Craftmanship for babies: tradition for the next generation

When Rika Yajima was only 19 years old, she began to get curious about Japanese craftsmanship. She wanted to get to know the traditions of the preindustrial past, when the handmade goods were central to Japanese culture. The adults in her life – the generation above her own – were less than supportive. But Rika pressed on, and traveled all over Japan in order to study up on the techniques of old.

Rika Yajima with indigo dyeing artisan

Today, Rika owns and operates Aeru, a brand that collaborates with Japanese artisans to create unique products for children. Perhaps inspired by her own struggle to learn about the craftsmanship of the past, Rika’s company aims to connect the next generation with Japanese tradition.

Aeru’s philosophy is that of bridging the gap between old and new – mixing “the wisdom of our predecessors” with the “sense and sensibility” of the present age. Their products aim to actively apply this time-tested wisdom to everyday life.

Starting with children: Aeru believes coming into contact with craftsmanship at an early age expands children’s sense of values. Each one of their products has a fascinating story behind it.

The tiny kid-friendly scissors are made of cherry tree wood from Miyazaki prefecture.

Kid-friendly scissors made of cherry tree wood

The “Koboshinikui” (“hard to spill”) set is a series of gorgeous handmade tableware. These dishes and bowls are made to withstand the messy process of learning to eat on your own: a tiny rim on the inside, and the heftiness of the hand fired ceramic material, resists baby-induced spills.  

The tiny rim on the inside helps baby not to spill food
Wooden version of the bowls in lacquer
Craftsman carving bowls out of wood blocks

A beautiful “Japan blue” baby garment from artisans in Tokushima is made with organic cotton. Tokushima artisans use traditional methods to color the material, a process that involves dyeing the fabric again and again, over 30 times.

Baby garmet in “Japan blue”
Many products come in this carefully crafted wooden box
Indigo dyeing artisan at work

What’s unique about Aeru is that they highlight Japanese crafts not just from one single prefecture, but from all over the country. In an unexpected move, the company is embarking on ventures into hospitality: their side project Aeru Room is a series of gently curated hotel rooms in different hotels in Nagasaki, Hyogo, and Nara.

Modern room in Himeji, Hyogo
Tatami room in Himeji, Hyogo
Everything in the rooms is carefully curated by Aeru and crafted by artisans

Be sure to visit their retail stores in Tokyo and Kyoto. For more information visit their website a-eru.co.jp.

Aeru Tokyo Meguro

Address: Seed Hanabusayama S+105,
3-10-50 Kami-Osaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
141-0021 JAPAN

Opening Hours: 11:00 ~ 18:00
(Closed on Wednesdays)
Tel: 03-6721-9624


Aeru Kyoto Gojo

Address: 298 Tamatsushima-cho,
Matsubara-dori, Muromachi Higashi-Iru,
Shimo-gyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
600-8427 JAPAN

Opening Hours: 10:00 ~ 17:00
(Closed on Wednesdays)
Tel: 075-371-3905