Thursday, April 4, 2013

Aka Tombo meets Sapporo Factory

Before I came to Japan I had two images of its art.  The first was that of wood block prints, kimono, pottery and lacquered wood.  The second was the hello kitty, manga inspired craziness that represents a more modern take on Japan.

The reality is that the first is reserved for fancy hotel lobbies and restaurants that I cant afford to eat in, the artists are hard to hunt down and the prices, as expected, contain too many zeros for me to count in Japanese.  The second option fills every tat shop in sight.

There is however a bit of a blur in the middle somewhere between the kimono clad geisha and the neon haired Harajuku kids filled with beige linen clad housewives and their apparent insatiable appetite for floral prints and cute purses.

I once saw a Japanese lady drop her handbag in the street sending its contents flying. Far from the disorganised chaos that inhabits my shoulder bag her mishap looked like someone had passed by a few month earlier scattering wild flower seeds on the pavement all of which had suddenly burst in to bloom at the exact moment she dropped her bag.  More than the prettiness of it was the fact that I still have no idea what was in her bag as everything was neatly tucked into its own individual little bag.  One for makeup, one for her phone, one for her individual pen, one for a note book and various others whose contents we can only guess at.  It is these ladies that fill the many shops of Japan every day and thus in turn, it is them who most often frequent any form of art/craft/flea market (there is very little difference between the three) that I stumble across.  It is therefore understandable that there are now an army of crafters making cute floral purses to satisfy these women's handbag needs, oh and jewellery as a Japanese female can never own enough.

As, I have discovered, it is pretty damn hard to break into (to sell stuff not to steal it) Japanese shops and there are few independent boutiques that like to work with individual artists, a shop has emerged in Japan to help these floral purse/jewellery sellers reach their target market. The box shop.  These are shops that have their walls covered in little box shelves that artists and crafters can rent out by the month to sell their work.  I have never seen this in Scotland but think it is a great low cost way for artists to start selling their creations.

Sapporo is famous for two things: snow

Powder snow

and sculpted snow

and beer.

bear with me as the dots of this story will all join up.

In the centre of Sapporo is the old Sapporo beer factory which, having become too small for the demands of the beer trade in Japan was closed as a factory and reopened as a shopping mall (a pretty nice one too).

In one far flung corner of this old factory is a little gem called Creators Stage which is an extension of the above mentioned box shop.  

Artists from Hokkaido can rent out a box or a whole table in the shop helping them get a foot in the door of the selling in bricks and mortar game while offering the awesomely funky/ beige linen wearing people of Sapporo some amazing one off products.

Sorry, rubbish pictures taken on my phone.  
Spot my three helpers Kiichiro, Martin and Casanova, thanks boys :)

As of Monday Aka Tombo Millinery claimed one of those boxes and will be in said box for the next three months. YAY!

As you can see the box is pretty small but if you don't usually wear hats this will give you the opportunity to try a hat shape on to see if it suits your face before buying which, no matter how good Etsy gets, you will never be able to do on-line.

If however you have spied a hat you like in my Etsy store and it is not in the box you can come down to Chikadori on Saturday where I will be all hatted up on my stall at the "Made in Jibun" market.

Hope to see some of you there :)


  1. Congratulations! I'll be keeping an eye out for your box next time I hit up Sapporo Factory!

  2. Thank you honey. If you are free on Saturday and in the town it would be good to see your face.