Japanese sunglasses brands

Best Japanese-Made Sunglasses

The Japanese are known for their many trends that eventually became popular all around the globe. They have a distinct sense of fashion that aims to synthesize styles and designs from all around the world into one look. And if we had to use one word to describe this look, it would definitely be recognizable.

Of course, a look can’t be complete without a nice pair of sunglasses! Although we don’t hear about Japanese sunglasses brands too often, they’re there — we just need to dig a little deeper to find them. And, by ‘deeper,’ we mean doing a simple Google search.

We’ve looked for some of the best Japanese sunglasses companies, and surprisingly (although not really), the Japanese have a variety of brands to choose from! Even though they’re far behind Italy and China, the number isn’t negligible. So, let’s take a look at what the Japanese market has to offer.

1. Eyevan

Eyevan is definitely one of the most popular eyewear brands in Japan. The company has been on the market for nearly five decades now and is a favorite of many Japanese people. According to company representatives, it was the very first eyewear brand established in Japan!

Eyevan finds inspiration in the tranquility of the Japanese culture. When the company came to life, it defined its concept as ‘eyewear for dressing as a fashion accessory.’ So don’t miss out on these impressive shades!

Popular style: Paragon

2. Boston Club

Boston Club designs some of the most flattering sunglasses on the Japanese market. This company strives to redesign popular styles from 1984, but with a modern twist. That’s actually what makes its sunglasses as unique and quirky as they are.

Nurturing tradition but keeping up with the latest trends gives Boston Club a huge advantage. But most importantly — all the products are made in Japan.

We should really try to give this brand more love. Its designs are stunning!

Popular style: Builder

3. David Kind

The team behind David Kind has one mission, and that is to make the best, top-quality sunglasses at an agreeable price. But just because they say the price is agreeable doesn’t mean they cut corners! Quite the contrary — the brand’s craftsmen have an eye for detail like no other.

The founder’s goal is to source premium materials and work alongside the best designers and craftsmen to bring their stunning frames to life. Combining both traditional and modern approaches, this company achieves the best of both worlds.

Popular style: Aberdeen

4. Globe Specs

The Globe Specs team aims to ensure that the quality of their service and technical skills is always top-notch. Let’s praise them for being true to their vision and actually following through on their goals!

Their eyewear is chic, unique, and fun. If you ever buy a pair of sunglasses from this brand, you won’t be disappointed. Although the company values tradition, it doesn’t hesitate to add a sprinkle of contemporary style to its beautifully crafted frames.

Popular style: The Reggie C3

5. Masunaga

Since 1905, Masunaga has been one of the most sought-after eyewear companies on the Japanese market. Additionally, it claims to be the only Japanese eyewear brand that is fully in charge of all processes, meaning that the company doesn’t use cheap labor. And for that reason, it deserves a big applause! Well done, Masunaga.

Needless to say, this company has it all! This is its main mission: “We want to make a profit if we can, but we don’t hesitate to take a loss. It is always in our thoughts to manufacture excellent eyeglasses.”

Popular style: Wright SG

6. Masahiro Maruyama

Masahiro Maruyama craftsmen use a special technique to make their eyewear as unique as possible. What they use for their frames is hand-twisted metal; the craftsmen twist each piece of metal by hand. Imagine twisting every little piece of metal for eight hours a day… These guys have a lot of patience!

This gives all the glasses a twisted look (See what we did there?), and adds a human touch to them. Therefore, don’t hesitate to check this brand out — it has some really cool styles of shades!

Popular style: MM-0027 No.2 Black (Sunglasses: Broken Lens)

7. Nackymade

Nicknamed Nacky, the founder of Nackymade is a Japanese craftsman who has always had the gift to make a spectacle out of everything. His story began when he was eighteen years old and couldn’t find the appropriate glasses for himself. That’s when he decided that enough was enough. Finally, he undertook the necessary education to make his own!

After eight years of hard work, the Nackymade company was born. It has some really funky sunglasses that you need to check out!

Popular style: Taka Tie #2

8. Matsuda

In a world of fast living, fast thinking, and fast working, the team behind Matsuda decided that they didn’t want to be a part of the chaos. Combining handcrafted elements with innovative technologies, they put a lot of thought into each and every step of making the perfect sunglasses.

The Matsuda team believes that every product is a piece of art, and we have to respect them for that! Make sure to check out the ‘masters of metal’ — you won’t regret it.

Popular style: 10601H

9. Dita

Dita is best known for its Kohn sunglasses that have managed to take the world’s breath away — the style really is that fabulous. Yet, the brand has so much more to offer!

It is definitely on the pricier side, but if you want to splurge on a pair of really impressive shades, go for Dita. You can’t go wrong with any of the frames from their collection.

Popular style: Grand-Evo Two

To Sum Up

If you are looking for some of the best Japanese-made sunglasses, you certainly won’t regret buying from any of these brands. What’s more, supporting local businesses is something we should all try to do, so if you are based in Japan, go ahead and treat yourself to some of these top-notch Japanese shades.

american sunglasses brands

Best American-Made Sunglasses

Delightful weather is already here; nature is blooming, birds are chirping, the sun is shining… Wait, what? You still don’t have a fresh pair of sunglasses? Alright, we’ve got you covered — but before we check out some of the best American-made sunglasses, we should talk about why it’s important to support local brands.

Going for US-based brands is, by far, the most economically sustainable practice. The quality of their products is much easier to assess since they choose to manufacture within the country. Then there’s the wide variety of options to pick from — American brands take inspiration from different parts of the world and make their own staple products.

There’s no need to worry about missing out on the latest fashion trends, as our featured brands always make sure to stay ahead of the curve. So, if you’re on the lookout for durable, high-quality sunglasses that are made right here in the States, check out some of our favorites below.

1. Gatorz

Gatorz has held on to a certain feature since 1989 — boldness. The brand makes some of the boldest and most innovative sunglasses on the market.

Gatorz sunglasses are specifically made for high-speed sports, such as motorcycle racing. Speed is what drives the company (pun not intended!), as it aims to create aluminum-framed sunglasses that can withstand incredibly fast riding.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the look of Gatorz sunglasses often gets neglected — they look really cool and are extremely comfortable to wear. If you want to look like a badass, check this brand out. They definitely don’t produce average-looking shades.

Popular style: Magnum

2. Fatheadz

Fatheadz makes a statement in the sea of oversized sunglasses. Over a decade ago, the brand was catering to men who weren’t able to find sunglasses that were big enough for their heads.

Since then, its range has expanded, and the company currently offers over 100 unique styles. Of course, Fatheadz now has sunglasses for women as well, all made in the United States.

Popular style: The Law

3. AO Eyewear

Yes — AO Eyewear — the brand that made the original Aviator sunglasses. As insane as it may sound, this company has been on the market since the 19th century.

AO Eyewear is a staple in many people’s collections, and for a good reason. Its team makes sure that the sunglasses are always trendy, innovative, and of high quality. In fact, this is something the company takes great pride in, so you certainly won’t regret getting a fresh pair of shades from this brand.

Popular style: General (Aviator)

4. Shuron

Since 1865, Shuron has created thousands of top-quality frames that never go out of fashion. Nulady, Freeway, Icebreakers, and Ronsir, to name a few, have certainly survived the test of time.

A fun fact about the company is that it was the primary source of optical products for laboratories in the 1920s. Also, it served US Army troops during World War II by providing mobile optical units.

Popular style: Escapades

5. Sire’s Eyewear

Sire’s Eyewear is one of the most innovative American-made sunglasses brands. All frames are handmade, the most popular being the wooden ones. What’s more, this company takes great pride in using recycled materials, such as ocean plastic and vinyl records.

Sire’s Eyewear uses a digital interaction system that measures your facial width, nose bridge, and pupillary distance. What this means is that all its eyewear is custom-made. Really cool, huh?

