May 25, 2017

Great skill to have ... Kintsugi workshop by An Astute Assembly

It was such a popular workshop ! We sold the seats out by 2 days just after we advertised on our social media. 

We invited Ai gomi who taught us the technique of Kintsugi. we were gathering around her and did a very at home like workshop. 

Thanks to the people who participated the workshop and shared the knowledge of Japanese traditional skill. 

Kintsugi is repairing the broken pieces with lacquer and golden powder. Often you will find more beauty in there than original pieces... this is like a Japanese philosophy of wabisabi which means embracing of the flawed or imperfect. 

We all had a great fun, We are already looking for an another opportunity to run this workshop again soon. So please sign-in to our milling list from our website and stay tuned.

We will giving the informations of when we will do a great workshop, great stories behind the products and any kinds of deals for you xx

We share the picture from Kintsugi workshop below. Hope you enjoy seeing them ! 

These beautiful picture was taken by Liz Clarkson who makes everything looks so beautiful and alive. Thank you so much, Liz.  we love working with you.

There is 3 steps for this workshop. 


Step 1 -  Glueing broken pieces back on. (chipped or broken few pieces...)


Step 2 - Carving and sanding to make smooth surface. 


Step 3 - finishing with Lacquer with golden powder. 


Thank you so much for supporting us ! 

20th & 21st May 2017





May 13, 2017

Shotoku Glass Co. - Usuhari story

Modern, tradition
& ultra minimal.


Visiting the Shotoku Glass Co. studio in Tokyo.
Makers of the Usuhari and Black range of Glasses.

Almost a year ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Shotoku Glass Co. and met the wonderful Yoshifumi Saito who is the exclusive director. He took me through the factory and I heard their great history.

Usuhari glasses are famous for their remarkably thin glass and rim and have become a symbol for fine craft and workmanship. Their factory is located in Kinshicho, Tokyo, an area that was once a thriving merchant town where many glass factories were once dotted amongst other trades. But in more recent years, the whole town has been damaged by mass produced goods from overseas with many factories closing their doors and leaving many skilled artisans struggling.

Shotoku had it's fair share of struggle too, but with Saito on board they've honed their approach to business and craft. They modernised their design and produced products that are so fine in their technique they can't be replicated in mass production. It's level of craft that can only be produced by very few craftsmen, and is well beyond machine processes.

This combination of ageless, minimal design and exquisite finish have seen the Shotoku Glass co. flourish again and their glasses are now sort after the world over. They're also one of our most popular, long-selling products in our store and our other NZ stockists. Their sleek looking glasses have been featured in many magazines here already.


It was spring time, the air was still a bit crispy outside, but the inside the factory was warm with an enormous firing kelm in the middle of the factory. The temperature inside the kiln will reach up to 2000 ℃. I was blown away by the worker who was standing and doing their job in silence, I can't imagine what it's like in a hot Japanese summer.        



They use the same technique as making light bulbs, the super thin glass is hand blown by experienced craftsman. I also learnt that there are certain conditions required for making glass - clean water, keeping the extreme temperature consistent and highly skilled hands. This town is a suitable place where they have all these conditions available.     

電球を生み出すのと同じ原理で造られる"うすはり硝子”、均等な薄さ0.9 mmに達成させる為には、経験を積む職人技が煌めきます。ガラスが生産される工程には沢山の工夫が幾つもあり、また硝子を拵えるのには、”綺麗な水/高温の熱を保つメカニズム/職人技” この3原則が重要で、錦糸町はこの条件を満たす長い商業の街としての歴史と、人材が備わっている場所であると伺いました。


What was most encouraging to me was seeing the success of a company making traditional, hand made goods that treasure quality and design above all else. The Shotoku Glass Co. have reinvented themselves as leaders and innovators in their field, and if they keep those values in tact they're sure to do great things.


A big thanks to everyone at the company for making time for me. I was very honoured to meet you all. It's given me more drive than ever to keep working hard and do what I can to support companies like them.
私達アン アスチュート アッセンブリーも松徳硝子の商品をニュージーランドをはじめ海外でご紹介できることに誇りを持ち、日々精進して参りたいと思います。

This Shotoku Glass collection is available online at  or At The Shelter in Auckland, NZ. 
For more details and enquiries:
Watch the amazing video of their creations. 

