Japan House will open to the public on 22 June 2018. It will be the new, London home for Japanese creativity and innovation.
Japan House London will provide authentic and surprising encounters with the very best in art, design, gastronomy, innovation and technology, allowing visitors a deeper appreciation of Japanese culture.
Through a wide-ranging programme, Japan House London will shine a spotlight on the artisans, craftsmen, designers, performers, musicians and other creatives who are making waves in Japan and around the world – from internationally renowned individuals to emerging artists who are excelling in their field.
Almost every aspect of Japan House London is derived “from source” in Japan; from its interior design features, such as hand-made kawara floor tiles from Japan’s Awaji Island, to the exhibitions and events, and authentic retail products sourced from across Japan.
TSURUOKA Koji, Ambassador of Japan said:
“As one of the world’s greatest and most vibrant cities, London was the natural choice to join São Paulo and Los Angeles for Europe’s Japan House. Londoners and visitors alike will enjoy a diverse offering of retail, cuisine, exhibitions and events in a stunning venue nestled in Kensington High Street. As the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games draw the world’s attention, I hope that this ground-breaking venture will provide a new opportunity for Britons to encounter Japan, thus serving to further enhance the friendship between our two countries and peoples.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq KHAN, said: “The Japanese community in London makes a huge contribution, both economically and culturally, to the capital. I’m delighted that Japan House is opening in London – it is a window on Japanese culture in the lead up to what will no doubt be a spectacular Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. I hope that Londoners and visitors alike enjoy this unique slice of Japanese culture in Kensington.”
HARA Kenya, Chief Creative Director of the global Japan House project said:
“Our uncompromising approach to bringing true authenticity to Japan House’s around the world will offer a surprise to even the most knowledgeable guests. From already internationally renowned individuals through to emerging artists excelling in their fields, Japan House London will present the very best in what Japan has to offer.”
KATAYAMA Masamichi, Principal of Wonderwall and prominent Japanese interior designer said: "This project gave me great pleasure and an opportunity to relearn, revisit and revaluate Japan's aesthetics and the mindset of our people. I wanted to create a purposeful and meaningful space which can be a stage and provide a spotlight to the very broad and creative programme on offer at Japan House London."
Michael HOULIHAN, Director General of Japan House London
“London has long been a crossroads for our World’s cultures, ideas, and trade. From June, Japan will have a special place where its voice can be heard and its stories can enrich this exceptional fabric of openness and understanding.”
Along with Los Angeles and São Paulo, it is one of three new global locations created by the Government of Japan to offer insights into Japan that go beyond stereotypes - both old and new - and to offer deeper and more authentic explorations, often through more personal and intimate stories of the country. By consistently asking and answering the question “What is Japan?” Japan House will show a multi-faceted culture in a constant state of adaption and evolution.
Temporary exhibition gallery & events space
On the lower ground floor, guests to Japan House will find an exhibition gallery, events space and library, dedicated to providing an authentic encounter with Japan via a calendar of regular changing themes.
The opening exhibition is SOU FUJIMOTO: FUTURES OF THE FUTURE 藤本壮介 未来の未来, in collaboration with Tokyo’s TOTO GALLERY• MA. Seen for the first time in the UK, the exhibition explores the innovative works of one of Japan’s most influential contemporary architects, FUJIMOTO Sousuke. Linking to the London Festival of Architecture, it will present Fujimoto’s philosophical and sustainable approach to architecture, looking at current projects but also his experiments for the future. On 12 June, Fujimoto will give a Sou Fujimoto: Futures of the Future lecture at the Design Museum, followed by an ‘in conversation’ Q&A session with The Guardian’s architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright.
In addition, Fujimoto also presents Architecture is Everywhere which illustrates the concept of discovering architecture within the forms of everyday objects and the serendipity of finding numerous possibilities for new architecture. Forthcoming exhibitions include; The Biology of Metal: Metal Working from Tsubame Sanjo (September – October 2018); Subtle: Takeo Paper Show (November – December 2018) directed by leading Japanese designer and overall Creative Director of the Japan House Project HARA Kenya; and Prototyping in Tokyo (January – February 2019).