Popular style: Hayward

6. Arc-Iris

Arc-Iris is a small, US-based business with an impressive line of handcrafted outdoor equipment. Of course, sunglasses are some of its most sought-after products. The brand has spent over 100 years researching all aspects of making an astonishing pair of sunglasses.

According to the company’s team, their goal was to make a frame purely out of wood. However, they needed this frame to be both strong and fashionable. Although it wasn’t an easy task, they were certainly successful in its execution.

Popular style: Portal Veneer

7. Liquid Eyewear

Being one of the few US-based eyeglasses companies, Liquid Eyewear is famous for producing the best military eyewear. The company’s beginnings are humble — when the team was working out of a small garage in San Diego, they couldn’t have even imagined that they would become as big as they are now.

Currently, the company manufactures and distributes its sunglasses out of Yuma, Arizona, and is continuously growing.

Popular style: T-Flex

8. Dom Vetro

Founded by a master eyewear maker, Dom Vetro was recently relocated from Italy to Los Angeles, California, where it has a workshop. What makes the company stand out is that you can consult a stylist, which will then help you choose the best pair of shades for you.

The primary idea behind this brand is that each pair of sunglasses needs to be unique. The company chooses to have all its shades handcrafted in an effort to stay true to its motto and make ‘every pair personal.’ If you’re looking for unique frames, make sure to check Dom Vetro out!

Popular style: Vintage Tortoise

9. Randolph

Randolph’s founders had a solid background in engineering and a single dream — to make the best sunglasses on the market. Even though they had just a few bucks in their pockets, they managed to patent a 200-step process for building a one-of-a-kind proprietary solder machine.

Using that same machine, they eventually made indestructible frame joints. Today, they state that they will never move the manufacturing process overseas, which is a big plus for them!

Popular style: Aviator II

10. Oakley

Despite the fact that this brand began its journey in a garage, Oakley decided to step into the world of highly fashionable sunglasses that are able to make an impact on the buyer.

The team behind the company originally made eyewear for world-class athletes. Therefore, their primary goal when it comes to sunglasses is for them to be durable and top-quality.

Although the brand didn’t always make trendy sunglasses for your average Joe, we can’t say it’s lagging behind anyone!

Popular style: Crosshair

Supporting Local Brands

We want to encourage you to think twice before you buy from a brand that manufactures its products overseas. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it is essential that, together, we try to show some love to our local brands.

Let’s make an effort to support smaller, local businesses! Trust us — the brands listed above and their sunglasses aren’t likely to disappoint you.

best reusable water bottles

Best American-Made Water Bottles & Hydration Flasks

Why would you want to buy American-made water bottles? When it comes to products of such high circulation, there must be better options out there. With goods from all over the world easily available online, how can a simple American product compare?

Well, as it turns out, quite favorably.

Top USA-Made Reusable Water Bottle Brands

When you think of the USA, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Is it fast food? How about soft drinks or sugar-rich coffee served in large cups?

What about exploration, constant motion, and the great outdoors? The classic image of an American is that of a person constantly on the move. Like most stereotypes, it is rooted in reality.

The United States is a place where life flows at high speed. If something can be done on the go, chances are that it will be done in that manner.

Because of that, these days, almost everyone carries a water bottle around, as staying hydrated is an absolute must. And with a demand of such magnitude, there always comes at least as much of supply, which eventually leads to quality.

Is it such a surprise then that American-made water bottles are some of the best in the world?

Why Buy Locally Made Bottles

An American-made water bottle will serve its purpose admirably and last you a long time. And, as if that isn’t enough, there are plenty of reasons for people to consider buying locally made products.

First off, when you buy locally, it all but ensures that you will receive the item quickly. Anyone who has had to wait for international orders knows how much of a hassle the wait can be.

Second, while an American-made water bottle may not be cheaper, the shipping most certainly will be. All things considered, it won’t cost less than a bottle you order from China, but you will avoid potential shipping scams. You will also lower the risk of receiving a faulty product.

Third, these products are at a definite advantage in this day and age. With the risks associated with each order from abroad, it may be best to stick to tried-and-true domestic retailers. When a bottle arrives clean, sealed, and airtight, you can be sure that no one has messed with it.

Finally, when you invest in a locally made product, you consciously decide to reduce environmental impact and support your local economy. This may not seem like much, but every little bit counts.

Insulated Options

1. Polar Bottle Insulated Water Bottle

Like all water bottles on this list, this one is BPA-free and comes in a variety of patterns. All Polar Bottle products are of high quality and will keep your water cool (or tea or coffee warm) for hours on end.

Since this is a sports bottle, it is quite durable and will survive a trip to pretty much anywhere. Take it hiking, running, cycling, or whatever else crosses your mind. Bottom line: whatever your needs may be, a Polar Bottle water bottle is always a fine choice.

2. Isolator Fitness ISOJUG COMBO

Although bigger isn’t always better, in this case, it might be. The ISOJUG COMBO holds up to a gallon of liquid, which sounds uncomfortable to lug around, but actually isn’t.

This is essentially a large water container that you can put inside an isolated, bag-like case. The case comes with shoulder straps, so you can carry it around like a rucksack. And if that isn’t your thing, there is also a carrying handle.

If you’re the kind of person who regularly takes long trips, then look no further than the ISOJUG COMBO.

3. Xtremeglas Insulated Water Bottle

Alright, so this may be cheating. Xtremeglas products are designed, assembled, and quality-checked in the USA, but the individual components are made in China. You shouldn’t let that last bit dissuade you from considering what is otherwise an excellent product, though.

This is a glass bottle, so no need to worry about the material affecting the taste of your water. On the other hand, this means that it’ll be relatively easy to break, so don’t drop it! The covering does provide some protection, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Non-Insulated Options

4. Liberty Bottleworks Water Bottle

As far as American-made water bottles go, Liberty Bottleworks products are the closest thing to standard issue. That doesn’t mean that they are all the same — far from it! With so many different patterns and designs to choose from, you’re almost certain to find something you like.

These bottles are made of aluminum and are as tasteless as metal bottles can be. They are not only impossible to smash but also easy to clean. Furthermore, they won’t degrade much (if at all) with the passage of time.

The cap fastens easily, holds well, and has a handle that will let you carry the bottle easily. That may sound unreliable, but you’d be surprised by how well it clings to the bottle.

All in all, this is a very functional product with an elegant, sleek design. Best of all, it’s 100% American-made.

5. Vapur Element Foldable Water Bottle

In case you don’t have much space, here’s a collapsible — or foldable — water bottle. When empty, it will fit inside pretty much any pocket until you need it.

Once full, it will expand but still be easy to carry thanks to the carabiner on top. You can store it somewhere, carry it by the said carabiner, or attach it to a backpack. Due to the one-handed flip top, you also won’t need two hands to drink from it.

Although foldable water bottles won’t last as long as the harder models, they also won’t break when dropped. If you’re careful and don’t let them get pierced, you’ll get good mileage out of them.

6. 50 Strong Reusable Water Bottle With Time Marker

This 50 Strong model, which is another fully American-made water container, has time markers to help you meet your daily hydration goals. It’s simple enough: carry it with you and take a long sip at the noted time.

Due to its plastic composition, it is also rather durable despite being lightweight. Unfortunately, this may also be a downside, as not everyone enjoys the taste of water from a plastic container.

To Sum Up

With most US companies moving their production overseas, finding exceptional American-made water bottles has become a bit difficult. Yet, after trying any of the products on this list, you’ll see that they not only exist but are fully deserving of your attention.

traditional bento box

Traditional Japanese Bento Boxes

Through various media, traditional Japanese bento boxes have become emblematic of their country. Nice-looking yet practical at the same time, they are more than just a gimmick or a cultural quirk.

