Timeless and Classic with a Twist: How to Wear Monochromatics for Summer

As summer peaks around the corner, many people are quick to switch out their wardrobe for bright, vibrant colors to signify the end of cold, gloomy winter. But what if colors aren’t your cup of tea, or doesn’t fit the TPO (Time, Place, Occasion)? Our solution is simple: stick with the timeless and classic combination of black and white, with a twist!

In this article we’ll explore three monochromatic kay me dresses and how you can transform your black and white outfits to be light, airy, and vibrant for the summer season.

Brighten up with White

What better way to look fresh and new for the summer season than with a touch of bright white? Add a white item to instantly lift the complexion of the outfit and effortlessly brighten the look! This also helps to pull out the lighter shades in your monochromatic look and adds a crisp finish that ties the look together. Our Black Herringbone Cache-Coeur Ribbon Dress is the perfect match for any white jacket, featuring a chic and classical monochrome herringbone print complemented by a black ribbon tie at the waistline. The white jacket lifts the heaviness of the black used in the dress, creating a perfectly harmonious balance without straying from the monochromatic spectrum.

Create Harmony with Earthy Tones

Bring roundness to the sharp edge of monochromatic items by pairing them with a soft earth tone such as beige or greige, or gray. By softening the color palette with the introduction of earth tones, the look becomes effortlessly lightweight, perfect for the warmer months. To take this method a step further, we recommend finding a monochromatic item that includes a touch of earth tones, such as our Classical Flower dresses that incorporate a light tone of beige. Our newly introduced Classical Flower print features delicately drawn flowers with detailed hand-drawn strokes of a pen. This pattern is the perfect mix of elegant and versatile, and can be dressed up or down to fit any occasion! Pair this dress with our Kanazawa-made cardigan for additional softness that comes from the luxurious knitting. By adding a knitted item on top the monochromatic sharpness is softened further with the textured fibers.

Add a Juicy Pop of Color

For those daring to be a bit more bold, adding a pop of color to your monochromatic look is the perfect way to celebrate the warmer, brighter months of summer! From fiery red to cheery yellow, kay me’s wide selection of colorful cardigans and items are sure to pair gorgeously with any monochromatic look. Our new Giraffe Geo print takes a chic and modern approach to monochrome prints by incorporating a giraffe print-like geometric pattern in black and brown with an accent of white highlight. By adding an additional pop of color with monochromatic prints, such as our Giraffe Geo series, the color appears more vibrant and fresh than it would on its own. To bring cohesive harmony to the look, focus on just one additional color to incorporate with your accessorization from head to toe, whether adding a bold accent color such as red or something more subtle like champagne pink!

Monochromatic prints are timeless classics that never go out of style and are ideal for any occasion, whether for business, leisure, or even special occasions. At kay me we have a wide array of monochrome dresses, from simple solid items to intricate floral or geometric prints. Our newly added prints, Herringbone, Classical Flower, and Giraffe Geo, take an updated modern twist on the traditional monochrome with the use of unique geometric shapes and hand-drawn flowers, only available at kay me. View our entire dress collection today on our website and don’t forget to use our new Dress Filter feature in order to find your perfect monochrome dress!

Being a Woman Entrepreneur in Japan

Entrepreneurship can come with many challenges, especially as women who continue to face adversities in the world of business. Though this is a global challenge, women in Japan are especially hindered by the gender gap present in the workplace. Despite being a country known for its progressive innovations and technological advancements, Japan placed 120th in World Economic Forum’s ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2021’, 10 ranks down from 2019, speculated as the result of COVID-19. Despite the setbacks, female entrepreneurship has begun growing at a rapid rate in the past few years, especially in Japan.

The largest issue that seems to be present in pursuing female entrepreneurship in Japan is the lack of mentorship and networking opportunities that women are able to participate in. Aside from the business world globally being catered towards men, women in Japan are entrusted with the responsibility of childcare, domestic chores, and nursing their elderly parents. The result of these three factors creates a challenging environment for women in Japan to pursue entrepreneurship. During an interview with Japan Times, Mizuki Nakajima, CEO of coly Inc. explained how “Female entrepreneurs face hurdles as there are few female seniors whom they can consult about starting and operating businesses”. In order to combat this issue, many successful female CEOs have started up organizations and communities in order to provide mentorship and guidance to upcoming female entrepreneurs.

Women in Law Japan (WILJ), an example of one of these organizations, is a platform for women in legal professions to network in Japan. The importance of networking and building connections is shared with the president of WILJ, Catherine O’Connell, whom we’ve had the opportunity to interview in the past. Aside from starting Japan’s first lawyer-led legal podcast program, she also started her own boutique law firm in Tokyo, winning an Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2020. When asked for advice to share with kay me readers, O’Connell shared her three tips all centered around the most crucial aspect -networking. These three tips covered the value of every connection, the importance of maintaining connections without burning bridges, and stepping out of your comfort zone especially in the introductory stage.

Click here read about Catherine’s professional background as well as tips and tricks on networking:

So where do you start with becoming an entrepreneur and networking in Japan? The first step is to dress for success and attend networking opportunities and events! As Catherine shares in the second part of the interview, dressing for work, especially in Japan, is a “mark of respect not only to ourselves but to the person we are meeting with or the event we are attending”. She even shared with us how in true, respectful fashion she makes sure to dress professionally from head to toe even during online video meetings even if the person on the other end cannot see the full outfit. 

