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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

We Love Fun Apps!

Yoko found this app to put a snow effect on this great picture that Mike, our photographer, shot.  We were all ooh-in and aah-ing about it thinking this was the best thing since sliced bread and then my 13-year old daughter says she and her friends use it all the time.  #wearesoveryold #wethoughtweweresocool #vidlab Holiday-Card.final.gif

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.

Kampai!

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So this is how you get things done…

So, this is what happens when I tell Yoko, our Marketing Assistant, that we need some food shots of our tableware.  She goes to the yummiest Japanese restaurants in the area, orders a chirashi-don and sweetly asks if they can put it in her special bowl.  And if you’ve eve met Yoko, you would know why people say yes to her.  Totally cute and sweet.  That’s how you get things done.  A little bit of savvy, a dash of ballsy and a whole lot of sweetness and smarts.  She took the picture at the restaurant and then photoshopped the restaurant part out to get this.  Nice job, Yoko!  My only complaint is How come you didn’t bring us back any?? 🙂  Thanks to Josho Restaurant in Somerset, NJ for the beautiful food!

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Big Hero 6 and Why I Shouldn’t Give Up My Day Job

I did not know very much about this movie at all before seeing it with Bob and our girls this past weekend and it’s probably a good thing, too, since no preconceived notions and expectations usually equals a more enjoyable experience.  And since, I’m far from being a professional movie critic (although I did ace a couple of film appreciation classes in college, thank you very much), I will refrain from trying to dissect the elements of this fun movie.  Oops, if I call it a “fun” movie, does that mean I just reviewed it?

I must admit I was a little distracted by the visual elements throughout the movie.  This fictional futuristic fusion city of San Fransokyo is a hybrid of San Francisco and Tokyo.  It’s a much grander version of many urban areas with Japanese enclave communities – San Francisco’s Japantown, Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, NYC’s East Village, Vancouver’s Japantown, for instance, just to name a few.  The architecture, the people, the signage all made for a very interesting place which I would probably highly rate on Tripadviser.  For “A Tour of ‘San Fransokyo,’ the Hybrid City Disney Built for Big Hero 6,” click on the image below.

A Tour of 'San Fransokyo,' the Hybrid City Disney Built for Big Hero 6

So, as I said, I was a bit distracted with all the fun elements of this city – the Lucky Cat cafe that had cute maneki neko images dotted throughout including a noren at the entrance, the daruma that I spotted in Hiro’s room, the donabe that looked very much like one we carry that held the cash prizes for Bot Fight winners, and the aforementioned fusion architecture and signage.

I was watching this movie, trying to keep from bawling over the storyline while simultaneously trying to keep from giggling at my youngest who actually IS bawling, and the recurring thought in my mind was, this would be a great city for selling Miya Company products!

This is a type of disease, by the way, that I can only describe as an occupational hazard – I’m not enjoying the storyline as deeply as I could because I’m lost in thinking I’d love to sell Aunt Cass some mugs for her cafe!  This is the same disorder that compels Bob and me (and many of our friends and family members) to instinctively look at the underside of dishes and bowls in almost any retail store and Japanese restaurant to see if it one of ours.

I can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD just so I can pause it to see all the details of the different elements!

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Big Hero 6 Movie Screenshot Aunt Cass Maya Rudolph

In any case, I loved that there was a mix of girls/boys as superheroes!  Loved that my girls could see there were female engineers/scientists/brainiacs!  Loved that they could also kick butt!  Loved that creativity was encouraged and celebrated over bot fighting!  So, yes, Big Hero 6 is a Must See!

As in, I must see it again because I lied, I was actually bawling as much as my 7-year-old and the sound of our combined sniffling kept me from hearing a lot of the movie…

For actual reviews of Big Hero 6, check out Rotten Tomatoes.

Spaceship Earth, Anoles and Selfies

Made my way to sunny Florida a couple of days ago.  I left my home in New Jersey at 5:15 in the morning in 30 degree weather to get to Newark for a flight to sunny Florida!  Florida promised 85 degree days and meetings with customers.  Both of which could either end in warmth and joy or overheating and sweating…  But fear not, as I have much confidence in our beautiful selection of products and our service that it could only go well.

But customer meetings aside, I managed to spend some time at Epcot Center and specifically at the Japan Pavillion.  This place is so fun.  Just walking around the Pavillion gates was great, enjoying the smell of something being fried – could it be potato-fry? ebi-fry? tempura? some sort of tako-yaki??  Whatever it was, it smelled so good.

