Kensington High Street has become the new home for Japanese creativity, invention and business thanks to Japan House London. Spread over three floors of the renovated art deco building, Japan house offers a temporary exhibition gallery, events space, library, retail and a Japanese restaurant.
Designed to provide an authentic and surprising encounter with the very best in art, design, cuisine, innovation and technology, visitors will gain a broader understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture without leaving London.
The ground floor is home to a drinks and snacks bar called the Stand. This minimalistic bar serves takeaway NEL drip coffee which is made by using a pour over method where the coffee is filtered through a flannel cloth filter called a Nel brewer, resulting in a smooth rich brewed coffee. Japanese tea and Japanese inspired snacks are also available.
Japan House provides an utterly brilliant free travel information service for those looking to travel to Japan. Staffed by the national tourist organisation, this service can deal with any questions, advice and have a range of inspiring books about travel to Japan should you wish to learn more.
The first floor plays host to the exhibition gallery and events space with regularly changing themes. The first exhibition being held is by Sou Fujimoto called Futures of the Future, in collaboration with Tokyo’s Toto Gallery exploring works of Japan’s most influential contemporary architects.
Sou’s unique and intriguing installation highlights sustainability and philosophy with insight into both current and future projects.
Another fascinating addition to the gallery is a library designed with a new approach to engage with books through bookshelf exhibitions that have been expertly curated by Haba Yoshitaka – a book specialist with a fresh approach to the way books are displayed and perceived fighting back at our electronic era by promoting paper books.
The Japan House shop is a somewhat blurred concept between gallery and retail. The Japanese products on offer are displayed with the names of the artist/designers who made them along with the history and social context of how they are developed. This is to empower the buyer with knowledge you would not usually receive in a standard shop.
The inventory of products has been carefully selected and ranges from crafts to cutting edge technology, high quality stationary, kitchen and tableware, accessories, bakeware and beauty products.
Also on the first floor is the new restaurant – Akira, named after the head chef Smimizu Akira. Offering an authentic Japanese dining experience based on Chef Akira’s trinity of cooking principles; food, tableware and presentation. Having opened some of the UK’s most highly regarded Japanese restaurants, his mission is to create a new innovative Japanese restaurant like no other in London.
You will be truly immersed in Japanese style hospitality and experience a remarkable display of chefs preparing your dishes that reflect Japan’s diverse food made using the finest seasonal ingredients over charcoal flames – also known as a robata.
A well-known staple of Japan is rice, this is prepared using a traditional method using a donabe which is a clay pot. This gives the rice a remarkable flavour. To accompany your meal you can choose from a menu of original cocktails made using Japanese ingredients like sake, schochu, yuzu and shiso.
For the green fingered and keen gardeners out there, Japan House also has a resident bonsai expert Peter Warren. Arguably the country’s leading bonsai professional, Peter completed his six-year apprenticeship in Tokyo under bonsai master Kobayashi Kunio. Peter teaches and works with bonsai collectors around the world and his work has been exhibited at the highest level, including in Japan. His demonstrations are free and you can find out more here.