Investing in a classic jacket and a matching skirt or trousers can create a number of looks that can be used for multiple networking events, whether in person or online. When networking in Japan, we recommend soft, timeless colors such as navy, beige, and gray. The kay me Double Jersey Beige Tailored Jacket pairs perfectly with its matching Wrap Skirt to create an effortless suit set. Dare to be a bit bold by wearing a patterned top inside the suit, or aim for a chic look with a solid colored blouse accented with colored accessories for a vibrant pop. As per Catherine’s advice on dressing for online meetings, no need to worry about comfort or wrinkles when seated in your kay me suit as all of our items are stretchy, wrinkle-resistant, and easy care!

To read more tips from Catherine on how to dress, and for an exciting glimpse into her personal life:

How Working Women are Overcoming The Great Resignation

As we reach the second year mark of the initial impact of COVID-19, a global awakening, nicknamed ‘The Great Resignation’, has swept through the entire world in just these past few months. Millions have voluntarily quit their jobs in midst of the pandemic in hopes of better opportunities and fair work environments. This has quickly forced many companies to revise hourly wages, benefits, and other perks in order to attract potential employees. 

The demand of remote work

One ‘perk’ that many companies have made part of their working norm is remote working. First introduced in the beginning of the pandemic, many businesses temporarily closed their offices and shifted to the digital realm where employees quickly adjusted to the new work culture from the comfort of their homes. This new work style has become so important that according to Grow, “more than 1 in 5, 22%, said they would no longer consider working for an employer if work-from-home wasn’t an option”. This had a great impact on society and trends, especially fashion, where comfort became the priority of any everyday outfit. Many parted with their slacks and blazers and began dressing more casual in luxury ‘loungewear’, which according to Google Trends skyrocketed in searches by about 70% within April-December 2020 during the peak of the pandemic.

For days reserved for remote working, we recommend our Relax Wide Trousers, made especially with softness and comfort in mind. Pair it with any of our hoodies, made from the same Double Knit material, for optimum comfort and productivity! Although comfortable and soft as a cloud, these items have been designed and crafted to give the body gorgeous shape and dimension.

New meets old – hybrid working style

For the past two years, remote working has allowed women to balance and take control of their work life as well as their personal and family life. However, with many companies slowly beginning to open their office doors the work style that we have grown accustomed to has begun to morph once again, this time in the form of a ‘hybrid’ style. As employers observed the many benefits that came with remote working, companies have adopted the hybrid remote work style where employees have the freedom to choose days to work from home and at the office. According to a survey conducted by theSkimms, “two-thirds of millennial women say they believe they are missing opportunities by not being in the office, where they can discuss their career goals and development.” By implementing the hybrid work style, women will be able to be able to take control of their work and personal life and craft it to fit their needs.

So what will you wear to your first day back into the office? Nothing says you are naturally confident and ready to take on the new modern age like a pantsuit in pink! Equipped with shoulder pads, clean tailored lines and a silhouette designed to make you look taller, the perfect femme-chic suit should not only be empowering to wear but comfortable too – even for the home office. With stretch, machine washability and wrinkle resistance to make lives easier, it’s a no-brainer we want these always in our suits (and our suits are no exception).

The pursuit of entrepreneurship

With many businesses opening their doors once again and having employees come into work, mothers and many women with special circumstances who cannot leave their homes, have begun considering different career options that allow them more flexibility, one of them being entrepreneurship. According to Legaljobs, “47% of women started a business in the last year, compared to 44% of men”. By pursuing entrepreneurship, many women have regained control of their schedule and work-life balance, being able to fully indulge in their career without the responsibility or pressure of coming into the office and worrying about their children being cared for.

For our entrepreneurs who are ready to take on the world, we recommend our sleek, Kanazawa Peplum Knit Jacket to polish off the look for quick meetings, whether online or in person, without compromising comfort. Made from soft, luxurious and sustainable TENCEL™ material, it’s not only beautiful on the body, but kind to the planet. Choose from black or white to mix and match easily with your wardrobe! All kay me clothing items even our knitwear are of course machine-wash safe to ensure more freedom for your work and personal life without having to worry about visiting the dry cleaners!

Everything at kay me is lovingly made in Japan, with free worldwide delivery. For more lifestyle solutions, visit our online store today.

Three Inspiring Advice for Entrepreneur Women in 2022

2021 is quickly coming to an end and here at kay me we’ve taken time to reflect on a few of our most cherished memories of this year. As our team grew with every new store opening, we celebrated our 10th anniversary with a special collection, as well as many exciting events! Among these were our Exclusive Interviews, hosted by kay me founder Junko Kemi, where we met esteemed guests in the top of their fields in Japan to share their experience and wisdom with us. Here is a recap of our first three remarkable guests who graced us with their abundant knowledge and tips for blossoming female entrepreneurs!

