In Japan, masks ( and prayer!) have been the preferred mode of protection from sickness, allergies, colds and close quarters, airplanes and such for YEARS! Nothing out of sync about seeing a white square surgical mask on the mouth and nose of an elegantly dressed lady, or an otherwise smartly outfitted business man. Masks have been preventing colds being caught or spread for years, centuries even, and have become increasingly essential in guarding against the dreaded CORONA 19. Today it is rare to see a maskless person walking anywhere. Even runners sport them.

I have often wondered why some stylist didn’t pick up the mask and run with it, changing materials used to something more interest, colorful and certainly blue and white. Masks are here to stay so why not make a statement with them!

A satisfied customer and his wife special ordered their masks

The United States, on the other hand, has always criticized this innocent square of cloth and turned it into a political hot potato, saying that it denies individual freedoms. Leaders have refused to protect themselves with this simple life saver – one of the few that is available to us. It is reviled, refused and rejected.

But BLUE & WHITE shows just what they are missing. If you have to wear them, and it’s clear we do, Masks can be a new area of fashion to explore! and experiment with, make a Style Statement with.

Improvise! Take a tenugui and fold it with hair elastics to loop over the ears. This one is GENKI filled with energy, healthy
Masks can bring color and variety to the day’s outfit. They can also start conversations -all the while keeping a distance! – when they’re as cheerful as this one.
We have lots to choose from. Indigo Shibori masks by Ikeda Daigo in Kurume run out of the shop as soon as they arrive
Colorful masks by YAYA fit perfectly and come in a rainbow of design and color
how much its that mask in the window?
make your own with summery sashiko designs. Masks are seasonal – easy to breathe in summer, keep you warm in winter.
Play with tenugui designs. This really comfortable one was a gift from our devoted customer Cynthia Nanto who made it out of BLUE & WHITE tenugui. It always gets compliments!
Or use a store bought generic white mask and then jazz up your outfit with BLUE & WHITE WOW!


Hand painted gauze mask by SORA TO UMI is a perfect match for our Yoruba beaded Prince who greets visitors to the Katoh house.

If masks are essential – and clearly they are! – why not make a fashion statement with them? Many do in Tokyo where the historic mask wearing culture has certainly curtailed the number of COVID patients.

Tie one on ! – this makeshift mask made from an unusual yellow bandana this Asakusa Tempura Shop worker used as a furoshiki to carry his Bento in primary school, maybe 60 years ago? A man ahead of his time!

MASKU BIJIN! Masked Beauty. a woman whose beauty is enhanced by a mask.
Father of all trades at the market: not only minding two children, but he also made his own mask
The eyes have it! Sometimes the eyes say as much as the mouth

Today Mask Style is happening. In these terrifying times, why not have a little fun where it is available? Small canvases of color and design on the face can lighten the sombre mood and bring pleasure and laughter to those who pass by. (though sadly we can no longer see each other smiling!)

And for the ultimate in amusement, a look at the offerings in Harajuku can bring out the animal, monster or cartoon character in all of us, though there is


The Ultimate in Mask amusementI on Takishita Dori in Harajuku

But the end truth is that no matter what – 



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A broken dish
a torn pair of pants
A finger poked through a paper screen
a shirt torn on a too sudden lunge
a sweater caught on a passing hook
The end of the world?
No! Just the start of something new – and satisfying.
Better maybe. More rewarding surely.
Piece the plate back together.
Sew the pants. Patch the shirt. Darn the sweater
and you wind up with something original, that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Something that has a story to tell.
Dropping, tearing, ripping, snagging are easy. Mending requires time, technique, skill and above all patience.
But the satisfaction of bringing something back to life, not giving up, restoring the tear, patching the pants, honoring what we wear, use, live with, can renew a contract we have with the things we make or buy. For better or worse, in breakage and in use, we will care for them, and keep them.
Things can be fixed.
No reason to give up on things just because they’re broken.
A wonky coffee pot by my favorite potter, Omine Jissei in Okinawa, was just a trial piece, he told me. One of a kind. It was long my most precious treasure for its oddly handmade pulse. Until an earthquake tipped a piece of charcoal bamboo over on it and broke the lid. Oh no! It is ruined, I thought. Of all pieces to break! But then I gingerly wrapped it and took it to my favorite mender at Morita antiques in Aoyama who repaired it with the most delicate tracings of gold lacquer.