East Asian countries are famous for their perfectionism, and Japan is no different. If something doesn’t work, the Japanese discard it. If it does, they not only make it a part of their culture but refine it as much as possible. And bento is one piece of history that has withstood the test of time.

Traditional Japanese Bento Boxes Explained

So what is bento? Simply put, it is a packed meal, except, in this case, the word applies to both the food within the container and the container itself. Originally meaning “convenience” or “convenient,” the term has evolved along with the box.

The Japanese have a long tradition of eating on the go, dating back to the late Kamakura period (1185 to 1333). Back then, people would carry cooked and dried rice, and either eat it as such or cook it again.

It was only during the Edo period (1603 to 1868) that everyone started commonly using actual boxes. These were made from woven bamboo and were hardly works of art. However, bento was slowly turning into an arms race between wives. Whoever failed to make an appealing lunch for her husband or children would face social scrutiny!

This led to an explosion of styles and decorations for something as humble as a simple lunch box. Presenting a beautiful-looking meal became a social obligation. In fact, the race became so extreme that there was an attempt to abolish the very tradition of bento.

Eventually, things did get better. In the 1980s, bento made a grand comeback. Now, takeout is sold in cheap polystyrene containers, functionally identical to the boxes of old. Children take bento boxes to school, and adults carry packed lunch to work.

With Japan opening up to the outside world, everyone can witness the style and utility of bento boxes. And with the help of online stores, getting a locally made piece of that tradition has never been easier. As it stands, traditional Japanese bento boxes are here to stay.

Bento Boxes vs. Regular Boxes

So what makes a bento box stand out? The answer is simple: everything it has to offer that your common lunch box doesn’t. In the case of high-quality bento boxes, this means that:

  • They are built to last, so you won’t need to get another one for a long time.
  • The food bits will often be separated into compartments and won’t mix until you want them to.
  • The whole thing will be safe to carry and won’t open on its own.
  • There is a wide array of designs to choose from, so you will surely find one you like.
  • A piece of foreign culture will be with you, no matter where you go.

Common Construction Materials

It all depends on the bento model, of course, but food-safe plastic is always a popular choice. However, such boxes often have a metal exterior.

Wooden boxes, on the other hand, provide excellent insulation and keep the contents warm. Nevertheless, wood will degrade if it is put in a microwave.

Metal boxes are also an option when you want everyone to know that you mean business. Still, these tend to be in less demand since they are heavy and not microwave-friendly.

The Best Traditional Japanese Bento Boxes

We will list these in no particular order. In the end, your choice will come down to preference.

1. Skater Japanese Modern/Traditional Compartmental Bento Box

Made from food-safe plastic, this is an all-rounder. It looks somewhat modern but has all the functionality of a classic bento box.

Pros:

  • It can hold a lot of food, despite its compact size
  • The box is leakproof
  • Dishwasher- and microwave-safe
  • It comes with chopsticks

Cons:

  • The inside compartments aren’t leakproof
  • The plastic may lose its finish after prolonged use
  • Some parts may deform with time

2. GRUB2GO The Original Japanese Bento Box

This one is more about function over form. It has two large containers that fit one over another, and a utensil holder — no frills, just a bento box.

Pros:

  • Two containers
  • Fully leakproof and airtight
  • Dishwasher-, microwave-, and freezer-friendly
  • Comes with utensils

Cons:

  • No inner compartments
  • Something so cumbersome in shape should have a carrying handle
  • The containers are a bit small

3. Umami Bento Lunch Box

Another no-frills product, this one comes with everything you need to eat your food on the go.

Pros:

  • Two large containers, a third smaller one, plus a utensil holder
  • Also fully leakproof and airtight
  • Fridge-, freezer-, and microwave-friendly

Cons:

  • All containers are on the small side
  • Again, there is no carrying handle

4. JapanBargain Red And Black Traditional Plastic Lacquered Bento Box

Though it looks as traditional as they come, this bento box is actually made of lacquered plastic. However, while it is a thing of beauty, it’s not exactly meant to be taken outside.

Pros:

  • Easy on the eyes
  • Great size
  • Plenty of compartments

Cons:

  • No cover, so it can’t be taken outside
  • The black color may wear out with time
  • Above all, this is a functional ornament

5. Miraclekoo Wooden Lunch Bento Box

If you want something closer to the original thing, Miraclekoo has you covered. Its bento box is made of wood and features three compartments.

Pros:

  • Wooden, so your food will stay warm for longer
  • Eco-friendly
  • Will last for a long time if you take care of it

Cons:

  • Certainly not microwave-, freezer-, or water-friendly.
  • It could use a carrying handle
  • If care instructions are not followed, it will degrade rapidly

6. Tzillien Stainless Steel Lunch Container

Made of stainless steel, this one doesn’t look traditional at all. Still, it does its job admirably and can take a solid hit.

Pros:

  • Good size; the box can fit a lot of food
  • Sturdy and long-lasting
  • Dishwasher-, freezer-, and fridge-safe

Cons:

  • Not microwave-friendly
  • A bit on the heavy side
  • Not traditional-looking

7. AOOSY Wooden Bento Box

In contrast to the previous product, here we have a wooden bento box in an entirely retro style.

Pros:

  • Beautiful to look at
  • It’s wooden, so it will keep your food warm
  • Eco-friendly

Cons:

  • Neither leakproof nor airtight
  • Also not microwave-friendly
  • It will rapidly degrade from exposure to heat, cold, etc.

8. JapanBargain Kokeshi Doll Bento Box

There’s more to this model than sugary cuteness. This box actually separates into three containers.

Pros:

  • Three bowl-sized containers
  • Cute to look at, if that’s your thing

Cons:

  • The top bowl is not leakproof
  • All three containers are small
  • You may not like the design

To Sum Up

With its rich history, unique culture, and peculiar visual flair, Japan has proved time and time again that it has plenty to give to the world. Traditional Japanese bento boxes may not be its flashiest contribution, but they are one of the more practical ones. And with the assortment of locally made models available online, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Whichever box ends up striking your fancy, it should be well worth the investment.

made in the usa waltham watch

Best American-Made Watch Brands of 2020

When you hear the word ‘watchmaking,’ which country comes to mind first? Most of you will probably say Switzerland, while those of you who are a little more knowledgeable about watches might think of Japan or Germany. But did you know that American-made watch brands used to rank just as high, and at times even overshadowed the competition?

That’s right; at one point in history, the famously precise Swiss looked to Americans for watchmaking inspiration. And to our great joy, American watch brands are making a comeback with a modern style and a fresh functionality. So next time you decide to buy a watch, consider taking part in the American watchmaking renaissance.

Brief History of American Watchmaking

Though the Swiss were famous for their high-quality and elegant watches in the 17th and 18th century, only the cheapest ones ever made it across the pond. However, Americans didn’t want to settle, and their dissatisfaction gave birth to the first watch manufacturers on this side of the ocean in Waltham, Massachusetts. That happened in the 1850s, at which point Waltham was the epicenter of the Industrial Revolution. It was no wonder then that large-scale watchmaking would find its home there.

Waltham Watch Company made the first 100% American watch in 1854. This company, along with the others that sprang up in Waltham, developed and used some of the most advanced metal-cutting tools and machines. In fact, American watchmaking was so advanced that when they heard about it, the astounded Swiss sent representatives to witness the process for themselves.

Instead of looking down on their new competitors, the Swiss learned from them. By the 1900s, American and Swiss manufacturers were on equal footing in terms of watchmaking technology.

However, wristwatches turned the tide largely in Swiss favor. When they rapidly rose in popularity after World War I, Swiss companies were quick to adjust, but Americans struggled. The Great Depression followed, and then World War II, and suddenly watches became luxury goods in the US. Even after the country recovered, watchmaking companies didn’t. The era of American dominance in large-scale watch manufacturing came to an end.