The path to leadership with Ms. Natsumi Akita, Marketing VP of Adobe Japan

On our very first episode, we welcomed our guest Ms. Natsumi Akita, Marketing Vice President of Adobe Japan. Before Adobe, she extended her marketing chops in both the U.S. and Japan (from the likes of Master Card, Citi, HSBC to name a few), handling large-scale global teams. According to Ms. Akita, for ambitious individuals chasing the top, the first step to becoming a leader is to simply envision yourself in that position:

“It’s important to hold an image of how you want to be seen, and planning steps on how to become that version of yourself. If it’s a leadership role you are envisioning, you need to take a step back to see what parts you are missing and slowly take your time to obtain those missing elements.”

From there on with time and experience, you mold into the shoes that you create for yourself.

From large-scale global team management, dealing with cultural differences to male-dominated environments and maintaining leadership, and advancing to the global stage, Ms. Akita shares her seasoned advice in wealth in our exclusive interview below:

Weathering the economic storm with Ms. Sakie Akiyama, founder of Saki Corporation Ltd.

Our next remarkable woman we spoke to is founder of Saki Corporation Ltd., Ms. Sakie Akiyama. Pursuing the path of entrepreneurship in the industrial machinery sector, she has had her fair share of tough times and knows the importance of turning a bad situation into a chance for opportunity – something she has done for the past 25 years to keep her company running.

With the impact of COVID-19, many businesses have exhausted their resources, including their optimism and spirit. Similarly during Ms. Akiyama’s company presidency, she led her entire team through the devastating Lehman Shock of 2008 and not only recovered company earnings, but brought it to a steady increase just simply through a change in mindset. She recalled her toughest memory of the Lehman Shock:  

“During that experience, the least I could do as an entrepreneur and a company president was to look at the situation through numbers. I used this to communicate with my employees for them to understand the situation, and… brainstorm what steps needed to be taken to alleviate it. In order to do this I had to truly believe in what I was going to tell them and to make my mind up prior in order to truly convince them with my words and to win their trust over… I learned quickly how important being able to convey your thoughts is.

That’s when Ms. Akiyama adopted a new approach and what she recommends to those facing adversity and struggling to regain composure: imagine yourself in the worst-case-scenario and realize that it is not so bad. Stepping back to imagine herself in the worst case, where she sat in a dim-lit dingy room, eating a simple bowl of eggs over rice across her husband, she accepted she would be OK even at “rock bottom”. With this new positive outlook and no longer overcome with negativity, it was easier to concentrate on work and for Ms. Akiyama, a turning point both in her life and business from there on.

Check out her story and advice for women seeking global advancement below:

Finding your drive with Ms. Miwa Koyasu, founder of Will Lab Co. Ltd.

Finally we spoke to Ms. Miwa Koyasu, founder of Will Lab Co. Ltd., a company working to promote women with career opportunities, mentorship and development especially in the rural areas of Japan. Founded around the principle of ‘Will’, a term she uses to describe your ideal version of yourself, she walked us through ‘Will’, ‘Can’ (what you can do), and ‘Must’ (what you must do), three key features of drive that allows one to complete tasks and reach goals and explains why any entrepreneur needs to find their ‘Will’:

“There’s a lot to do, a lot of ‘Can’. They possessed skills and knowledge but no ‘Will’, which caused people to become lost, especially in their careers.

Of course I knew the importance of ‘Can’. It’s important to have skills to be able to complete the tasks at hand. But those who had skills but no ‘Will’, from my observation, did not grow as quickly as those who possessed ‘Will’. Although it is important to be able to complete given tasks, without ‘Will’, people lack the drive to push forward, which is key for any entrepreneur who is planning on starting up their own business.“

Pursuing who you want to be and how to find your ambition utilizing ‘will’, to exercising self-reflection, Ms. Koyasu shares her advice she imparts at her very own company in our exclusive interview:

With each interview we felt more motivated and inspired by these powerful women who shared their incredible journeys with us, both in their professional and personal lives! With more stories and advice from remarkable women coming up, visit our Youtube channel and subscribe to stay tuned for future interviews coming in 2022!

Three Outfits to Round Off 2021 Festivities

December has flashed by in blink of an eye and the holiday season is just around the corner! For many here in Japan, the season calls for little celebrations with loved ones and friends, enjoying the romance of the illuminations around the city and big corporate functions to round off the year. For these types of occasions, our Umeda stylist Yumi, has her three outfits recommendations to inspire your style!

Elegant for Romantic Dinner Dates

Being the last month of the year calls for making the occasion grand and extra memorable, and what better way than splurging on a fine dining experience with that special someone. For a romantic date outfit at that dinner rendezvous, we are keeping it warm, elegant with a feminine class.

With a nod to warm Christmas evenings by the fireplace with its rich red tones, a Tartan Print Dress feels just right to match the romantic dinner mood. Especially in our cache-coeur design, the dress brings out a feminine bodyline with its cinched waist and flared skirt. Completed with gold accessories and a clutch, you have a sparkling and glamorous outfit that also looks great with that glass of wine in hand – champagne or red. Don’t forget a thick warm coat (and add faux fur for an extravagant touch) to cover you to and from the restaurant or while you are taking in the colorful lit backdrops of the evening.

