Myrthe van der Grinten lived in Japan for a year and was deeply moved by the Japanese culture. Her experience there inspired her to open the Kiyomi design & collections web shop.
How did you end up in Japan?
“I went to Japan to study Asia Trade Management, and also did an internship there. I lived close to Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, and it was a life-changing experience. What I found the most extraordinary thing while I was there was the attention people pay to small things. People in a shop welcome you by calling out ‘Irrashaimase!’ (Welcome!) when you enter, and give you your receipt with both hands, for example. The respect the Japanese have for other people and for their living environment was very inspiring.”
How did this lead to a Japanese web shop?
“When I came back to the Netherlands, it took some time for me to get used to Dutch levelheadedness again. What a culture shock! I missed life in Japan very much. Kiyomi is my way of bringing part of ‘my Japan’ to the Netherlands. The shop pays attention to small everyday things. The funny thing is that the Japanese don’t think it’s at all strange when a grown man uses a Rilakkuma lunch box. They are somehow gifted at walking the thin line between sophistication and ‘kawaii’ (cute). I call the articles in my shop ‘gifts of happiness,’ because they are little gifts to brighten your day.”
What plans do you have for your shop?
“I am currently starting my career as a graphic designer and illustrator. So far, I’ve done several really fun projects, and I hope to expand Kiyomi with a new section of my own designs. And, naturally, I would like Kiyomi to become the ultimate web shop for Japanese things!”