Japan is a country rich in colour, from the seasons and nature, through to traditions and the culture.
For example, think of the first season that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Japan’…was it filled with the pastel pinks of the sakura season? Or perhaps your mind raced towards the reds and golds of autumn.
In terms of culture, you need look no further than a traditional kimono to find all the colours of the rainbow intricately woven into the fabric. This love of colour is even reflected in the food, with dishes being turned from the ordinary into works of art that are sometimes just too beautiful to even eat.

Now, if we were to narrow down Japan to just one colour, some might suggest associating the country with red, for all the vermilion torii gates of shinto shrines that crop up across the country and of course the red circle of the Nisshōki (Flag of Japan - more commonly referred to as ‘Hinomaru’ in Japan). However, I think there is another colour that better represents Japan and its culture, and that is the colour green.
– Green for the rich amounts of bamboo that grow plentiful across the country, green for the bountiful harvests of rice, green for the ground wasabi that accompanies a plate of sushi and green for the cup of matcha that you might be sipping on whilst reading this post.

Maruyasu Tea Industry seems to agree, as they have recently unveiled a set of artist’s crayons available in five different hues of “tea”. This set has been produced as part of Maruyasu’s crowdfunding project to revitalise the Shiga tea industry.

Named “Ohairo Crayon” (Lit. Tea Colour Crayons), the crayons are made entirely out of discarded tea leaves. This is in acknowledgement to the disappearing culture of tea drinking across Japan.
Though still widely practiced, there has been a steady decrease in the demand for traditional types of Japanese tea over the most recent years, with the industry in Shiga prefecture suffering a particularly big blow. This decline has not been without effects, as tea farmers have had to give up the trade and abandon their crops.
The Ochairo Crayon set is designed not only as a way to make use of abandoned crops, but also to boost the tea industry with a new way to utilize products. On top of that, a portion of money made from sales is guaranteed to go towards the upkeep of working tea farms and the redevelopment of those that are abandoned.

The set is made up of five crayons, each producing a colour that reflects the tea leaves it is made from. This limited range of colour can be seen as a fun challenge for artists to show off their skill.
The five different crayons consist of the following tea hues:

- Tsuchiyama & Asamiya Houjicha, a bright brown coloured crayon that reproduces the colour of roasted tea
- Asamiya Sencha, light green in colour featuring tinges of yellow. Sencha tea is arguably Japan’s most popular tea, and is characteristically known for being subjected to more sunlight and less shade whilst being grown.
- Tsuchiyama Kabusecha, soft light green in colour. Though similar to sencha, kabusecha features more amino acids due to the plantation having been covered for about a week before it is harvested. This type of growth method produces a tea that is milder than typical sencha.
- Tsuchiyama Gyokuro, a strong vivid green crayon. Gyokuro sits on the opposite end of the tea spectrum from cencha in that it is grown in the shade for at least 20 days. This covered period of growth contributes to its sweeter flavour.
- Tsuchiyama Matcha, a dark green crayon that mimics the tones of Shiga Matcha tea.

The Ochairo Crayon set is currently limited for purchase online through the product’s crowdfunding page. Artists can choose to purchase the set by itself or with an additional accompaniment of tea produced by Maruyasu Tea. The crowdfunding prices are listed below:

Ochairo Crayon Set (2 crayon sets included in one shipment) – 4,500 yen
Ochairo Crayon Set (1 crayon set + 5 x 3g tea bags) – 3,500 yen
Ochairo Crayon Set (2 crayons sets + 5 x 3g tea bags) – 5,000 yen

Maruyasu encourages purchasers to share their Ochairo Crayon masterpieces on sns by using the hashtag #ティークレヨン
The set will be available to buy online until the 21 of March 2022, after that shipping is expected to commence from the end of June.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.