London is one of three global cities chosen by the Government of Japan to showcase a new concept in cultural interaction. The aim is to broaden knowledge and deepen understanding of Japan through its diverse cultural, social and economic vitality. The other Japan House locations are in Los Angeles and Sao Paulo.

Japan House London will take up three floors in the stunning Grade II Heritage Listed Art Deco building that was once Derry & Toms department store on Kensington High Street. It is a unique addition to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s vibrant cultural scene.

Japan House London is a total cultural experience, exploring Japan’s appetite for tradition and the new, expressed in its approach to innovation and creativity. This includes distinctive Japanese cuisine, high-quality products, language and the arts, the latest technologies, design and architecture. These elements are brought to life in an immersive experience of events, activities, workshops, seminars, performances and exhibitions.

Visitors to Japan House London will be offered a social and engaging encounter with Japan. On the Ground Floor they can buy and taste authentic Japanese products and spend time relaxing in one of the lounge areas, while enjoying the book collection or perusing Japan travel information. On the First Floor they can enjoy Japanese food and drink and the Lower Ground Floor enhances these experiences through the opportunity to discover, encounter and appreciate more about Japan through exhibitions and a diverse events programme to include performances, film screenings, workshops and lectures.

“Japan House London will showcase the very best of Japan’s passion for high quality craftsmanship, style, authenticity, dignity and beauty, attention to detail and innovation. Having previously led National Museums in Northern Ireland, Wales and New Zealand, I am very privileged and excited to be working on this ground-breaking concept from Japan that brings together the public and private sectors to build a cultural bridge between the UK and Japan. Japan House London will offer a very surprising encounter with Japan. It will nurture a deeper understanding and strengthen relationships between the people of Britain and Japan,” said Michael Houlihan, Director General, Japan House London.

The design concept for Japan House London is being developed by one of Japan’s leading interior designers, Katayama Masamichi, Founder and Principal of Wonderwall and Professor at Tokyo's Musashino Art University.

While the studio is based in Tokyo, Katayama and his team have produced a range of international projects in Europe, the U.S.A., Australia, the Middle East, and throughout the rest of Asia. In London, Wonderwall has completed several projects, including, notably, UNIQLO’s global flagship store on Oxford Street.

The Chief Creative Director of the global Japan House project is the leading Japanese designer Hara Kenya, President of Nippon Design Center and Professor at Tokyo’s Musashino Art University. Much of his work takes inspiration from notions of Japanese culture, including the programmes for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Nagano Winter Olympic Games (1998). He is also well-known for his work as Art Director of MUJI and Daikanyama Tsutaya Books, and his respected publications on design have been translated into several languages.

The local Japan House London Secretariat is working in consultation with people and organizations such as Hara Kenya, the Nippon Design Centre, the project’s Influential Independent Advisory Council in Japan, private sector corporations, Japanese regional governments, educational and cultural institutions, and individual makers and designers to create an exciting programme to deliver visitors an authentic and unexpected encounter with Japan.

Japan’s Ambassador to the UK, Tsuruoka Koji, commented, “Japan House is an initiative by which our Government is making the most of the vitality of the private sector in an attempt to showcase Japan’s various attractions in culture, consumer and industrial products, food, technological innovation, design tourism and more on the international stage. London has been chosen as one of only three cities alongside Los Angeles and Sao Paulo to launch this undertaking.

“In fact, I am particularly pleased that Kensington, where my residence is located, has been identified as the ideal location for its establishment in London. It is my sincere hope that Japan House, with its diverse offerings of retail outlets, food, exhibitions and events to give visitors a taste of the very best of Japan, will create a vibrant new destination on Kensington High Street, adding to the emerging cultural hub between Kensington Palace and the new Design Museum.”

Mike with Ambassador use

In the lead up to opening Japan House London will be popping up all over, offering a taste of what’s to come when it opens on Kensington High Street.

To be kept up-to-date with progress towards opening, to hear exhibition announcements and for invitations to pre-opening events, follow Japan House London on social media: @japanhouseldn.

Japan House London website will be launched closer to opening. In the meantime, you can find more information on the Japan House project website:



When will it open?
In March 2017, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council approved a Planning Application to established Japan House London at 101-111 Kensington High Street, London W8 5SA. Japan House London will comprise three floors in this stunning Grade II Heritage Listed Art Deco building.

