The five elements of Japan

As in other eastern cultures, here in Japan the concept of the five elements  (五大) that make the world and everything in it underly much of traditional culture, from food to architecture.

Join us as we take a look at each of the elements in turn…

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土 Earth

– Representing soil and stone, earth gives us a literal connection not only to our bodies but also to the physical world.

Earth is stable and confident.

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水 Water

– Illustrating rives and lakes, water connects us to the flow of life and the growth of all things.

Water is changeable and adaptable.

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火 Fire

– The element of energy and force, fire is connected to passion and movement.

Fire is motivated and intentional.

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風 Wind

– Symbolising freedom and expansion, wind is not only sky breezes but also our own breath.

Wind is open-minded and wise.

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空 Void/sky/heaven

– The most elusive of all the elements, void (also known as sky or heaven) is our connection to all things beyond our experiences.

Void is creative and inventive.

So, what can we learn from the five elements? Channelling the meanings and attributes can help us focus on what we want to achieve – if you need motivation, consider fiery colours to give you an extra boost, if you need to think outside the box then use light fabrics and colours to capture the feeling of air.

Confident, adaptable, intentional, wise and inventive… That sounds a lot like our vision for kay me!

Introducing… kay me’s yukata dresses

As we’re moving towards the summer season here in Japan, there’s no better way to celebrate the sunny days than with our beautiful new yukata-style dresses… with a special secret that’s hiding in plain sight.

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For those not familiar with yukata, think of it as a light and airy cousin to the formal silk kimono. Typically made from natural fibres and depicting bright seasonal prints and patterns, yukata have come back into fashion with many people from all generations choosing to wear these robes at casual summer events.

According to Yuko from the kay me atelier team, “Our theme is summer festivals, and there are always lots of summer events in Tokyo. Because I’m impatient, I wanted to be able to wear a yukata-style dress quickly without any struggles.”

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Enter our new yukata dresses, a great way to capture the freshness and elegance of Japanese yukata without having to worry about the complexities of traditional Japanese clothing. Rather than painstakingly tying and retying knots and bows, simply zip up and go!

With kay me founder and lead designer Junko Kemi’s family connection to traditional kimono and Japanese garments (her grandmother famously owned and ran a kimono boutique in Osaka), authentic Japanese prints are always popular both in Japan and overseas with our lovely customers around the world.

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As for our little secret… if you look closely, you might find a special goldfish hidden amongst the flowing brushstrokes…

How to create your own office uniform

Dressing for the Monday to Friday life is just another task for some, no matter how much you love style and clothing, and creating your own version of a work uniform can help ease the morning stress.

Read on for kay me stylists’ tips and our examples…

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Find your favourites

On a busy day, what’s the outfit you reach for first? The one that makes you feel comfortable and stylish, putting your best foot forward and ready to take on whatever comes your way. This forms the backbone of your new uniform – why waste time with anything else.

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If you’re having trouble with this step, then ask yourself a few key questions: do you prefer dresses or separates? Which colours form the majority of your closet? Solid colours are easier to wear together, but if you’re a fan of prints such as polka dots, florals or stripes, then let those guide your choices.

Seasonal styles

How seasonal are your choices? Is your uniform suitable for both colder and hotter months? How can you adapt your clothing to meet your needs?

Okay, that’s a lot of questions to start with, but these are important considerations. Seasonal coordinations might mean swapping skirt for trousers in similar colours, thicker stockings and warm underdresses in winter in the northern hemisphere, and looser tops with airy scarves in warmer months.

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Multiples and Variations

A uniform isn’t a uniform if everything it totally different – but how you create your structure is up to you.

For example, if the core of your new uniform is a navy dress and matching jacket, then one option would be other navy dresses and jackets in various fabrics – consider our navy venus drape dress or pure wool jacket. For variety, you might prefer kay me cache-coeur dresses in navy polka dot or prints paired with similar jackets in white, grey or beige.

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Wash and wear

For many, while the idea of a work uniform really appeals, the greatest stumbling block is washing. Needless to say, all kay me items are machine washable, drip-dry and non-iron, as well being crease-resistant. Our fabrics have been specially selected to work with you all day long, and as every piece is handmade right here in Japan we’re involved in the whole production process from start to finish.

