Spirits of Tasmania

By PATSY HOLLIS | Flying into Hobart for the first time in her life, Ami Onoe looked down from the plane and said to herself, “here is just heaven”. In what some would call an astonishing leap of faith, Ami, who was a successful potter artist living near Tokyo, decided in 1997 to make her home in Tasmania, even though she knew virtually nothing about it and spoke almost no English.

In the next seven seven years she bought a property at Snug, just south of Hobart, continued to make lovely stoneware, and embarked on a whole new venture creating natural beauty and remedial products from Tasmania’s wealth of plants, herbs, honey and clays and and selling them overseas. She called it Harmony Harvest, and was invited to supply her products to the spa at Cradle Mountain Lodge.

Ami studied pottery in Tokyo and achieved a great deal of fame, having exhibitions, selling everything she made. But a voice in her head, “perhaps Tasmanian spirits” she smiles, kept telling her to make her home in Tasmania. And eventually this slight, charming Japanese woman began a new journey of discovery.

The spirits were kind.

When Ami arrived, knowing no-one, with nowhere to go, she happened to see a Japanese guide waiting for a group at the airport. He gave her the name of a hotel.

Next day she explored Salamanca Place and walked into a small gallery, admiring the woodware on display. She asked the owner: “Do you have clay? I would like to make something for here.” He replied he had his own pottery studio; in fact, he promptly closed the gallery and took her to the studio, which he said she could utilise. A little later, the Japanese guide’s company told her of someone who had a place to rent.

She asked the owner: “Do you have clay? I would like to make something for here.”

Once living here, Ami came across the beautiful essential oils made locally and “something goes sparking into my head,” as she now says. “I started making massage creams, bath salt and skin care, finding other nice ingredients like seaweed and honey.”

Ami has always studied natural medicine, meditation, yoga and other therapies, which influenced her creation of the products in the Harmony Harvest range, and have also led to healing, massage and seminars in her home.

In strikingly simple packaging, the elements of Harmony Harvest are all nature-based. There is a Heart Massage oil, soothingly rich and warming, sweet with lavender, parsley and fennel. Ami says it is “for people who are sad, feel isolated, and are stressed. They need something warm because their blood circulation slows. Something to promote happiness.”

The bath salts are a packet of the exquisitely tangy fragrances of our southern beaches and transparent seas.

On the other hand, if muscles are tired, tensed, or aching, Body Massage Oil cools and revives with eucalyptus, tea tree and peppermint.

The bath salts are a packet of the exquisitely tangy fragrances of our southern beaches and transparent seas. The mud pack is just that, a tub of refined deep ochre nutrient-packed Tasmanian clay, a face mask to soothe away care lines and promote the circulation. Seaweed based facials, seaweed hair treatment, pure Australian essential oils, the list goes on.

Ami’s marketing takes her products to Japan, Thailand, China, Singapore and the USA. You will not find Harmony Harvest in local supermarkets, but some pharmacies may soon be stocking her delicate, soothing, wholly organic products.

She also has occasional group seminars, mostly from Japan, at her Snug home, which she designed herself so that she could allow for some numbers, although her main healing therapies and massage are individually based.

If she has a problem with her Tassie home, it’s one to do with nature itself. “I want to garden more, have herbs, grow vegetables because I like to eat very fresh all-organic foods,” says Ami. “Unfortunately”, she adds, but with a smile, “it’s the possums … they eat everything!” ¶

More info here