A Little Primer on Japanese Craft Books

comments (3) July 16th, 2008     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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My collection of Japanese books.
More Japanese craft books!
My collection of Japanese books.

My collection of Japanese books.

Photo: Kayte Terry

Japanese craft books, with their irreverent photos and quirky projects, are sweeping the handmade world. But, short of hopping a plane to Tokyo, how do you get your hands on these books? Though it is admittedly a little harder to buy them than clicking away on Amazon (oh, but the search is part of the fun!), finding and buying Japanese craft books is easier than you think. Here is how I built my collection.

*If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a Japanese bookstore such as Kinokuniya (or you’re visiting such a city), this is by far the easiest way to search out Japanese craft books. These bookstores usually have a craft section, but give yourself lots of time: Most of these books have simple white spines and unless you speak Japanese, you will need to pull the books from the shelf one by one.
*Look for Japanese Craft Books on Etsy: You can type in a search for “Japanese craft book.” I have also had luck with the sellers chocolateswirl and little apple crafts. Superbuzzy, purveyor of amazing Japanese fabrics (don’t even get me started on that!), also has a great selection here.
*If you’re looking for a specific book, why not go right to the source? The blog Yvestown offers this wonderful tutorial for ordering books on Amazon Japan.

Ok, so now you have a Japanese craft book in your little hands. What do you do with it?

*I have found that most of these books have excellent illustrations that make the language barrier a nonissue. If you're really stuck, the Flickr group Crafting in Japanese can help; they encourage group members to post scans of confusing directions and invite other members to help out.

Feeling totally lazy?

*American publishers have definitely caught on the Japanese crafting trend and are starting to publish English language books featuring crafts made by Japanese designers. Check out the Kyuuto! Books by Chronicle or the upcoming Zakka Sewing book from Stewart Tabori and Chang.


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Comments (3)

CalPatch writes: i do realize how lucky i am to live near a Kinokuniya, but thanks for all these great links to online sources! another great one that has been translated into an english version is Sock and Glove, published by Penguin. super-cute stuffed animals made out of socks and gloves, in the spirit of the sock monkey!
Posted: 2:18 pm on October 3rd
kaytet writes: oh i'm so glad i inspired you! i just love japanese craft books!
Posted: 3:38 pm on July 17th
cmk34 writes: WOW! Thanks for all the great info. I have seen tons of Japanese craft books on Etsy and have always wanted to buy one but haven't because I was afraid of the language barrier and such. But you have given me the motivation so I'm jumping over to Etsy to hopefully find a treasure! Thanks!
Posted: 9:41 am on July 17th
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