Japanese fetishists on this side of the Pacific Ocean are numerous and obsessive, as the simplicity, beauty and technical ingenuity of wares designed in Japan often contrast starkly with the big-box junk we tend to fill our homes with. Venice's Tortoise General Store was started in 2003 by Tokyo transplants Taku and Keiko Shinomoto, who wanted to offer alternatives to cheap, disposable goods. It's their version of “slow food,” which explains the tortoise as their mascot. The store's products are wide-ranging, featuring everything from pens and toys to teapots and hand-carved wood talismans. Their higher-end items include minimalist, beautifully crafted Japanese cutlery and glassware, as well as stylish and quirky retro-futuristic watches and even vintage Noguchi lamps. Deceptively small — and not to be confused with their gallery/shop, Tortoise — the General Store encourages you to stop and smell the lotus flower. 1208 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. (310) 314-8448, tortoiselife.com.

—Ben Westhoff

LA Weekly