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About Us | Our Own Story

From Japan | Welcome To Alfan Select

Hi everyone and welcome to our Shop!   I'm Karen, an American, and I have been raising a family and living in this wonderful country for over 20 years.   Both my husband and I have always enjoyed quality crafts and product design.   On our many trips back to the States to visit family and friends, we would often also visit fine craft shops to explore and purchase.   Now, we have the wonderful opportunity to do the same here in Japan and to present these new wave crafts and designs that are rarely-available-outside-Japan items to you!   And they may not be what you imagine!

Japanese Culture & Tradition 

Karen's Traditional Black Maki-e Urushi Box Japan

Japan is probably best known for their beautiful traditional crafts:   handwoven bamboo basketry, dark, lustrous , urushi (lacquer) boxes and other ware; cut glass Edo kiriko whiskey glasses and many more.   Craft artists still produce many of these fine works today. They have a wonderful history and a place in museums and in everyday life.  The beautiful Urushi Maki-e box here was a wedding gift to us years ago! 

Yet, just as worthy, are the contemporary craft-arts and designs that are being created and produced today.  So where do things stand now?

New Design and Modern Craft Techniques


Yellow Urushi Bangle Rie Sakamoto Designer

At Alfan Select our own story started with a quest to find out how Japan’s traditional crafts have moved forward — evolved for contemporary life scenes.   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, a decorative vase, and many 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.  

What's In it for You

And what does all this mean for you?  

As craft artists, designers and small workshop studios broaden the scope of creativity, this presents some very unique gift-giving opportunities for you to give -- or even to own yourself. Items that are from small producers, individual craftspeople, and designers, means that these items are unavailable to the masses; means that your gift is particularly special and more genuinely personal.  Isn't it wonderful to know your gift will be the one that endures in value and meaning for many years --even becoming that fond memory of YOU?  That means something!

This year, Japan hoped to welcome the 2020 Summer Olympics to our shores.  We felt SO PROUD to represent these small craft studios and workshops, fine artists, designers and even "craft-engineers" of Japan! Sadly, the COVID-19 global health crisis has impacted our studios and outreach to you.  An unexpected challenge!  Luckily, authentic, quality, hand-crafted, or designer products, with stories and meaning, to own or give have enduring worth and value and will endure.

So, we invite you to explore our unique, carefully selected, quality, handcrafted, fine design, contemporary and truly authentic gifts and products from Japan.  Owning or giving something that is truly special, hand-made or uniquely designed has meaning and worth for lasting enjoyment.  Our selection is starting off small, but check back from time to time to see what it new and read on the blog some stories of our artists, suppliers and our own adventures.  Mailing may be delayed, but we will get it to you!

Drop me a line -  Happy to have you here!  Cheers!  Karen