Blue & White has just celebrated its birthday with a small party of friends and loyal women who have made it work for thirty-six years. The juggler we had planned on hurt his back and so couldn’t come. The old blue and white broken plates and bowls with slight cracks and chips for him to juggle never arrived from our antique friend in Oiwake who had planned to throw them away. So the celebration was in food and display and friends and family. But that is what Blue & White is all about anyway. Nothing is more precious. Sayoko Hayasawa changed the buttons on her annual indigo cushion to read 36 ! Reiko and Seiichi Hagiya brought a bright red fan with Blue & White 36 Omedeto ! written on it. They also brought an amazing box filled with Otafuku shell shard pins along with another box of green surprise baskets wrapped with red tape for each guest to have and to open. Theirs is a remarkable resourcefulness from nothing. Spending next to no money at all, they find unwanted, discarded things at the flea market and they hand shredded old paper to fill the small round baskets. Inside the baskets we find a small candle, a chocolate coin, a hand painted wooden cube with feet painted on it or faces, and many other small delights.
This joy is making something of nothing may be what Blue & White has been about all these years. In 1975, Blue & White started as an empty corner next to the Azabu Juban Supermarket Seifu, where forgotten pots and sorry plants were sitting unattended. It is now an established shop that started with a needle and thread, cloth and seamstresses and plenty of ideas inspired by Japan itself.
For 36 years, Blue & White has been all about food, and cloth and thread and pots and mostly friends. I cannot hide my pride and feeling of accomplishment when thirty-six years of creative women who have worked for Blue & White and shared their ideas and hard work and kindness, gather to celebrate our birthday. Blue & White is the product of their hard work and devotion.
For 36 years, they have been creating original works for Blue & White that have never been made before and may not be made again. That is the fun of it. One off creations bring surprise and pleasure to our friends and to those who want to have them, or just be inspired by them. All are made by hand and have that pulse of the maker that gives them life and breath.
Thirty six years ago, when we asked the landlord of the building whether we could create a small and simple Japanese boutique, he agreed for some reason and built a truly tiny box where three women (with three husbands and 10 children) could live their dreams of creating a stage to showcase Japanese crafts – to prove how beautiful they are and how useful they can be in contemporary life. Everyone laughed! We ourselves weren’t sure we could pull it off, but we did ! After a few years, we doubled the space – still tiny ! – and we took off from there.
The Blue & White message is also one of community and outreach. People come from all over Japan, all over the world to take part in the friendly spirit we cultivate. They sometimes come to show us what they have made, or ask questions about the neighborhood, or learn about Japanese crafts and how to use them, or to buy what we have on display – always a changing and unexpected scene. They come for the heart-felt care and attention that our Blue & White ladies share with our friends. They come for the laughter and the surprise and the wild imagination. The warmth is always here. They are always welcome. Blue & White takes a true interest in all who enter.
Happy Birthday Blue & White.
Blessings in the New Year to all our friends and family!