Japan House

Since I’m always on the hunt for new and exciting cultural happenings here in Los Angeles, I was very excited to come across Japan House, an innovative, new project courtesy of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote Japanese culture overseas. With hubs in London and Sāo Paulo in addition to Los Angeles, Japan House’s sole purpose is to introduce various aspects of Japanese life and culture to American and international audiences.

I really admire the effort they are putting out to share Japanese culture and innovation with the rest of the world. This is a great project I foresee Malaysia to do in the future, as there is so much about Malaysian culture worth sharing with other countries. 

Japan House takes up two floors in the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. In addition to a gallery, there is a library and a salon, both still under construction, and a shop, which carries a beautifully curated selection of Japanese products. Many of the items incorporate good technology details and boast a chic, minimalistic aesthetic, which I love, with clean lines and modern design.

The items blend an East meets West vibe, which I love because the concept of combining cultures to create a new, hybrid culture has always been something I’ve championed. While browsing, I came across a sleek, black bookmark made of a lightweight, waterproof material; on it was the Japanese character for love. Instantly captivated, I decided to buy the bookmark as a memento.

Looking ahead, I’m excited about the upcoming library, which will house a variety of books on Japanese culture, and I very much look forward to the opening of the salon, which will host everything from guest lecturers to special cooking presentations. I can’t wait to attend all the interesting events that will surely be held there. I was also told that a fine dining Japanese restaurant would be going in on the top floor, which is yet another reason I’ll be returning. 

I was primarily at the Japan House for an exhibition called Anrealage: A Light Un Light (January 1, 2018 – March 21, 2018). The inaugural exhibition presented works from the fashion label ANREALAGE and next-generation designer Kunihiko Morinaga. The show featured designs on the theme of light, showing us new and inventive ways of seeing light and how it relates or reacts to photosensitive fabrics.

These forward-thinking, experimental creations force us to change how we see, wear, and think about the clothing of the future. I find the concept of taking everyday lifestyle products and injecting them with technology and innovation incredibly compelling and surely the way of the future. 

Many of the individual pieces were decidedly cutting edge and exciting to behold. One example was a white dress that when exposed to smartphone flashes revealed a beautiful, intricate kaleidoscopic pattern initially invisible to the naked eye. Another piece consisted of a white topcoat that faded to black when hit with sunlight.

My favorite, however, was the Room of Light and Sound exhibit because it incorporated sound and music with stunning visuals. While wearing headphones, we were treated to a binaural audio and video presentation that provided a dazzlingly immersive 360-degree experience. In essence, we watched a video of models in gorgeous clothes walk down a catwalk while being bombarded on all sides by sound and music. The effect was spectacular. 

I also want to give a shout-out to the Japan House concept movie. It’s a beautiful and hypnotic montage of Japanese scenes from different times and places, with clips of traditional culture, modern technologies, subculture, foods, and nature. The short film is a visual feast, progressive and modern, yet deeply rooted in traditional Japanese culture. I was absolutely floored by the film’s style and concept and highly recommend checking it out. 

I found Japan House to be a great find and a rich cultural resource for the people of Los Angeles and beyond. Kudos to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their brilliant promotion, innovative concept, and amazing effort.