Thank you so much for reading. Have a wonderful month ! 
May 02, 2017

Kintsugi Workshop



Repairing for good

Kintsugi (also known as Kintsukuroi) which loosely translates to 'Golden Joinery' is the age-old Japanese art form of repairing broken ceramics in a way that is often considered more beautiful than when it was when whole. This ancient technique is a true celebration of 'Wabi Sabi', the aesthetic appreciation of the broken, old or disregarded.

We'll supply you with the tools and equipment and take you through easy step by step instructions on how to piece back together your broken ceramics with lacquer and golden powder. 

Saturday, 20th May.
From 10:30 ~ 12:00 

At The Shelter's home-ware section. 
78 Mackelvie St, Ponsonby, Auckland

$65/per person
• A Kintsugi kit for you to take home (includes lacquer & golden powder).
• A group tutorial and hands on experience.

Limited number of places are available for this session, so be quick ! Deposit needed to secure a place. It would be a great mother’s day gift!

Your teacher for the session will be Ai Gomi

Book in advance at the shelter or email us:

Ponsonby のブティック The Shelter の心地の良い空間で『金継ぎWork Shop』を開催します!


• 要予約 
• お問い合わせ 店頭、FBメッセージ、又は


Examples of Kintsugi


The kit and the venue

March 27, 2017

Lovely picture of Donabe Demonstration and the recipe , 18/03/2017


Lovely photos from our Donabe demo at The Shelter last weekend.

And healthy tapas idea - making a one mouthful rice balls. 



18 / 03 / 17'

A demonstration on how to make tasty rice the authentic Japanese way using traditional Japanese kitchen utensils.

Lovely picture by Liz Clarkson Photography 







  • Rice 1 cup / Water 1 cup, (+100 ml water for brown rice with pinch of salt)

  • Rice 3 cups / Water 3 cups, (+100ml water for brown rice with pinch of salt)


1. Wash the starch off the rice (emptying and relling the water 3-4 times).

2. Strain the water with a sieve and leave it for 5 mins.

3. Put the washed rice into a bowl, add the water and soak it for 30mins (or longer).

4. Once it’s soaked, transfer it to the Donabe.

5. Put inner lid and top lid on with the holes at a 90 degree angle from each other.

6. Cook for about 10 - 12 mins with medium heat and it will start steaming hard, steam will come from the little hole (Brown rice will need to cook for about 10 mins longer than white rice).

7. Turn the heat off but leave it on the stove without opening the lid. The rice will keep steaming in the donabe for about 20 mins more. Again, do not open the lid during this process! (Steam for 30-40 mins longer for brown rice).

Serve however you like, enjoy!


• Mix with edamame beans and slices of spring onion.

• Mix with cooked salmon (or smoked salmon) with sesame seeds.

• Sushi vinegar with cooked shrimps, cooked eggs and beans.

**How to make sushi vinegar for rice:

In a little pot put 50mL of white vinegar, 1tbs sugar, 1tsp salt and cooked for 3 mins to dissolve all ingredients.

• Before you cook the rice, add 1tbs sake, 1tbs soy sauce and a pinch of salt.

• More great recipes here -


• Seasoning the donabe for rst use is very important (refer to on method).

• After use, add water to soften the rice then scrub with the sponge or scrubbing brush.

• Always dry your donabe and store in a dry place.

• If you get little cracks, cook a porridge style of rice (thick and gluggy) and it will act like a

glue and hold the cracks together, saving the donabe’s life.

TIP: Any left over rice can be put in glad wrap and frozen.


In these photos:

Donabe pot
Bamboo Strainers
Cederwood Rice Mixing tub 
Yachimun Small Plates - flower

March 17, 2017

Making own ginger pickles - Raw food

"Gari" means pickled vinegary ginger in Japanese that you will see when you have sushi or other Japanese food at restaurant. It's a great refreshment for between meals, It is used to cleanse the palate between eating different pieces of sushi, or alternatively before or after the meal. Also a form of ginger, gari has minor anti-microbial properties, which may be useful when consuming raw food.

To make Gari, now is the great season for New Zealand. 

Young (fresh - pale yellow) gari is suitable for making the type of pickle, as it won't make tough fibres and the bitterness. When is really fresh, you can achieve the beautiful pale pink for the pickling process...Only very young ginger will develop the slight pink tint. Many brands of commercially produced gari are artificially colored pink, either to intensify the color or because the ginger used is too mature to turn pink upon pickling. 

Using Japanese red basil leaves will help adding more colour as well as great flavour.

When you can't get the fresh ginger you can cook with boiling water for a bit to make soften which soften the bitterness as well. so I recommend it. 


