One of the arcades that connect Flinders Street and Flinders Lane is Port Philip Arcade. It is here that you’ll find our featured store “Touch Of Japan”, a boutique where you can feel the essence of Japan whilst still being in Melbourne.
Originally it had opened 20 years before as a membership bookstore. Since then it has started to sell handmade Japanese crafts and accessories made by Keiko, and has gradually made the shift from a bookstore to a Japanese accessories boutique. As the store changed the number of Aussie clientele also started to increase, and so the name was changed to “Touch of Japan” a few years ago so that it would be easy for Aussies to understand as well.
Keiko is a handicrafts veteran with several decades of experience who continued to make handicrafts after her earlier days of attending dressmaking school, specialist hat making school, and various studios. Her works of art are lined up in rows in the store and shine with her craftsmanship.
There are earrings in the shape of origami cranes ($25 a set) and Japanese paper used to write poems ($12 a set). The origami crane earrings are the most popular item. They are cranes folded from Japanese paper, with several coats of varnish, painted on carefully for an even finish.
Here in Australia, there are various situations for sending postcards. And by sending card as splendid as these, the receiver is sure to be pleased. Many people buy these cards to decorate their rooms, as well as to use for themselves as a collection. Cards start from $2.50 for 1.
Or how about accenting your room with some hanging scrolls made from Japanese belts bought at Kyoto’s Toji market, ($95), and cushions made from the same cotton used for Japanese futons?
Recently, requests where customers bring in their own materials that they want made into the same goods that are displayed in the store window, and orders for wedding gifts and going away presents have been increasing. There is a discount on the regular price when ordering gifts and going away presents in large quantities, but you need to talk to the store first.
Along with the rows of popular handmade goods, you can also find these miniatures.
Both the miniatures and the materials for her handmade goods are collected by Keiko from all over Japan. Its not often you find a store that carries only these kinds of goods. Aussie customers who come here for the first time say that when they see the miniatures it’s both surprising and touching.
I asked Keiko about the concept of the store.
“There isn’t really any special concept. It’s up to the customers as to what they think of the store. I made the most of learning from the customers what is in demand, whilst making various arrangements to the store.”
What first prompted Keiko to start the shop was the thought of what she should do after her kids were grown up. As her kids got older the stores business hours and handmade goods increased. She raised the store as she raised her kids.
There are several stores in Melbourne that handle Japanese accessories. But they often display their Japanese accessories with things that are not from Japan. It feels out of place and leads to a feeling of disappointment that you couldn’t get the real sense of Japan. When you go into “Touch of Japan” the first feeling you get is a sense of nostalgia, and a warmth that you don't get from other stores. This store has real Japanese culture. So for all the people who want a sense of Japan in Melbourne, be sure to drop into “Touch Of Japan”.