CONTRIBUTED BY KELLY ZENKEWICH
On a Japanese craft blog I read, Hello Sandwich, the Australian writer, editor and designer dedicates a lot of time to talking about washi tape. It’s something I had only seen in passing on sites like Etsy and Pinterest, and seeing what Ebony Bizys at Hello Sandwich did with the tape was absolutely inspiring!
Washi is an ancient form of paper produced in Japan, and can be made of fibres of Japanese trees, bamboo, hemp and even rice. It’s incredibly decorative and very beautiful.
Washi tape is a sort of arts and crafts masking tape, made of washi paper. It’s light, almost translucent and decorative as opposed to utilitarian. It’s been increasing in popularity recently, in Japan and abroad. For this reason, you can now buy it in varying widths, patterns and designs. You do not even need to use scissors to cut it, as it tears easily by hand, making it extremely practical. I carry a roll in my purse for emergency decorative wrapping!
But, what do you do with it? There are a million ways to use this tape, but my favourite is packaging items for mailing. It sounds naïve perhaps, but it harkens back to when I was younger and getting packages in the mail was super special. Now that I’m older I like to send packages with a little extra zazz on the exterior. I find the wrapping services for omiyage and gift giving so inspirational in Japan, and they impacted my own design sensibilities for packages and letters.
It’s also great for scrap booking, collage making and decoration. I’ve used it to wrap up cookies in butcher paper as gifts – it looks so great with just plain envelopes and paper. Because it’s nearly see through, it’s wonderful for layering. And the straight edges make something that took you a minute to do look like it took much longer. Can you tell I’m in love?
Visiting Tokyu Hands and Loft stores (both are sort of lifestyle/crafts/variety shops and well worth a visit) in Osaka and even Bangkok recently, the stores were full of the gorgeous rolls of tape. But, where do you find it in Okinawa?
Luckily, there are a few stores where you can purchase the tape on the island. I have listed a number of places below if you want to do a bit of exploring and check out many shops, but the selection seems to be best at Miyawaki bookstore at the CARGOES shopping center if you are more into a one-stop shopping mode.
Copy the Japanese address after each store below and then paste it into Google Maps — it will show you where the store is, and street view will give you an idea for visual landmarks in the area.
CARGOES shopping center on Kokusai Dori: 沖縄県那覇市安里２丁目１番１号
This is the shopping mall next to Makishi monorail station, the one with Red Lobster (http://okinawahai.com/2011/11/red-lobster.html) in it. The bookstore is on the 2nd floor and is called Miyawaki Shoten. There are branches of this chain bookstore all over the island, but this one seems to carry more stationery than the others. They carry MT brand washi tape but also another brand I am less familiar with. It’s an excellent stationery and craft supply store overall. Their selection is killer. Many widths, styles, multipacks as well as washi tape design books to help inspire you.
Yasukiya: 沖縄県那覇市牧志1-1-14 This back alley shop behind Kokusai Dori near the JAL hotel offers a small selection of washi tape mixed in with office supplies.
Module: 沖縄県那覇市旭町116-37沖縄県南部合同庁舎１Ｆ , an excellent housewares, furniture and stationery store across from the Naha Bus Depot and a short walk from Kokusai Dori.
South of Naha, at the Haebaru AEON: 沖縄県島尻郡南風原町字宮平264 the 2nd story variety/pseudo bookstore Village Vanguard sells washi tape. I am not sure about the Chatan JUSCO Village Vanguard.
Chatan/Mihama: Green Note Stationery: 沖縄県宜野湾市伊佐3-1-2 carries some.
R.Y.B.: 沖縄県中頭郡北谷町北谷2-16-7 This “country goods” and Americana shop also sells some crafts, including washi tape.
100¥ shops, particularly the Daiso chain, also carry styles of fabric and washi tape. They are a bit limited in terms of color and pattern selection, but they are still fun to use, and a lot cheaper.
Other than that, Tokyu Hands and Loft stores on mainland Japan carry a huge selection, so put it down on your shopping list for the next time you go on a trip there!
And if stationery and crafts are not your thing, look for MT tape designs crossed with teeshirts at your local UNIQLO clothing shop in a limited edition run, out now. (There are five locations of UNIQLO in Okinawa; Ginowan, Uruma, Nago, and two in Naha) The pretty tops, perfect for the summer heat, are inspired by the patterns and prints seen in MT masking tape. Pretty awesome, right?
How do you like to use washi tape? Have you found it hiding somewhere else on Okinawa? Let us know in the comments!