Translated by Richard Perkins
Koiki Shinjuku Store - The Practical Beauty Of Japanese Hand Towels
Written by Mikako Utsunomiya
At Koiki, a store in Shinjuku that is specialized in tenugui (Japanese hand towels), you can find a large variety of beautiful Japanese items that are great as souvenirs.
Have you ever heard of what’s known in Japanese as tenugui? A tenugui is a type of Japanese towel that’s made with materials like cotton. This type of Japanese towel is used when wiping your face or hands, but can also be worn on your head. It’s also often given as a present; there are even times when kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers will sign them and hand them out as if they were a business card. It might not look like it, but these hand towels are used on a number of different occasions in Japan.
There is a store near Shinjuku station that handles tenugui and other small Japanese-style items.
The Koiki Shinjuku Store - A 1-Minute Walk From Shinjuku Station
When heading through the west exit of Shinjuku station where the JR/Odakyu lines run, there is a road known as the Mirodo Mozaiku Road in between the Odakyu and Keio department stores. This store is also close to the stop for the buses that go to both Haneda and Narita airport. It’s a convenient location for those that are visiting Japan from abroad.
On this street with stylish stores, you will find Koiki Shinjuku, the store that we’d like to introduce to you today.
This store opened up in March, 1995. It’s a store that’s loved by Japanese people and visitors to Japan alike. Even just looking at their seasonal display is fun!
Let’s Search for a Nice Hand Towel
Here, you can find a number of products from standard tenugui to seasonal tenugui, collaborations with various characters and more. The prices here are reasonable, starting at only 800 yen. You'll be able to find not just tenugui with Japanese designs upon them though, but also ones that include Halloween and Christmas designs. No matter what your preferences are, there’s no doubt you’ll find something here that will take your fancy.
Depending on whether or not the tenugui is folded up or rolled out, how it looks will change drastically. When at this store, by all means, pick one up and have a look at it.
At Koiki, there are also items that are only available at this store. Among these items, the most popular ones are said to be the tenugui with flowers upon them known as ‘koiki-no-kisetsu’ (in the right of the picture above) for 1200 yen, and ‘koi-no-taki-nobori’ (in the left of the picture above) for 1200 yen. The design for the ‘koi-no-taki-nobori’ originally came from a Chinese historical event and symbolizes the desire for success in life. It’s apparently something that’s quite popular in China.
The most popular and well-known mountain in Japan is Mt. Fuji, or as it's known in Japanese, Fuji-san. There are of course tenugui that include motifs with Mt. Fuji. There are tenugui that have large Mt. Fuji illustrations too, so you’ll be able to pick the one for you based on your preferences.
Unique Uses of Japanese Hand Towels
In this store, there are many hints hidden all over the place regarding how you can use tenugui. Folding it up into a Christmasy shape, using it as the centerpiece for a table, the staff here have come up with ingenious ways of decorating the store with tenugui.
If you would like to learn other ways to use them, feel free to ask the staff.
If You Can’t Make Up Your Mind, a Gift Set is Convenient
For those of you who are unsure of what souvenir to pick, then how about picking this gift set for 4000 yen? This is a set that includes tenugui with autumn leaves and Mt. Fuji motifs upon them, and includes even chopsticks. This is a set that really lets you feel the seasons. In the spring there are cherry blossoms, in the summer there are fireworks, and so on. Depending on the season, the combination of tenugui in this set changes.
Japanese Items - Mame-Daruma in a Variety of Colors and More!
At the Koiki Shinjuku store, other than just tenugui, there are also other small Japanese items. These cute little mame-daruma (*1) for 800 yen will grant a different wish depending on their color. Their explanations are also written in English, so it’s easy to select the one for you.
*1 Mame-daruma: no matter how many times these figures fall over, they get up right away, which makes them the ideal guardian to pray for the safety of a home, for good health, or against disaster. The word ‘mame’, which means bean, refers to the small size of the daruma figures.
Jinbei (a light cotton summer clothing consisting of knee-length shorts and a short-sleeved jacket) for kids for 4800 yen is another popular item. The tops and bottoms of a jinbei are separate, and the upper portion is worn by tying the string that’s in the front together. It’s easier to wear than a kimono (another type of traditional Japanese clothing) and allows the wind to pass through easily; it’s an item of Japanese clothing that enables you to comfortably enjoy the hot summer months.
At the Koiki Shinjuku store, the names of the products are written in Japanese as well as in English, so it’s an environment where it is easy for those visiting Japan from abroad to shop. There’s even a pamphlet about tenugui in the store that’s written in both English and Chinese. For those who’d like to read this pamphlet, please ask one of the associates.
This is the Koiki Shinjuku store where you can learn about the charm of tenugui. When you’re searching for a Japanese souvenir, how about picking tenugui?
Koiki Shinjuku Store
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku, Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-3, Shinjuku Mirodo Mozaiku-dori
Hours: 10: 00-21:00
Closed: Open every day
Credit Cards: Yes
Other Languages: English and Chinese pamphlets, product names written in English
Nearest Station: Shinjuku Station (JR lines, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi, Toei Shinjuku and Oedo, lines, Odakyu line)
Access: 1-minute walk from the west exit/south exit of Shinjuku Station
Website: Koiki Shinjuku (Japanese)