Angelenos longing to bring the sublime pleasures of a Japanese ryokan into their own homes need look no further than the August 25 opening of Japan House Los Angeles, which occupies two floors of a building at the corner of Hollywood and Highland. Hailed as a cultural oasis only a stone’s throw from the Walk of Fame, Japan House offers visitors a place to dine and shop for a well-curated collection of artisanal table wares and personal items—many made in millennia-old ways by leading contemporary practitioners.
Robb Report caught up Kenya Hara, chief creative director for Japan House, and Taichi Fujiwara, who has spearheaded the opening of the LA outpost, to chat about this latest addition to a portfolio of locations that includes London and São Paulo.
What was your concept for the retail environment at Japan House?
Kenya Hara: In conceptualizing the Los Angeles shop, our goal was to create a place of unexpected discoveries by offering a selection of carefully curated products that share unknown and yet-to-be-told elements of Japanese culture. We wanted not only to showcase the best of Japanese art, design, and gastronomy but to provide a rich experience that intrigues the five senses.
Tell us about some of the wonderful objects you are offering.
Taichi Fujiwara: We worked with craftsmen and designers throughout Japan to offer a selection of porcelain, pottery, and accessories produced exclusively for the Los Angeles project. Many of these items were ordered 18 months ago with a wait time of 12 months and longer in some cases.
The shop features everything from Japanese stationary to rare, high-end porcelain gifts sure to impress even the most discerning shopper. Some of my personal favorites include our Wasara collection of eco-friendly, disposable yet sturdy cups, plates, and cutlery made of paper and bamboo; our Cul de Sac line of incense and deliciously scented products made from Aomori Hiba wood from Aomori Prefecture; and a glass pen by Sasa, which you can use to write a whole postcard smoothly with just one dip of ink. We also have a delightful selection of Yoshinori Takemura’s mugs, each of which is unique in its shape and color. Japan House is the only place where these artisanal products can be found on the West Coast, and together they tell a unique story.
How do you approach the customer experience in the store?
Taichi Fujiwara: The Japanese concept of omotenashi hospitality pervades everything we do at the shop, and all purchases are gift wrapped using traditional methods.