Today we’re happy to interview Julie from Hypanese, an online boutique sharing Japanese Culture!
Hi Julie! Can you please introduce yourself?
I am a French girl, but before Japan, I was living in San Francisco (working in marketing/branding) and I decided to come here to face new challenges since I was very curious about Japan. I had two Japanese colleagues and my company had an office in Tokyo: talking with my Japanese colleagues was intriguing, I felt ignorant about their culture, their philosophy, and their way of living, so I wanted to know more.
I had never visited the country before, but my partner and I left our well paid jobs in the Silicon Valley to come here (end of 2019), find a new job, and discover the country. Ever since our arrival, our desire to create something here became more obvious day after day. We are fond of the Japanese aesthetic, and we are also true collectors of vintage Japanese items. My partner loves vintage Japanese watches and film cameras, and as for me, it’s Kokeshi dolls and delicate decorative items that I love to collect (especially small vases).
Can you explain to us exactly what Hypanese is?
Hypanese curates an exquisite selection of Japanese artisan crafts, which are only available in limited quantities, since we believe Japanese gems need to be appreciated with authenticity and with a genuine curiosity, passion, and interest. We offer various collections for lifestyle, the kitchen, dinner, and the living room where Japan-lovers can find one-of-a-kind items. With Hypanese, we wish to share with the world a piece of Japan and allow connoisseurs to live the way of Japan at home.
On our Instagram page, we have a mission to highlight important facts about the crafts of Japan, the history, the culture, and other general information about the country such as the Japanese philosophy, specific wording related to the Japanese lifestyle, and much more! Hypanese has the desire to gather a community of Japanese connoisseurs and curious individuals who have a genuine appreciation of its artistry.
How did you become so passionate about the shokunin concept? And can you explain to our readers what it is?
It is hard to explain. I would say that the passion inside me and my partner woke up when we arrived in Japan. After discovering more aspects of Japan, its culture, its know-how, and it’s way of mastering anything even the ‘simple’ things of life, I felt a lot of admiration towards the Japanese people and especially the craftsmen and their years of passing knowledge through many generations.
It is such an incredible inspiration especially in the digital era we are living in, seeing men and women passionate about handiwork, mastering every detail of it, is so beautiful that I wanted to share what I have the chance to see (almost) every day with others. Especially since I sincerely hope these art skills continue to be passed on forever. It is not an easy mission, and I feel the Japanese craftsman spirit as a whole is not necessarily known and acknowledged abroad,compare to the ‘kawaii’ aspect of the country: I wish the shokunin Kishitsu will also get the attention that it deserves!
The Shokunin concept is quite an intricate concept that even shokunin themselves haven’t still agreed on the specifics. Embodying the Shokunin Spirit means not only mastering technical skills in a specific area (cooking, pottery, music….) but it also implies a deep social awareness and consciousness: as a shokunin you HAVE to be the best version of yourself at all times, both for yourself, and for the others’. Living as a shokunin means to push your boundaries and skills until you master the Art of your discipline. From my point of view, this can only be achieved when your work becomes your passion, your ‘Ikigai’ (reason for being). I found this concept so powerful and meaningful, it represents the mindset of the artisans of Japan but not only the mindset. It is a way of life, a lifestyle where tomorrow you have to be greater than yesterday, approaching closer to perfection.
How do you manage to find such rare and niche items?
It takes a lot of time… and patience! Our list is never ‘thought of’ in advance, we are wandering among workshops until a craft capture our attention: it’s like falling in love,
when your eyes meet for the first time the beautiful craft, inside your soul you just know: it
has to be featured on Hypanese! We love each craft on our website, it is important for us to offer a selection of items we would like to personally possess…. And I have to confess sometimes I wish I could keep some of them for myself but in the end, it is such a wonderful pleasure to see an Hypanese item loved by someone else and travel beyond the borders.
I can imagine your job of looking for such high-quality items, produced by generations of craftsmen, involves listening to a lot of stories from people. What is the most compelling you have heard?
I don’t know if it’s the story you are looking for but we met this craftsman that is creating ceramics for his own pleasure and each one of his crafts is unique (e.g: our Riku vase on our website). Beyond being crafts, his creations are true art pieces created not to be sold, but to be appreciated as an extension of his soul.
We heard that you are working on a secret project! Can you give us some small details about it?
I am happy to share with you exclusively that Hypanese will soon launch its own product linked to wellness. It is something linked to the aromatherapy world. In alignment with our values to promote Japan’s ‘not so known’ aspects, the raw material of our product has been produced by a Japanese family for generations, it has something to do with one of the sacred trees of Japan… To be the first to discover this product I invite you to subscribe to our newsletter and found out about our secret project very soon!
Last but not least: what is your favorite Japanese food?
That’s a tough one! I am such a foodie…. For everything sweet my go-to is matcha! Nothing original I know, but I am a crazy matcha lover. As for salty pleasure, okay this one is gonna be more controversial: natto! Even my Japanese friends can’t believe I am in love with natto (it is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans that have been fermented): every night I start my dinner with it, so yum!