New insights to appreciating books
The Library at Japan House will offer a new approach to appreciate and engage with books through bookshelf exhibitions curated by HABA Yoshitaka of BACH. A book specialist in Japan, BACH is revolutionizing the way books are displayed and curated and has helped bookstores in Japan successfully champion paper books in the digital era.
The first Japan House Library exhibition, Nature of Japan (June - August) will feature original photographs by leading Japanese photographer, SUZUKI Risaku. Artworks and design products will be exhibited along with photo albums, vintage books, paintings, novels, poetry and picture books. The second library exhibition Mingei (September - November) will be themed around Japan’s mingei folk art movement that developed from the late 1920s.
Beauty & attention to detail
Japan House London appointed KATAYAMA Masamichi, Principal of Wonderwall and prominent Japanese interior designer, to create a space that would embody the aesthetic and notional concepts that Japan House is based on.
The design of the whole space can be seen as minimalistic, however, KATAYAMA meticulously designed every corner of Japan House London to accommodate and reflect the diverse range of activities it will host. A magnificent spiral staircase, spanning three levels, was built in Japan, shipped to London and assembled piece by piece, inviting guests to explore and connect the different experiences on each floor of Japan House London.
The Shop at Japan House - a cultural retail experience
The Shop at Japan House blurs the concept between shop and gallery. It introduces Japanese products: the artisans and designers who make them, and the history and social context of how they developed and are used.
Upon entering Japan House guests will dive into the cultural retail experience that encompasses the entire ground floor. At the core of the curation is the highly regarded monozukuri philosophy – literally meaning the art of making things – it is a pursuit rooted in Japan’s history; a commitment to produce excellent products and constantly improve the system of production – from one-of-a-kind handmade craft through to large-scale manufacturing.
The Shop will present a carefully edited inventory of Japanese products ranging from crafts and design goods through to cutting-edge technology, including high-quality stationery such as washi, Japanese paper; kitchen and tableware made by skilled Japanese artisans; accessories; bathwear and beauty products; architecture-related goods to compliment the opening exhibition; and a book collection curated by BACH. Each product has a story to tell, introducing the cultures of Japan, and what makes it such a captivating nation.
The Ground Floor also features The Stand, a drinks and snack bar serving take-away Nel Drip coffee, authentic Japanese teas and Japanese and Japan-inspired snacks. Nel Drip coffee is made using the pour-over method, filtered through a nel brewer; ‘nel’ being short for a flannel, cloth filter. The flannel filter brews a smooth, rich, less acidic coffee. Japan House looks forward to introducing this particular style to London.
Travel to Japan
Tourism to Japan has been booming with UK visitor numbers surpassing 300,000 for the first time in 2017. Interest in travel to the country is forecast to grow even more over the coming years with Japan set to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. The Ground Floor will have a travel information area staffed by the Japan National Tourism Organization offering free travel advice and leaflets.
Akira at Japan House – robatayaki & sushi
On the first floor, guests will be welcomed into a new restaurant created by, and bearing the name of, Japanese chef SHIMIZU Akira. The restaurant, Akira, will offer an authentic Japanese dining experience based on Chef Akira’s ‘trinity of cooking’ principles – food, tableware and presentation. Akira, who is no stranger to the London gastronomic circuit, having opened some of the UK’s most highly regarded Japanese restaurants, has big ambitions for the restaurant and is striving to create “an innovative Japanese restaurant like no other ever-before-seen in London”.
Guests will be immersed in Japanese-style omotenashi hospitality and experience the theatre of cooking as chefs prepare dishes reflecting Japan’s surprisingly diverse food offer, using seasonal ingredients over roaring robata (charcoal grill) flames. Highlights of the menu include imaginative sushi specialities and chargrilled kushiyaki skewers made from umami-rich wagyu beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables. The Japanese staple of rice will be prepared in a donabe, clay pot, a process of cooking, which dates back to pre-electricity days and gives the rice a deliciously nuanced flavour. The dining experience will be complemented by serving dishes Akira has sourced from artisans across Japan and drinks in fine Japanese glassware. Guests will also be able to enjoy original cocktails made using Japanese ingredients including rare sake, yuzu and shiso.