After two-and-a-half years of travel restrictions, Japan is once again laying out the welcome mat for overseas visitors.
But getting to the land of the rising sun may not be a breeze. Even if you can snap up flight tickets that will not eat too much into your budget, you still have to hunt for reasonably-priced accommodation and hope every little detail can be finalised before your annual leave starts. And if the thought of getting on a packed train at peak hour or waiting for other tourists to get out of your postcard-pretty shot in the Fushimi-Inari Shrine gives you further anxiety, why not let Japan come to you instead?
IRASSHAI JAPAN, an online storefront spearheaded by the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, JAPAN (SME Support, JAPAN) welcomes Singaporeans to its showcase of home-grown products from small- and medium-sized enterprises. SME Support, JAPAN set up this online pop-up to support the small businesses in Japan that have been affected by the pandemic.
Here are just some of the products available in IRASSHAI JAPAN’s Shopee storefront:
One of the quintessential cultural experiences in Japan is the kimono taiken — which offers an opportunity, often at festivals or cherry blossom viewings, to wear traditional Japanese garb.
The kimono’s cousin, the yukata, has also become symbolic of long summer nights, brightly-lit festival stalls and hot-spring visits.
Lately, a new Japanese garment has emerged in the spotlight in various shapes and forms — the samue.
Traditionally worn by Zen Buddhist monks for cleaning and lounging, the samue is a loose-fitting set of shirt and trousers, and highly favoured for durability and comfort.
Today, the samue is more often worn as pajamas or loungewear. Its high breathability makes it comfortable for Japan’s hot and humid summers — as well as Singapore’s muggy climate.
Based in Shizuoka prefecture, Marutoyo has been making samue for 57 years, and continues to employ traditional matoi weaving techniques.
While its product popularity extends to the kimono, yukata and other traditional Japanese clothing, Marutoyo’s samue continues to be its bestseller — including the options for women and children.
Lavender has been used throughout history as a sleeping aid. It does not just smell good: Research has also shown that it can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as increase melatonin levels in the body — ensuring that you get a deeper, more restful sleep.
Additionally, it helps reduce stress and alleviates associated symptoms, such as migraines and heart palpitations.
Lavender pillows are a common sight in Japan. Typically made in Hokkaido, they provide excellent neck support and are scented with both lavender potpourri and oils.
The variety available in IRASSHAI JAPAN includes different sizes to accommodate various sleeping positions. Get a 21cm napping pillow for a quick snooze during lunch break at your desk, or go all the way with a 49cm king-sized pillow.
Volcanic mud masks
Japan is one of the most volcanically active regions in the world, with more than 100 active volcanoes scattered across its islands.
The mineral-rich soil that results from constant eruption not only helps sustain Japan’s nutritious food — but is also the foundation for many beauty products.
Japanese volcanic soil can be found in domestically-produced cosmetics and skincare items such as bath salts, facial wash and body soap.
And no volcanic soil is as highly prized as that from the most famous volcano in Japan: Mount Fuji.
According to cosmetics maker Godai Sangyo, legend has it that a potter suffering from chilblains – small and itchy skin patches caused by exposure to cold temperatures – on his hands found himself cured after working in the soil around Mount Fuji. Studies later found that the minerals were likely from the high amounts of seaweed, shellfish and other marine life fossilised during Mount Fuji’s origin as an undersea volcano more than 30 million years ago.
IRASSHAI JAPAN offers Godai’s most popular product, the Hijiriko moisturising mud face pack. It combines skin-revitalising ingredients like jojoba oil, squalane oil, and most importantly, the volcanic soil from Mount Fuji.
The highly adsorptive volcanic soil cleanses pores of dirt and toxins, while the other mineral components and natural oils help to moisturise the skin and tighten facial pores, leaving the skin firm and glossy.
Mutsu Bay scallop ramen
Japan has no shortage of fine cuisine, with the mentions of ootoro bluefin tuna, wagyu beef and shine muscat drawing approving nods from foodies.
But only the most dedicated of seafood aficionados know the superiority of the Mutsu Bay scallop.
Hokkaido scallops are firm and meaty, with a salt tang that reflects the frigid, turbulent tides they are cultivated in. By contrast, just slightly further south, the calm waters of Mutsu Bay are rich in minerals, resulting in softer, sweeter and plumper scallops. These pair perfectly with Aomori seaweed and broth from the shijimi clam to make a seafood ramen that bursts with flavour — and unlike so many of Japan’s delicacies, are available just a click away on IRASSHAI JAPAN.
A limited-time offer
If you are amazed by the product line-up of IRASSHAI JAPAN, act fast: The storefront is set to close on Dec 22 — so start shopping earlier for a Christmas gift for yourself or your friends.
Visit IRASSHAI JAPAN here.