As I wrap presents and get ready for Christmas, I stop to think about the Japanese art of gift giving.
I feel so fortunate to have been given gifts all year long from my friends in Japan, and I treasure each and every one of these. This photo above is just a few of gifts that have made their way back to my Texas home this year. The Japanese tradition of gift giving is so rich, and something special.
While Westerners load up with presents during the holidays, the Japanese present special friends and guests with gifts every time they meet. And not just any gift! From my experience, the gifts that I have been so fortunate to receive are thoughtful and meaningful, both expensive and handmade, usually with a strong cultural connection to Japan.
I have been given gorgeous pottery and crystal made in Japan as well as handmade - incredibly crafted gifts. The workmanship is impeccable, of course, and I am astonished at the amount of time and money each person invested in these things and then had the selflessness to give them away - to me!
In return for all of these amazing gifts, I have also tried to up my game in the art of gift giving. I don't always measure up, but I do try.
These two lovely ladies are colleagues who have become friends and I love hanging out with them in Osaka when I am there and in Houston when they are here for International Quilt Market. Hisako Fukui and Etsuko Shibayama both work for Yuwa fabrics, the manufacturer behind the stunning designs by Yoshiko Jinzenji, Keiko Goke and many other artists.
I made both of the tops they are wearing! The fabric is Yoshiko Jinzenji linen and cotton. When attended Quilt Market this year, I turned the corner to find their booth and I was so surprised and honored to see them both wearing my gifts!
The patterns for these tops are from Japanese sewing books, which are not in English I might add. Of course I cannot read Japanese, but I am good at following numbers and illustrations. I'm sure there are details lost in translation... haha... but I do love making (and wearing) these over-sized, hip designs.
Anyway, I have enormous respect for the Japanese art of gift giving. Over the years I have learned and grown in this tradition and its become a part of the experience I truly love.