Yoko Antiques is a slice of South Pasadena that sells and showcases handmade items that embody rich, Japanese tradition and heritage.
Opened over 40 years ago, owner Lisa Kawaguchi carries her mother’s torch, accumulating an array of unique antiques. Not only is Yoko one of the few places to sell rare Japanese pieces, 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 crafting legacy. Aizome, a centuries-old technique focused on developing indigo-dyed fabrics, is but one of the types of masterfully executed pieces of art showcased in the items at Yoko. “Some of the Japanese silk we have is over 100 years old,” she adds pointing to the delicately arranged fabrics around the store.
Customers may also discover torchbearers of the past as gifts, among them; kokeshi dolls, simple toys made for children said to have originated during the Edo Period over 150 years ago; Ikebana, hand-woven baskets typically made of bamboo, meant for flower arrangements; and fabric made with Kasuri, a form of ikat dyeing, traditionally resulting in patterns characterized by their blurred or brushed appearance.
However, one item Kawaguchi likes to underscore is the Tansu, special mobile storage chests first documented in the Genroku era of Japan as early as the late 1600’s. With simple overall design, but elegant embellishments, these chests are true finds for collectors, as many of those produced have become increasingly rare over the years with even fewer workshops contemporarily producing tansu in imitation.
Just as important as the cultural pride, is the ability to share the intrinsic value of these finds with customers. The charm one may experience when walking through the densely-packed, but neatly formatted space, is enough to bring many returning customers.
Kawaguchi mentions that for most of the store’s lifespan, word-of-mouth and published client reviews on google were the only resources that brought in new customers. She hopes to expand their online presence with more advertising and possibly a website in the near future.
For now, people are always encouraged to come in and browse to their heart’s content, Kawaguchi ready to answer any questions they may have about any one of the novel antiques found at Yoko.
Yoko Japanese Antiques and Fabrics is located at 1018 Mission St # 2, South Pasadena, CA 91030.
Their phone number is (626) 840-1284.
Store hours are: Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., closed on Mondays.