Turning Japanese: How to make a trend Japanese!

The kids have been taking really long naps lately, so with all my free time I thought I'd have some fun putting together a list of decorating trends I've noticed lately. Ever since my husband and I started talking about buying our first house, I've been completely obsessed with interior design and decorating. I'm finding that there are certain things that every cool, artsy family has in their home. Now, I can't resist some of these trends, and I even have a few going on in my own home, but I really want to incorporate some Japanese things into the mix. I do live in Japan after all. So let's take a look at some popular trends and see how we can make them Japanese!

#10 is the Eames rocking chair. It's no wonder it's a hit, but I think I'm going to save my  yen for a Sori Yanagi butterfly stool instead. Sori Yanagi, a Japanese industrial designer who I really admire, designed this stool in 1956 (and it still looks cool). 

The #9 trend on my list is bird decor. Wether it's a bird mobile like the one I made here or bird designs on fabric, wallpaper, or rugs, the bird is everywhere. I'm totally guilty of bird overload in my own apartment, so I think I'm going to try something new, like bunnies. So how is this Japanese? Well, the little bunny you see here is designed by Cotolie Yuka, a Japanese designer. And it's just too cute to pass up. 

#8 on my list is the handmade afghan. Now, I have 3 of these. My grandmother made tons of them and now my sister carries on the tradition. I will NEVER give up my afghans, but the Japanese equivalent of warm-n-snugly design might be the kotatsu. It's a low table with a heater underneath and a blanket on top. Very romantic on a chilly night with your Honey. But if you want that gorgeous afghan pictured above, check out this Etsy shop

#7. I keep seeing these words spelling out what you're supposed to be doing in each room -- "EAT", "WASH", "SLEEP." Thankfully, I've yet to see one hung over someone's toilet, but it's only a matter of time. I'm going to skip this trend altogether and go with something a little less literal. This tanuki might be cute in the dining room or kitchen. Tanuki is a Japanese raccoon dog and it supposedly brings good luck. They are traditionally placed outside restaurants, but I don't always like to follow tradition. I like these tanuki because they come in different colors and their testicles aren't as enlarged as some of the other ones. Yes, you read that correctly. Really large male reproductive organs are an identifying characteristic of tanuki statues. So far, no one has been able to explain to me why. 

#6 on the trend list are FLOR carpet squares. These are brilliant, but why not try a tatami room? Tatami mats aren't as simple to pop out and replace as carpet tiles, but being different isn't always easy is it?

#5 is the sheepskin. I have to admit that this IKEA sheepskin is actually on my wish list, but I just have to get another shot of Cotolie Yuka's little pillows in here again. How cute is that lamb? And on the back it's furry. My husband doesn't get these at all, but I still want to sneak one onto the couch. By the way, if you're in Japan, you can buy these at pupi et mimi

#4. Ugly Dolls are really, really cool. I've spotted them on the couches and beds of some of the most enviable homes. But I think I'm going to go with a Totoro doll instead. They're just as ugly (in a very cute way) but ... they're Japanese!  
#3. They're called fairy lights in the UK, but in the US they're known as Christmas tree lights. I've decorated with these over the years with varying results. When we finally get our house, I'm going to skip these and go with Japanese glass fishing floats. These are so gorgeous the way they catch the light. The only trick is figuring out how to hang them. Here's where you can find them on Etsy
#2. I know you've seen this "Keep Calm" poster and maybe you even own it (in which case you're cooler than me). I get the idea, but just looking at the poster doesn't actually help me relax. I need something like the sound of running water to calm my nerves after a stressful day. So if I can wing it, I'm going to make a Japanese style bamboo and stone fountain for my little garden. 

Now to the #1 interior decorating trend that I'm going to turn Japanese. This list is, of course, just my own personal interpretation of what's trendy out there in the decorating department. And what I've seen in an overwhelming number of cool homes is this flag banner type thing made out of either cloth or paper. Don't get me wrong, it's super cute and a great way to inject some color into your room. But, seeing as how this story is about turning regular trends into Japanese decorations, I've decided to forgo the cute flags and hang a noren, like the one shown here by Yusai. Some Japanese might insist that these things should only be hung in a restaurant, but I think they are just too beautiful NOT to hang in your home. This one here is indigo-dyed and beautifully transparent when sunlight shines through. Picture them hanging on your porch and blowing in the fall breeze. Ahhh. 

Well, I hope you've enjoyed my little list. Gotta run and make lunch ...

(Fairy lights image via Real Simple, Cougar Town image via IMDB)


fatim said…
The ugly doll is superCUTE!!! Sure its ugly but .....like you said, it's Japanese!!! Poor me this things are not available in Malaysia...Well I don't have clue of Noren. Is it always neccessary for the Japanese? (^o^)
Vanessa said…
Hi Fatim. Thanks for your comment! Noren are these gorgeous fabrics that are usually only hung at the entrance to a Japanese restaurant. I think they're cool for the home though. You could try a google search ... or you might be able to just make one. It's a pretty simple design.
fatim said…
Hi miss Vanessa, Thanks for the response. I was searching for it in google when I wrote this for you...because of your site I'm able to know info about design .....and of course with Japanese element in it!! Arigatou(^o^)

p.s now I know if Noren with the ゆ sign, marking a bath house...>_<
Vanessa said…
Oh yes, you're right. They hang outside the onsen, too!

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