Best American Watch Companies

America may not be at the top of the watchmaking industry anymore, but there are still innovative brands out there that keep the tradition alive. Although some of the watch parts may be sourced from abroad, all of these companies manufacture their watches in the United States and take pride in being part of its long watchmaking history. Here are some of the best American watch brands!

1. Martenero

Martenero seems to have hit upon the formula for success — classic design with a modern twist. With the motto “Tradition Refreshed,” this brand doesn’t strive to shake up the watchmaking world. Instead, it wants to place itself within it and enhance it.

Martenero was launched in 2014, but its watches look polished and timeless as if they came from a brand with a long-standing tradition. Most of them have a clean and refined look, perfect for both formal and informal occasions. Aside from the classic black, dark blue and silver models, Martenero offers red ones, as well as this beautiful nautical-themed watch.

Martenero watches will set you back between $500 and $700, depending on the model you choose. However, the elegance and reliability of these watches are entirely worth the price you will pay. And seeing that many of the watches on their website sold out, it seems that we aren’t the only ones who think so.

2. Weiss Watches

Here is a company with one goal in mind — creating a 100% American-made watch. With each new model, the percentage of domestic products that go into the making of its watches increases. But that’s not all — Weiss is also actively trying to revive some of the abandoned watchmaking practices in the United States. You can find out all about its manufacturing process on the company’s website.

Weiss watches are a bit on the expensive side, with its standard-issue watches selling at $1,150 and the executive-issue ones reaching almost $9,000. However, there’s no doubt that buying a Weiss watch means choosing a durable and high-quality piece. In addition, Weiss allows you to make monthly payments over three, six, and twelve months until you pay off your watch.

3. Shinola

This Detroit-based company prides itself on its luxury and long-lasting watches. The watch production combines advanced technology and hand-assembly, which ensures that the watches are durable and crafted well. Shinola’s teams are well-versed in Swiss watchmaking methods and they are committed to constant improvement.

Shinola offers stylish watches for men and women, ranging from classic models to more colorful and extravagant ones. No matter what your taste may be, Shinola has something for you.

But although the company specializes in watches, it can also offer you a range of other accessories. Bags, jewelry, journals, clocks, and bicycles — whatever you choose, you can be sure you’re getting a quality product.

4. Devon

You will be struck by the uniqueness and freshness of this brand the moment you enter Devon’s website. The dark, futuristic design doesn’t strive for tradition in any way. In fact, even telling time on these watches might prove a little challenging. These models are a fashion statement rather than practical devices.

And this statement rang out far and wide when Devon became the only American brand to ever be nominated for Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. This recognition only inspired the company to be even more innovative and daring in its ventures.

So if you want to look like a stylish secret agent from the future, Devon is the right choice for you. But keep in mind that these watches are extremely pricey — you won’t find a model that costs less than $10,000.

5. Kobold

Sometimes it’s best to stick to the tried and true, and in the world of watch brands, Kobold is just that. It left its mark on the American watch culture by making the famous Seal design. Seal has inspired countless watch brands and has been copied by numerous others. To this day, it remains a fashion staple and a classic.

But Kobold offers a lot more than just classic designs. You might be drawn to their sapphire watches, chronographs, and true artistic pieces such as Lynx Tahiti. Some watches even hide interesting stories behind their displays. For example, the Himalaya Everest watch got its name from the Mount Everest rocks that were turned into its dial.

For all their renown, you’ll find Kobold watches rather affordable. The prices sit comfortably around the $4,000 mark, with only the exclusive models going above $10,000.

6. RGM Watches

RGM stands for Roland G. Murphy, the founder of this unique American brand. The site doesn’t only offer watches for sale — you can also send your broken watch for repair, trade it in for a new one, or view past models. And if you’d rather not buy a watch, you can instead purchase belts, straps, and leather boxes.

But there is no reason not to buy one of the watches. They are absolutely gorgeous, with patterns and distinct designs engraved in the metal. Some models even have unique artwork on their displays! Why settle for a boring watch when you can have an RGM?

Since RGM boasts the title of America’s premier watchmaker, you can expect exquisite quality and a price tag to match. And that is precisely what you get. Most watches will set you back between $5,000 and $7,000, with some crossing the $10,000 mark. But since the brand is versatile, so are the prices — you can buy cheaper watches for $3,500.

7. Autodromo

As the name suggests, Autodromo derives its inspiration from cars. But the designer, Bradley Price, didn’t set out to represent just any sort of car — he wanted to express the golden age of motoring. With that in mind, he designed watches that bridge the gap between the past and the present.

Autodromo watches are minimalistic in style and small in size — they fit on the wrist like a bracelet. Most of the watches are darker or muted in color, but the Ford GT series stands out from the crowd. Ford itself commissioned this series and sold it along with the car. Ford GT models bring a racing vibe with their sleek dials and bold blues and reds.

With its motoring-oriented approach, Autodromo quickly became a favorite among car fans. And no wonder — its simple yet inspired design fits the car aesthetic perfectly. So if you love cars, this brand is a must-have!

8. Brew Watch Company

Brew Watch Company divides the day into two parts: coffee breaks and the time that you spend looking at your watch waiting for one. That’s why Brew set out to make the watch-checking period more enjoyable. And it did it by, you guessed it, making beautiful watches.

The founder and designer Jonathan Ferrer draws inspiration from coffee machines when making his watches. What immediately catches the eye is the slightly rounded square shape of the watches, and their warm colors. And there is a fun little feature for those who pay close attention. Namely, the watches have markers that highlight the optimal time for an espresso shot.

The good news is that since Brew is a smaller brand, its watches aren’t that expensive. You can get them for less than $400, which is quite a modest price for the quality you get!

9. Mercer Watch Co.

Hugh Mercer was a Scottish doctor who, after coming to the United States, became one of the closest men to George Washington. His death during the Revolutionary War became a rallying point for revolutionists. Two centuries later, near the place of his death, a watch company bearing his name was opened for business.

It’s no wonder then that a company with such a famous namesake achieved success. Mercer Watch firmly believes in the longevity of its products and puts quality above everything. The watches have a polished, clean look and rounded dials in different shades of grey, blue and black. You won’t make a mistake if you pair them with a suit, but you can also wear them when relaxing at home.

And Mercer’s strongest point is that you get quality and style at an affordable price. When on sale, these watches go for only $300, so make sure to check the site often!

10. Throne Watches

This New York-based company started its mission with an interesting goal — to make more time in a city that always lacks it. The team’s belief is that having a watch on your wrist instead of looking at the time on the screen allows you to forget time. Whether you agree with this philosophy or not, there is absolutely no doubt that Throne Watches makes checking the time more enjoyable.

Throne Watches’ products come with several different dial and band designs and colors. You can relish in matte black, glow with pure white, and show off the mossy green and elegant rose gold. The dials are big and round and the bands are subtle and comfortable. And if you’re a fan of chronographs, Throne Watches has those too.

Throne Watches may be worthy of kings, but its prices are acceptable for us commoners as well. The watches are divided in two price categories — the cheaper ones cost $295, and the more expensive ones $395. And if you already have a watch, you can buy a band separately — most of them come at a price of $75.

Summary

As you can see, the American watchmaking industry didn’t end with World War II. Though it might not be at the same level that it was at in the past, there are still brands that keep the tradition alive and set the standards high. In fact, there are many more than just the ones listed here!

So don’t let the time tick away — check out some of these American-made watch brands. You might become one of the many that fell in love with their style, precision, and elegance.

All You Need to Know about Traditional Japanese Fans

Fans have been around in Japan for a very long part of its history and have an elaborate journey of evolution. Japanese fans also cannot be bracketed into a single category as there are several types of fans in Japan.

The following is a brief guide to Japanese fans and some basic facts and factoids you may like to know about this cultural artifact.

history of japanese fans

History of Japanese Fans

The earliest history of Japanese fans can be traced back to burial sites in the 6th century CE. These sites were full of images and paintings of fans so you know that this object has some cultural significance.

