Karako' Asian accents

Leaf-shaped celadon plates from Change Mai, Thailand
Leaf-shaped celadon plates from Change Mai, Thailand

If jet-setting around Asia to find the pièce de résistance for your genkan or tatami room is too time-consuming, then head to Karako. This week
Pam Stoikopoulos discovers a homemade remedy to Asian shopping fever.

"Kawaii!" chime a pack of young women huddled around a wall-mounted shelf, displaying about 50 miniature clay pigs - one of those stores, is it? I quickly scan the room for bunny rabbit aprons and teddy bear cookie jars and am relieved to see that the pigs are as cute as it gets. Kawaii in fact, doesn't really accurately describe Karako at all. The store's emphasis is on unique household goods from everywhere in Asia, and it has successfully managed to acquire some of the most inventive, quality pieces that often elude the common traveler and at fair prices that often elude Tokyoites.

Chinese horoscope candles
Chinese horoscope candles

Best of Bangkok
In Bangkok, for example, the streets are flooded with low-grade woodcarvings and cookie-cutter copies of the same souvenirs. But Thai pottery? Karako has discovered some beautifully simplistic collections including hand-made serving dishes you wouldn't find on Kao San Road. Particularly attractive are the traditional leaf-shaped celadon dishes from Chang Mai.

While more classic Japanese yakimono are on offer, the speckled robin-egg finish and glaze of some of the clay works further explore the traditional-with-a-twist theme that permeates the store. Perhaps you're looking to get truly rustic with your dishes and so might want to pick up the heavy-duty primitive-looking Indian iron plates on display (we recommend weight-training before attempting to lift one).

If the light in your life is beginning to grow a little too dim then Karako's illuminating array of paper, wood and wicker lamps will no doubt help to brighten your spirits. The more "scentimental" of shoppers will no doubt appreciate the selection of candles whose aroma is designed to specifically match the needs of your inner pig, monkey or dragon by complimenting your Chinese astrological sign. Want the fire, but don't have the place? Then throw on your flame-retardant clothing and cuddle up to a giant candle log (JY45,000).

Sprouting bamboo shoots
Sprouting bamboo shoots

Wicker wonderland
Furnishing your home can be a wickedly enjoyable experience at Karako where the beauty and versatility of wicker and bamboo are embraced in the baskets, shelves, tables and chairs that are woven throughout the store. Bamboo plants are also available, for those who aspire to grow-your-own furniture in the future. Woven hammocks (from JY6200) might also encourage you to kick back and hang out with a good book.

A simple rock fountain might help boost your room's feng shui rating and the negative ions the running water releases will certainly help reduce stress.

On a grander scale, is the curious and costly Dynasty curio shelf (JY158,000). This versatile incarnation of a traditional Chinese palace - not to mention all of the other wondrous wares at Karako -  will no doubt leave you feeling that you're the king or queen of your very own castle.

Karako has three locations in Tokyo: Sesame Jiyugaoka Bldg, 1-25-9 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, 03-3717-5965; Kichijoji KS Bldg, 1-8-4 Minami-cho, Kichijoji, Mushashino-shi, 0422-40-1655; Aqua City S401, 1-7-1 Odaiba, Minato-ku, 03-3599-5081.

Ash 03-3770-3755
Clinique TCA
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Tokyo Skin Clinic
Toni&Guy Japan 03-3797-5790
Watanabe Hair Dressing 03-3405-1188
Who Ga 03-5570-1773

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