Japan House London Welcomes Almost 70,000 in First Five Weeks
In the five weeks since opening to the public on 22 June, Japan House London has welcomed just under 70,000 visitors. This new, London home for Japanese creativity and innovation has already proved itself to be a popular addition to the vibrant Kensington and Chelsea cultural quarter.
Drawing the crowds in the opening weeks have been the popular SOU FUJIMOTO architecture exhibition - a big hit on Instagram; talks on bonsai; The Shop with rare products from Japan - some of which sold out in the first week; icy cold hojicha and matcha tea lattes; and chef Akira’s beautiful bento boxes in the restaurant.
EXHIBITION GALLERY & EVENTS SPACE:
The opening show in the Gallery is ‘SOU FUJIMOTO: FUTURES OF THE FUTURE’ in collaboration with Tokyo’s TOTO GALLERY • MA, exhibiting the work of one of Japan’s greatest contemporary architects for the first time in the UK.
The Instagram-friendly exhibition has been inspiring visitors to post numerous photos on social media with comments such as ‘a must visit’ and ‘big fun in little Japan.’ On Twitter @StorminTormod commented, “There's almost too much beauty at this Sou Fujimoto exhibition at the wonderful new Japan House showcasing Japan's best to the world!”
Also on Twitter, the account for Hammersmith Academy Sixth Form posted, “Planning on studying #architecture at university? Wondering what to write about in your personal statement? This exhibition @JapanHouseLDN on High St Kensington is full of inspiring ideas and witty exhibits (plus it's totally free, and has extraordinary hi-tech toilets!)”
Last chance to view the exhibition before it closes on 5 August.
Following on from this will be ‘BIOLOGY OF METAL: METAL CRAFTMANSHIP IN TSUBAME SANJO’, exploring the metal manufacturing tradition of the Tsubame Sanjo area, in northern Japan. See it at Japan House from 6 September - 28 October 2018.
MORE THAN JUST A SHOP
Visitors frequently comment that The Shop on the ground floor of Japan House feels like a mix of a shop, café, book store and gallery - exactly the kind of social and cultural retail experience that it intends to offer.
Some products in The Shop have been so successful that they have sold out and had to be restocked from Japan. These include D-Bros ingenious vases that are flat until filled with water; Wasara beautifully designed, biodegradable picnic ware; and Air Vases by Torafu Architects.
In terms of artisan-made items, demand for lacquerware has exceeded expectations. Iwate prefecture in Japan produces around 70% of Japan’s lacquerware, and it is in this prefecture that Japan House’s most popular lacquerware maker, TEKISEISHA, is located. One person bought almost the entire stock of TEKISEISHA bowls, so these too have had to be re-supplied from Japan. Lacquer broaches have also been popular.
Via Facebook, Susan Sullivan wrote, “Popped in the other day for a quick look around, ended up staying three hours!! … I had not expected to be in love with so many products and wanted to research them all! Brilliant idea Japan House.”
THE ART OF BONSAI
Nature has been the opening season theme at Japan House. A stunning floral installation by flower artist Azuma Makoto and a procession of ‘Flower Messengers’ through Kensington marked Japan House’s opening day on 22 June.
During the first four weeks a series of bonsai by bonsai artist Peter Warren were on display. Two free bonsai talks attracted over 350 people.
Comments from attendees included, “Beautifully presented. Wonderful opportunity to have more in-depth information re the subject which was part testimonial and hence authentic.” And, “It was very inspiring. Can't wait to come back.”
AKIRA FOR BEAUTIFUL BENTO
Named after chef Shimizu Akira, the first floor restaurant specializes in bento boxes, sushi and skewers cooked on the robata charcoal grill. So far, the most frequently ordered dishes on the menu are Akira’s exquisite bento boxes. These contain fresh sushi, sashimi, and other beautiful, colourful morsels. They are designed to create an uplifting feeling, like opening an oyster and finding a pearl.
Cllr Catherine Faulks, Kensington and Chelsea’s Lead Member for Skills and Enterprise said: “I’m delighted to see how popular Japan House has proved to be in its first month. It is a welcome addition to Kensington High Street, providing a whole new dimension of cultural interest and a unique retail experience.”
Michael Houlihan, Director of Japan House London said:
“We opened the doors of Japan House on 22 June with one purpose in mind - to connect the lives of people in the UK with Japan. The response has been fantastic, both in-house and online. After just four weeks, we feel connected in so many new and surprising ways. For example, at a time when there is growing concern about the future of our high streets, the variety and cultural authenticity of the Japan House proposition - exhibitions, retail, food, travel and workshops - is already showing itself to be a power for revitalisation.”
“Even in the crowded cultural environment of London, Japan House was always going to be breaking new and untested ground as a unique venue. Forecasting the level of public interest was always going to be difficult. However, thanks to the quality of our offer and our messaging in all media, the public reaction and uptake has been fantastic. With just six weeks under our belt, we are over half way towards meeting our target for the year.”
Alongside Los Angeles and São Paulo, London is one of three new global locations where Japan House has been created to offer insights into Japan that go beyond stereotypes - both old and new - and to present deep and authentic explorations through personal and intimate stories of the country. Find out more about upcoming exhibitions and events at Japan House London on social media @japanhouseLDN and at www.japanhouselondon.uk.
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