Travel to Japan has boomed over the past year, with over 300,000 UK visitors rushing to the country in 2017. But if you want to experience the country's exquisite culture without an 11-hour flight, get yourself down to London’s brand new Japan House, which opens today (June 22).
The Art Deco building at 101–111 Kensington High Street is now full to the brim with the fruits of Japanese artistry, from crafts to books and much in between. It's the project’s emphasis on the individual object that really grabs our attention, with a shop-gallery hybrid that affords insights galore into the history of Japan's products, their designers and the historical context of their use.
Sou Fujimoto's Futures of the Future exhibition © Japan House London
And then there's the grub! At Akira, the first-floor robatayaki and sushi restaurant, chef Shimizu Akira shares his passions evenly between the food, the tableware accompanying it and its presentation. We're led to expect a dining experience that hits the heights of the omotenashi tradition – Japanese hospitality at its most painstaking, basically (and you don't get more painstaking than that). Think everything from umami-tastic Wagyu beef to donabe-cooked rice and cocktails bursting with Japanese ingredients such as rare sake and yuzu. For something speedier, The Stand café on the ground floor offers Japanese snacks and coffee made using the nel method.
For the first two months of its opening, the Japan House library will house Nature of Japan, an exhibition of Risaku Suzuki photographs, as well as vintage books, paintings, novels and poetry. The display space, meanwhile, kicks things off with an exhibition by architect Sou Fujimoto – Futures of the Future – which explores the architecture of everyday objects (including crisps, eggs and pine cones), while also challenging us to think many architectural futures ahead.
Top image © Japan House London