© Japan House / Photography: Lee Mawdsley

There’s no doubt that the brand Japan and its wide array of unique selling points continues to be highly marketable. Following openings in Los Angeles and São Paulo, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has flexed some more soft power by opening a third cultural outpost in London‘s Kensington area. Simply dubbed Japan House as its sister establishments overseas, it’s a platform which aims to disseminate the marvels of the Land of the Rising Sun‘s cultural side. The venue occupies three floors of a listed Art Deco building which was once home to a department store, and makes great use of the abundance of space.

Being a such prestigious showcase, the Japanese government tapped acclaimed designer Masamichi Katayama of Tokyo-based practice Wonderwall to create matching settings, and if you ask us, it’s a job well done. Katayama’s spatial concept is based on the tokonoma, an empty, raised alcove in a Japanese home where guests can admire displays of art such as a hanging scroll or seasonal flowers. The focal point isn’t the design, but rather what occurs in that space, and it’s exactly how Japan House to be a showcase in London for the presentation of Japanese aesthetics.

The ground floor is home to a store, aptly called The Shop, and it’s stocked with plenty of carefully curated Japanese products to snap up, it also presents the artisans and designers who make them, and the history and social context of how they developed and are used. The offerings are plentiful and diverse, ranging from high-quality stationery, kitchen and tableware, and accessories, to bathwear, beauty products and architecture-related goods that compliment the gallery’s inaugural show. This show, entitled Sou Fujimoto: Futures of the Future, is a collab with Toto Gallery Ma in Tokyo, and it explores the works of the renowned architect.

Right next door a lounge awaits where to chill while enjoying the book collection. On the lower ground floor a gallery and event space is situated where to immerse oneself in Japanese culture through a rotating programme of exhibitions, performances, film screenings, workshops and lectures. Obviously, Japan House also comes with an opportunity to feast on food, and it’s called Akira. Situated on the second floor, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, offering guests a unique dining experience through food, tableware and presentation. The menu lists dishes which reflecting Japan’s diverse food range, using seasonal ingredients over roaring robata flames. Location: Japan House, 101-111 Kensington High Street (Kensington).

© Japan House / Photography: Lee Mawdsley