(Posted 7/27/2021) Last week, the Center debuted a project to encourage individuals of all ages to think about how we can re-appreciate the things we have in our house to make a beautiful “new” item.

Before we show you the finished project, we wanted to provide the background story of how the kimoNO WASTE project came to life.

During the Shelter in Place restrictions, the Center, like many of you, did some purging of items hidden deep on closet shelves and in boxes that have not been open for many years.  One of the discoveries was many sets of well-used and well-loved hanafuda*cards.

(Example of Hanafuda Cards)

The Center used to sponsor a vibrant weekly program of hanafuda players who have since passed away or are no longer able to play.  Many of the sets had the names of the owners so we wanted to find some way to honor their interest.

At the same time, the Center was asked to create an activity for the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics as we partnered with NBC Bay Area-the official broadcast network for the Olympic Games, to celebrate the occasion in Japantown’s Peace Plaza.

Japan has a long tradition of a no-waste philosophy that is commonly referred to as mottainai.  The citizens of Japan launched a 2-year ecological project founded on the mottainai belief by creating a repository for people to donate their old cell phones, small metal objects and other metals.  This drive collected over 78 tons of materials which were then repurposed to make the medals that are being awarded at the Tokyo Games.

(Olympic Medals made from recycled materials)

Thus following the lead of the movement in Japan, the Center created their own mottainai project incorporating the rediscovered hanafuda tiles with tiles that were designed out of donated scraps of paper, fabric, plastics and other items found in homes.

(Samples of the tiles made by participants)

The result of this project is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind art piece that illustrates how even a tiny strip of material or an empty plastic bag can be used to have a new and significant purpose.

So before you throw out your trash for the day, take a look and see how you can create your own mottainai, NO WASTE project!

Our mottainai project was designed by Kase Intern Kadi Miura.  We will be minimizing the piece and framing it to be sold at the Center’s Silent Auction in September.

Many thanks to the donors of this project who shared their treasured remnants and other household items for us to put this project together.  We also thank the individuals who created a tile to contribute to our project!


*hanafuda (flower cards) is a Japanese game that consists of a set of 48 cards with 12 unique suits corresponding to the 12 months of the year.