September 15, 2016
VISIT

Anything coquettish And Edo-like?
Go To Okano Yayoi Shouten

粋で艶っぽい江戸土産は「岡野弥生商店」にあり。

Souvenir shopping…this is a must do in any of your trips. It is fun but struggling sometimes, thinking and imagining what your friends will feel when giving the souvenir of your choice. You also don’t want to forget to get something for yourself too. Something a little fashionable, in good taste, and Japanese. There is exactly a spot that you must go if you are looking for some cool stuff like that, and that is Okano Yayoi Shouten in West Asakusa.
旅にお土産選びは欠かせない。贈る相手を想像しながらものを選ぶ時間は楽しいし、自分用にだって旅の思い出になるものを買って帰りたい。理想は、日本っぽさがあって、センスがよくて、ちょっと洒落が効いているもの。あなたがそんなアイテムをお探しなら、目指すは西浅草の「岡野弥生商店」だ。

Teaching Young Kids The Good Old Japanese Red Light Area – Yoshiwara

Okano Yayoi Shouten, as the name explains is a shop owned by Yayoi Okano. Everything this shop stocks are the souvenir brands called Shin-Yoshiwara, which is designed by Yayoi Okano. Its inspiration is coming from the atmosphere and the history of Japan’s historical red light area Yoshiwara. Goods are all some what sensual and coquettish just like the Yoshiwara escort women.

So, why Yoshiwara?
“I am born and raised in Yoshiwara, so I can probably call myself as a true Yoshiwaran. Near me is a gigantic sight seeing area, Asakusa. There are thousands of souvenir goods available, though Yoshiwara has been always seen as a taboo district having less and less visitors over the time, and kept diminishing in sizes. There are more than 400 years of history in this city, and I think it is a shame that we don’t make use of this place now.”
Famous Japanese writer, Ichiyō Higuchi has made the place Yoshiwara come out to light in literature world, by writing works such as “Takekurabe (Child’s Play)” and “Nigorie (Troubled Water).” In a world of Kabuki, there are titles which base its story in Yoshiwara. “Sukeroku Yukrai No Edo Zakura “ (known as Sukeroku), and “Kagotsurube Sato No Eizame” are few to name.

“Yoshiwara is used to be a culturally rich and trend-setting city. I don’t want the city to be recognised only for its red light district. I think if I make goods with Yoshiwara essence then people will have better understanding of what this city really is. This is the reason why I have started my brand.”

歴史ある色街・吉原の魅力を今に伝える

「岡野弥生商店」はその名の通り、岡野弥生さんが店主をつとめるショップだ。ここに置いてあるものは、岡野さんがデザインする粋で艶っぽい土産物ブランド「新吉原」のみ。日本随一の歓楽街の名を冠したこのブランドは、かつてこの街に生きた遊女や街の歴史をテーマに、粋で艶っぽいデザインのアイテムを展開している。

そもそもなぜ歓楽街を、しかも吉原をテーマにするのか。
「私は生まれも育ちも吉原という生粋の吉原っ子。近くにはマンモス観光地・浅草があり、そこには山ほどの土産物で溢れかえっているにもかかわらず、吉原はその存在をタブー視されがちで廃れていくばかり。400年以上の歴史をもつ街なのに、このままではもったいないなと」
五千円札に描かれた樋口一葉は小説『たけくらべ』や『にごりえ』で、吉原に生きる人々の心象を描写し、文学界にその名を残した。また、『助六由縁江戸桜』『籠釣瓶花街酔醒』をはじめとする歌舞伎の演目にも吉原を舞台にした名作は数多い。
「かつては流行や文化を生み出してきた歴史ある街なのに、ただのエロい歓楽街という認識で終わらせてほしくない。吉原をテーマにした土産物を作ればもっと多くの人にこの街のことを知ってもらえるはず、とブランドを立ち上げることにしたんです」

Unconventional Goods Favoured By Asakusa Skaters.

The brand started with two styles, pens and fans.
“I personally like to buy strange things when I travel around the world. That’s the beginning of coming up with “nude pens (stripper floaty pens)” idea, as I wanted to make my own weird things too. It is a floaty pen where the bikini girl graphic will become nude when you hold it up side down. I made some arrangements with this pen, by changing the bikini girl graphic into Yoshiwara escorts. On the graphic they are holding a cat to hide their breasts, and the cat will move away once you start writing so the breasts will appear. As for fans, I’ve asked a traditional fan maker Bunsendō in Asakusa for production. It is a shop that many of the Kabuki actors and Rakugo speakers favour, and I have always loved the shape of fans they make. I knew where to ask for.”

