Are you attending a housewarming party soon? Do you have new neighbors? Summer is peak moving season, since the kids are out of school and the weather is good. We are always on the lookout for great housewarming gifts and love learning about housewarming traditions. Here are few Japanese and Jewish ones:
There aren't many housewarming traditions that still exist in modern Japan. When I lived in the countryside, I was once invited to a new home that was under construction. My friends and I brought a large bottle of sake as an offering. I don't know a lot about this tradition, but this idea of bringing sake to a new home stuck with me.
My favorite US-made sake is from Sequoia Sake- it's made here in San Francisco, though they currently only ship within California. If you live in the Bay Area, my favorite sake from them is the Nama, available through Good Eggs and at Bi-Rite Market. Another excellent, more readily available sake resource is True Sake. Based in San Francisco, it was the very first sake store in the US and they cary sake from some excellent producers in Japan. Check their web site to see if they ship to your state.
I love this elegant, modern sake set from Malfatti Glass. I especially love the imperfections in the glass- since it's hand made and intentionally left slightly warped, no two glasses are the same.
These elegant sake glasses from Umami Mart look like cut crystal, but they are actually made of tempered glass and can be placed in the dishwasher! The 1/2" thick base keeps sake cold for longer- just my kind of sake glass!
The simplicity and thoughtful asymmetry of this made-in-Japan set from Kaufmann Mercantile makes my Japanese heart happy.
In Jewish tradition, homes are traditionally marked by a mezuzah (parchment scroll containing Torah verses) on each door in the home that is not a bathroom door. Bryan and I hung ours together when we moved in and said our first chanukat bayit blessing. You could also say a shehecheyanu blessing (for the first time you do something). Here are a few mezuzahs we love. If you know the style of the couple well, mezuzahs make great housewarming gifts!
Mi Polin is the first Judaica founded in Poland since World War II (before WWII, there were 30 Judaica companies in Poland). Their way of preserving Jewish history is powerful, and I love their use of only the purest natural materials. The hamsa on this wood mezuzah subtly suggests the shape of the Hebrew letter "shin", which is on most traditional mezuzot.
When Bryan and I moved into our apartment, my sister-in-law, Rachel gave us a mezuzah made by Emily Rosenfeld. It's still on our door today, and when see it before I leave and when I come home, I think of her. I love the organic nature of this sculpted pewter vine mezuzah, also by Emily Rosenfeld.
This origami-inspired mezuzah is by Tel Aviv-based Studio Armadillo, who we were lucky enough to visit on our February trip to Israel. Anat and Hadas are industrial designers and create paper models for every piece! There's something especially Japanese and minimalist about this all-white version. If you prefer a color, they have many different ones available through their web site- everything is hand-made in Israel.
Another great, universal house-warming gift of course, is a bottle of wine! If the person/couple/family is Jewish, this 2015 Carneros Pinot Noir from Covenant (an excellent urban kosher winery in Berkeley) is a thoughtful touch.
I love learning about etiquette, so of course one of my favorite resources is Emily Post. According to the Emily Post Institute, "the best ways to welcome new neighbors are to deliver a bouquet of flowers or a plate of cookies along with a collection of takeout menus from your favorite local places." When we first moved into our building, I baked little breakfast loaves for our neighbors (we live in a small building). When new neighbors moved in across the hall, I shared my favorite places to eat in the area via email. If you're new to a neighborhood, having a list of resources to start with is very helpful, especially since you're busy with all the other logistics of moving and settling in!
Do you have any go-to housewarming gifts or traditions from your life or heritage? I'd love to know what they are!