November 11, 2010

On Japanese zakka

a quiet izakaya in Ueno

Japan made me think a lot about how I choose to live my life.

In Japan, everything seems pleasing.  The packaging, the potted plants all over the place, the neatly stacked bikes, the merchandising in stores - all of it is so beautifully designed.  Everything has a pleasing aesthetic - it's remarkable!

this orange was a sherbet container before it became a home for these charms

I realized I want to take my time to design my life.  To garden more, to cook more, to remove everything my apartment I don't need, to take all the details and improve upon them.  Maybe this is the whole concept of zakka!
Zakka (from the Japanese 'zak-ka'(雑貨)or 'many things')

The term refers to everything and anything that improves your home, life and appearance.  Zakka has also been described as "the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane"


  1. I love seeing all the familiar sights! And how everything has a face in Japan lol.

    One thing I found really strange were the reenactments on the news. A woman broke a baby's legs & arms in a park while I was there, so the news hired actors to reenact the entire thing and the segment lasted for like ONE HOUR!! I thought, "We get it. Stop with the disturbing imagery." lol. okay, end random

  2. Yes, all definitely beautiful to look at. I definitely like the concept of Zakka. If things aren't making me happy, then it's time for it to go. No need to surround myself with things that are unflattering, annoying, etc.

    Haha, made in Japan....we definitely don't really see signs with stuff saying Made in USA here. If we do, it's super rare. And for the potted plants, I feel like small pots like the ones at the restaurant would get stolen or vandalized. Perhaps I'm just super pessimistic.

  3. Lindsey - Yes, Japanese TV is bizarre! I hate the panel inset with the celebrity's reaction - what is that about??

    Thao - no, you're not pessimistic - I think vandalism and violent crime are big problems in the US, and Japan seems to keep it not as prevalent.

  4. I think that's a great view on life. I try to surround myself with nice (looking ;)) things but I definitely need more house plants especially with winter coming. I think it's a great idea to remove some stuff from your place that you don't need. I've recently paired down quite a bit over time and you'll be surprised how much you recycle/sell/donate/give away/throw out and how much crap you'll still have afterward! It's seriously liberating to realize how much stuff you have compared with what you need and just get rid of some of it. Strangely, the more you get rid of, the better you feel.

  5. Theres something for EVERYTHING I often find myself overwhelmed by Japanese products because everything smiles at you, I dont want to use it.ESP sponges I feel guilty listening to it...

    btw we need to chat more, vintage movies, peter gaberiel, michael keaton, john hughes? I should have asked you to marry me first!! (dammit! lol jk)

    LETS BE PEN PALS, i'd be SO honored and a little intimidated XD

  6. We should definitely chat more, Bianca! You are the bees knees! Shoot me an email :) veronica at undercoverfish dot com

  7. Mmmm zakka~ Zakka is like a drug to me, I feel I can get too carried away with it :X