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About Us ... and You

Who is Alfan Select?

Alfan Select is a Japan-based online store that specializes in unique, creative, traditionally-influenced contemporary craftArt and design made only in Japan.

Hi everyone, I'm Karen, an American expat and this is my husband, Toshiro, an accomplished business school professor and a native of Niigata.  Welcome! 


In Awe of Japanese Tradition

Karen's Traditional Black Maki-e Urushi Box Japan

While some Japanese craft studios are honestly "carrying on tradition", in our pursuits of fine crafts, we also found that others were diligently creating anew:  recreating experience, redefining craft-art, building on traditional skills by adding new tools, techniques; by exploring, experimenting and growing in exciting and amazing contemporary directions

In Japanese, Shokunin, is a word with depth of meaning often associated with a sense of pride, of mastering that includes an almost soulful dedication to ones craft. Many of these ateliers still to this day, do employ generations-honed handicraft skills with the heart of the shokunin.  The beautiful Urushi Maki-e box pictured here was a wedding gift to us years ago from my husband's parents, and a fine example of traditional work. 

Green with Gold Maki-e 200 Year Old Urushi Lacaquerware Bowl from Japan
A Contemporary Flair
Yellow Urushi Bangle Rie Sakamoto Designer

Though traditions and skills are foundational, many craft studios have also willing embraced and developed modern styles with contemporary tools and technniques for additional creative expression.  These two styles may seem contradictory, yet the outcome is truly authentic, made-in-japan quality and craftsmanship that is gift-worthy, and collectable.  So we decided to look beyond the wonderful traditional crafts and explore current artists and studios who are quietly producing some new works.

The Surprise

What we found is still little known outside Japan - Urushi in bright yellows and blues;  hand-crafted bamboo vases with designs strikingly simple and modern; artist hand-hammered, two-cup, blue patina pour-over coffee pot, colorful, titantium sake cocktail tumblers and more.  We found a new wave of Japan original contemporary designs born of new techniques, innovative technologies - requiring various traditional expertise, but also new creativity in design, materials and even in engineering and technology as well.  

It's Really All About ... You

CraftArts and design are for everyone. Someone like you, of any age, place in life, and place in the world, who wants to experience, enjoy, admire, and appreciate a very human expresion of life - that which is authentic, genuine and embodied in an beautiful object of craft-art and design. 

So we hope to present you with a chance to enjoy, own and collect an object of beauty; to marvel at a new, bright technology; to color-up your home, your attire, and your every day life.... or to give as a truly original gift ... a gift to someone special - a loving father, a caring sister, a friend who is always there or perhaps to a joyfully-engaged couple.  A craft art or design gift, is always additionally meaningful when it is a highly personal giftindividually made, of exceptional quality and craftsmanship, and uniquely original ...  As a gift, yours will be the only one......

Japan 2021 and a COVID Challenge

We felt SO PROUD at Alfan Select to represent these small craft studios, ateliers, fine artists, designers and even "craft-engineers" at such an exciting time!

The COVID-19 global health crisis has impacted our ability to contact additional studios and has slowed our activities a bit.  An unexpected challenge! But hopefull thing will be looking up soon!  Luckily, authentic, handcrafted, or designer products, have great worth and value and will surely endure.  We hope to continue to add to our collection over the coming next months and to continually add new, rare, and worthy craft art and design to our shop.

So what do you think?  Drop me an email and let's chat!  Cheers,  Karen