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Zen and the art of Christmas shopping

by Elena Guarneri last modified 2008-06-20 15:11

In the year Japan dedicated to Italian culture, we take a look at some Japanese-inspired ideas for stocking-fillers and presents this Christmas

Gifts from JapanAs the count-down to Christmas begins here are a selection of Japanese-inspired gifts to suit every pocket. (The sites indicated are all in Italian but should be accessible even to the most linguistically challenged.) We start off with some ideas for those of you on even the tightest budgets with this selection of traditional Japanese flip-flops, which were seen on beaches all over Italy last summer. You can pay from as little as 12 Euros for these Zori (rubber-soled sandals with straw insoles) to around 60 Euros for these elegant velvet and wood Geta. Part of the sandals and socks brigade? Worry not - you can buy a pair (or two) of split-toed socks to go with your flip-flops.
For good value yet guaranteed-to-please pressies you can't beat these elegant candlesticks and candles. Choose from in-your-face Japanese with these ideogram candles (5 Euros each) or go for a more sophisticated boxed set of cool black candles (around 15 Euros). For more ideas browse through the oggettistica (ornaments and other paraphernalia) section. If you prefer to see what you are buying then you visit one of the Cinius stores in Milan, Bologna or Rome.

If you can go at least 20 Euros then have at look around the comfy world of Cuscini&co, where you can choose from traditional Zabuton meditation cushions to neck-rolls used for massage and Zafu cushions which make excellent poufs and foot stools.

If you can afford to spend a bit more, and you live in or around Milan, then you may like a browse around Edojapan (Edo is the old name for Tokyo). The shop has a wide selection of gifts including porcelain tea sets, kakejiku - silk hanging scrolls as well as good range of kimonos and other traditional clothes. Unfortunately the site is not yet equipped for online sales.

If you want to treat yourselves, or someone special, to some time-honoured Japanese furniture then our suggestion is a futon - not a bed, as is commonly believed, but a thick cotton quilt - and tatami, the sturdy yet flexible straw mats which the Japanese use as flooring. You can order both online at Linn-sui, as well as choosing from a selection of plain and patterned oriental duvets, duvet covers and bed linen.

We can't talk about Japanese-inspired gifts without mentioned one of Japan's best-loved exports - bonsai trees. Before you start on the hunt for that perfect bonsai prepare to part with a sizeable amount of your hard-earned cash. Then head for Crespi Bonsai, just outside Milan, where you'll find just the bonsai for you. There's even a Bonsai Museum with a vast collection of plants - some of which are more than 100 years old - books and plant pots all from the Far East. You can also order bonsai from Crespi Bonsai online thanks to Artefiori. You can also delight your family and friends with a suiseki - an ancient stone chosen specially for its shape and colour and the ideal room-mate for your bonsai.

Links - - Japanese furniture and ornaments online (In Italian only.) - - Japanese style both on and off the web (In Italian only.) - - The ancient art of bonsai
Bonsai web - - For bonsai enthusiasts the world over
Japanese Cultural Institute - - The Japanese Cultural Institute in Rome - - A showcase of Italian style in Japan (In Italian and Japanese only.)

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