When Tokyo natives Yuka and Kaz Morihata opened Rikumo in Philadelphia in 2010, they wanted to create a store that exclusively showcased the expert Japanese craftsmanship they grew up with. Their nuanced philosophy puts the spotlight on items either made in Japan or created by a Japanese designer. "We really look for artists that are reworking a Japanese crafting technique and updating it in a creative way for the 21st-century," says Yuka. "We want to represent the Japan of today."
With a recent upgrade to a bigger space in Philadelphia's Center City neighborhood, the Morihatas are taking a major step forward. "We were experiencing a lot of growth, and felt it was a good time to experiment," says Yuka. Their expanded location was more than just a chance to broaden the retail space. It has given the couple the opportunity to orchestrate the community-oriented programming they've always envisioned. Along with the retail space, the store is now split into two additional sections: a tea bar, where staff can connect with customers, and a "knowledge zone," where shoppers can peruse Rikumo's library, filled with books on Japanese design, art, and history.
Another new goal at the shop is to nurture the Japanese design community in America. This month Rikumo launches a "Local Picks" section to highlight products made in America by either a Japanese designer, or in collaboration with one. The store also hosts monthly workshops and artist lectures—whether that's a photography series on architecture in Tokyo, or gardening tutorials led by the team at Shofuso, a 17th century-style Japanese house and garden in Philadelphia's West Fairmount Park.
Here, Yuka shares five of her favorite pieces in the shop right now.
"Towels are some of our most popular items, and this is a new style we're introducing this month. Japanese towels are compact in comparison to American styles, but they're incredibly absorbent and come in amazing textures. The Aile towel is made from 100% cotton and feels almost like cashmere on your skin."
Tsumiki Stacking Blocks
"These blocks are part of Rikumo Kid, a children's line we just launched in May. They're made from cedar wood and can be stacked and arranged on top of each other to make all sorts of shapes. These blocks really let kids be creative and invent forms, animals—anything they imagine. They're designed by Kengo Kuma, a great Japanese architect who is designing the Tokyo Olympic Stadium."
Organic Asatsuyu Loose Leaf Green Tea
"Last year we introduced our own brand of organic green teas, which are made in Kirishima, Japan. They're USDA and JAS-certified organic—a more difficult rating to get than USDA, actually. Asatsuyu is one of our most complex green teas—it feels more like a strong broth than a regular tea drink. You have to take your time with it, savor it."
Sasawashi Room Shoes
"These shoes are made from sasawashi fabric, a lightweight, super absorbent textile that is made from washi paper and kumazasa plant flakes (a natural deodorizer). Room shoes are very common in Japan, and these are super breathable so they're great for the summer."
Yoko Yano Jewelry
"Yoko Yano is a jewelry artist based in Nagoya. Her work is made entirely from glass and inspired by natural forms. Every piece is made by hand. We discovered her in Japan and brought her pieces to the U.S. very early on—her work is so amazing."
For more about Rikumo, see rikumo.com.
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