Raw food version 

Fresh ginger (Fijian ginger)  - 1 cup

*Umeboshi (plum) vinegar - 3tbsp

*Honey or maple syrup - 2tbsp

*Salt - 1/2 tsp

Dried seaweed stock - optional

1. Chop ginger thinly slices 

2. Mix all the *ingredients 

3. Add the sliced ginger at last

4. Store in the fridge with air-tight container.  


Cooked version

Fresh ginger - 1 cup

*Rice or Plum vinegar - 1/2 cup

*Honey or maple syrup - 1/4 cup

*Salt - 1,1/2 tsp

1. Chop the ginger thinly slices and soak in water in a bowl.

2. Mix all the *ingredients 

3. Put the sliced ginger into boiling water for about 30 sec.

4. Strain the water and mix with other while it's hot.

5. Store in the fridge with air-tight container.  

You can eat from next day ! 

This great recipe is from Migiwa Ozawa. Thank you so much for your contribution.


We will do Donabe demo at The Shelter tomorrow from 11am.

Hope you can come if you are in Auckland. we are going to serve the gari with rice then !





March 08, 2017

Donabe demo at The Shelter NZ

Donabe Demo

An Astute Assembly presents a demo at The Shelter.

A demonstration on how to make tasty rice the 
authentic Japanese way using beautiful 
Japanese kitchen utensils.

Place: The Shelter Ponsonby
Date :18th of March (Sat)
Time: 11:00 - 13:00
Free session

Serving onigiri (Japanese rice-balls) on bamboo leaf with cold Japanese tea.


You don't need to book for this demo, Just come in and join us at The Shelter as we make the tasty rice. It's one session only. You can come and go anytime during the event. We will do this in The Shelter's beautiful coat-yard, pop out the back when you come (If it rains we'll move inside)

We''l do tasting and talk you through preparation techniques and creative ways to enjoy Japanese rice at the end of the event. So get involved and let's have some fun together !!!



Making the tasty rice with donabe

We will show how to cook rice with Donabe, a traditional Japanese ceramic pot. Cooking with Donabe creates a great texture and taste for the rice. It also has an amazing structure that makes it easy to use. 

We will 
also show you few ways to arrange rice for special occasions.

These donabe are made with traditional Iga workmanship. Iga is an ancient province with 1,300 years of history. Iga-Yaki is considered to be one of the most highly regarded regional potteries of Japan. 

There are many ways to cook with a donabe and it is very important how you care for your donabe to give it a long life. We will be talk about these tips on the day.


this image by Clara Pafundi 


How to arrange the rice 

Using the beautiful cider made "Hangiri" to mix the rice with some choice ingredients.
The fragrance of cedar wood will lightly flavour the rice beautifully. 
We will make a small onigiri at the session for tasting and show you fun ways to arrange with the rice for your table.

We will use the 
freeze dried powder, cooked beans and salmon flakes to gain colour for your rice.  

We're super happy to bring you this fusion of culture and taste.


On the day:

We are selling all the utensils that we use on the day at the shelter. But the numbers are limited, so we also take the pre-order of these tools on the day if they sell out.  

Those that join us on the day and register our mailing list & like our Instagram, you can get a ticket to win a beautiful cast iron trivet! So please bring your friends and family.

Look forward to seeing you there ! 


Don't forget to pencil it in your diary !

Schedule :
Donabe demo, 18th March Saturday, 11 AM - 1 PM  |  Free session

Look forward to having you there to experience this fun event !   
February 14, 2017

So much to tell you ...

Happy Valentine's Day ! 

Here is a lovely image from Venice Jewellery from AUS. 

Hope you are spending a special time with someone you love. 



These romantic Jewellery are all handcrafted, available from here -


Send our love ... xxx




February 10, 2017

20% off sale for Valentine's day !

3 days special everything 20%off sale for Valentine's day !

from 10th to 13th Feb... 

Simply type the code before casher. - "gift2lover"
Shop from here -

Please share this rare opportunity to let your friends and family know. 

Enjoy ! 

Send our big love xxx


January 26, 2017

The art of Japanese Furoshiki

Please check the NZ food magazine 「dish」summer issue. We are introducing how to Use a Japanese Wrapping Cloth Furoshiki. Dish Magazine 

Photographer by Greta Van Der Star 

ニュージーランドのフードマガジン『dish』にて An Astute Assembly - AAA より風呂敷の使い方のご紹介が記載されてます。NZにお住いの方々ぜひお手にとってみてくださいね〜。



Furoshiki translates literally as “bath blanket” – this simple square piece of cloth was once used in Japan to wrap one’s clothes in while taking a dip at the public baths.