Yumi’s Dinner Date recommendations

Chic for After-Office Hours

While it is the month for plans and festivities, it doesn’t mean we don’t have work to think about too! The all too familiar balancing act of work and get-togethers can be a hassle for many, and even more so when you have to put together an party outfit that is office-appropriate too. Because let’s face it – who wants to show up to a party in work attire or have to go back home to get changed? So for the office and the girls night out after, how about something clean, modern and fun with blue and silver?

Hanshin_211221_03


Being a color which portrays trust and reliability, blue is a safe bet for the office and an eye-catching piece to wear every day too. Accented here in our Sapphire Lip Dress, the bold print balances bright colors with neutrals for a easy integration in and out of work. Paired with silver and a lapel jacket in white or black, it softens the print and keeps it sharp for the office environment.

For that extra ‘edge’, here Yumi wears our vegan leather Riders Jacket in white. It’s lightweight, stretchy and easy to wear out all night and machine-washable too for accidental spills!

Yumi’s Work-to-Party recommendations

Poised for Formal Functions

Dinner dates and get-togethers with friends are great, but sometimes the occasion calls for prim and proper dress and formality, such as the end-of-year corporate party or a ceremonial family gathering. During such occasion, it’s easy to go straight for black but if you want to ease up on the strict appearance and still look tidy in front of colleagues and esteemed company, then a simple solution is navy.

Hanshin_211221_04

Evoking an air of confidence, intelligence and authority, a top-to-bottom navy ensemble is perfect for setting the tone. Opt for a jacket with elegant details such as this, with gentle ruffles to frame the face and add feminine touches yet still has you looking sharp and polished. Over an A-line Dress and you have a simple go-to style to keep you comfortable for long evenings and sorted for similar functions to come.

Yumi’s Formal Function recommendations

However you celebrate your year-end, just like our clothes, may you celebrate with elegance, style and ease!

With love from Tokyo,
kay me

How To Wear Prints in the Office

Fashion can be tricky when it comes to balancing personal style with professionalism, especially in the office. Naturally, we have a tendency to stay away from bold prints and colors and our hands reach towards chic, timeless classics like solid navy or black suits. But what if there was a way to add prints and patterns without taking away from the sleek professionalism that is necessary for workwear? With the season of layering upon us, it is the perfect time to take risks by incorporating daring prints! Today we’ll explore a few ways to include printed pieces into your everyday office wardrobe including special items from our newly arrived Autumn-Winter Collection!

Simple and Sleek

For those just beginning their journey of wearing prints and patterns, we recommend starting subtle by still keeping the base of your outfit a classic, professional color such as black or navy. Add a pop of print to serve as the focal point of your look while keeping the rest sleek and cohesive.

To simplify your morning routine, we recommend choosing from our stunning collection of docking dresses, which gives you instant work-ready perfection in 30 seconds. These 2-in-1 dresses relieve the need to coordinate a top with a skirt while still providing the look of one. And they’re the perfect item for those who want to add a splash of pattern to their wardrobe staple. With our incredible range of prints to choose from, you can still add color to your everyday work style without compromising style, ease or comfort!

The Leopard x Black Frill Dress is a gorgeous docking dress from our newest collection, where soft leopard-print chiffon is met with a sleek, shape-supporting black skirt. The black used in the elegant leopard print also ties with the skirt harmoniously. This dress can be paired with your favorite black cardigan for casual days in the office. For days that require an extra chic finish, pair the dress with its matching Smart Stretch Jacket!

Down to Earth

Another way to make a printed pattern appear more mild and muted is by pairing the item with earthy, neutral tones such as brown, gray, or beige. This not only softens the colorway of the outfit, but by incorporating muted accents the bold print is neutralized with earthy elegance.

For example, the Navy Ray Flower Tucked Top pairs gorgeously under a chic black or navy suit, but by opting for milky colors such as greige or beige the look is softened gracefully. This top can be paired with either a skirt or trousers and the colorway of the print opens endless possibilities for coordinating!

Go for Bold

For those who are up for the challenge, we recommend taking a risk and dressing in a fully patterned dress! Although this may seem intimidating at first to wear to the office, with just one extra piece you can feel confident wearing a printed dresses for your go-to work look! Especially for those with plans after work who don’t want the hassle to go home and get changed or show up in something boring, this simple option can let you have your cake and eat it too.

It all comes down to choosing the right layer with the right design – a long knit cardigan! Our range of Kanazawa Side-slit Cardigans are made for just that – cutting just above the knee with its relaxed silhouette and flowy knit, they balance out dynamic patterns and colors and provide the perfect coverage over any daring dress. Since they are machine-washable nor do they lose their shape either, you can have an elegant and cozy office style with them (print or no print) each day of the week – the possibilities are endless.

Whether you are looking to subtly add printed patterns to your usual work wardrobe, or looking to express your personality through fun and daring prints, stepping up to the challenge of your own personal comfort is an amazing accomplishment of its own! Here at kay me we strive to support women through their challenges, big and small, by providing premium quality clothing that are chic, comfortable, and easy-care. So you can focus on enjoying the challenge of finding the perfect prints that fit your lifestyle, without compromising stress-free comfort! To discover your new favorite workwear print, have a look at our latest collection featuring elegant leopard, timeless tartan, chic ray flowers, and more! Visit our online store to view our gorgeous selection of originally designed prints and patterns, with free global shipping for all orders!

