Situated at the heart of Kensington High Street, Japan House London became one of the UK’s first cultural destinations to reopen to the public back in early July. Locals and Londoners alike can explore an in-depth Japanese cultural experience on the Ground Floor, from art installations and displays of quality craftsmanship, to travel advice and uniquely Japanese refreshments – through a newly introduced booking system and a raft of safety measures in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit for all.
A journey through Japan on the Ground Floor
Renowned as the contemporary home for Japanese culture and innovation in the UK, the cultural space offers visitors an authentic encounter with the best and latest from Japan. A journey through the Ground Floor provides the opportunity to discover artists, designers, and craftspeople, along with a look into regional materials and skills. The line between a gallery and a retail space is somewhat blurred with most items on display being available to purchase. A new QR code series allows visitors to discover even more about the people behind the products and designs on display.
Embrace a bit of post-lockdown wanderlust by planning a future holiday to Japan, via a consultation in the Travel Zone with the experts at Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). The staff will help bring to life the diverse regions of the country for aspiring globe-trotters. The whole experience can be rounded off with a uniquely Japanese drink from The Stand, with iced matcha latte being a particularly popular choice for visitors.
Michael Houlihan, Director General Japan House London, said of the reopening: “During lockdown, we successfully moved our activities online so that everyone could continue to discover Japanese culture in new and creative ways. The public response was overwhelming. Now, we are looking forward to welcoming back our local visitors, and proud to be one of the first cultural destinations in the country to reopen its doors. To mark the event – and the times – we have launched an exclusive range of face coverings in collaboration with acclaimed Japanese textile artist Takahashi Hiroko.”
Purchase and make: Exclusive face coverings designed by Takahashi Hiroko
With the Japanese etiquette of omotenashi, or ‘hospitality and care to guests’, central to the ethos of everything at Japan House London, for the July 2020 reopening they have collaborated with acclaimed Tokyo textile artist, Takahashi Hiroko, whose kimono designs are on display at the V&A as well as Japan House, to provide all staff with stunning face coverings as part of their uniform. Those who like the look of the striking face coverings can find them in The Shop; the only location in the UK to stock them.
Guests can also head online and download a free worksheet and template to make their own face covering at home. Takahashi Hiroko herself will lead an exclusive ‘step-by-step’ online face-covering demonstration on 27 July, where you can learn how to make your own mask. As founder of Tokyo fashion brand HIROCOLEDGE, the artist makes re-usable face coverings from tenugui (Japanese cotton cloth), in her signature bold geometric patterns. Join in and use your own cotton cloth or choose one from the selection of HIROCOLEDGE tenugui found in The Shop. The recording will be available on both Facebook and YouTube after the workshop.
Wonder at Kimonos and sustainability
From 5 August, enjoy a stunning new kimono display by Takahashi Hiroko in the windows and on the Ground Floor at Japan House London. Fusing fashion and art, discover how Takahashi innovates the kimono tradition, seeking to reuse old objects and materials for the present.
The artist’s project ‘RENOVATION’ is inspired by the sustainable aspects of kimono - tailored from straight lines, where the same kimono can be adapted to any body type without having to cut the fabric. This has always meant that old silk kimono could be re-dyed and re-tailored by families to pass on to future generations. In ‘RENOVATION’, marvel at how old kimono are re-made and re-dyed in Takahashi’s signature patterns.
Booking your visit
Reopened in accordance with government guidelines, Japan House London has introduced a raft of safety and booking measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit for all in the following ways:
Reduced guest numbers
One-way system in place, alongside 2-metre social distancing measures
All staff wearing face coverings specially designed by Takahashi Hiroko
Hand sanitiser provided on entry and exit
Hinting at more to come at Japan House London in the coming months, Michael Houlihan said, “soon, we will also be revealing details of an intriguing and unusual exhibition for autumn; so, stay in touch.”
At time of going to press advance booking is required: www.japanhouselondon.uk
New opening hours
Last entry: Monday-Friday: 15:30 and Saturday-Sunday: 17:30