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May 2004
Issue 048

KS Classifieds

Classifieds now combined with Kansai Scene.

Pretty Cheap

Disregard those shrivelled bits in your bedroom, it’s spring, so say ‘bye-bye’ to pot-pourri. With a bit of imagination but not much cash it is possible to transform the drab hovel chic of your apartment into something bright and breezy. KS takes you by the hand and to the ¥100 shop to show you how.

Be inspired by the flowers nodding their heads at your window (or in the park three stations from your apartment) and roll up your sleeves, snap on some rubber gloves, get down on your knees and get dirty, Christina Aguilera style — all well and good if you are happy to sacrifice the bathtub and turn it into a very restricted plot of land.

On the other hand, if ploughing isn’t a viable option, there are ways to coax Mother Nature into your apartment even if burdened with a limited budget and a limited imagination.

Firstly, let us not tell others you are in fact limited. Secondly, let us not give others hints as to your limited nature by using nature of the green and colourful kind to simply screen the boring spots in your home that are obvious to everybody else. Finally, let us open our minds, our windows, our doors, and our change purses (or man-bags).

Surprisingly, small change makes big changes possible, thanks to a newer breed of style-friendly ¥100 stores that have appeared across the land. The garden variety ¥100 store consists of mountains of plastic baskets and buckets in lurid shades of grossness, makeup for kids, and Christmas stocking-stuffers. Don’t give up hope. Scattered quite liberally and accessibly about are shops catering for those in need of home-wares and basic interior design goods. Kitchen Kitchen, Natural Kitchen, Natural Plenty and Bana Bana stock bits and bobs ranging from ¥100 to ¥500.
By utilising these resources, it’s amazing what can be achieved with a spark of imagination and the lovely hints on display in-store, and the staff’s super-speedy wrapping skills are worth appreciating too, if you’re into that kind of thing.

After buying up big, the problem to avoid is transforming your place into a generic “Kitchen Kitchen” showroom. That’s where personal flair, taste, and style come into play.

You have the tools. Now, how to use them? Time to tap into the green and colourful side of being creative. Cut flowers and smaller plants are wonderfully versatile. Don’t just pass them by in the supermarket if the arrangement fails to catch your eye. The key to a bouquet’s versatility is that it can, and usually should be, pulled apart. Unbind the individual flowers and open up a world of choice .
Try placing single stems in separate containers to accentuate the individual beauty of each bloom. For a light and airy feel, use simple, unaccented glass with long stems. For an Asian feel, try pottery, painted or natural, with interesting textures. Group the containers in a cluster for a brilliant display, or space them along a window ledge for rhythmic simplicity.

Shot-glasses and tea-light candle holders work particularly well for displaying short stemmed flowers. Place glass near a good source of light to effect luminous points of light, cool and crystalline. Perfect for inspiring chilled thoughts in hot weather. Mix and match containers for an antique feel. Use matching containers and materials for uniformity and order.

Another great use for candle holders is to fill them with water and float flower heads or petals on the surface. In the kitchen, introduce some childhood science and grow carrot tops in shallow candle holders for a bushy little veggie-garden. Larger flowers can be plunged underwater for a bubbly, submerged effect. For containers that you adore, such as baskets or woven materials which can’t hold water alone, insert a glass jar or another smaller container which you can fill instead, with admirers being none the wiser. Tall container, short flowers? Pop another container upside down inside to give the arrangement a boost.

Flowers aren’t for everybody, apparently, so try a hydro-garden. Most big home-stores such as Co-op Living and Konan have extensive plant sections, as do a lot of florists. Look for the plants that have been raised to survive in a centimetre or two of water. As that’s their only requirement, they are incredibly flexible. Plants such as these are also to be found in the more expensive boutiques, though are obviously more costly. On average they cost ¥300 each.

Floppy flowers lolling dangerously close to falling out of containers due to sheer length or top-heaviness can obviously be cut shorter, or you can place a ‘frog’ in the base. ‘Frogs’ are those curiously shaped glass, plastic, or metal gadgets, sometimes spiky, sometimes loopy, found in florists and plant-sections. They look like massage tools, or tools of other fleshy trades, but are actually great at holding lengthier plants and flowers in place, such as bamboo stems.

Like us in summer, cut flowers are happiest with cool, fresh water, a cool place to rest, and having their stems cut a little every other day (unlike us). A packet of flower-food will keep them genki for an extra few days, though a teaspoon of sugar in their water tends to work just as well. Again, just like us.

Knowing when to dispose of cut flowers is also a plus, when they are brown, drooping beyond relief, or in a state of rapid decay, that’s a good time to chuck them in the gomi. Before they decline this far, replace them. Remember that flowers aren’t only for special occasions, like buying them for yourself on White Day. By adding flowers to the weekly grocery list your mood and the mood of your place will brighten considerably.

More information:
Bana Bana
1F 1-5-10 Sannomiya-cho Kobe-city
(across from Yuzawaya)
TEL/FAX 078-327-2340
Call or see in-store for complete location list.
Natural Kitchen/Natural Plenty/
Kitchen Kitchen
Numerous locations in Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and Tokyo. Check the web for details:

Text & Photos by Jared Olthof


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