I grew up in New Jersey, outside of NYC, and ventured west to California to study Anthropology in college. I was lucky to travel when I was young and eventually found myself in Asia. For the past 15 years I have been living in northern Japan with my husband and our 4 children.
Raising children in a different culture has been both challenging and illuminating. I particularly appreciate the food culture of Japan and the attitude towards providing healthy food for children, both at home and in the schools. I am always amazed at the colorful and well balanced bentos (packed lunches) that people make and slowly learned how to pack them myself. I wanted to share this part of the Japanese culture that has had such a positive influence in my life. I also love to sew which is why I created my company SORAbento.
SORAbento offers handmade bento bags, insulated lunch totes and other eco-friendly bags that are based on traditional Japanese designs. These styles cover a variety of shapes and sizes so you can carry a small packed lunch, a larger picnic spread or your latest haul form the farmer`s market. Quite frankly they are suitable for a multitude of uses and you can carry anything you like!
I feel like I offer something unique in the sense that I live in Japan and have infused the style of my bags with a subtle Japanese aesthetic. Wabi-sabi is a word that describes a transient and simple beauty found in nature and its organic imperfections. I strive to create a balance between utility and beauty and hope that the customers find the bags useful in daily life as well as a tiny bit inspiring!
The amount of energy in the current `makers movement` is really encouraging to me. Jess Brown`s rag dolls have been a constant source of inspiration for me. With their unique heirloom look they have a special handmade quality that appeals to me. Another favorite is Sara at Shisodelicious on Instagram. She shares her beautiful bentos that integrate whole foods from Japanese and Western cuisines in a truly enlightened way! I am grateful that there is a sustained interest in buying handmade items and healthy, locally produced food, which lies at the heart of SORAbento.
Despite all of this talk about healthy eating I must admit that I have a huge sweet tooth. I love to bake sweets and share them with friends over a cup of coffee and a good chat!
Connect with SORABento
You can learn more about SORAbento, life in rural Japan or tips on preparing bentos at my website www.sorabento.com
You can check out all the bags available for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/SORAbento
Facebook at www.facebook.com/SoraJapan4
It feels to me that this is the year of women. I'm dumbfounded by the fact that women are still having to take to the streets to protest unequal pay, angry about workplace disadvantage after childbirth and the generally sexist treatment and rhetoric being used in recent months. I think women have just had enough.
Why do we still feel bullied in the workplace (often from other women), feel like we are giving up a career when we have children, feel judged for our parenting decisions (to work/ to stay at home) feel guilt about working, feel guilt for parenting when we feel we should be working? No man is judged for their work-life decisions. It's a given that they will continue on the path they set out on. Or change it...whatever. We often have to take a diversion when we decide to become a mother. For some it's a career break, some a career diversion and for others a complete career change. I feel like we have been on a treadmill for the past 100 years. Emmeline Pankhurst must be doing flik-flaks in her grave. Or else, weeping.
This year we choose love. For me this means supporting inspirational women I've connected with over the years both in person and through social media. In this blog series they share insights into their lives as they juggle parenting and running a business that they find meaningful. Not only do these women work in creative fields, they creatively construct a job to fit around their families. They are surrounded by friends and family who are supportive of their work, which allows them to make a positive contribution (both financially and emotionally). Yes, our lives are pretty hectic at times, but we carry on because we are passionate about what we do. In the words of an upcoming poster on this feature, "I think I skid through on the seat of my pants, balancing plates in my head most days!!"
I hope you can stop by at the end of each month to read about their fascinating lives.
PS Please share the posts where you can and visit their social media accounts and business pages to show your support.
Victoria Close from Bikudesigns talks kimono, business, Japanese design, life in Tokyo and all the things she loves.