The Princeton Paper Crane Project

This is a repost of the blog for our project called, The Princeton Paper Crane Project, that our retail store, Miya Table & Home is sponsoring with the Arts Council of Princeton and Mr. Ross Wishnick in Princeton, NJ.  You can find the original blog at The Princeton Paper Crane Project Blog.

The project came about as more and more people were dying from a disease that could not be contained. The hospitals were full, there were not enough masks, ventilators, tests, doctors, nurses…. there was only death. Everything seemed scary and hopeless. People were dying alone and funerals couldn’t even be arranged since everyone was in lockdown. The death toll in the U.S. was at approximately 2000 and growing rapidly.

I thought about the Japanese tradition of Senbazuru that promises a wish granted for anyone that makes 1000 cranes. We thought we could start making a crane to memorialize every life lost and when we opened the shop again, we could display it in the window as a tribute.

We had embarked on our first Senbazuru project back in January 2019 when there were rumors of a march organized by white supremacists in Princeton. It seemed unbelievable that this would happen in our little liberal bubble of a town. The march was canceled in the end but we kept the project going with the idea that once completed, we would make our wish of hope and peace and also make donations to the ACLU of NJ and the Cornerhouse Community Kitchen in Princeton.

As we spread word of the project, we invited others to add to our monetary donation or to donate a crane to help us reach our 1000 crane goal. By the end of June, we had reached our goal with the help of our customers. It felt amazing to be part of a community that cared about each other.

So flash forward to March 2020 when we wanted to do it again but this time as a memorial to the ones who had passed from COVID-19. We heard about people who were doing origami at home as a way to deal with the stress of the news. Everyone felt helpless sitting at home and origami was a way to relieve a little of the stress. After all, you can do it alone, you just need a piece of paper, and it only takes a few minutes to complete a project. Instant gratification.

It became clear early on that we would not be able to make one for everyone in the U.S. who had passed from COVID-19. We would have to focus on lives lost in NJ. Even that number was getting more and more daunting everyday.

With the number of victims growing everyday, going into the thousands, after a while, it almost seems unreal. On the one hand, how can this number be so high? How is this our reality? On the other hand, with the death toll so high, are we becoming jaded to the numbers? Can we even imagine how many people are actually dying?

So we came back to the idea of the Senbazuru. Except if we were able to make a crane for every life lost in NJ and make a large scale display, we could help people actually visualize what a large number of people this really was. We thought it could be a way for those to mourn anyone they may have lost. Or even just to mourn others, even if they were strangers, because this tragedy was affecting all of us regardless of whether we personally lost a loved one.

At this point, the number hit about 3,000 deaths in NJ and I thought I would need a larger space than our shop. I asked around to see if we could find a larger space that could display the number of cranes we would have to make. A couple of weeks later, I received a call from Ross Wishnick. It seems he also had a similar idea about creating some sort of memorial and heard about mine. And since two heads are better than one, as they say, we decided to work together. Thank goodness we did because he seems to know everyone in town!

So now, the project is a go. Miya Table & Home is donating all the paper for the project, Ross is setting up a way to get the paper to people around the community and the Arts Council of Princeton will display the project this summer.

We also want to include anyone who wants to make cranes on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement and recognize that systemic racism endangers the lives of Black and Brown communities. From COVID-19 taking a disproportionate number of Black lives, mass incarceration, police brutality and the general mistreatment of Black people, BLM is an important part of our project.

We realize that there were so many different stresses affecting our lives, especially in the past few months. Pandemic fears, mourning senseless deaths, social injustices, economic hardship, and more. We don’t want to limit participation to only thoughts of COVID-19. We hope we can provide a small outlet for people’s grief right now.

Please join us in creating our project. It is meant to truly be a community effort. We will be posting images of cranes that we receive and the progress we are making. Check back here or on our social media accounts (Instagram & Facebook) for more!

Miya’s Response to COVID-19

As with most people around the world who are being asked to stay home and socially distance themselves, we are feeling quite grateful and lucky that we are still feeling healthy but a bit anxious about what is in store for our personal interactions, for our family, our business, and our community.

Our retail store has been closed since March 15th, followed by our office a week later.  Our office staff is currently working from home and our warehouse is still operational for online orders.  But we are working with limited hours so that there are no more than 3 people working at one time, giving everyone room to move about while maintaining a 6-foot distance from others.  Everyone has masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and cleaning supplies.  Overall, so far, so good.

The first step was making sure our staff and their families were ok.  Then, making sure our business is still functioning somewhat.  Next, it’s time to give back.  For all the healthcare workers who are helping the sick and the essential workers who are helping the rest of us stay home, we have donated to different organizations.

We have just started our 10 for 10 project.  Inspired by the amazing business owners in Princeton, NJ, where our retail shop is located, we have created a promo code for 10% off your order which will then be matched as a donation from Miya to local food banks, most notably, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) in Trenton, NJ.  Our friends at the wonderful toy store, Jazams, in Princeton has always been a wonderful resource for us as we delved into the brick and mortar retail world.  Their generosity to the town, their customers and our small business community is admirable and we could not appreciate them more.  So, we totally stole their idea and implemented it for our own online sales! (Thanks Dean & Joanne!)