There is documentation that Japanese folding fans were gifted to the Chinese emperor in 988 by a Japanese monk.

These cultural exchanges continued over the ages and both China and Korea have their own versions of the folding fan. 

Japanese fans are called by many different names, depending on the type of fan you are referring to.

The rigid, non-bendable one is called uchiwa. They can be made of a variety of materials, including palm leaves, straw, etc.

The folding fans that can be opened and closed at will are called sensu. They can also be made of different types of material, including silk, paper, sandalwood, etc. 

There are also war fans and brisé fans which were used for signaling during war and for decoration, respectively.

fan uses in japan

What Are Japanese Fans Used For?

While the straightforward answer would be that the Japanese fans were a way to alleviate the heat and keep one cool, it also has deep cultural significance and denotes the social status of the person using the fan.

The number of wooden strips in a typical Japanese hand fan would denote the social ranking of the owner. The more ornate fans would, of course, belong to the aristocrats and samurai class.

In fact, the war fans were an important part of a samurai’s uniform. 

Today, bigger cities like Kyoto and Tokyo do not see these fans being used even to provide relief from the heat, let alone as markers of social class.

Japanese hand fans are more decorative in purpose and make for great souvenirs for tourists to take back home.

Japanese Fans and the Performing Arts

The fan is an important part of Japanese dance forms. The traditional Japanese fan dance typically has a young woman or a group of women at its center.

The movements are slow, lilting and deliberate. The fan can be both an uchiwa or a sensu and there can often be a story or a narrative that is built alongside these movements.

Another Japanese dance form that has a prop at its center is the Japanese parasol dance which has similarly slow and deliberate movements, again performed by women.

Conclusion

The Japanese fans are one of the biggest symbols and cultural representations of the country outside its borders.

Even if you see a Japanese fan in a museum far away from Japan or at somebody’s house as a decorative item, your social education will typically tell you that this is a Japanese item or a replica of a Japanese item.

Given the long and colorful history the hand fans have had in Japan, it is befitting that they stand in as an image for Japanese culture abroad. 

Hanten: The Essential Japanese Jacket You Need to Know

Japan boasts of rich culture and tradition and a big part of Japanese culture is the attire or the various kinds of attire.

You may have most commonly heard of the kimono as a popular Japanese garment but there are actually several different things that make up a traditional Japanese attire.

In fact, there is no singular Japanese attire that is considered the norm. Depend on what part of Japan you are in or what season you are looking at, the traditional attire changes.

The following is a brief guide to the different kinds of attires or pieces of garment you may find in Japan. 

classic japanese hanten

What Is a Hanten?

A hanten is a traditional Japanese jacket that is typically worn during the winters. This is a short coat that is worn on a daily basis and has a warm padding or lining of cotton through the body.

It also has a smart collar and is a marker of style meets tradition. This is typically a lightweight jacket which is why it can be worn even on the slightly cooler days of summer as well.

There are no restrictions with regards to who is permitted to wear the hanten, unlike some of the other Japanese jackets and coats. There are also no restrictions in terms of gender and the hanten can be worn by men and women alike.

Haori vs Happi vs Noragi 

Now, the haori, noragi and happi all look similar to the hanten, but not only are they different from the hanten but they are also different from each other. 

The haori looks very similar to the hanten. It is a short coat that comes till the hip and is also worn over a kimono, like the hanten. Traditionally, however, the haori was a reserve of only the social elite while the hanten was adopted by the common people.

Even though the haori was typically worn by the elite it did not look very extravagant because the unabashed display of wealth was looked down upon in the Edo period.

Any stylizations in the haori, therefore, are very discreet and possibly only in the linings of the garment.

The happi could also be worn by anybody and was not reserved only for the Edo elite. It has a very simple and uncomplicated design and is made of cotton. This is a more casual coat and does not need to be worn over a kimono.

The happi is typically dyed into a single color but emblems and certain motifs provide relief from the monotone. They are still worn during various festivals in Japan by the traditional Japanese laborers, like farmers. 

The noragi is also a casual Japanese workwear and is typically worn by laborers working in the field or engaged in more physical forms of work.

The noragi comes down till the hip or slightly above the thigh. It has a simple, informal design and this too does not need to be worn above a kimono. Interestingly, American singer-songwriter John Mayer is frequently seen in a casual Japanese noragi. 

yukata vs kimono

Yukata vs Kimono

The yukata and kimono are also similar looking but there are some subtle differences between the two.

They are both robes that come till the ankle and have long, almost bell sleeves. But there are also some differences that will be elaborated upon in the following sections.

Can Men Wear a Kimono?

Both the kimono and yukata can be worn by men and women alike. The main difference between them is not the gender of the wearer but in the collar.

The kimono has a wide collar, while the yukata collar is stiffer and is half the width of a kimono’s. The sleeves of a yukata and kimono are also different.

While the length of a kimono sleeve can differ and traditionally, an unmarried woman’s kimono sleeve can even touch the ground (so eligible bachelors can identify the available women), a yukata’s sleeves will never touch the ground.

 Can You Sleep in a Yukata?

If you visit a ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style inn, during your visit to the island, you will be provided with a yukata. This yukata is made of a soft cotton and can be worn as a robe during your stay at the inn.

The robe is used as loungewear, sleepwear and even as bath wear. If you visit the traditional Japanese onsen, or hot spring (typically built within the inn), you will be expected to wear the yukata.

In contrast, a kimono is a more formal attire and you are not supposed to sleep wearing a kimono. Sleeping in a kimono can be compared to sleeping in a tuxedo — it is not practical.

What Do You Wear under the Kimono and Yukata?

There are special underclothes that are worn underneath both a kimono and yukata. But contemporary fashion has seen both these robes paired with the more casual flared jeans as well!

Hakama Japanese

Hakama

So far we have spoken about coats and robes, but a kind of traditional Japanese pants is the hakama. The hakama is part of the attire that samurai wear and is popularly worn by some aikidoka (those who practice akaidoki — a kind of martial art).

There are seven pleats that the hakama has — two in the back and five in the front. Each pleat has a name and significance. Men and women both wear the hakama, however, the rules are different.

Conclusion

The traditional garments and attires have taken a beautiful contemporary turn and you can often see versions of these traditional pieces of clothing emerging in street fashion and in more casual fashion.

Someone who has a close eye for Japanese aesthetic will be able to tell the minute differences between the coats described above. But from the point of view of contemporary fashion, elements of all these can be used to put together a look that also draws from tradition.

It is, however, important to be informed of the historical context in which these garments were worn.

Japanese Cutlery: An Essentials Guide

Every region of the world has a specialty — something that it is known for around the world. While you may think of sushi as Japan’s specialty, the pieces of equipment that go into making this delicacy are what you should be looking at.

guide to japanese knives

Any true craftsman can tell you the difference between a good knife and a bad one that you could potentially use in your kitchen, regardless of whether you are a professional chef or a home chef.

Japan is known for crafting some of the best pieces of kitchen cutlery in the world and during the course of this guide, you will be able to understand why that is the case. Whether it is the materials used to build these knives or the techniques employed, the final product is a result of exquisite craftsmanship, which truly sets them apart from many of the local chef’s knives that you may have used in the past.

History of Japanese Knives

Japanese knives are known to be of the highest quality and if you are wondering why that is the case, you need to go back and look at its history.

Japan may be a small island nation but its history is marked by a period where the samurai carried a Japanese sword — or Katana — into the battlefield or on their person. While the swords were large and beautifully crafted, they also needed a separate weapon for close combat. 

This is where the smaller side-inserted sword, or Wakizashi, came into use as backup. Restrictions on the length of both these weapons were set during the Edo period but in the years following the Meiji Restoration — 1868 — the swords were banned altogether.