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Ready to create your own uniform?

For office-ready outfits, take a look at our super suits category, and for dresses in every colour of the rainbow, discover all kay me dresses here.

Five Japanese Woman Artists from Different Disciplines

At the kay me atelier in Tokyo, we love being inspired by nature and the culture that surrounds us every day – and we’re not the only ones.

As a label founded by Junko Kemi specifically to meet the needs of busy and ambitious women globally, we also love to celebrate creative and inspiring women here in Japan.

Keep reading for a quick look at five artists working in styles and disciplines that have caught our eyes…

Yayoi Kusama

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Known worldwide for her installation and dot-infested paintings as well as performance, film and other areas, Kusama’s personal style is just as bright and bold as her unique artwork.

One of Japan’s most famous living woman artists, the newly opened museum in her honour in Tokyo is a must for dedicated fans.

Oi (Ei) Katsushika

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Although famous for being the daughter of legendary ukiyo-e printmaker Katsushika Hokusai (The Great Wave, Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji), Katsushika was a more than accomplished artist and well-regarded in her own right.

Working in the late 19th century, as well as helping her father, Katsushika created her own artwork including paintings and prints, although sadly none of the latter have survived.

Rinko Kawauchi

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Working in the medium of photography, Kawauchi’s style is sometimes characterised as abstract and serene, with an eye for simple subjects that elevate the every day into true art.

As well as regularly publishing photography books and exhibiting around the globe, Kawauchi is also a haiku poet.

Riyoko Ikeda

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With legions of fans around the world, manga comic artist Ikeda tackles timeless themes usually in hostorical settings including revolutionary France.

One of the artists that came to define shoujou girls manga for a generation and beyond, Ikeda’s dreamy art is here to stay.

Makiko Hattori

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Based in Gifu Japan, Hattori explores the ancient Japanese art of ceramics and aims to create new forms through her painstaking processes, rooted in but far beyond mingei, folk arts.

From decorative objects to functional vases, Hattori’s ceramics have been exhibited worldwide, and also she also peforms “sounds objects” with a music group.

Inspired by art:

Taking inspiration from the artists above, we’ve paired their artwork with kay me dresses to match!

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Naturally for Yayoi Kusama we had to choose polka dots, and to pay homage to Oi Katsushika our beautiful 100% silk Toki Michelle dress is an elegant and authentically Japanese choice.

Our Aurora wrap is a perfect match for this striking photograph by Rinko Kawauchi, and our silk Black Rose dress is a great nod to Riyoko Ikeda’s Rose of Versailles work, with the tactile fabric of our new pink shirtdress calling to mind the delicate textures and tones of Makiko Hattori’s ceramics.

For further reading and to discover more fantastic women artists from Japan, take a look at articles here and here

Three ways to wear suit jackets this spring

If you’re in need of some inspiration for what to wear to work this spring and summer, then look no further – we’ve rounded up our three favourite ways to wear a suit jacket for the office this spring.

Needless to say that our suit jackets aren’t limited to workwear; kay me stylists love to pop on our soft and stretchy jackets over any dress as a formal extra layer, and even with their own causal clothing such as jeans at the weekend and on vacations.

Matching Pastels

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We love soft pastel colours for spring, there’s no better time to wear these pretty shades that remind us of cherry blossom petals, blue skies and warm breezes.

Discover our matching suits in pink, light grey and beige, and pair with matching light colour kay me tops for the finishing touch.

With Prints

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Give yourself a boost with bright florals – our pothos green print is colourful and eye-catching, great for standing out and making a striking first impression. If you’re feeling green, then also consider our dalmatian print venus drape dress, perfect with an elegant light jacket.

For a more traditional look, try our pretty polka dot dress in navy, a versatile dress that’s just as stylish in the office as days out and about in the city.

In Contrast

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Change things up by pairing a dark jacket with a light dress and vice-versa – a simple trick that works so beautifully! kay me stylists can often be spotted in this style, showing that a well-cut jacket is always a good investment.

This style doesn’t have to be limited to dresses – try mixing and matching our skirts as well for extra adaptable looks.

Discover kay me’s seven colour suits, and get creative with your workwear and beyond…