Blue & White Curiosities

image002A customer from the UK, a quilting teacher, came into the shop yesterday and told how amazed her husband was that she had found the shop.  How did she know about it he asked? She replied smugly that she just knew. Blue & White has a cult following, she explained.  I was taken aback by her remark at first, but the more I thought about it, the more pleased I was.  Why should we have a cult following? I wondered, but then I looked around the shop, having only recently been investigating other out of the ordinary, quirky shops, and realized that yes, we were a bit odd, out of the ordinary, HEN as they say in Japanese.   So I took out my iphone to photograph the possible candidates that may have earned us a “cult following”.
Some of the best oddities come from friends

image004Mittens by my SCRUNCH potter friend jill Hall, made out of her old bathrobe and sweater. Nothing wasted! Warm all over!
Below:  SCRUNCH ITSELF!  My favorite SCRUNCH sake cup, though the sake doesn’t always arrive at its intended destination.

image006

Other friends add curiosities as well.

image008A letter from clever Nancy Ukai Russell amazed me even more when I realized that the attention grabbing envelope was from an old Blue & White calendar page!
It all only serves to show that in these times of mass-produced sameness, a little odd, a little jolt of surprise, adds spice and amusement to an otherwise bland and unexciting horizon.

image010Have a look at some of the curious inhabitants of Blue & White

image012image014Selvedge edges of indigo fabric become magical balls of ribbon just waiting to be put to use by some imaginative sewer.  Here they support Washi necklaces of  random indigo patterns.  Part of the curiosity comes from not knowing what it is you are looking  at!

image016Small pins of indigo wih innocent little spectacles embroidered on by of As It Is Museum.
When I first met her at As It Is,  and complimented her on the one she had on, she gave it to me – a true Japanese trait of generosity.  Now she makes them for Blue & White.  Lucky!

image018In a cardboard whirl.  Splendiid  sculpted cardboard pin by Colleen Sakurai, The Cardboard Whisperer!

image020Amazing find at the Flea Market at Tomioka Hachiman  Shrine,(1st, 2ndnd and 4th Sundays in Monzen Nakacho on the Oedo subway line).  A contemporary BORO quilt of raggedy squares pieced together in a giant and enchanting and heavy whole!  The maker kindly lent it to me so I could show all who come to Blue & White the marvels and resourcefulness of Japanese artisans.  She didn’t know me.  She didn’t know the shop. But still she let me bring it to the shop for 2 weeks!  Curious and beautiful!  And uncommonly trusting.
Now in the window and for sale at the shop.

image022Colorful, fanciful bag by Special Ability artisans of Aomori prefecture introduced by Consummate weaver from Aomori, Osonae Nori san.

image024Close up of the BORO QUILT in the window for all the International Quilt Show visitors to enjoy.

image026Charming Otafuku creation from cut ends of tenugui, becomes a star player at Blue & White. With ingenuity, Susanna Wellenberg of Munich, puts to use whatever she finds and makes it into something charming and unexpected. Susanna is a long time faithful follower of the Blue & White cult.  Her inventive Sashiko transcends everything that is normal.  She takes it to a higher place.

image028Small Boro note books with pages of inverted copy paper mistakes.  Mottainai: Nothing wasted!  Everything has a use.

image031Voluptuous bag by NONOICHI SAN.  She takes stips of Tenugui and Yukata and knits them into a charming all purpose hand or shoulder bag.

image033Baby socks by NONOICHI san/  Every time she comes she brings a new surprise!  Something made with whimsy and love.

image035A perfect fit for BLUE & WHITE

Flower surprise!  Our irrepressible Hayasawa san works hard arranging and displaying the shop, entertaining customers. but on her days off, she takes long walks in cemeteries and abadoned lots and picks the unwanted weeds and flowers growing by the wayside.  Her arrangements are spontaneous collages of what she has found.  Finds that no flower shop could ever match.  For sale at the shop as a from the heart gift to a friend, or to bring home to brighten up your life.

image037Indigo swirls of the cut  selvedge edges  of material woven by Tsujimura Japan Blue Indigo workshop.

image039The end of our story of Blue & White Curiosities.  Otafuku from the rear? Mrs. Santa Claus?  Or simply a reminder to keep us from going into the fridge again!

image041That’s BLUE & WHITE.  CURIOUS INDEED!  Look for the BLUE & WHITE sandwich board at the top of the escalator in Azabu Juban.

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5 Responses to Blue & White Curiosities

  1. cmktraveller says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful finds and gifts in your store. I hope to visit Blue and White on my next visit but until then I visit vicariously on your site.

  2. namiyama says:

    I feel like being in the shop rather than in the rainy, dirty winter here in Munich. 🙂 Lucky you – would I be in Tokyo now, your necklace would not have any more stand, because all the Selfridges seem to shout Munich – Munich – Munich.:-) At the same time I feel a little hazukashi for being mentioned so enthusiastically (Otafuku).

    By the way, most probably Mr. Clausing (owner of Die Bleiche http://www.bleiche.de ) and his son will be in Tokyo end of March and I already strongly advised them to go to B&W.

    Hugs

    Susanna >

  3. namiyama says:

    Of course I meant selvedges …. My silly computer could not imagine what I was talking about and changed the writing. 🙂

    >

  4. Barbara Shapiro says:

    What a wonderful newsletter! So much to think about. I am a big fan too. My husband and I are enjoying the rusted paper sculpture we purchased from you in 2017 when we visited your home along with Yoshiko Wada’s group. It’s a bit in the shadow, but is a nice complement Kay Sekimachi’s larger paper sculpture.

    Warmly, Barbara Shapiro [image: IMG_6312.jpg]

  5. Joyce Fostr says:

    The Blue & White Shop is mentioned in travel guidebooks as a special place to visit. And such a treasure it is.

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