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In advance of the event, we spoke with Japan House President Yuko Kaifu, head of programming for Japan House, Haruhiko Sugimoto and Senior curator, Trast Howard about the recently-opened Japan House location and its mission, and about the current exhibit, “Sou Fujimoto: Futures of the Future” which has been extended until January 6, 2019.
For those who may not know already, could you tell us what is Japan House?
Japan House is an innovative, worldwide public diplomacy initiative launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. It was created to showcase the best of Japan and nurture deep understanding about the culture by presenting cutting-edge exhibitions and events in a wide-range of areas such as culture, art and design, fashion, technology, gastronomy and more, through its three hubs located in Los Angeles, London and Sao Paulo. Japan House Los Angeles occupies two floors at Hollywood & Highland, with the second floor featuring a gallery space with exhibitions rotating every two to three months and an expertly curated shop with a tea station for visitors to enjoy while strolling through the space. The fifth floor hosts a modern Japanese kaiseki restaurant called INN ANN, a relaxing and intimate library lounge with a selection of books on Japan, and event space, along with spectacular views of Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles. The 2nd floor has been open since December 2017, and with the completion of the 5th floor, Japan House celebrated its grand opening in August 2018, offering the public a place of new discovery that transcends the physical and conceptual boundaries creating experiences that reflect the best of Japan.
Your current exhibition, “Sou Fujimoto: Futures of the Future,” is fantastic. What about the exhibit will surprise visitors?
I think people will be surprised by both Fujimoto’s humorous approach to reexamining architecture, and the eclectic and diverse nature of his designs.
Many people will not immediately understand why Fujimoto includes a crumpled water bottle, an ashtray, or a pile of potato chips among models of his accomplished and spectacular buildings. By drawing our interest with these whimsical and funny pieces, Fujimoto is encouraging us to be sensitive to the diversity of the world around us, and to find inspiration and potential for architecture everywhere.
People will also be surprised by how Fujimoto’s designs seem to move and transform as you walk through the room and view them from different angles. Fujimoto purposefully imbues his designs with a diversity of form and purpose, allowing occupants to inhabit and utilize them in various ways. This open-ended design, depicted through complex models, dynamic large-scale graphics, and intriguing thought pieces, are a joy and surprise to encounter.
What other future programming at Japan House should our readers know about?
Our mission is to provide a series of interactive and immersive opportunities for our visitors to experience Japan through their five senses, in a wide variety of fields/topics. We organize film screenings, cultural events such as tea ceremony, family-friendly workshops on the weekends, special talks and panel discussions covering design to politics, food tastings, and more. Our events and programs are designed in hopes that those familiar and new to Japanese culture will find new memorable experiences.
Some exciting events planned for early 2019 are our Japanese Food Lab Series, one of our new and popular hands-on programs offered twice a month. (Fee varies, starting at $15); the Short Shorts Film Festival (on January 17), and an exhibition on the work of manga artist Naoki Urasawa. Considered a modern master in dynamic storytelling and extensive character development, Urasawa’s release of the thriller, “Monster” garnered him international notoriety the mid-1990s.
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