By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
Q-pot's Peace of Chocolate Ukulele Necklace is $140. The Peace of Chocolate Ukulele Brooch is $95.
In a fund-raising collaboration, Q-pot's Japan-based designer Tadaaki Wakamatsu teamed up with Honolulu musician Jake Shimabukuro in coming up with a Ukulele design for the 6th annual Toro-ri Ribbon Project.
The two creative artists met during the Toro-ri Ribbon Project Vol. 3, in early 2011. In an interview this morning in Waikiki, Wakamatsu said he and Shimabukuro formed an instant friendship. He said it's not difficult to see why his countrymen are infatuated with Jake. "Even though he doesn't speak much Japanese, his voice, his spirit, his music is how he communicates. It's like a universal language.
"Jake has the same love for art, peace and love, and music is how he spreads that message. There's something special about his music."
Wakamatsu bought a ukulele from Shimabukuro's brother Bruce at the Sheraton Waikiki, and Jake taught him how to play a few notes on the ukulele. Wakamatsu's only other musical experience was playing the flute in school. They reunited later that summer when Shimabukuro performed in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami there, and came up with the idea of the “Ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro × Q-pot" collaboration accessory.
They both share a love of chocolate and music, so it was natural for them to take the ukulele (Jake's symbol) and chocolate (Q-pot's signature), and meld them together. The ukulele jewelry is designed to look like chocolate, with wood from the Tohoku region, which bore the brunt of the natural disasters.
Q-pot designer Tadaaki Wakamatsu wears the line's “Ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro × Q-pot" collaboration brooch. Fans of the brand can meet the designer when he appears at the Ala Moana Center store from 1:30 to 3 p.m. July 29.
A portion of the sales from the collection will be donated to the Rainbow for Japan Kids Project, a charity program launched by Hawaii volunteers, through the Miyagi Bikki Organization’s Bikki Children’s Fund. Donations will be fund two-week educational and cultural exploration trips to Hawaii for child victims of the 2011 Japan Earthquake, who lost friends and family. Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro.
Sales in Japan will start from Aug. 9 in Q-pot's online shop and on Jake's Japan online shop. Sales in Japan stores will launch in Q-pot's Harajuku flagship shop starting from Sept. 15. Pieces will also be available at each venue on Jake's Japan Tour 2012, starting Sept. 15.
Q-Pot fans can meet the designer when he appears at the Ala Moana Center store from 1:30 to 3 p.m. July 29. He'll be bringing 15 pieces each of two exclusive items, a Very Berry Cupcake cell-phone strap ordinarily only available online in Japan, and a Petit Strawberry Cake strap only available at the Harajuku store. (Purchases are limited to one per style, per person.) Customers who make a purchase of $80 or more that day will receive a Tranoi tote bag from the "Tranoi" fashion exhibit in Paris, while supplies last. (Limited to one per person.)
While talking to Wakamatsu, I also got a sneak peek at his fall collection which people might consider the opposite of his dessert creations. I'm not at liberty to show you the photos right now, but I can say he revisits the table, with some items that would not be out of place on Thanksgiving Day. All I can tell you is that it is delightful, as usual, and would also not be out of place on my other blog, Take a Bite.