultural Museum.
Just like the website states, “RAKUSIKAN is a small paper museum that loves paper, enjoys paper, and thinks about the future of paper,” RAKUSIKAN sells washi paper from all across Japan as well as small goods and accessories made from the paper. Just looking around the store is a thrilling experience.
Among their swaths of paper goods, RAKUSIKAN also sells a variety of rat themed goods too. We picked up the paper balloon and washi paper cut-outs.
The cute round paper balloon was created by Japanese stationery brand Kyoto Karasuma Rokuhichido who are known for their use of vibrant washi paper in Japanese chigiri-e art that expresses the various seasons.
It's not pictured above, but the mouse balloon actually features a tail as well, so definitely don't forget to give that a good look as well.
While you can display it as we have in the pictured, we recommend hanging it up somewhere and watching it as its cute round body bobs about.
Next to the paper balloon are three cute little handmade paper cut-outs made for sticking to things like letters or notebooks. While they make look like stickers at first, you will actually need to use glue when using them. Also, as they are made of such fine washi paper, it’s probably best to avoid watery glues and use a glue stick or something similar. Once they’ve been stuck to something, these paper cut-outs are hard to get off again, so please be careful.
Run out of a charming traditional Kyoto townhouse in a back alley behind Shijo-dori, Tkaezasado sells woodcut prints and items which utilize the motifs of these prints.
The items at Takezasado are all designed by hand, giving them the kind of magnificent forms only achievable by such handmade works. Additionally, over a series of hours, each design is then hand printed to create what you see in store.
The rat themed items at Takezasado for 2020 are a New Year’s greeting card and a regular greeting card.
The New Year’s greeting cards, known as nengajo in Japanese, are used to send words of thanks and continued companionship in the new year to those who helped you in some way during the year.
Although both the nengajo and greeting card feature the same design, they point different ways and have different colored backgrounds, so both are more than worth picking up.
Also, you can display these cards in your room as tiny little art pieces as well.
Eirakuya is a long-standing Kyoto fabric shop opened in 1615 specializing in cotton cloths. At Eirakuya you can purchase cloths such as the one pictured above called tenugui. These unique cloths usually feature designs depicting special Kyoto events and seasonal patterns and are meant to be used as cloths to wipe sweat or your hands and face after washing them.
At Eirakuya there are two rat tenugui cloths available. One of these cloths is the above-pictured one, which contains the traditional Asian designs of cloisonné and shikunshi – The Four Noble Ones. With its design of continually connected circles, the cloisonné design signifies peace and harmony. Shikunshi is a design and collective term referring to four plants: the plum blossom, the orchid, the bamboo, and the chrysanthemum.
While kunshi refers to a chaste person of high nobility and virtue, the plants featured in the design are meant to express the four traits a kunshi should have. For example, the orchid symbolizes “dignity” and bamboo the “ability to maintain righteous even under harsh conditions."
The second available tenugui features the design of an ink wash painting. This one is based on an actual painting of an ink wash painter done on a pieces of yuzen dyed cloth.
One of the greatest aspects of tenugui, however, is that in addition to the basic uses of wiping sweat and wet hands, they have an endless number of uses, such as, as scarves or, when framed, as art pieces.
If you’re looking for something classically Japanese and with multiple uses, then we recommend tenugui.
Opened in 1970, Washi Club sells original washi items, accessories and general everyday zakka goods. Washi Club also makes tatoshi paper used for keeping kimono for kimono stores all across Japan and art pieces for small businesses around Kyoto City.
In addition, they also make wrapping paper and boxes for Kyoto restaurants and confectioneries as well.
The most popular items at Washi Club are their pochibukuro envelopes. When you step into the store, the rows of these colorful, cute envelopes are unmissable. Washi Club offers nine different rat themed pochibukuro with designs ranging from cute, modern ones to majestic traditional Japanese ones. With so many choices, you’re sure to be stopped in your tracks.
As was mentioned in the Suuzando Hashimoto section, pochibukuro are small envelopes made for putting money in. But you can always use them to put small letters or even little candies in.
These tiny envelopes are a huge help when wrapping small gifts, so definitely don’t pass them up!
|Yumemi[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|