Adjusting to New Pandemic Work Routines and Changing Seasons in Japan

With the warm temperatures of summer fleeting, this marks the second year of Japan’s COVID-present autumn just around the corner. Nearly a year and a half later, the effects of the pandemic on work life in Japan are still prevalent but surely recovering. In the beginning, many companies opted for strict teleworking to lessen the chances of contraction during transportation as well as in the office. Compared to the prior year however, we can observe positive changes such as the 26% full-time teleworking rate dropping to 8% (Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd.). This means that many people have begun to slowly transition back into their offices with the utmost caution by implementing time-adjusted work hours as well as flex work hours.

Like teleworking, time-adjusted work hours and flex hours in Japan allow people to have more control over their work schedule. Time-adjusted work hours are where employee schedules are separated so their beginning time and ending times are spaced apart to avoid overcrowding. For example, some people may begin their workday from 7:00-15:00, whereas others may begin their workday from 11:00-19:00. In both cases, the employee still follows the typical 9-to-5 workday. On the other hand, flex hours work in a similar way where the company has ‘core hours’ where all employees must be present, and the rest of the hours are scheduled freely as long as they total 40 hours per week.

With the adjusted work hours as well as the changing of seasons the question that arises is how to dress properly for in-office days that are not quite cold enough for heavyweight fibers, but not warm enough for lightweight fibers? Workwear can be tricky during the transitions of seasons, especially in autumn as the mornings and nights are exponentially colder than the daytime. With the newly implemented work style, the temperature difference can be even more extreme than before. Today, we will explore three easy ways to effortlessly transition your summer wardrobe into cozy autumn wear.

Coming back into the office, one stressor people may remember is how many of us cannot change the office thermostat settings. Often times, offices are notorious for being chilly in order to prevent computers and other electronics from overheating, especially during transitioning seasons where it is warm during the day. One way of comfortably transitioning your summer wardrobe for the fall is switching from a light underdress to something more heat-retaining to stay cozy even in a dress around the office. kay me Warm Underdresses are light and breathable, yet heat-retaining. For transitioning months, we recommend the camisole underdress, which can be worn under any of your favorite kay me dresses without worrying about the design being disrupted.

With the rise of time-adjusted work hours, many people opt to leave their house either earlier or later than the rush hour. As an incentive, railway companies such as JR have begun implementing a point system for people who commute during these ‘off-peak’ times. These collected points can be used to pay for items and services within the station malls, or exchanged online for items. For those who leave early, they are met with colder temperatures going to work and warmer weather when leaving from work. Those who leave later in the day are in the opposite situation. As a solution of being exposed to polar opposite temperatures during the workday, an option would be layering with knitted items such as cardigans and knits. Not only will this option provide extra warmth whenever needed, but the look of knit adds an instant look of coziness to any outfit! By choosing rich colors such as bordeaux and mustard, any simple dress can transform into the perfect autumn look. Try our comfortable and soft Kanazawa-knit Crewneck Cardigans available in gorgeous autumn colors such as Mustard and Gray Melange.

For those constantly on the go in and out of the office, sometimes carrying an extra layer like a cardigan or jacket may not be the most convenient. Especially when traveling on foot, the body naturally heats up and the extra layer brought for warmth just becomes a nuisance to carry. In those cases, we suggest wearing materials that can assist in regulating the body temperature for constant, optimal comfort. This dream-like material, called Outlast, has actually been developed for NASA in order to maintain a comfortable temperature even in space. This thermally adaptive material absorbs, stores, and releases heat for optimal comfort. At kay me, we have taken this technologically advanced material and have created a stunning suit collection, perfect for autumn! The Soy Milk x Pinstripe Docking Tuck Dress is a gorgeous piece that features a feminine top complete with delicate tuck detailing at the bustline and ¾ sleeves. The skirt is made from Outlast material that provides soft shape support and warmth when needed. The combination of the two creates a breathtaking ensemble-like dress which can also be paired with its matching jacket to instantly transform the outfit into a suit!

With the new normal of work life in Japan evolving constantly through COVID-19, adapting to and overcoming frequent changes has been a challenge in itself. The last thing that you want on your mind is worrying about how to stay comfortably warm or cool throughout your day as you return to the office. In retrospect, many women have taken the opportunity that teleworking and adjusted work hours have created by indulging in improving their skillsets. According to Paranavi, since the State of Emergency was announced last year, an average of 40% of women displayed an interest in improving their skills for their careers, and 32% of them have used their free time to advance their skills. This incredible statistic holds much hope for the future of women as they still face their challenges no matter what the environment is around them.

At kay me we wish to continue supporting women through these challenges by providing luxurious comfort and providing solutions to all stressors caused by clothing. All our fully machine-washable pieces are stretchy and ethically made in Japan and we offer free global shipping as standard too! Visit us here.