But for more than a thousand years, it has taken on many functions: wrapping gifts, carrying things, bundling items, protecting precious contents, using it to sit on...

And now Yuka O’Shannessy and her business partner Yoko Shimoyama have introduced this ancient practice to New Zealanders through their business, An Astute Assembly (AAA).

Part of the appeal of furoshiki is how incredibly versatile it is and Yuka believes its increasing popularity is also about its ecofriendliness. “I think it’s very viable at the moment. I can see a lot of young people using this as a bag. Like an eco-bag – but you can change it!”

The cloth comes with a set of instructions, introducing several ways you can tie it, depending on what you’d like to use it for – but Yuka says once you start tying, you’ll probably discover more yourself.

We here at Dish, of course, chose a grocery style bag and a bottle carrier. Yuka suggests buying a bottle of something delicious andusing the cloth as gift wrap – that way the recipient gets two presents in one.

The furoshiki cloths the pair have available are 100 per cent cotton (silk can also be used for more elegant knots) and while the tradition of furoshiki goes back centuries, AAA have chosen their fabrics to appeal to a modern market. The same mix of tradition and modernity goes for many of the beautiful items available at AAA.

“We have products that have a hundred years behind them and more than one generation – so those products have stories, usually as to why they have carried on so long,” says Yuka.


Great year to begin for us ... x

Happy 2017 !!!


December 10, 2016

Christmas 2016


Season's greetings
from An Astute Assembly

& a dream Christmas brunch recipe.


The years just seem to keep getting faster! 

The festive season is just around the corning (unless you’ve already made a head-start) and we’re here to do what we can to make it as easy as possible, so you can spend more time enjoying the fun stuff.

There are plenty of special gift ideas in our online store that are built to last and designed to impress. We have a range of eco-friendly and 'small-production' products made by Japanese and New Zealand boutique workshops and craftspeople that are hard to find anywhere else. We can also ship direct to the recipient almost anywhere in the world.

Take 5 minutes to have a look for yourself.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to express our big thanks to all of you. We had an amazing year with plenty of challenges and exciting ventures. We don’t think we could have done it without all your generous support.      

Thank you so much ! We really appreciate it.



Ricotta & Yoghurt Hotcake Recipe

A perfect idea for Christmas brunch !

I’ve been enjoying cooking Ricotta hotcakes for Sunday morning breakfast lately and thought what a perfect recipe to share with everyone, especially with holiday season racing towards us!

I found a Nigella recipe and had enough for half a batch but then needed to make a full batch as I had surprise visitors arriving so I substituted some of the ricotta with yoghurt and they were delicious! I then did a full ricotta batch soon after and found I enjoyed the yoghurt ones much more, so my own version is now created.

Not complicated but a little different from the normal pancake recipe, has a lovely texture from the ricotta and egg whites and flavour from the yoghurt. Pair with your favourite berries or fruit and you have a pretty and elegant breakfast to enjoy with friends and family.

The AAA team and I got together to test the recipe out for you on the weekend, it was a beautiful late spring, almost summer morning in Yuka’s lovely garden to show you idea’s for a holiday or Christmas breakfast celebration table ❤





Ricotta and Yoghurt Hotcakes

  • 125 grams ricotta cheese
  • 125 grams unsweetened pro-biotic yoghurt
  • 125 ml milk
  • 2 large eggs (separated)
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • butter for the pan (you may like to try coconut oil too)
  • strawberries, blueberries or other berries/fruit that you enjoy
  • maple syrup and yoghurt


Combine the ricotta, yoghurt, milk and egg yolks into a bowl.

Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently whisk to make a smooth batter.

Beat the egg whites till they just reach soft peaks and fold them into the ricotta mixture.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat and drop in heaped dessertspoons of batter.

Cook the hotcakes for about 1 minute until golden and then flip them over and cook for another minute.

Keep the cooked pancakes warm with tinfoil on a large warmed plate.

Batter makes around 9 - 10, medium sized hotcakes (ie approx 10cm wide)

Serve with maple syrup, yoghurt and berries, enjoy!


In this shoot:

Hasami Porcelain Bowl & wooden plate (it can be the lid)
Shotoku Usuhari Glass Beer set
Yachimun Miyagi pottery Plates and cups
Kobo AIzawa Cutlery  
Markantonia Soy Wax Candles

1 2 3 9 Next »