So, if you are feeling generous and in need of retail therapy for beautiful Japanese ceramics or gifts, visit our site,  Then use the promo code: TAKEGIVE10 and you will get 10% off, and we will match your 10% to donate to TASK.  We are doing this through Mother’s Day (May 10, 2020) because moms rock.

Furoshiki Wrapping for the Holidays

Every holiday season, as everyone is opening their gifts, I can’t help but think about all that wrapping paper that was made just to be ripped up and thrown away (or recycled in the best case scenario!)  My mom used to carefully untape the paper and neatly fold it to put away for another time but I don’t really remember it coming back out for anything!  Where did they all go, Mom??

A great way to wrap gifts – the way many different cultures have been doing forever – is to wrap them in reusable fabric.  In Japan, they use a square piece of cloth called a furoshiki.  Originally used to bundle up clothes/bath supplies going to and from the public bath, these furoshiki were also used by merchants to carry their wares, and then for wrapping gifts.  It’s not as commonly used today as they were back in the day but there is a bit of a resurgence due to desires to live more sustainably.

Furoshiki come in all sizes and the beauty of them is that you don’t even need a box for the item you are giving.  Since they conform to the shape of the item you are wrapping, you can wrap a bowl, a mug, or a wine bottle without much difficulty!  No need for tape either.

We have some examples of furoshiki wrapped items in the shop.  We also have a book that includes great instructions along with pictures to wrap common items to gift or to carry.  It’s a great way to give a gift within a gift this holiday season!


Our furoshiki is currently only available in our Princeton store but if you are looking for something local to you and you can’t find actual furoshiki, make your way to the craft store and get some fabric you love!  If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you just need to sew the edges so they don’t fray.  Or find a large bandana to do the trick.  Shop local and/or shop small if you can!

More furoshiki experiments to come…

Miya’s Gingerbread House!

Let me preface this by saying I have never actually made a gingerbread house before so I looked everywhere for some inspiration/tips online.  I found a great blog post from La Fuji Mama that basically had everything I wanted so I shamelessly stole her design for this project.  Thanks La Fuji Mama for your creativity and post!  I literally could not have done this without you.

I found a recipe on a different site and procrastinated until the day before I had to bring it to the shop.  Next time,  I will be sure to prep ahead of time since I realize there were so many things I wished I could have added or done with more patience if I had given myself a couple more days!

But I went ahead and made some templates with poster paper and then transferred them to parchment paper so that they wouldn’t stick to the dough once I started cutting.  I made the dough (2 batches just in case!), chilled for a couple of hours (the dough chilled in the fridge and I chilled out on the couch…), rolled out the dough, placed the parchment paper templates on top and cut out 2 of each pieces of the house – front/back, sides, roof.  Baked, cooled and started decorating.  This process took a few hours so plan ahead!


As with La Fuji Mama’s project, I also added the Mt. Fuji background since it looked easy enough to do and I had a lot of dough left.  No template here, just cut the very iconic shape of Mt. Fuji.   Here it is with the frosting snow top:


Again, I had a lot of dough left over so I also made all our initials and our company’s name!  It’s not that pretty I know but I didn’t have any cookie cutters!  wow, my oven range is very dirty.


And since Mom is the one taking pictures of everyone all the time, I had to ask Bob and my daughters to take some shots so that I have some pics for this content! (on a side note, why do moms always take all the pictures?)


I even made Royal Icing to put it all together!  If you check the recipe, it doesn’t require too much but it was a first for me.  Also, I realized I had 2 unopened jars of cream of tartar – one expired in 2014 and the other in 2016….  but this house is not really for anyone to eat.  Also, would anyone even know the difference?  What is cream of tartar anyway?

I decorated and let that dry before assembling,  stuck it all together with my royal icing “glue,” put cans to hold the walls up like the internet told me, waited for that to dry and then roof, more icing, Giant Pocky for the roof top (did you know Pocky made in Japan tastes more buttery than the ones made in Thailand?), more decorating, worried about whether it would fall apart or if it looked “japanese” enough, stole some ornaments from our tree to add some color, stressed about all the bugs it will attract in the shop, and VOILA!


ok – it definitely could be better but it also could have been a lot worse!  Next year, I’m going to make the shoji doors slide open…  Wish me luck

Stop by the shop to check it out in person!  While you’re there, check out the other gingerbread creations around the square!  Happy Holidays!



Origami Workshop

We had such a great turn out for our first Origami Crane Workshop!  Since we started adding strings of origami cranes to the window display in our shop, we often get requests to hold a workshop to learn how to make that iconic origami crane.

We finally did it!  As part of Palmer Square’s Creating the Holiday Magic workshop series, we decided to participate with a session to learn how to make origami cranes, stars, and boxes.  We never made it to the boxes but I hope everyone enjoyed making the cranes and stars.


The best part of having family business is that I can make my family come help!  Bob and our three girls came out to walk around and provide some one-on-one help (and emotional support) for anyone that needed a little extra help.


