Christmas Consumption


Originally published on on December 2012

Skip to p.2 Frivolous Fripperies—pointless pressies
Skip to p.3 Male Order—gifts for gentlemen


Charitable presents for the ethical consumer

By Jane Kitagawa

House of Wandering Silk

When Tokyo-based “momtrepeneur” Kate Neath set up an online shop to complement her mommy blog Tokyo Urban Baby, the decision to stock House of Wandering Silk scarves, blankets, nursing covers and necklaces fashioned from upcycled saris was a no-brainer. Vibrant and bejeweled, HoWS scarves and necklaces add a touch of fashion glamor, while the blankets provide a sumptuous accent for the home. All items from HoWS are one-offs and painstakingly handcrafted by female artisans employed through NGOs. As well as bestowing happiness on the receiver, the gifts also guarantee a fair wage, safe conditions, and training for the artisans, and proceeds are used to buy textbooks for underprivileged children at Adharshila School in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Kibo: Brimming With Hope

Experiencing first-hand the devastating earthquake of March 11 last year, longtime Japan resident and award-winning cookbook author Elizabeth Andoh decided to use her culinary expertise and background in anthropology to help. She collaborated with long-term publishers Ten Speed Press and created an e-book paying tribute to the cuisine of Tohoku. Featuring traditional recipes such as pinched-noodle soup with pork, miso-seared scallops, rice taffy dumplings with crushed edamame and basics like rice, stocks, and sauces, Kibo: Brimming with Hope also looks at sake pairings, and through essays addresses the topic of Tohoku in recovery. Partial proceeds are earmarked for a GlobalGiving recovery project in which 200 young entrepreneurs receive sponsorship to help rebuild the Tohoku region. ¥279, available across e-formats.


When it comes to Christmas dinner, how you serve it is just as important as what you serve. Tokyo-based company Funfam has long been at the vanguard of sustainable and eco-friendly children’s tableware, and its bamboo products are renowned for their craftsmanship and antibacterial properties. The company’s Christmas lineup of plates is no exception, and whether deciding on a Christmas tree, stocking or snowman, the plates (¥3,150)—and gift sets (¥5,990)—are certain to delight the most discerning and fussiest of eaters. What makes these dishes even more special is that they can be personalized and engraved with the recipient’s name (up to ¥1,400 extra). For those more interested in everyday tableware, Funfam’s prizewinning regular collection, also designed by Tsuneyuki Fujioka, is both durable—perfect for toddlers’ and other little hands—and elegantly simple.

Naked Pan

Cooking fads may come and go but for the Marco Pierre Whites among us, high quality cookware is non-negotiable. The Oigen company has been manufacturing cast-iron goods since the Edo Period, but it’s a more recent product line, the Naked Pan, that has both foodies and design-types swooning. Featuring sleek, circular lines, the Naked Pan range is manufactured via a fusion of traditional crafting techniques and modern technology. During the production process, a film naturally forms on the ironware’s surface, enabling the cookware to remain rust free. The cookware develops a darkened patina the more often it is used and naturally becomes nonstick. Extra bonus: the pans are also easier to clean, requiring just a rinse and mild scrubbing with a brush.

Gift from the Art

The Mori’s current Aida Makoto exhibition is a corker—but lining up for admission is not so much fun. Allowing preferential access plus an invitation to openings and other perks, membership for Roppongi’s Mori Art Museum solves this problem. And it could solve your dilemma of coming up with a Christmas present, too. No matter what your budget, the museum offers a series of annual membership options—an annual passport with access to the Tokyo City View and Skydeck (¥5,250); fellow membership (¥21,000); or the chance to become a benefactor (¥42,000)—all offering benefits ranging from queue-jumping, access to VIP events, discount admission for guests, invitations to special soirees and discounts on gift shop merchandise and catalogues. The Mori also operates a discount ticket system in tandem with neighborhood and regional museums, giving art lovers even more bang for their buck.