As no one was allowed to possess or even create these swords anymore, artisans who had been crafting these weapons for centuries leading up to this period had to find alternative use for their skills, which had been passed on from generation to generation.

Domestic usage, in the form of knives for the kitchen, was not restricted and could also be extremely lucrative, which gave them the idea of using their craftsmanship for building knives that would be taken as the gold standard for specialized chef’s knives around the world for years to come.

What Are the Best Japanese Knives?

There are many different companies manufacturing different types of Japanese knives, which will be discussed in more detail in a later section.

However, you must understand that while there are some brands that are more popular than others, you need to choose one that suits your individual needs and not just give in to the hype around a certain product.

What Knives Do Chefs Recommend?

Many professional chefs around the world recommend Japanese knives for multiple reasons. First and foremost, there is an enhanced level of skill that goes into crafting a Japanese knife.

This isn’t something that you can just pick up for fun, passion is incredibly important when you opt for a Japanese knife. Second, these knives are known for being extremely sharp, which helps in giving you exquisite cuts each time you use it.

Finally, these knives are designed to be an absolute pleasure to work with. They are usually relatively lightweight with beautiful handles that don’t tire you out even after hours of usage.

You may find yourself confused between choosing a Japanese knife or a German knife, both of which are known to be of impeccable quality.

The main difference between both these types of knives is that Japanese knives are designed for more precise work, therefore they are much thinner and lighter.

The kind of precision that you get with Japanese knives is ideal for situations where you want to preserve the integrity of the ingredients and help bring out more flavor.

German knives, on the other hand, are bulkier with thick blades. While these knives may be more sturdy, they are only suitable for heavy-duty work.

If you use these knives for delicate tasks, you may not be to get a finer outcome. In the end, the right knife for you would be the one that is in line with your requirements and nothing else.

What Are the Best Japanese Kitchen Knives?

If you are looking to purchase a Japanese kitchen knife but don’t know where to start looking, there are some companies that have been known to create some of the most beautiful knives in the world.

Some of these kitchen knives are mentioned in some detail in this section so that you know what direction to look in.

Shun Classic 8 

Shun is one of the best-known names in the field of cutlery, not just in Japan but across the world. The chef’s knives manufactured by the company are the ideal choice for people who don’t wish to experiment but want their hands on a superior quality product.

Shun Classic 8

With the Classic 8, you get a knife that fits snugly in your palm and offers a good grip. This is a multipurpose knife that can be used to complete a range of tasks, including working with meat or slicing vegetables.

The company’s patented VG-MAX steel is used to craft the blade, which is finally coated in Damascus steel for additional durability. Get your hands on this knife here.

Global 8 inch, 20 cm Chef’s Knife 

If you are looking to invest in a chef’s knife from another well-known Japanese brand, the quality offered by Global at this given price point is tough to beat.

Instead of many different layers that are present in different knives, the knives by Global are constructed using one piece of stainless steel.

This means your knife will be relatively thinner than many other options available in the market. The part where the blade meets the handle — called the bolster — is also thinner than most such knives.

An interesting addition is a sand-filled handle, which helps keep the knife balanced. You can buy this knife here.

Yoshihiro VG10 Japanese Chef’s Knife

No one wants a mass-produced knife when they are investing their hard-earned money in a product of quality.

With the Yoshihiro chef’s knife, you get an impressive blade with three layers where the core is made of VG-10 stainless steel.

This means that you get impressive durability, edge retention and a degree of sharpness that will help you get through finer tasks with great precision.

The wooden handle is made with mahogany and offers a good balance. All of this makes this knife a great option for people who don’t have too much experience as chefs. Buy this knife here.

Miyabi 34373-203 Chef’s Knife 

While most chef’s knives come with handles made out of regular wood or stainless steel, the more long-lasting types of Japanese knives are those that don’t compromise on the kind of wood used to make them.

A good example of such knives is the Miyabi 34373-203 Chef’s Knife with its Masur birch handle that offers a sleek and soft yet strong grip.

Miyabi 34373-203

This wonderful handle is complemented by the fantastic blade, which is made up of 100 different layers of steel without bulking up the knife.

Not only does this Japanese knife offer great edge retention, but it is also one of the most beautifully designed knives that you can get your hands on. Click here to buy this knife.

KUMA 8-inch Chef Knife 

Another highly durable Japanese kitchen knife that you can get your hands on is the KUMA 8-inch Chef Knife.

The main reason behind its sturdiness is the fact that the blade of the knife is created with 67 layers of high-quality Damascus steel that increases its longevity and makes it resistant to chipping.

One thing that gives this knife a better balance than a lot of similar options is the fact that the blade runs all the way through the handle of the knife.

The knife also has a sturdy handle and a hand-finished look for the best performance. You can buy this knife here.

Korin Ginsan-Ko Kiritsuke

If you are looking for an exquisitely designed piece of equipment to add to your set of kitchen knives that will completely overshadow every other knife that you have ever held in your hands, the Korin Ginsan-Ko Kiritsuke is worth considering.

By no means is this an inexpensive knife but it is important to note that in Japanese culture, the kiritsuke is only used by the executive chef of an organization, almost as an indicator of his or her status.

It gives you the most amount of precision that you could ask for from a chef’s knife and is designed for keeping long-term use in mind. Get this knife by clicking here.

Shun Premier 8 

Another knife from the trusted house of Shun to make it to this list of the best Japanese kitchen knives is the Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knife with its pakkawood handle and classic build.

Handcrafted in Japan to give you the best finish possible, the hammered portion of the blade adds a degree of drama to an otherwise relatively classic blade.

The blade is very thin, allowing for an easier handling of ingredients and a more comfortable experience for the chef. If you want a knife that you want for life, this is the one. Click here to buy it.

Mac MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife 

While you may be inclined to think that Japanese knives are usually geared towards cutting fish or meat, there are also some that work exceptionally well with vegetables.

The Mac MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife is an example of such a knife with an impressively thin blade that will work through even stickier items of food with great ease.

The blade is built using a high-carbon aluminum alloy so you should try to wash it by hand and dry immediately. Buy it here.

Hinoki S1 Gyuto Chef’s Knife

Another wonderfully crafted chef’s knife that finds itself on the higher end of the spectrum in terms of pricing and quality is the Hinoki S1 Gyuto Chef’s Knife.

If you choose this product, you will receive a masterpiece that has been crafted by expert bladesmiths working out of Osaka.

One of the unique features of this knife is that is is made out of tamahagane carbon steel, which is as close as it gets to ancient swords in Japan.

There are three different designs available for the handle. If this knife meets your fancy, buy it here.

Shun Hiro SG2 Chef’s Knife

The last Shun product to make it to this list is the extremely versatile SG2 Chef’s Knife. With 32 layers of Damascus steel used to give this knife its impeccably sharp edge and a handle made using pakkawood, this knife practically screams luxury.

Shun Hiro SG2

The blade is handcrafted in Seki, Japan, which means that you can be assured of the kind of quality you are getting your hands on. You can buy this stylish knife here if it is in line with your requirements.

Are Japanese Knives Cheaper in Japan?

A common question that arises when you are thinking of purchasing a Japanese chef’s knife is whether it will be cheaper if you buy it on your trip to Japan or not.

While there was a time when you would get better rates if you were buying it from the country, a number of online portals have been established, which give you access to premium-quality Japanese knives even as you sit within the comforts of your own home.

Regardless, if you are looking to buy Japanese chef’s knives in Japan or in the United States, this section will help you find the right places.

Where to Find Japanese Knives in Japan?

All major cities in Japan have a range of specialty stores that will offer many different styles of Japanese kitchen knives that have been discussed in greater detail in a later section.

For example, if you are visiting Tokyo, shops like Kamata and Tsukiji Masamoto will offer a number of handmade knives as well as knives made in factories.

The knives are available at many different price points so that there is something for everyone’s budget. In Osaka, you can try Tower Knives if you are worried about facing language issues.

