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About Singing Crane

I’m from Osaka, but for the last few years I’ve been living in Kyoto. Kyoto is such a beautiful city - the city centre and nature are so close together, and there’s a real mix of old and new. There are even rules about what colour shopfronts and signs can be, it’s so old.

People come to Kyoto just to wear kimonos and walk around. It’s beautiful to see people taking care to keep the old traditions alive – but of course, the kimono and the obi are not as popular in Japan anymore. It’s sad to see them being thrown away, because they are such gorgeous works of art.

My grandmother and aunt were kimono makers, making the patterns and doing the sewing. When my sister and I were kids, we wore the kimonos they made for us at every ceremony.  We still keep the kimono at my parents and they are so beautiful. The Obi belt is a really interesting accessory for kimono – it totally changes the look of the whole outfit, depending on it’s colour and design.

The left is for my little sister and the right is for me.

One day, I went to a guitar maker in Berlin Germany where I lived with my boyfriend for two years. They had some beautiful guitar straps and I was so surprised by how different the guitar would look with a different strap.

Later, we left Berlin, came back to Kyoto and got married! In Kyoto we tried to find a beautiful Japanese guitar strap for his guitar but we couldn’t find any. I thought maybe I could make one, and we started looking around. In Kita no tenmangu - a huge japanese shrine and market place, we came across beautiful second hand obis. I was so surprised by how strong and light and amazing the fabric was. I thought ‘What if I can recycle beautiful Obi belt and make a strap for guitars? Only one Strap in the world, isn't it a good idea?’

That was the start of Singing Crane.

We make one of a kind guitar straps. We only make three straps from a single obi belt (kimono sash belt) and each is cut from a different part of the pattern, then matched with a totally different obi on the back to make a contrast. We then hand pick leathers for the ends, making sure the colours are different and they matching an interesting way. Each strap is a unique combination of old and new, mellow and bright. There is no same design in the world, and even if we wanted to, we can’t make the same strap twice.

  • Obi belt is a sash, part of kimono outfits. They are a very conspicuous accessory. It’s the colourful belt a Japanese woman or man wears around the waist. Mostly it's even more beautiful than the kimono itself. One Obi might cost more than the rest of the entire outfit. We look for these beautiful silk woven vintage obis and find the ones that will make the coolest and most beautiful guitar straps.
  • Leather is a off cut from local leather shops in Kyoto and Kansai
  • The buckle is made of brass in Japan. And the distributor is in Osaka.

All the straps are sewn and put together in Japan by hand, with carefully matched and thoughtfully paired leathers and materials.

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This is the article for Singing Crane guitar straps. We had an interview from Lily Crossley-Baxter from Japan Cheapo.

Singing Crane: Transforming Vintage Obi into Beautiful Guitar Straps