A Sweet Taste of Autumn in Japan: A Historic Guide to Traditional Japanese Autumn Treats

As the days become shorter and the weather begins to cool, autumn arrives in a parade of deep, earthy colors such as crimson, violet, and mustard. The challenging humidity of summer subsides and the crisp, cool air of autumn invites many Japanese residents to enjoy enriching activities such as reading, painting, hiking, and enjoying delicious, hearty dishes made with seasonal ingredients. Though foods such as fresh grilled pacific saury and soul-warming hot pots gain lots of traction, something you cannot miss are the decadent traditional sweets, or wa-gashi, that can be enjoyed especially during this season. Depending on where in Japan you are, these sweets can vary widely, which makes for the perfect gift for a loved one when traveling to these locations! Today we’ll explore a few traditional sweets popular in different Japanese regions during the autumn season, and their unique history!

Kanto 揚げまんじゅう

Image credits: Age-manju from Asakusa Kokonoe


Our first location is the Kanto region, most popular for its cities such as Tokyo and Yokohama. Though there are a plethora of traditional sweets that have their roots here, one of the most popular is the age-manju, which is a deep-fried manju! The chef takes a manju, a small pastry cake filled traditionally with a red bean paste, and lightly coats it in batter before they fry it to a crispy golden brown color. The history of the age-manju dates back to over 100 years ago when people would place manjus as offerings inside of Buddhist altars. After some time, the manju would harden and dry out. Rather than wasting the food, people began to deep fry the manju to reheat the interior and to give it a crispy exterior for a pleasant snack.

 After over 100 years, the age-manju is enjoyed as its own specific treat, now available in a variety of flavors.Both the filling and outer batter options can vary vastly, especially during the autumn time! A few of our favorites are the red bean paste with chopped chestnut, as well as the sweet potato paste with matcha batter. Age-manju can be found in almost any gourmet-centered locations around Tokyo, such as Asakusa and Ueno, where the manju is deep-fried right in front of your eyes. For an elevated experience, we recommend trying the age-manju from the Kikunoya Flagship Store, located in Ginza. Macadamia nuts are sprinkled on top of the manju before it is deep fried to perfection using premium quality oil for a satisfying crunch. Why not enjoy this treat after visiting our flagship store as well, which is only a short 3-minute stroll away!

Kansai ぜんざい

Another epicenter of traditional Japanese sweets is the Kansai region, especially in Kyoto where they are most famous for their deep, robust Uji-matcha. Sweets in the Kansai region oftentimes are more simplistic and use less sugar to truly focus on bringing out the natural flavor of each ingredient. A hearty dessert popular in the colder months is the zenzai, a warm red bean soup accompanied by boiled or grilled mochi. The zenzai is said to have traveled from Izumo to the then-capital of Japan, Kyoto. This dish was served during Jinzaisai, or the Festival of the Visit of the Gods, a Shinto belief where all of the deities would travel to Izumo to gather once a year during the autumn months. During this festival, a special mochi, called Jinzai mochi, and beans would be offered to the dieties. Near the end of the festival, the mochi and beans were placed together in a pot to create a stew which was shared by the people of Izumo. Through the exchange of dialects, by the time the dish reached Kyoto it was known as ‘zenzai’. Limited to the autumn time, many tea houses in Kyoto that serve this dish add soft, roasted chestnuts, or even replace the red beans entirely with a chestnut paste to make a rich, creamy treat that is perfect for the colder months.

Kyoto, known for its gorgeous scenery, is even more breathtaking in the autumn with its abundant Japanese maple leaves that turn crimson red during this season. When visiting Kyoto in the fall be sure to partake in the Japanese tradition of ‘momiji-gari’, which directly translates to “Japanese maple leaf harvesting”. Despite its name, this tradition is simply the act of going outside to observe and admire the colorful leaves of autumn. We highly advise to keep in mind to dress comfortably as the best spots to partake in ‘momiji-gari’ are usually higher in the mountains. In true Kyoto fashion, these mountains have numerous tea houses for visitors to rest at and enjoy a warm cup of tea along with traditional wa-gashi, including zenzai of course!

For a comfortable, yet stylish look perfect for the chic atmosphere of Kyoto, we recommend our Ivory First Class Hoodie paired with our Taupe Relax Wide Trousers. Stay warm and active while you enjoy the mystic scenery of Kyoto without having to worry about feeling underdressed. Both the trousers and hoodie include pockets which can easily store your smartphone and smaller items, making them both the ideal travel partner!

Chubu もみじの衣揚げ

Our final destination is the Chubu Region, famous for the historic city of Nagoya, which is one of our most recent store locations!

Image credits: Ogura Toast by Visit Nagoya

Nagoya is most famous for their unique dessert that is quite simple and consists of three ingredients; toast, butter, and red bean paste. Known as ogura (red bean paste) toast, this dish is enjoyed both as a light snack or even as a breakfast food. Its history originates from the end of World War I where a quaint wa-gashi store was no longer able to purchase mochi rice due to the inflation quadrupling its prices. Simultaneously during this time, there was a ‘bread boom’, which meant an abundant amount of bread and butter were readily available, and for a discounted price. Taking this as an opportunity, the owner converted their wa-gashi store into a ‘kissaten’, or “tea-drinking shop”, which usually serves western-style food and drinks such as coffee and sandwiches, opposed to a traditional Japanese tea shop. The shop owner began serving buttered toast, which was a popular dish at that time. Shortly after, they noticed a trend of younger people ordering buttered toast with zenzai and dipping the bread into the sweet red bean stew. This was when the owner got the idea to incorporate the two dishes, creating the infamous ogura toast!