Otherwise, there is an entire street — referred to as the Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street — for kitchen equipment. Finally, if you are in Kyoto, try out the Nishiki Market, where the Aritsugu store may offer a great range of knives.

Keep in mind that there are strict laws that govern the sale of knives in Japan. While it is possible for tourists to buy knives in Japan, they have to package and seal it in accordance with the law and carry it only in their checked-in luggage at the airport.

Are Japanese Knives Available in the US?

In the age of the internet, everything that is worth purchasing can be delivered to your doorstep. This applies to Japanese kitchen knives as well.

All the major companies mentioned in the list above have their dedicated websites from which you can order a knife and get it delivered to your house.

There are also separate websites that offer knives from a range of knife manufacturers — all under one portal. As mentioned before, some of these websites — including Amazon — often have a number of deals and offers on their Japanese kitchen knives, which can make them relatively more affordable.

Japanese Knives Composition

There are two main components of a knife — the blade and the handle. The handle can be made of many different materials, for example, wood, plastic or metal.

The better Japanese knives, however, usually have handles that are made with good-quality wood that is comfortable to hold yet sturdy.

The other big part of the composition is the blade, which is usually made out of carbon steel or stainless steel — maybe even both.

What Is the Best Steel for Japanese Knives?

Japanese knives are typically made using stainless steel, carbon steel or a combination of both these types of steel.

While one particular type isn’t the absolute best, the type of steel you’d use for your knife would depend entirely on the use.

best steel for japanese knife

For example, if you aren’t a professional chef and are just looking for a Japanese knife for cooking at home, you may want to choose a stainless steel knife as the upkeep is relatively easier.

On the other hand, carbon steel knives usually retain their sharpness for longer periods of time.

At the same time, you can sharpen the knife with greater ease if it is made of carbon steel. This tends to suit professional chefs more as they tend to routinely sharpen their weapons of trade.

The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that carbon steel also tends to rust quite easily, especially if you leave the knife wet or don’t clean it properly. This can render the entire knife useless. Chefs are usually more particular about this.

Finally, keep in mind that you should avoid ceramic blades in this context. While they may look very interesting, these knives cannot be sharpened, which is a major deal breaker for people who need sharp knives in their kitchens.

Better Options? 

One option that hasn’t been discussed in the last section is an amalgamation of stainless steel and carbon steel blades.

While this doesn’t mean a literal amalgamation, this involves a regular carbon steel blade that is coated with stainless steel, which offers you the best of both worlds.

For example, the carbon steel element brings the additional sharpness to the blade, while the stainless steel adds protection to make the knives last longer.

Keep in mind that if there are any exposed areas built using carbon steel, they will rust if proper care is not taken.

However, if you are a professional chef or just a home cook who is exceptionally meticulous, you will be able to deal with carbon steel and enjoy the sharp edges that it offers.

Steel is a generally good option with limited efforts going towards upkeep and a decent finish product.

Types of Japanese Knives — In Detail 

While you have already been introduced to some of the best known Japanese knives, it is important to know what different types of knives are traditionally a part of a Japanese kitchen. All of these have different shapes, sizes and uses.

Gyutou/Chef’s Knife

If you are looking for the perfect alternative to the traditional chef’s knife that is used in North America and Europe, Gyutou is the knife you need.

The literal translation of this word — “gyutou” — is a “beef knife” but its use is not limited to that. Used for a wide range of tasks around the kitchen, this knife is usually made out of a more resilient form of steel, which makes it lighter than its European counterparts.

Overall, this makes your work so much easier. The design is typically very simple and you can easily sharpen it according to your requirements.

Santoku/Multipurpose Knife

In Japanese, the word Santoku translates to “three virtues”. This is very apt for this knife as well, as it is a multipurpose knife that can be used for completing a number of different tasks as you cook.

Traditionally, the three virtues mentioned above can be associated with the knife’s capacity for cutting meat, fish and vegetables with just as much ease.

If you compare this knife to gyutou, you will find that it is easier to chop things in an ‘up and down’ motion with this knife because of its flatter belly. The other requires a rocking motion.

Sujihiki Slicer

Sujihiki/Slicer

Slicing traditionally requires a separate knife that offers edge retention for more precise work.

In Japanese culture, sujihiki is the knife that will allow you to complete tasks like carving and filleting — amongst others — with great ease. In terms of construction, you will notice that this knife has a blade built using a significantly harder type of steel.

This is primarily because the knife has to be thinner than a lot of chef’s knives. The bevel is also sharpened at an angle that is steeper than other knives.

Petty/Paring 

Not all work in the kitchen requires you to bring out the large and relatively heavy chef’s knife.

If you need to get some finer work done, for example cutting herbs or smaller vegetables and fruits that could get ruined by larger knives, you need to get your hands on a petty knife.

This utility knife will go a long way to help you take on smaller tasks.

Honesuki/Boning 

There are primarily two different boning knives that are used in Japanese kitchens. The first of these is the honesuki, which has a unique shape and blade.

This triangular knife has a fairly stiff blade, which means that it will not display much flexibility. For this reason, it works increasingly well when you take on tasks like deboning poultry.

Soft joints on the meat can also be cut through using the honesuki. The edge is usually not symmetrical, which means it may be more suitable for people that are either left handed or right handed.

You can also get your hands on 50/50 balanced versions if you don’t want this restriction.

Hankotsu/Boning 

Another popular boning knife that is found in Japanese kitchens is the hankotsu.

While you may already have some expectations from this knife on the basis of what Western boning knives look like, this one will surprise you.

There is no “flex” in the blade of this knife. The spine is quite thick, for a more durable look and feel.

This makes it ideal for tasks like cleaning loins despite being used traditionally on hanging meats.

Nakiri/Vegetable Knife 

The usuba knife, which will be discussed later, is a traditional single-edged knife used in Japanese cooking and the nakiri is its double-edged version that looks a lot like the knives used in Western cooking.

This type of knife can be used for julienning and other similar cuts that require more precise work.

Yo-deba/Butchery

While Japanese knives are known for being lightweight, the yo-deba is a butchery knife with a thick spine that is relatively heavier than most others in the category.

The yo-deba can be used for meat or fish, and the size will depend on that. If you are worried about not finding the right one for left-handed chefs, these knives usually come with a 50/50 balance so that anyone can use them.

Yanagi/Slicer 

One of the most popular Japanese knives that you may come across during your hunt for the perfect kitchen tool is the yanagi.

A slicing knife with a single edge, this is an extremely sharp knife that is used by chefs for cutting thin slices of crudo, sashimi and sushi for the perfect end product.

Takobiki Slicer

Takobiki/Slicer 

Originally developed in Tokyo, this slicing knife is very similar to a yanagi with a slight difference.

These single-edged knives are very sharp so that chefs can slice their sushi and sashimi with greater ease.

A common explanation for the takobiki having a blunter tip end is that space in Tokyo is limited, which means chefs have to be more careful about safety.

Deba/Butchery 

Another traditional Japanese knife is the deba, which is primarily used for butchery.

Designed to be a significantly heavy single bevel knife, the deba also has a thick spine to make this knife as sturdy as possible.

The size you opt for will be dependent on the animal or fish that you are working on.

Usuba/Vegetable Knife 

The conventional knife used to cut vegetables in a Japanese kitchen is often referred to as the usuba.

This single-edged knife is known for being very sharp, which allows it to cut through different vegetables with great ease.

There are many different variations of this knife available all over Japan, with some models being specific to certain areas of the country.

Kiritsuke/Slicer 

If you visit a restaurant in Japan and study the way the chefs work, you may notice this one knife that is only used by the executive chef of the establishment.

This is referred to as the kiritsuke and is a fantastic slicing knife used in Japanese culture. The tip of the knife is angled, which makes it ideal for use either as a regular multipurpose knife or a sashimi knife.