Japan House London is a truly unique, ground-breaking project. To underline its ambition, a great deal of time has been spent finding the right location and a very special building. We are very pleased to have secured this beautiful example of Art Deco architecture.

The same level of care and attention to detail will be a hallmark of the design and fit-out for Japan House London’s new home. The building’s historically important and elegant exterior will be preserved. The interior design will bring back that wow factor which originally made this building so iconic. Given the complexity of the design and the importance of respecting the original building, the precise opening date has yet to be decided. However, work has started and we expect completion to take several months.

In 1933, 101-111 Kensington High Street opened as Derry & Toms department store and impressed Londoners with its Bernard GEORGE Art Deco style. A roof garden was added in 1938, and still exists today as the Kensington Roof Gardens.

The building facade is decorated with panel reliefs, entitled Labour & Technology, by Charles Mabey. In the reliefs silversmiths decorate urns, potters throw and decorate pots, and lumberjacks, builders, metalworkers and bricklayers also feature hard at work. It is fitting that Japan House London will present the very best examples of Japan’s passion for high quality craftsmanship, style, authenticity, dignity and beauty, attention to detail and innovation in a building decorated in this way.

Intricate metalwork depicting animals and elements of nature by sculptor Walter Gilbert on the building’s façade also resonate with Japan. Amongst Gilbert’s most famous works are the main gate of Buckingham Palace with the royal coat of arms.

What sort of exhibitions will Japan House London show?
The Lower Ground Floor is the cultural heartbeat of the Japan House London experience.

The gallery space hosts a regular programme of exhibitions, a number of which are coming from Japan and touring around all three Japan House locations - London, Los Angeles and São Paulo.

A supporting programme of events adds extra layers of depth and interest to the exhibitions, with themes running throughout the building on all floors.

Japan House London’s programme of exhibitions aims to entertain and create learning opportunities, while also providing an immersive encounter with Japan for all visitors.

In the lead up to opening Japan House London will be popping up all over, offering a taste of what’s to come when we open on Kensington High Street.

What sort of events can we expect from Japan House London before the opening?
Just as Japan House London’s offer is diverse, so too will be our pre-opening events!

On Friday, 14 July a British Museum Friday Lates will be presented in collaboration with Japan House London as part of the supporting programme for the Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave exhibition.

Japan House will present a pop-up sake bar in the Great Court of the British Museum. The event will be hosted by an expert sake sommelier, Kikuya Natsuki and literature will be produced by Japan House London so that it will present an opportunity for people to learn more and better appreciate sake.

To make the night truly special, Japan House are supporting Chindonya from Tokyo to travel to London to perform at the event. Chindonya were the event advertisers of Hokusai’s time, and on this occasion they will be helping to spread the word that Japan House is coming to London. The evening will also include themed craft workshops, a community-led performance by older people from Camden and screening of the NHK documentary The Lost Hokusai (2017).

To be kept up-to-date with progress towards opening, to hear exhibition announcements and for invitations to pre-opening events, follow Japan House London on social media: @japanhouseldn.

Who is the target audience?
Japan House London is a wide-ranging offer for individuals, families, young people, teachers, students and researchers, artists and designers, urban professionals, entrepreneurs, businesses, and the simply curious.

Who makes up the Japan House London Secretariat?

Japan House London will be on Kensington High Street USE 

The locally hired Secretariat will ensure sufficient local knowledge and networks to create programmes that resonate with a local audience. The Japan House London Secretariat is led by three directors:

Michael Houlihan, Director General
Michael has extensive experience as a cultural leader and advocate, in both the UK and internationally. He has worked as a curator, and director of national museums and galleries in London, Northern Ireland, Wales and New Zealand, delivering innovative educational programmes and new-build projects.

Simon Wright, Director - Programming
Simon has over 30 years’ experience of work with or in Japan. Prior to his present position, he worked in the Japan Information and Cultural Centre at the Embassy of Japan in London creating an innovative programme of cultural activities linking people and organisations in Japan and the United Kingdom, with an emphasis on the promotion of young and yet-to-be-discovered Japanese talent.

Kylie Clark, Director - PR & Communications
Kylie has built up extensive knowledge of Japan through a long PR and marketing career at Japan National Tourism Organization’s London office. She has arranged press trips all over Japan for coverage on a huge range of topics. She is passionate about promoting Japan’s regional diversity.