Yukki and Cathy in the Cotswolds!
Hi, I’m Cathy. I live in the Cotswolds: the classic English countryside designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with rolling hills, sheep, and honey-stone houses. I love books, wildlife, and boats :) For the past thirty years, I have worked as a professional children’s book illustrator. I am also currently learning Japanese with Oxford University, and running my Japanese furoshiki store - Zusetsu!
I visited Kyoto for the first time in 2011. My husband worked with a company in Kanazawa for many years, and my two sons and I were thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to Japan with him. I instantly fell in love with Kyoto – on our first day we saw the painted, gilded screens in Nijo Castle; the raked gravel Zen garden at Ryoanji; and the dazzling Golden Pavilion. I could not sleep that night because I was smiling so much!
We have returned many times to Kyoto, and I have developed a keen interest in the unique cultural heritage of the city. I stopped in my tracks when I saw the ingenious patterns and illustrations on the beautiful furoshiki textiles, and was taken by the elegant beauty of the furoshiki-wrapped gifts. I love the unique colour palette and the interesting textures of the fabrics. So many of the arts are fascinating in Kyoto: the beautiful designs and methods of washi paper production, and the skills of weaving Nishijin-ori which glimmer with golden thread. I love the gilded fans decorated with spring blossom, Heian-era watercolours, and ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Of course I’m fascinated by all things tea.
In January 2019 I arrived in Kyoto with a suitcase and an idea. I adore the long history of Kyoto’s artisan skills, which stretch back to when it was the Imperial capital over a thousand years ago. I’m touched how these unique skills have been passed down through generations to the modern day, and how solo artists and small companies have created contemporary designs to appeal to a modern audience. My dream was to introduce these beautiful gifts to a wider audience. That is why, in the spring of 2019, I created Zusetsu, an online store curating furoshiki and other traditional products from Kyoto.
Since it’s foundation, Zusetsu has rapidly evolved to be much more than just an online store - I hold furoshiki workshops with organisations such as the Ned London and the Havan Store, and I have joined various fairs around the country including the Bath Artisan Fair. Lastly, but definitely the best, I now have Yukki, my son’s girlfriend, working alongside me! :) Together we hope to provide a platform in the UK for the beautiful products of skilled Japanese artisans, to share their inspiring stories in a thoughtful way, and to celebrate the intersection of two different cultures.
Hi, I’m Yukina! Yukki is my nickname. I'm Cathy’s business partner. In fact, we’re pretty much family - I’m Cathy’s son’s girlfriend :)
I was born in Tokyo, but I grew up in a mixture of countries - Japan, US, and Switzerland. I moved to London about two years ago and I currently work in the finance industry. I’m really enjoying my time in the UK, especially the Cotswolds where Cathy is based - I try to visit as often as I can. It’s really fun working with Cathy and it’s been such an eye-opening process to learn more about my own culture. I’m excited to share what we learn through this journey!