DIY Upcycle: Japanese Lucky Knot Strap / Charm

good luck charm japanese knot from a dassai 23 sake cord

I love being able to make things for my friend who lives in Tokyo. She often travels to NYC on business and when she comes its fun to present her with a small gift. Its inspiring for me to think up new ideas each time; something that isn’t too big or expensive – just a little trinket. Crafter challenge accepted!

For this visit I came up with the idea of recycling the purple cord used to decorate bottles of Dassai sake. The hope was, because she works for Dassai, it would be a more personal gift. I can’t bear to throw the cords out when we open a new bottle and that means I had plenty of them tucked away to play with.

My DIY Materials

asian style knot book and swarovski crystal beads used to diy this strap

Ages ago I bought this book called Asian Knot Style {アジアンノット・スタイル} from the craft section of Kinokuniya. Sadly, every time I attempted one of the knots I failed miserably. I don’t think it has anything to do with the book being in Japanese as the pictures are very clear to follow. Apparently its just some sort of mental malfunction I have when it comes to knots. The gentleman of the house however has no such issue. Bonus prize – he can now officially say that he has “crafted” thanks to this project (*^^*)

My secret weapon for many of my DIYs, especially those with small details, is beading needles. I use them all the time and not just for bead work. They are very thin and long and for me super easy to work with. The only difficulty is threading them. Dang the eye is small!! Well and they can bend easily as another downside so you can’t be as forceful with them like a standard needle. The sharpness and length though is awesome.

japanese success and flower knots with beads on a strap

Its not uncommon to use beads with this style of decorative knots. However the beads are typically ones with large holes and the cord of the knot is slipped through the bead. The book also suggests using a touch of glue to secure the knot. Instead of all that I went for much smaller beads and the thread used to attach them acted as an alternative to the glue.

To make it even more personal I added lettering beads to spell out “Dassai” and her name “Asumi” in pastel colors. This was the big gamble for the project. Most of the other beads were more fancy, like Swarsovski crystals and Japanese glass seed beads. I feared these might look too low brow compared to the others. The use of seed beads between each letter I think helped bridge the gap so that it all harmonized after all.

Color was critical to making it come together as was scale. It took a couple of tries to get the balance right on top to counteract the weight of the beading at the bottom. All-in-all I think it turned out very nice.

When it Rains it Pours… Sake Of Course

Asumi of Dassai Sake Brewery was at Astor Wines in NYC last weekend providing NY'ers with a fine sampling of 5 premium junmai daiginjos

Having a friend who works for a sake brewery is a fantastic and dangerous thing :)  Last weekend went to support my friend at the Astor Wines Dassai Sake Tasting.  Came home with 2 cases myself.  Kanpai!  Keep the sake flowing everyone – Happy Friday!!!

Dassai Junmai Daiginjo Sake

Had an absolutely spectacular night at the Dassai X Megu event in NYC.  Sakurai-san, the Kuramoto (Sake Brewery Owner,) is the most charming young man.  He is the 4th generation owner of the honorable Dassai and Asahi Shuzo Brewery.  A wealth of knowledge about his subject matter is equally matched with his passion for the art that is sake brewing.

the polishing of rice grains for making sake

An excerpt from Kateigaho magazine featuring Dassai.

Dassai 39

This sake is my new love.  I am not very articulate about describing sake or wines, but I enjoyed that Dassai was dry with only a subtle touch of sweetness.  It had a consistent taste – it stays on your tongue and doesn’t waiver.  Very clean and refreshing taste.  I’ll need to stop by Sakagura and also Mitsuwa to check out the price.  As it is a premium Junmai Daiginjo, my Life’s Sweet Essential #4 – Money might be taking a bit of a hit soon.

Sake Soap!

soap made from sake-kasu, lees left over after sake production

Life’s Sweet Essential – Shelter got a surprise perk too.  Received a bar of Dassai Sekken Junmai Daiginjo Soap!  It is made from sake-kasu, which I learned are the deposits and residuals of yeast left over after sake production.  I am told this is the best thing ever for getting lovely young and fresh skin – yay!  So good to see that even the residuals from the process can be turned into something so useful.  And look at that uber-kawaii otter on the bar of soap  <*)) >>=<

The story behind the brand’s name is adorable too.  Here is a quote from their website:

The name of our sake, Dassai, means “otter festival,” and the origins convey much of what we are about. Part of the name refers to an ancient name for the region here in Yamaguchi Prefecture, as long ago there were many otters frolicking in the nearby rivers. Otters will lay out the fish that they catch on the shore, almost as if they are showing them off in a festival. This led to references to “otter festivals” in ancient poems. But there is more…

Be sure to read the rest of the tale on the Dassai site!

A little embarrassed to say that what stood out about the food at Megu was the wasabi cheesecake that was served for dessert.  It was a really interesting mix of sweet with a punch of heat.

photo of Sakurai, wasabi cheesecake, asumi saito, and me

Kazuhiro Sakurai | Wasabi Cheesecake at Megu | Me and Asumi Saito (photo taken by Sakurai-san)

Before I sign off – I want to give a heartfelt thank you to Sakurai-san; Asumi Saito, the sales representative for Dassai; and to Chizuko Kiikawa-Helton, from Sake Discoveries who helped plan the event.  (Chizuko-san wore a smashing Okinawa Bingata Kimono that was so cute.)  Domo arigato gozaimasu!!!

Sweet Dreams, Sheri





Dassai X Megu

You know how I mentioned the other day that I signed up for emails from the Japanese Culinary Center.  Well it has already paid off.  Heading out in a little while to Megu for a Dassai sake tasting dinner!

Here’s a caption from the email:

“Dassai, one of Japan’s most sought-after sake breweries in Japan, crafts only ultra premium Junmai Daiginjo [Sheri’s heart begins to melt] sake made exlusively from Yamada Nishiki rice, the finest sake rice available from Hyogo Prefecture.”

The event is limited to 20 guests.  I am very excited we were able to get tickets.  Looking forward to mingling and meeting new people.  Well and am elated to enjoy a 5 course meal at Megu!!!

Exquisite interior featuring the Lord Buddha in center stage at Megu in NY.


Sweet Dreams, Sheri



Credits:  Dassai flyer photo from Japanese Culinary Center’s email campaign; dining room photo from