“After that was cards. I developed my ideas from traditional Ukiyoe, which is know to be the origin for words “Yubikiri (cutting fingers).” So on the cards I have illustrated a love story between Yoshiwara escort and her boyfriend. She tattoos her arm in order to show love towards her partner, does Yubikiri (in the old days couples in Yoshiwara cut each other’s little finger as a sign of their love), and double suicides in the end. There is nothing left after your death so the story completes in 3 set of cards.” There are cotton washcloth using the same motifs of the cards too. “Right after I started my brand, I asked Fūraidō (a gift shop in Asakusa) to stock some of my goods. There were skaters coming into the shop and they liked my washcloth. There is one that I made it in a shape of Happi coat. I made it playful so when you flip it an Ukiyoe pornography will come out.”

The most eye-catching goods of all, are the oval shaped tubs. “Taito district (where Yoshiwara area is) has many public bath places, so I liked the idea of going to bath carrying an oval shaped tub. Although there aren’t many craftsman who can make oval shaped tubs. Apparently circular ones are easier to make. A lot of them have gone out of business. Finally I met Okeei in Kōtō district. When I talked to them about what I wanted to do, they were nice and understanding. We’ve discussed to make real good tubs, and that lead into making its price a little higher than I imagined to be (laughs).”

Okamoto Yayoi Shouten has just opened in June of 2016. There are already trendy foreign customers making their visit to the shop. “There are many of traditional Japanese goods such as fans, washcloth, and tubs, but I’m not stubborn about in only making those kind of gods. With the craftsman I’ve met, sometimes they are nice enough to introduce me to another craftsman. I’m grateful that I can be part of this loop of craftsman, and hoping that I can do more and more of fun things together with them.”
We should pay attention in what kind of goods will come out next.

浅草のスケーターにも人気の洒脱なアイテム

まずは、ペンと団扇の2つのアイテムからスタートした。
「もともと私自身、海外の旅行先で変なお土産を買うのが好きだったんです。そういうものを自分でも作りたいなと思いついたのがヌードペン。水着を着たモデルを逆さにしたら裸になるという、あの、ふざけたボールペンです(笑)。それを遊女にアレンジして、胸元を猫で隠し、字を書き始めると猫が動いて胸があらわになるというフローティングペンを作りました。団扇は浅草に店を構える文扇堂さんにお願いして作っていただいたもの。歌舞伎役者さんや落語さんなどたくさんの方がご贔屓にされている名店です。ここの団扇の形が昔から好きで、作るならコレ、と決めていました」

そのあとに作ったのが絵札。「指切り」の語源になったと言われている浮世絵からアイデアを膨らませ、遊女と彼女の思い人との切ない恋をストーリー展開した。「思い人のために腕に『刺青』を掘って、『指切り』して、最後に『心中』。死んじゃったら先はないからこの三枚で完結です」。その絵をモチーフにした手ぬぐいもある。「ブランドを立ち上げてすぐに浅草のフウライ堂に商品を置かせてもらったのですが、そこに集まるスケーターの子たちに手ぬぐいがウケて。法被の形をした手ぬぐいはめくると春画が表れるという遊び心も忍ばせています」

ひときわ存在感を放つのは小判型の桶だ。「台東区は銭湯も多いので、小脇に小判型の桶を抱えて行くなんて粋でいいなと思って。ただ、丸型は作れるけれど、小判型の桶を作れる職人さんがいないんですね。みんな廃業しちゃってて。やっとの思い出探し当てたのが江東区の桶栄さんです。相談したら、とても親身に話しを聞いてくださって。いいものを作ろうとアイデアを出し合った結果、値段はちょっと高くなりましたが(笑)」

「岡野弥生商店」は2016年6月にオープンしてまだ間もないが、すでに海外旅行者の客も少なくない。「団扇、手ぬぐい、桶など日本っぽいアイテムが多いですが、別にそこにこだわってはいません。これまでご一緒させていただいた職人さんから数珠繋ぎに次の職人さんを紹介してもらうこともあり、今後も作り手さんとのご縁を大事に、一緒に面白いことができれば、いろいろなことをやりたいと思っています」
これからどんなアイテムが増えるのかにも注目したいショップだ。

SHOP INFO

Okano Yayoi Shouten

Address: #102, 3-27-10, Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 12:00〜18:00
CLOSING: Irregular
URL : www.shin-yoshiwara.com

岡野弥生商店

住所:東京都台東区西浅草3-27-10-102

営業時間:12:00〜18:00
定休日:不定休
URL : www.shin-yoshiwara.com

writer / MARIKO URAMOTO
photographer / MIREI SAKAKI

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