Japanese culture and heritage at Yoko Antiques on Mission | South Pasadenan
Yoko Antiques is a part of southern Pasadena that sells and displays handmade items that embody the rich Japanese tradition and heritage.
Opened over 40 years ago, owner Lisa Kawaguchi carries her mother’s torch, accumulating a range of unique antiques. Not only is Yoko one of the few places to sell rare Japanese coins, but individually almost every item has a story to tell.
Kawaguchi highlights the types of antiques and fabrics for which, beyond casual browsing, carry hundreds of years of handcrafted heritage. Aizome, an age-old technique focused on the development of indigo-dyed fabrics, is just one of the types of masterfully executed artwork featured in Yoko’s articles. “Some of the Japanese silk that we have is over 100 years old,” she adds, pointing to the fabrics delicately laid out around the store.
Customers can also discover torchbearers from the past as gifts among them; kokeshi dolls, simple toys designed for children said to have appeared during the Edo period over 150 years ago; Ikebana, hand-woven baskets generally made of bamboo, intended for flower arrangements; and fabric made with Kasuri, a form of ikat dye, traditionally giving patterns characterized by their fuzzy or brushed appearance.
However, one item Kawaguchi likes to highlight is the Tansu, special mobile storage chests first documented in the Genroku era in Japan as early as the late 1600s. With a simple overall design, but elegant embellishments, these chests are real finds for collectors, as many of those produced have become increasingly rare over the years with even fewer workshops simultaneously producing imitation tansu.
Just as important as cultural pride is the ability to share the intrinsic value of these finds with customers. The charm that one can feel when walking through the densely populated, yet carefully formatted space is enough to attract many loyal customers.
Kawaguchi says that for most of the store’s lifespan, word of mouth and customer reviews posted on Google have been the only resources that have attracted new customers. She hopes to expand their online presence with more advertising and possibly a website in the near future.
For now, people are still encouraged to come in and browse their heart’s content, with Kawaguchi ready to answer any questions they might have about any of the new antiques found in Yoko.
Yoko Japanese Antiques and Fabrics is located at 1018 Mission St # 2, South Pasadena, CA 91030.
Their phone number is (626) 840-1284.
The store’s opening hours are: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., closed Mondays.