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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Despite the chaotic panic of Corona Virus, the natural world continues its own steadfast course. Birds fly. Flowers and trees bud and bloom. And fish swim.

photo kindness of Becky Wells

This week, thousands of tiny salmon were released into the Sumida River by school children in Koto Ward, who had grown them from eggs in their classrooms. We wish them long life!


On Monday, 150 Indigo Carp came to swim at Blue and White from Factory Ai, a facility for Special Abilities people using indigo dyeing as therapy for their disabilities. The flashing, multi-patterned, indigo creations are dancing from the ceiling where they will be on display til May 5, Boys’ Day, celebrating the bravery of boys, like the carp who courageously swim up waterfalls.

The joyful spirit and only one patterns of these Carp make them irresistible!
With patterns as varied as the Carp themselves, it is hard to choose which ones to take home. How to match them? We recommend choosing three: Small, Medium and Large for the boys of the family. Great baby presents too, to hang inside or out.
Girls always welcome!


A Carp free-for-all at feeding time.
Koi Inspiration: The Remarkable Weaving of Sophie Wise, a dedicated young weaver living in Tokyo
She starts by hand dyeing the skeins of lustrous silk
Then she sets up her loom to weave her intricate designs

Sophie Wise, a gifted young American weaver living in Tokyo takes inspiration from the natural world of Japan as well as its contemporary architecture and features it in her weaving. We will present her Koi (Carp) inspired textiles in Blue & White from Saturday March 15. Her tapestries will swim with the indigo carp of Ai Kobo. Like us, you too will be intrigued with her ingenuity and dedicated craftsmanship when you see her work.

Table runners. tapestries, wall hangings, Sophie’s original creations are sure to brighten your life, and remind you of the flash and spirit of Japan.

Fish are jumping! at Blue & White!

Huggable Tai (red snapper) cushion by YAYA
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