Origami may seem difficult at first but as with everything else, it just takes practice!   Get some square paper, find instructions on YouTube and get to it!  It’s quite therapeutic and it keeps little (and big) hands busy.  They are great as ornaments or string them up and use as garlands.  It’s a fun DIY project for the whole family.

Friendly Neighborhood Department Square

I’ve always loved the idea of a downtown area in a small city or town.  When we were considering moving from our old neighborhood, the first thing we checked out were the downtown areas around New Jersey.  What we loved about Princeton were the greenness, the wonderful architecture of the buildings, and the variety of shops.  It felt like a department store without the “mall-ness” of it all.  It is a friendly neighborhood department square.

Our Instagram and Facebook posts usually revolve around our own shop but I wanted to show our love for all the shops/restaurants/businesses in Princeton!  And I enjoy the idea of shoppers coming to town, visiting a handful of shops and finding their own perfect unique gift for someone or for themselves.

I think we can all agree that we can pretty much buy anything anywhere these days but it’s nice to give a gift with some thought.  Even if it is for yourself.  Pairing one of our shallow bowls with Thomas Sweet chocolates?  That’s a great gift!  Buying beautiful cool frames at Morgenthal Frederics?  Get one of our special rectangular plates to give the frames their own special place in your bathroom, closet or bedside table.  Love getting coffee at Rojo’s or Small World? Bring your favorite mug and take your time enjoying your latte in the cafe or on the grass.  We are so over disposable cups anyway!

That is the idea behind our Social Media series, #MiyaXPrinceton – named so by my acting Social Media Director, who also happens to be our 15 year old daughter.

Additionally, we love talking to all our neighborhood business friends!  It has given us a chance to stop by, say hello, and let them know that we want them to succeed as much as we want to succeed!  So we tag their account and their location.  It has been a lot of fun.

We’re still working on these all summer so if you’ve missed any of our posts, browse our account or view our Instagram Story Highlights called Miya X Princeton.  Or search #miyaxprinceton on Instagram or Facebook.

If you want to see any other businesses featured with us, let us know!  I’ll be posting some of our past posts here as well shortly in case you don’t have Instagram or Facebook!






We’re Legit Now

Now that we have reopened as a permanent shop, it’s been just go-go-go!  Our original intent was to change the selections available at the shop every few months but that has been more challenging than we thought!  For one thing, as other retailers must know, as soon as I take a collection off the shelves, people come out of the woodworks asking for those pieces….  How does this happen every time??  So instead, we decided to keep our mainstays such as the Sendan Tokusa and make slight changes throughout the store seasonally.  I realize that sounds logical and why wouldn’t we just know that?  Well, we had envisioned a cool, ever-changing space for all our 2000+ SKUs.  Maybe for the second location…

We Have Our Own Retail Shop!

It’s been a fun couple of years for us at Miya and we didn’t even get a chance to post about it.  If you have been following us on Social Media, you may have noticed that we experimented with a Holiday Pop-Up Shop back in November 2017 in Princeton, NJ.

Our chalkboard sign announcing the opening of our Pop-Up Shop in Princeton, NJ.
My father-in-law making us tables for the shop at 86 years old.


What have we gotten ourselves into??
Just a couple of our little helpers


My husband enjoying the view from our new soon-to-be-opened shop.  That’s me inside taking pictures!


It takes a village. I don’t know what we would have done without family and great friends!


Almost like hanging up a shingle!


Opening Day!


Proud Shopkeepers


It’s Princeton, after all!

How Green is Our Juice…

For the past 2 years, Bob and I have been making green juice for us and our kids daily.  It wasn’t easy getting the girls to drink it everyday but it wasn’t that hard either.  Once they realized that we meant business, they kind of had no choice but to go with it.  Yes, we revoked (or at least threatened to revoke) some privileges if they didn’t have their juice for the day.  After a while, they realized that it wasn’t so bad.  In fact, our oldest, who is now 12, looks forward to it every morning.  If we miss a day, she is not happy about it!

We talk about it a lot to our friends and family – so much so that we think Bob has been influential in at least 5 family members buying a juicer and starting their own juicing expedition.  Not sure if everyone was able to maintain it but they tried.

So, now this has trickled into our work life.  Since everything else about our business seeps into our family life and vice versa, we have started a Miya Green Juice Program.  It’s a voluntary thing for our staff where everyone has to chip in their time and $1 per day for a healthy 8 – 10 oz. of green juice a day.  Everyone will rotate either buying the ingredients (paid for by Miya), prepping, or juicing/clean up.  We’re doing a trial run to see how it goes but I hope it lasts.

So far, everyone seems excited about it.  I think we are lucky in that pretty much everyone on our staff is fairly healthy to begin with and would not be opposed to taking it to the next level.

Our juice contains: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, apples, celery, carrots and lemon.  The great part of our juice as opposed to some of the commercial juices on the market is that it’s not as sweet.  I find that most off-the-shelf juices are so sweet as if to try to mask the taste of the greens.  We like the greens!

We encourage everyone to try your own mix of vegetables.  I don’t know that any of us really get those 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day but this is a great way to try to reach that goal.