Hilda and Botha Kruger of WAZA share their enthusiasm for Japanese tools for the home that are made to last a lifetime.
Hilda and Botha Kruger conceptualised WAZA – a specialist stockist of quality Japanese household products in South Africa – after their third visit to Japan in 2014. “We wanted to introduce South Africans to the beautifully crafted tools and everyday items we brought back for ourselves.”
The couple thoughtfully curate a small range of products across five categories that represent different spheres of contemporary home life: Make, Work, Grow, Cook, and Eat. The products must meet the Krugers’ criteria of being aesthetically pleasurable, innovative in design, exceptional in terms of craftsmanship, and durable for lifelong use.
Some of WAZA’s most popular products are from the Grow range of gardening tools. The Tobisho secateurs (endorsed by the BBC’s gardening expert, Monty Don), for example, are hand-forged from high-quality Japanese steel and are exceptionally sturdy. Tobisho has a history spanning 200 years and has specialised in making secateurs and pruning shears for three generations. “Our Japanese products require care, but if looked after will continue to give pleasure to passionate gardeners and can become family hand-me-downs,” say the Krugers.
What are the advantages of using these kinds of tools?
There is an Afrikaans saying, “goedkoop is duur koop [buying cheap is expensive]”. We are concerned about obsolescent design and want to sell quality products that reduce consumption.
Customers often tell us about their grandmothers’ sewing scissors that are still in the family, and how everyone in the family knows not to cut paper with them. People do not buy like that anymore and we want to rekindle that approach.
Which WAZA products do you use most often in your own garden?
Botha: I use the Tobisho A-Type 230mm secateurs, which is the heaviest A-Type and can tackle thicker branches when pruning. I also carry an Ajigataya 105mm hatchet with me, for making cuttings or cleaning branches. For sharpening garden tools, I use the King K-40 combination sharpening stone.
Hilda: I use the Tobisho A-Type 175mm secateurs for regular pruning of trees and shrubs. For smaller jobs, like cutting flowers and herbs, I use the Kanetaka herb scissors. For planting, I use the Manaka small hand shovel. The light and convenient combination Kitchen Toishi sharpening stone is perfect for keeping my blades honed.
I have my heart set on a red oak handle pruning saw and copper watering can from Kakuri in Niigata Prefecture, which we aim to stock soon.
Any gardening tips?
- Gardening tools work best when sharp; blunt blades can damage plants. Keep your blades clean, oiled and sharpened. We use Japanese tsubaki oil, made from the Camellia Japonica
- Epsom salt [magnesium sulfate] is one thing we can’t do without in the garden – diluted in water it keeps plants protected from aphids and promotes budding.
- Cultivate plants that you can eat, share with neighbours, or use to make things.
For more information visit, wazashop.co.za