Speaking of momiji leaves of Kyoto, another Japanese treat is quite unique and perfect for ‘momiji-gari’ season, especially for those who may not be able to partake in the event. This must-try unique snack is deep-fried momiji leaves, perfect for the autumn season! To make these snacks, momiji leaves are harvested and pickled in salt a year prior to them being served. Then, they are deep-fried using a sweet, decadent batter to crispy perfection. This traditional snack is not only enjoyed by locals alongside a cup of warm green tea, but they make wonderfully unique and seasonal gifts! Why not pair the sweets with a warming item from kay me, such as the Peach Pink Silk Wool Cutwork Lace Scarf, for the ultimate autumn gift. The scarf is sure to keep the recipient warm as the colder months come up, and it leaves them with a special keepsake even after the sweets are eaten!

Whether going for a stroll around your local area or traveling for business, be sure to give traditional Japanese sweets a try, especially if they offer fresh seasonal options! Traditional Japanese sweets can be found practically anywhere from the snack aisle at convenience stores to high-end shops located within boutique districts, and don’t forget to share your favorite dishes with loved ones as souvenirs.

After stopping by for a quick sweet treat, be sure to complete your trip by visiting any of our 12 stores all across Japan! All of our store locations can be found here:

https://kayme.com/stores/

Three Summer Style Trends of 2021

With the last of Japan’s month-long rainy season behind, the warm and sunny days of summer welcome the country. Without having to worry about getting caught in sudden rainfall or walking through puddled streets, the freedom to wear whatever the heart wishes creates unique and vibrant trends in Japan. Today we have for you three of the most popular fashion trends in Japan this summer, that range from design, fabric, and color!

Extravagant Collars and Sleeves

The largest and most unique trend in Japan this summer are sleeve and collar-conscious designs. This trend often incorporates minimalistic designs paired with extravagant sleeves and/or collars that serve as the focal point of the outfit. Whether they are puff sleeves or frilly collars, subtle or avant-garde, the trend can be enjoyed in a spectrum of ways. By bringing attention to the sleeves and collar, it not only provides a frame around the face area, but it also assists to slim the faceline.

Sheer Materials

Another trend, perfect for warmer days, is the use of sheer fabric, such as fine mesh and chiffon. This not only adds a feminine charm to the look, but also keeps the body cool and dry from the humid summer days of Japan. Incorporate the two fashion trends with a timeless pattern, such as a sweet polka dots, for elevated elegance that is classic yet trendy. Try our Khaki Petit Dot Chiffon Frill Long Dress for the best of both worlds! The sheer sleeves feature tuck and gather details, while the cache-coeur neckline is met with luxurious frills that provides an elegant frame for the face.

Bright with Color

With the gloomy days on its way out the door, last summer’s trend of white, off-white, and light, neutral colors have begun to be replaced with bold, lively colors such as bubblegum pink, sunny yellow, and sky blue. These colors are often incorporated into outfits not only as accent colors but even as head-to-toe monotone coordinations for a daring yet playful look. For those looking for inspiration on how to incorporate these bold colors not too subtly and not too boldly, we recommend finding a print design that incorporates these summery colors.

An example is our Azure Peony Andalusia, which features a vibrant blue, reminiscent of the ocean waves you can view on a tropical vacation. This statement dress is just as functional as it is gorgeous. Lightweight and billowy, the wrap-style skirt holds its shape with every step taken while providing maximum movement.

For our bubblegum pink lovers or resort enthusiasts looking to make a striking impression this season, we recommend the Pink Caribbean Long Obi Dress. Featuring a gorgeous botanical print in vivid pink and our stretchy premium jersey for the ultimate ‘easy-to-lounge-in’ dress.

As we’ve explored a few new summer trends taking the streets of Japan by storm this season, the possibilities of incorporating and combining these trends is truly endless! Whether they broaden your horizons of fashion by getting you out of your comfort zone, or give you that extra boost of confidence when giving presentations to clients, we hope you can have fun curating your new summer looks. From taking a stroll through your neighborhood town, or having dinner with friends at an outdoor venue, the warm weather and high humidity is sure to follow. And will all kay me items, they are all machine-washable and hold their gorgeous shape and color even after several washes.

Explore all of our gorgeous options of dresses that are perfect for this summer here
https://kayme.com/bajg_summer_long/

Attending Weddings in Japan

Like many other countries, the most popular season for weddings in Japan is right around summer time, especially after tsuyu. From traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies, western-influenced “white weddings” (where the bride wears a white dress and the groom wears a white tuxedo), to a mixture of both, Japanese weddings vary greatly in style from couple to couple, which makes for an incredibly exciting experience to attend every chance you get!

To make sure you enjoy the most out of a wedding in Japan, we look into the etiquettes, things to watch out for and how weddings during the year of COVID has shifted.

