In amongst the madness of 2021, Soeda-san took a trip to Niigata to document a few of the craftspeople (and, in some cases, their grannies and their cats) whose expertise sets Niwaki products apart from the crowd. Gain an insight into how the raw materials are forged, hammered, sharpened and polished into finished products. It’s physical, messy, sometimes dangerous work, that, to the untrained eye, approaches a magical process. We hope you’ll agree the end results make it all worth while, and what’s more, it’s fascinating to watch.
Do not adjust your monitor: what you are seeing is indeed a faithful representation of the luminance and colour of the majestic Ginkgo biloba trees in late November and early December, shot just last week by Soeda – our man with a cam in Japan.
If you’ve been down to Niwaki HQ in Semley (near Shaftesbury in Dorset) over the past few months, you’ll have quite rightly sensed that change was afoot.
Over the summer (remember summer?) our showroom closed temporarily, reappearing – on more clement days and in much reduced terms – as a pop-up shop on the back of our bright yellow, modified Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. There’s only so much you can fit on a flatbed truck – even one as stylish as ours – and although we continued to offer click and collect, it pained us to see disappointed customers who had hoped to browse the entire range.
On a clear, bright September morning, with the sun just warming the red bricks and stucco Neptune gargoyles of the handsome mansion block across the road, Niwaki Chiltern Street officially opened its doors to gardening aficionados, seekers of considered tools and accessories, denim freaks, and anyone else drawn in by the sheer elegance of its Jones Neville-crafted interior. We hope you will pay us a visit soon, if not today, to see the shop for yourself – we’re bursting with pride and can’t wait to show you around – but in the meantime, please let us whet your appetite with some information about how to find us and what to expect.
Sitting here at Niwaki HQ, Dorset, it’s sometimes easy to forget that our products begin their lives on the other side of the world.
Your favourite Moku Trowel found its shape in the hands of a father and son team in Niigata, and the Niwaki Blue Steel Higonokami Folding Knife you secretly covet couldn’t have been made anywhere but Miki, Hyogo Prefecture, since its 5th generation knife makers are the only remaining team who can use the protected name ‘Higonokami’ for their product
If you were heading to Japan for the Olympics, which you’re not and neither are we for reasons too obvious and depressing to go into, we would definitely recommend mixing spectating business with gardening pleasure and taking a trip to a few of the country’s otherworldly gardens and temples.
Sugoi! The 2021 Niwaki catalogue is hot off the press and winging its way to homes, greenhouses, sheds and follies across the country as you read this.
We don’t want to spoil all the fun, but you can read a little more to whet your appetite: click through to read the full story.
Although aimed at beginners, seasoned old pros should find something useful here too, and at the very least enjoy tut-tutting and disagreeing, for the first rule of box clipping is there are no rules in box clipping.
Last October, dodging typhoons, we found ourselves in Kyoto. Enquiries were made, Kimura san, Japanese gardener and friend, obliged. Hence a day filming at the Keihanna Commemorative Park, somewhere between Kyoto and Nara.
We dropped in on exhibition in Tokyo by Keishi Miyahara at the Tsubaki Atelier. Prepare for moss.
The Niwaki Stories
Once, before Instagram, there was a thing called a blog. Now, we all have to try harder.
Reiwa here we come!
Join us as we scale the peaks of Kongo san, an unspectacular mountain in Osaka. Cable cars are acceptable.
A-chan, Kan-chan and Ya-chan, the Furukawa brothers at their family nursery in Osaka, where Jake leant his stuff.
In a list of big excitements that have befallen me of late – including the birth of our boy Digby more than two years ago now, and Arsenal coming from behind to beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Emirates – spotting a tree might not seem that significant…
Two words. Carol Klein.