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If you’ve ever been to the Japan Pavillion at Epcot Center, you must have visited Mitsukoshi, the famous Japanese department store outpost, filled with almost everything Japanese that you can imagine.  Hello Kitty?  check.  Transformers? check.  Pocky? check.  Kimono?  check.  Umbrella shaped like a samurai sword?  Well, yes, they have this and I must say, I definitely could not have imagined that but there it is!  Kinda cool.

And of course, Miya tableware…  What can we say?  Mitsukoshi has good taste.

I knew I would get some great backdrops for pictures and instead of taking a bunch of selfies (because no one needs to see that and grown women sound weird saying “selfie”) I thought I would use my cute Little Red Riding Hood figurines to help me make things a little more interesting.  I’ve been carrying these around with me lately.  So while I’m too grown to use the word, “selfie,” I seem to have no issue carrying around little figurines to photograph for my amusement.   I don’t understand it either, don’t worry.

DSC00079So here’s Little Red sketching Spaceship Earth.  She could get stepped on at any minute as it was a particularly crowded October day oustide Mitsukoshi but she’s an artist and she doesn’t mind suffering.

DSC00084Here she is calling out to someone with Spaceship Earth behind her.  Who’s she calling?

DSC00088She’s calling the little lizard by the gate.  Apparently this is called an anole and they are chameleon-like.  Can you see it?  Red spotted it right away and wanted to play.  If I were her, I would have run screaming the other way considering I am only slightly larger than the anole but Red’s a bit daring.  She’s wearing this very showy red hoodie in 85 degree weather after all.

That anole, by the way, must be so used to people, living in Disney World, that he did not even budge as I took a gazillion pictures of it.  Squirrels in the city are sometimes like that.  They sometimes eyeball you and size you up and you just know that if they could talk, they’d say, “You talking to me?  Are YOU talking to ME??!!”  Tough city De Niro squirrels.  Scary things – right up there with those creepy city pigeons…

I had to drive 3 hours to Boca Raton that night so I finally packed up my camera, my figurines, channeled my inner tween and took a selfie before I left!  Next stop – Morikami Museum!

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Setsubun

           February, 3rd is the day that we celebrate Setubun by doing Mame-maki in Japan; throwing beans outside front door of your house and from the windows saying “oni-wa-soto”, which means “the demon is outside”.  Families then close the door right after they throw the beans so that the demons do not come back in and they start throwing beans inside the house while saying “fuku-wa-uchi”, which means “luck is inside”.

People in the past had believed that the beginning of a season was the easiest time for a demon to sneak into the house and cause problems.  So, Setubun was originally celebrated on the eve of every season.  It has turned to represent only the eve of spring since it’s the most important season after a New Year.

The types of beans that are thrown are soybeans.  The Japanese believed that soybeans carried good spirits within them, which fight off the demons.  Rice is also believed to have good spirits in them, however, since soy beans are bigger they are better suited to warding off demons.  Also the Japanese way of saying ‘bean’ is ‘mame’ which is similar to how the Japanese say ‘dispel demon’, “ma wo mesuru”.

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Demons represent bad luck which causes disaster, disease and poverty.  The place they live is kimon, which is the direction of cow and tiger according to the zodiac.  Because of this, they have cow horns, tiger teeth and wear tiger patterned pants.

Beans need to be fried before they are thrown and those fried beans are called fuku-mame (it’s literally fortune beans in Japanese) it should be put in front of a shrine or kamidana to be ready for the day of Setubun.  People who don’t have kamidana at their house might put them on a high place like the top of shelves/drawers with a white sheet of paper underneath.  After Mame-maki, we eat the beans (the number of your age plus one) wishing us luck for a new year.  Eating beans are also believed to get good fortune by getting power against disease.

New culture

Instead of doing Mame-maki, the new way that has been spread out Japan now is Ehou-maki.  Ehou-Maki is a long roll sushi with seven ingredients inside, associated with 7 good fortune gods.  In order not to miss any good fortune, the roll cannot cut with a knife.

This sushi is named after the way to eat. 1) Look at Ehou, the direction of the year (East-northeast in 2014),  2) Start eating with one big bite first while making a wish  3) Keep eating without saying anything until finished.

          This custom started as a local custom in some Japanese towns to celebrate Setubun, yet it’s been gradually gaining popularity over the years. The reason does not only because it’s fun but also because there’s no need to clean up like Mamemaki, where you have to pick up all of the beans in and outside the house. Many housewives prefer Eho-maki better since they can replace it as dinner dishes.