Are you interested in all things Japanese? Culture, food, art, literature? If the answer is yes, you must have heard of Japan House. If not here are the reasons you should visit it.
In June, I visited the newly opened Japan House London, located in a revamped art deco building in London’s Kensington High Street. What is Japan House, you may ask? It’s the quintessence of all things Japanese, a cultural centre offering everything from shop, gallery, library, restaurant and even an event space. The centre is designed to celebrate Japanese art, design, food, technology, innovation, and craftsmanship. So what can you see or do at Japan House London?
Shop all things Japanese
The ground floor of the building serves as a shop, tea room, and travel agent. Space looks minimalist but with a precision that is truly Japanese. In the shop, you can find products sourced from all over Japan and displayed as if they were in an art gallery. The design of the room is very Japanese like.
These flat-packed flower vases and the SIWA bags caught my eyes. The vase seems so simple yet well though for. The SIWA range is amazing too. All the range has been made with washi paper. They both make a perfect gift in my opinion.
A spiral staircase in the middle of the room takes you to the basement where you can find the library and the event space. The library offers a selection of Japanese literature. You can’t borrow the books but can take all your time you want to read them in the library.
The opening exhibition, by Japanese contemporary architect Sou Fujimoto, was called “Futures of the Future”. The show, which was running from June 22nd to August 5th, explored the architect’s vision of sustainability and innovation. The intricate designs were amazing to see. It always amazes me how people can not only imagine but create things like this.
While I was on holiday in France, I was amazed to see one of Sou Fujimoto’s design in real. The White Tree (l’Arbre Blanc) which was still under construction is an amazing piece of architecture.
Help you plan your Japanese trip
If you are planning or considering travelling to Japan soon, Japan House London is the place to go to. There is a small travel centre staffed by the Japanese Tourism Board, JNTO, which offers free travel advice. Tourism to Japan is booming. More and more people are visiting the land of the rising sun. In fact, five of my colleagues have travelled there since the beginning of the year. With the Rugby World Cup in 2019, Olympic in 2020 and the fact that the language barrier is less apparent, more people will be travelling to Japan.
check out these posts for some travel inspirations.
- Journey in Japan: Temple hopping in Tokyo – Meiji shrine – Senso-ji temple
- Journeys in Japan: a Tokyo itinerary
- Journey through the torii gates – Exploring Fushimi Inari Taisha
- Journey in Japan: Kyoto
- Cormorant fishing in Uji – Japan
Sample authentic Japanese food
The first floor houses the restaurant Akira. Contrasting from the rest of the building where the atmosphere is pure white, the restaurant has a little more colour to it. When I went to have a look, the restaurant was busy with guests and onlookers. The staff looked overwhelmed by the number of people. Nonetheless, they were professional and helpful as one hostess made sure I have looked after. She explained the concept of this authentic restaurant. everything is made so that guests have a very good experience from the moment they set a foot inside the restaurant to when they leave. Presentation and attention to details are taken seriously. Dining at Akira is a feast for the eye as everything is based on the three principles of food, presentation and tableware. Each dish is made with a specific tableware in mind.
The front of the shop has a tea shop so you can enjoy a blend of matcha or sencha. For my part, I had a nice matcha green tea.
Japan House London is free
Entry to Japan House London is free, so you have no excuse to drop by and sample a taste of Japan.
Japan House opens to the public on June 22 at 101-111 Kensington High St. London
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