FOR seven years, The Crafty Squirrel has made itself home in humble Ballarat.
Now, its owner Morgan Wills is heading to Japan – and she’s inviting eight or so enthusiastic crafters to come with her.
“This will be my fourth tour,” Ms Wills said, these nine-day Crafty Squirrel Tokyo tours kicking off in April last year and selling out in three hours- a feat she is “still amazed” by.
There’s no shortage of demand this time either, even attracting enquiries from a woman in Germany.
“I’ve always loved travelling to Japan, and the craft and cute things I can buy,” Ms Wills said.
“For the past 10 years I’ve thought, ‘I’d love to share the places I’ve found with others like-minded people.”
The tours take place in Tokyo, with guests being treated to a series of workshops across a range of crafts.
It will feature paper making, sashiko stitching, and saori weaving, alongside trips to markets and other cultural activities, like a traditional tea ceremony.
“It’s a really special thing,” she said. “It’s quite intimate; you can do things you can’t do in bigger tours.”
However, just like in running her store, her favourite part is the opportunity to connect with people all sharing a common thread.
“It’s a bit like going on grown-up school camp… there’s something special in finding your group.”
Her second love, all things Japanese culture, is evident to anyone who has set foot in the Crafty Squirrel. What began as “bits and bobs” has grown to a broad range of products, like fabrics and vintage Kokeshi dolls, that draw crowds from all over.
It’s a love that came early.
“As a child, my family hosted a Japanese exchange student...I was just enchanted, particularly by the creative gifts and cute stationery.”
From there, she went on to study Japanese at high school, before making her first trip in her early 20s.
“I was hooked. I love the food, the culture, and they’re mastercraftsmen… I can’t think of anywhere else in the world like Japan.”
Some spots still remain for the upcoming Tokyo trip in September.
Contact the Crafty Squirrel for more details.