Being Invited

Japanese weddings closely follow the same format of any other wedding with speeches, exchange of rings, delicious food, and even a cake-cutting ceremony. The invitation list is more intimate than western weddings, where usually only close friends, family, and bosses and coworkers are invited. These invitations are usually only for those invited and do not include a plus-one not only to cut costs, but to also keep the invitation within the bride and groom’s supervision. The after-party of the wedding is reserved only for the newlywed’s personal guest list, rather than the formal list of the initial wedding invitation, and oftentimes take place in smaller venues such as restaurants or Japanese pubs. As these events are exclusive, it is always seen as a great honor to receive invitations as it means that the newlyweds perceive you as a close friend. But being a guest at a Japanese wedding could also bring forth a number of responsibilities that many may find stressful.

Stressors of Japanese Weddings

According to MyNavi, the top three reasons Japanese people feel the most stressed for attending weddings are giving speeches, deciding how much to give for the wedding gift, and what to wear. The largest factor being speeches, over 80% of the surveyed people answered that they felt immense pressure to have to deliver a speech that would be captivating and entertaining. The second most stressful factor, deciding an appropriate amount to spend on the wedding gift, comes in at nearly 65%. Unlike other countries, Japanese weddings do not have gift registries or even a custom of gifting objects. Instead, it is customary for wedding attendees to gift the newlyweds money. This may seem like a wonderful way to cut time on shopping for gifts or worrying that the couple would not like their gift, but as a general value is not set, it can cause stress in deciding on an amount.

According to the Zexy 2020 Trend Report, the most popular amount to gift was 30,000-40,000yen from friends and coworkers (97.7%), and 50,000-100,000yen from employers and family (47.2%, 57.6%). As these gifts can be quite expensive, this is another reason why the invitation list is kept at an intimate level to not burden those who are not as close to the newlyweds. In return, each guest is given a gift when leaving the reception. In 2020, the most popular items that were given were gift catalogues as well as small snacks such as cookies and cakes. These gifts range from 5000-6000yen per guest, and totals up to 300,000-400,000yen in fees (Zexy). Gift catalogues are a popular return or ‘thank-you’ gift in Japan where a prepaid catalogue full of items ranging from specialty foods to home appliances are handed to the recipient where they can choose the desired item they’d like to receive. By opting for gift catalogues, the guests do not have to worry about carrying heavy items back home, especially if they plan to attend the after-party, and they can also choose the best gift for themselves.

The third stressor, deciding what to wear, is a conundrum almost 63% of people face. In Japan, it is not only acceptable but it is actually preferred for wedding guests to wear darker colors such as black and navy, whereas in western customs these colors are avoided. At Japanese weddings it is best to avoid bright or bold colors and prints as it may be distracting and could potentially take attention away from the newlyweds. For women, dresses in neutral colors that provide modest coverage both to the shoulders and down to the knees is preferred, as well as close-toed shoes. Some women also opt to wear a traditional kimono as well. Despite the intimate guest list, weddings in Japan are still treated with high formality, which is best attended in appropriate formal attire. As formal clothing can be uncomfortable, especially when worn for prolonged hours like a wedding, kay me dresses are the perfect solution as the stretchy material provides day-long comfort. A recommendation that we have for weddings is our classic Navy Gather Dress, which is made from a breathable triacetate blend fabric, perfect for the hot summer months! The cut of the dress is modest, yet chic and feminine, and photographs beautifully from any angle.

Pair the dress with our 29-Pocket Wallet Bag that can be transformed as a clutch and hold all of your wedding guest essentials (including business cards!). The bag is available in an array of colors, including champagne gold, which is a perfect way to add a subtle pop of color to your celebratory outfit! Transform the bag from a clutch to a crossbody when attending the after-party to keep your essential items close to you while keeping both of your hands free.

Weddings during COVID-19

With events in the past year being heavily affected by COVID-19, weddings in Japan have slightly shifted in order for guests to safely celebrate the newlywed couple. Some of these changes are of course the implementation of masks, hand sanitizers, and maintaining social distance, but also how guests attend the wedding. According to Cross Marketing, in a demographic of women aged 30-60 only 34.8% attended weddings in person during 2020. Instead, they opted for sending letters and packages to celebrate the newlyweds, had live calls during the wedding, or attended the wedding ceremony virtually. Interestingly, in the same demographic range of men, the physical attendance rate was 54%, and a way those who chose not to attend in-person included holding a celebration event virtually hosted on a gaming platform. These innovative solutions served, and continue to serve, as a safe and convenient way for people to still attend or celebrate the wedding. Not only has this new style of wedding attendance served its purpose during these trial times, but it has also allowed family members and friends who cannot normally attend these celebrations due to health, location, or any other complications, to join the celebration with a few clicks.

Although attending a wedding alone may seem intimidating at first, it serves as a perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and to network with other guests who are most likely attending by themselves as well. There may be a number of stressful factors as a wedding guest, especially when you are in unfamiliar settings, but in Japan it is custom for weddings to have a set itinerary and tight-knit schedule that is sent to the guests prior to the wedding day to avoid any confusion and to answer questions guests may have. Slip on your favorite kay me outfit to feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable all day so you can just simply focus on enjoying the wedding and celebrating the embarkation of the couple’s new life together!

Make getting ready for your next special occasion fuss-free and easy with our latest selection of machine-washable, stretchy dresses.