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Although The Spice Girls got the basic message across when they warbled “two become one”, in Japan there’s an older – some would argue more elegant – way of expressing the deep connection between two souls: 異体同心 (Different bodies, one heart).

You’ll see this on the window of Niwaki Chiltern Street, if you visit between now and Valentine’s Day, announcing our encouragement to romance with a 14% discount on everything* in store and online. We don’t generally do sales, but we’re romantics at heart so take advantage while you can.

This simple phrase is an example of a Yojijukugo – effectively an idiom with a four kanji character structure. There’s loads of them in Japanese, and they are used as commonly as English speakers use expressions like “killing two birds with one stone”. In fact, that one has made it into Japanese (一石二鳥 – literally “one stone, two birds”), but others are drawn from Buddhist scriptures, Chinese literature, myths, folklore and good old fashioned common sense.

We thought this idea tied in rather neatly with the Japanese myth of the red thread. It’s said that everybody in the world is connected, from birth, to another human being: their soulmate, if you will. This connection is made with an invisible red thread, tied to the tip of the respective soulmates’ little fingers, securing them across space and time: unbreakable and getting shorter and shorter until they finally meet.

There is no explanation of what happens to the thread after you’ve met … perhaps you just snip it off and put it in the drawer with old bits of garden wire and string, or else you could loop it through the end of your Hori Hori to help you spot it when you leave it in a flower bed?

If you’ve ever experienced the phenomenon of love at first sight, perhaps it was the moment your own red thread reached its terminus?
I can pinpoint the moment mine hit the buffers (in a good way), and we’re still going strong many years later, so perhaps there is something in it after all.

Fortuitously, any gift you choose (for your loved one, or perhaps for yourself … we won’t be checking) will most likely come in one of our cotton bags, which draw close with – wouldn’t you know it – a red thread!

* use the code REDTHREAD if you need to, but it should be applied automatically to all qualifying orders from now until midnight on 14.2.24. Excluding vouchers and workshops, delivery and other additional costs.