If you want to know how this site came about, it's a story with many twists and turns. No one's life travels in a straight line I'm told, and that's certainly true for mine! My Japan story starts back in 1998 when I came here to “find myself” - yep, it sounds like a cliche, and yet there it is. The plan was for me to stay for 1 year, make some money as an English teacher to pay off those pesky student loans and discover myself. After a year I planned to go back to Canada and prepare for a completely different life on a sail boat in the British Virgin Islands with my boyfriend at the time. However, that wasn't meant to be - we broke up within a few months of my arrival in Japan, so I stayed here longer than planned as I had no real reason to go back to Canada.
I did some interesting things in my first few years ... studied the piano for a short time, learned Hawaiian dance for an even shorter time, took some Japanese cooking classes ... And then I started to study Japanese pottery - right away I was hooked! I was so lucky that my sensei allowed me to study with him as I had practically no Japanese, but he was patient and kind to me. I went to classes with an older Japanese friend who was a huge help in the language department and it was a wonderful experience. I studied for about 4 years and I have a pretty gorgeous collection of pottery to show for it (humble, I know!).
During my first 6 years or so living here I was blessed to have some amazing students. The older women who studied with me were so gracious and took me on many trips around Kyushu (the island we live on) and Honshu (the neighboring island). During those trips I learned so much about the culture and traditions of this beautiful country. I saw a lot and really came to appreciate the art and the beauty here, especially as it pertains to the world of arts and crafts. I've always loved to make things and watching the Japanese do it and the materials and the techniques really stirred something in me creatively.
In 2003, I met my husband. I got tired of meeting crazy married foreigners and so I answered his online ad which was well outside my comfort zone and turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done! We hit it off and we’ve now been together for 14 years (married for 8). He's a big part of the business and I couldn't do it without him.
I wanted to share all the wonderful Japanese things that I discovered and fell in love with locally, so we opened our first store to share our findings with the world. That was on Etsy in 2007. We started with beautiful chiyogami paper, stickers, fabric and other craft supplies. We opened a second Etsy store focusing on Japanese vintage items. I never planmed on selling high end antiques but more of the unique and sometimes truly odd items that I discovered in my quest for things like stencils, cake molds, fans, rubber stamps...
In 2008 we decided to open our own website from-japan-with-love.com because I really wanted the freedom to sell whatever we wanted to and not be bound by the strict rules Etsy puts in place for it's sellers. We were happy with our website host for many years, but eventually we were having problems with customer service and a lack of options so we moved to another hosting site, only to face the same issues so we shut down our site to rethink it all but kept our url in the hopes that we would open our own store again.
So here we are in the Fall of 2017 and I'm so happy to say WE ARE OPEN! We are thrilled to be back and will be listing new items all the time, stay tuned for more and in the meantime be sure to join our newsletter for a discount off of your first order!
- sofia molnar