And then – voila! the magic of taking the shattered, the smashed, the ripped, the broken and painstakingly piecing it back together again into a newly viable whole which contains the disappointment the sadness of the break and reconstitutes it with the reassurance and gladness of the newly whole and usable. The empowerment of not giving up! You realize that Ah hah! this has beauty too. I can wear this again. I can use it again. Better than ever maybe !?

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Tokyo closed down today – at last! Just for the weekend to begin with, but it is a start at keeping people apart and isolated in their own space, at home. Keeping COVID 19 from spreading. BLUE & WHITE also reluctantly closed for a month today, until the end of April. But who knows, maybe shorter, maybe longer, in compliance with the demands of the Corona Virus. In any wise, it was a painful decision.

NOW WHAT? How to spend those long weeks, months until the crisis passes? Everything is closed now. No entertainment, diversion, stimulation. Shops are closed in Tokyo. Museums, and flea markets at well. When I gave my friend Becky Wells some odd bits of molten glass

and old blue and white shards from the beach in an old covered and holey basket that I had inherited from somewhere, she responded gleefully. WOW! this is better than a flea market! and it’s free! She couldn’t wait to start creating. She also did some killer potato prints! But then she is gifted.

However can we go on with our lives with Flea Markets cancelled, and BLUE & WHITE closed? It’s not simple, but try reaching inside ourselves and our drawers. Finding long forgotten flea market finds that you had stowed away and forgotten, or maybe even hidden from your husband as I would sometimes do! Search drawers and cupboards and closets. You may be lucky enough to find some sashiko thread from Blue & White there. A bit of indigo cloth. Plain white is also good.

paper cupboard at home with old calligraphy papers, tissue, masking tapes and twine and silk kasuri threads for tying

Find forgotten plastic bags filled with ropes (as I recently did), or rags or bottles. Take them out. Wash them, reminiscing if you can, about when and where you found them. If you can’t go to the market at least remember the joy of the time you found these things. I took out the ropes I had squirreled away in an old basket, and I was happy to see the dirt fall away from them as I soaked them in warm water and shampoo. The pleasure of washing these old ropes that some farmer had twisted together to use in his work, making the best of leftover rice straw and cloth. These ropes remind me to dig deep within myself, to follow the spiral into what lies within.

Thinking about life. Contemplating about where we are. Perhaps something good, something beautiful can come out of sitting still, taking time to consider the beauty of forgotten things that once brought a bolt of joy when we first found it. Taking stock of what we do have, not racing off to get yet more.

Carpe diem yes, but even more, carpe res – seize the thing that you have, and enjoy it, even a thing so humble as a farmer’s rope made of leftover cloth. Even something you made yourself out of something someone else, you even! had thought to throw away. Take time to enjoy it. Make something new with it if you will.

GONE ARE THE DAYS! of runaway acquiring and uncontrollable hoarding, and unbridled speed in trying to do and buy more and more and more. Let’s follow the spiral and see where it leads us. And do less and less. Try sewing some of those indigo bits together. Make a cushion out of the sleeves of a kimono that you bought last year for Y1000 and forgot about. Learn kintsugi (restoring broken ceramics with gold and lacquer) and mend some of your broken and chipped plates.

Reach inside those drawers, inside those forgotten flea market bags. Inside yourself, and you may be surprised at what you find.

BLUE & WHITE has reluctantly decided to close its doors – but NOT our windows or our ON LINE SHOP, or INSTAGRAM, or OUR BLOG – for the next month. Until the Corona Virus storm passes. Please keep in touch. We are as active and as passionate as ever. Order on line and we will do our best to fill your orders.

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