Pankiri/Bread Knife 

The last knife on this list is the pankiri, which has been specially designed on take on tasks related to baked goods.

For example, if you are looking to slice some bread, you’d reach out for this knife.

As it has ridged teeth, the hard crusts and the delicate insides of the breads or other bakery items will not be damaged with this knife.

Are Japanese Knives Better?

Before making the plunge into the realm of Japanese knives, many people have doubts about whether or not these knives are actually better than their Western counterparts.

There is no straight or simple answer to this question. The suitability of a particular chef’s knife depends entirely on what you need from a knife.

For example, professional chefs will need to work with their knives for longer periods of time, both in terms of hours per day and days in total.

On the other hand, a home cook will spend only about 30 minutes a day preparing food with their chef’s knives.

Japanese knives are different from European or Western knives, mainly because they tend to be lighter and thinner without compromising on the quality in terms of durability and support.

The materials used are usually sourced from within Japan — types of Japanese steel — and many of the good knives are also crafted by skilled artisans all by hand.

Therefore, while it may be tough to generalize and say that Japanese knives are better than any other types of knives, it is important to note that they offer a level of precision and fineness that may be tough to achieve with the larger German-style knives. The final decision on what you choose, however, will depend on what you need!

Traditional Japanese Sandals Explained

Geta Sandals: What You Need to Know

Most people know what to expect when they think of traditional Japanese attire, for example, the kimono comes to the mind almost instantaneously.

The next time you see someone wearing a kimono, take some time out to look at their feet. As is the case with most different cultures around the world, footwear also forms a big part of traditional dressing.

In Japan, this footwear, that is adorned by both men and women, is referred to as geta sandals. Designed in a manner that is quite similar to the slippers you see around the world today, your initiation into the culture cannot be complete without delving deeper into geta sandals.

geta sandals explained

What Are Geta Sandals?

Geta sandals are a form of traditional Japanese footwear that is worn with outfits like a kimono, usually during festivals or cultural events these days.

The base of these slipper-like sandals is made with a piece of wood that is elevated because of two smaller pieces of wood under it. There is a fabric thong that goes through this base to keep your feet in place as you walk. 

While it may seem like this is an uncomfortable piece of footwear to wear on a regular basis, it has been known for being quite comfortable, adding height and also proving to be an inspiration for a number of newer styles of footwear that have become increasingly popular in the recent years.

History of Geta Sandals

The earliest use of the Geta — then referred to as the “Ta-Geta” — can be traced back to the Yayoi period where people were getting involved in cultivating rice but facing difficulties and getting through the muddy fields.

The Ta-Geta, where Ta refers to the rice fields, were used to make the process easier. For many centuries after that, these elevated sandals served utilitarian purposes and made the life of people so much easier.

Maiko or geishas in training also wore distinctive geta referred to as okobo as a part of their traditional attire. If she became a geisha, she would also have the chance of rising to the highest rank of courtesans in ancient Japan, referred to as the oiran.

The geta worn by the oiran were called the koma-geta. They were usually higher than the rest and had a more expensive lacquered design. Just by looking at their feet, people would be able to make the distinction between a maiko, geisha or oiran.

Another popular type of geta work by young girls was referred to as the pokkuri or koppori, which had a small bell attached to the bottom. 

Many people confuse the straw sandals work by the samurai and commoners in the Edo period with geta sandals but that is a mistake that can be avoided. Those are the waraji sandals in particular.

How Should Geta Sandals Fit?

There is a common misconception that you should wear your geta sandals in the same way that you wear flip flops at home. This leads to people pushing their toes right to the front of the sandal.

Instead, your feet should be kept back so that there is a small gap between your foot and the corner of the geta sandal where the fabric goes through the middle of your big toe and the finger next to it. This allows for better balance on the elevated platform. 

If you are looking to purchase a pair of geta sandals, always try to make sure that it is slightly smaller than what you are used to. The back of your foot should protrude a little so that you can maintain your balance. Finally, practice walking before you hit a festival or event!

Why Do Japanese People Wear Geta Sandals?

After going through the historical evolution of the geta sandals, you would understand that there is a range of reasons why Japanese people over the years have opted for the geta sandals.

First and foremost, the elevated platform can add to the functionality of this footwear, especially when people were working through dirt or mud. It was also a good way to distinguish between people holding different positions in society. In a more modern context, these sandals are used to complete the traditional look when you step out in your yukata.

modern geta sandals

Geta Sandals with Yukata

The geta sandals are traditionally worn with the yukata, a summer kimono that is usually found in a range of bright colors and patterns. The fabric used to make this kimono is usually lightweight and breathable so that it can help you stand the sun.

As the yukata is an informal dress, the geta sandals are also considered quite casual and can be found at many different stores around the country. These sandals are also more suitable for work as they are quite sturdy. In many cases, people also wear these with Western clothes as well. Finally, you may also spot sumo wrestlers sporting this style.

Zori Sandals with Tabi

While geta sandals are the footwear option that most Japanese people turn to when they are wearing the yukata, more formal occasions call for a more formal pair of footwear. This is where the zori sandals come in.

Designed with a relatively narrow heel that is shaped like a wedge, these sandals have a covering of some expensive fabric — brocade, leather, vinyl or more — which gives it a more finished look. Zori sandals are usually quite expensive, which is why they are reserved for special occasions like weddings. Here, they are work with tabi or white socks. You can also get handbags to match the zori that you are wearing.

Even though you may be tempted to think that geta sandals are no longer relevant in today’s time and age, these sandals have actually served as an inspiration for some of the most popular shoes that you find yourself turning to for comfort and style. The Papillio Collection by Birkenstock, which offers platform shoes for better comfort is one such example. The tatami sandals by the same company are another great example of how geta sandals serve as the basis for many modern shoes.

What are Noren and Why You Need Them

Noren: All You Need to Know

If you have visited Japanese restaurants and shops, it is highly likely that you have come across the noren, which is a regular fixture at Japanese establishments, regardless of whether you are in a city or a village.

This is a curtain-like piece of clothing that has an important place in the Japanese culture and can found across the country — both in homes and businesses — which you will find if you travel around Japan. If you want to learn more about norens but don’t know who to turn to, this guide will act as a helpful primer to the noren and its uses.

What Does Noren Actually Mean?

The Japanese fabric used as curtains or dividers between different rooms or simply placed against a window or wall is traditionally known as noren. The most common form of the noren will feature at least one slit that is made out from the bottom of the cloth almost all the way to the curtain rod.

In some cases, there may be more. While it is usually rectangular in shape, there is no limitation on what kind of material is used to make the noren or the kind of colors, designs and sizes that it is available in.

Noren are traditional Japanese fabric dividers hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows.

They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric, allowing for easier passage or viewing. Noren are rectangular and come in many different materials, sizes, colors and patterns.

Why Do Japanese Restaurants Have Curtains?

When it comes to utility, the slit between the fabric allows patrons to enter the establishment with greater ease or just peek through if required. The uses of noren aren’t limited to just that.

In most cases, the noren will be indicative of what you can expect when you go through. A lot of restaurants and izikayas get creative with the noren in order to showcase what is being offered inside or attract more people with their creativity. It is also a very useful tool when you want to get the maximum utility out of limited space by compartmentalizing.

Things to Know

In many cases, the noren used will become a big part of the establishment’s brand with people associating certain designs with certain places. Not only do lend the business a distinctive touch, but they are also very helpful in keeping dust, dirt and bad smells at bay.

Interestingly, there was a time when the noren was also used by customers to clean their hands as they walked out of the restaurant. In such a case, your popularity could be easily ascertained by looking at the noren!

If you are wondering whether you need to match the grommets to the rods you are using to hang the noren, you will be happy to know that there are no such complications involved.

Norens can just be slipped over the curtain rod you have in mind and adjusted to fit the door or window that you are using it for.