Eye-catching Japanese floral prints are perfect for happi coats and kimono. (GAIL MIYASAKI/The Rafu Shimpo)


Rafu Craft Editor


An eco-friendly soy candle with a Bartlett pear and nectarine fragrance is a fresh brew from Crystal Nguyen and Tricia Jang of San Jose. (Courtesy of type.lites)

A stroll down Old Town Torrance streets makes me feel that the clock’s been turned back in time. Storefronts maintain that nostalgic charm of friendly neighborhood gathering spots, even as new shops crop up.

Crooked streets add curiosity as to the original design intents. Sartori, Marcelina and El Prado avenues are the three major ones.

There’s a local coffee spot, pharmacy, dry cleaners, bakery and locksmith. In the mix are a wine boutique and two sushi restaurants, Onami and Yuzu. A small hole-in-the wall fave, the Bamboo Garden, neighbors Foster’s Freeze. The secret’s out! They serve a mean bowl of freshly-made soba noodles.

Say cheese? Joey Ikemoto’s photo studio is on the main drag near a brewery and Mexican restaurant. Big automaker Honda sits across the borderline.

Always abuzz is Torrance Bakery. Freshly baked, delicious cakes top their list. Try the brownie-like chewy chocolate cookie to go. Yum!

Retro lids with candles showcase vintage prints taken with a Holga toy camera. (Courtesy of type.lites)

A few doors down is Momen+ Fabric Store. Surprise! You’re in the land of cuteness.

Made in Japan dominates. Retro images, fun characters, soft pastels, floral kimono prints, even old school navy kasuri variations. Echino, Kokka, Hello Kitty and other European and American fabrics entice.

Vintage-looking Echino fabrics, with blocks of color and shapes, depict old-type images of cameras, scooters, eyeglasses, cars. A whimsical collection by illustrator Amy Butler for Kokka is reminiscent of the ’50s with themes of childhood and fairy tales.

Owner Hiro Meguri travels extensively to keep up with trends and it has paid off. Gracious store manager Tomoko Takahashi multi-tasks as quilting and sashiko instructor. A work area is set-up with sewing machines for classes.

Graphic linen-cotton blends at Momen+ accentuate the popularity of an era gone by with bold colors and a pop art appeal. (GAIL MIYASAKI/Rafu Shimpo)

Ohh-so-cute samples of tote bags, aprons and kids stuff kept me looking around each corner. Creative minds will think of a multitude of projects they want to start.

Anything vintage sits well with two 20-somethings, Crystal Nguyen and Tricia Jang. Hooked on innovative design, vintage, upcycling, Helvetica typography, photography and food, their weakness is whatever tantalizes their sense of smell.

Working 9 to 5 as graphic designers, these ex-roomies at San Jose State turn into candlemakers by night.

After lessons with an expert candlemaker, they experimented with wax formulations to produce seven inviting flavors. Like red apple, lemon lavender, vanilla sugar.

Each candle is glass-encased and comes with retro photo lids. These stylized effects are the result of using a Holga, an inexpensive chunky plastic 120 film toy camera.

Catchy sayings are tagged on each one. My personal pick says “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

For that couple on cloud nine, a make-out kit is choice. Comes complete with a baby jar soy candle, matches, breath mints, lip balm, mirror and the important door hanger, Do Not Disturb.


Stop by the Jan Ken Po Gakko Arts and Crafts Fair this Saturday in Elk Grove to find special gifts for the upcoming holidays. Buy something for you. JKP is a parent cooperative program that educates children and their families about JA culture through exploration of the arts.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jan Ken Po Gakko Arts & Crafts Fair
Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation
9040 High Tech Ct., Elk Grove
408-839-6023, Renee Kumamoto


Saturday, Oct. 1, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Pasadena Buddhist Church
1993 Glen Ave., Pasadena
626-574-7090, Corky Ishikawa


Saturday, Oct. 1, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Eden Holiday Craft Show
Marina Community Center
15301 Wicks Blvd., San Leandro
510-471-8052, Karen Valerio


Sunday, Oct. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Kokoro Craft Affair
Japanese American National Museum
369 E. 1st St., Los Angeles
213-625-0414, ext 2222


Saturday, Oct. 8, 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
SEJSCC Holiday Boutique
Hawaiian-Style Pancake Breakfast 7-11 a.m.
Southeast Japanese School &Community Center
14615 Gridley Rd., Norwalk
714-847-1173, Edna Kurihara


Saturday, Oct. 15, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Crafty Foxes Holiday Boutique
Joan Pisani Community Center
19655 Allendale Ave., Saratoga
408-356-2764, Carol Yuki


Sunday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Krafty Delites Fall Boutique #1
Carson Community Center
801 E. Carson St., Carson
310-329-5874, Stephanie Nakayama


Sunday, Oct. 30, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
WLA JACL Aki Matsuri Boutique
Venice Japanese Community Center
12448 Braddock Dr., Culver City
310-936-3182, Marisa Tamaru


Friday-Sunday, Nov. 4-6, Nov. 11-13 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Touch of Nature Home/Holiday Décor Show
Diamond Bar, call for location
909-594-5964, Lily Saito


1 Comment

  1. Thanks so much for the lovely writeup on type.lites!!! Loving all the fabrics from Momen+ Fabric store too. Will definitely have to check it out the next time we make a trip down south!

    If you happen to find yourself in the Sacramento area this Saturday, don’t forget to stop by the Jan Ken Po Gakko Craft Fair!

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