Back during our early summer visit to Tokyo we had the opportunity to visit our friend Masanori Oji’s new retail shop, Kumu. Opened with his friend Noriko Konuma, who owns, curates and manages the shop, it acts as a showroom for Oji-san’s work as well as a small selection of work by other makers.
Oi-san designed all of the graphics, the mailbox and indoor fixtures.
We bought that mobile on the upper right for Howell’s bedroom.
If only these switches were North American approved!
An upstairs space for meetings or events.
The building is owned by Noriko Konuma’s grandfather, who built it sixty years ago across from the home where her father grew up. Used for storage for a long time, Noriko-san has given the building and legacy a new life.
Curator : Noriko Konuma (far right)
Associate Directors : Masanori Oji (third from right), Takuya Matsuo (far left), and Kazuya Kiguchi
After our visit we popped over to Jurgen Lehl to say hello, and they told us to visit this restaurant which happens to be near Kumu. Fantastic Italian meal, cozy atmosphere, and we really felt taken care of.
During our recent trip to Scandinavia we had the pleasure of visiting the South of Sweden. We were on a photographic mission for our upcoming Mjölk Volume IV, to be published in the new year. I won’t give anything more away, but we are very excited to share this issue with you.
After an absolutely lovely day with our hosts, we spent the night at the Ystad Saltsjöbad. This break was desperately needed and set the tone for the rest of our trip. Despite arriving late in the evening we made sure to relax in the hot pools, which have a view of the sea.
We arrived during a torrential downpour so our first stop at Mölle Krukmakeri in the seaside town of Mölle was a perfect start. Their little cafe had warm goulash and a cozy sunroom, where we got the chance to get acquainted and dry off.
Shop, cafe and studio in one.
Off for some sightseeing at Kullabergs naturreservat.
Oh hi! A rare photo of us, a little dishevelled.
Inside the kiln.
We stopped by the Jens Fager studio, which is located in a massive red barn among open fields.
We were fortunate to stay at Galleri Hyttstigen B & B. The owner Elisabeth is an interesting and gracious host, who even has a Canadian connection, having lived out East for many years.
The weather was crisp and cool at the end of August, but a hot outdoor shower was a lot of fun.
Cute little bedrooms, with a view of the sea.
Thank you to Jens and Elisabeth for such a nice visit!
On our last trip to Japan in June, we made sure to book into Hotel Okura before it closed for demolition (the South Tower remains, but the Main Building was where the true magic was).
No word of a lie, as the taxi drove up to the entrance, the James Bond theme song was playing.
The font, colours, signage, MOOD all together was truly so special. Also the nods to a distant past, like the writing desk areas. Too bad they are so quaint and unused nowadays.
L: Taxi drop off/pick up at South Tower (I wish the lights were easier to capture!)
R: Greenery and Mural in the South Tower Lobby
Every detail has been considered, with similar geometric shapes.
Top: Pendant lights, pot lights and sunlights.
Bottom Left: Light wells, and carpets in basement elevator zone, to South Tower.
Bottom Right: Inside the elevator, elevator roof details and font.
Linking the two towers underground is a shopping plaza, yet another reminder of another time. Gift shops, clothing, art and books are all available.
Carpet, Ikebana, Font.
Main lobby at night. Large tree, stone and water installation.
Lobby waiting area. Large scale but intimate.
Love the Smoke Bush.
A more intimate sitting area off to the side.
The Orchid Bar was from another time. Waiters in tuxedos. Classic cocktails. Mother of pearl shell backsplash. Cigarette smoke.
Signage, from when they had travel agents on hand to make arrangements, now done on personal phones and computers.
Cloakroom and Kimono.
Hotel Okura selfie.
So many amenities.
Lobby during the day.
Another outside view of the Main Building.
Triangle tile work.
We were so impressed by Jicon and their small production and processes that we managed to take a couple of videos.
Imamura Kenichi shaping a meshi-wan bowl.
Imamura Kenichi showing us the glazing process. Each piece is individually handled from start to finish. Incredible!
During our recent trip to Japan our friend Ai Hosokawa arranged for us to visit the restored farmhouse of Kazuhide and Hiromi Hashiya in Fukuoka.
The couple go about the daily requirements of up-keeping a farmhouse including chopping their own wood to keep their home warm during the colder months. There have been renovations made to the home, but they have been done so tastefully that everything looks perfectly balanced and within period. There are carefully selected art objects that were on display for our arrival, a mix of contemporary craft as well as Japanese and Korean antiques. The Hashiya’s have a remarkable collection of craft and antiques, and pieces are displayed during different seasons.
You can sense their genuine love of their home, and also their appreciation of daily ritual. For instance the couple enjoy having their own Tea Ceremony every morning,
The top floor of the home, where all of the solid wooden walls are removed to open the room completely to the open air.
The covered patio off the kitchen.
I really like the simple gardens in Japanese farmhouses, they remind me more of the gardens here in Canada.
A repair to the plasterwork reminds us a little of calligraphy.
The front gate to the house, framed by large wooden beams with walls made from plaster mixed with grass.
The outside of the front gate, an impressive structure in its own right.
A closeup of the textured plaster.
A hanging swing is in the front entrance of the home, complete with a traditional mud floor.
The raw tree trunk support was a nice contrast to the square columns.
The interior with double height paper shoji screens.
A traditional Irori in floor hearth, originally used for cooking but now being used to perform Chanoyu.
A beautiful lidded ceramic chest by Uchida Kouichi, next to an antique game board.
Ai, her daughter Tsubaki and Hiromi on the front steps colouring.
The living space off the entrance and patio, one of the only spaces with western style chairs all of which are antiques. The carpet is very interesting, it is Japanese dyed with indigo. It isn’t that common to find antique Japanese carpets like this, and this one was especially beautiful.
Our recent trip to Japan found us in the most Southern part of Japan’s main island, spending our first days in Kumamoto city. Japan always has us returning because every region seems to have their unique cultural specialties, so even though there is a familiarity to some cities in Japan, it really does feel like a completely new experience when you go to a new region
Kumamoto Castle just so happened to be outside the doorsteps of our hotel. It has a special place in popular culture because of the epic Samurai movie Ran, directed by Akira Kurosawa in which soldiers attack the castle. It was the most expensive film ever to be made in Japan in that period.
The stone walls are very beautiful, and incredibly difficult to scale I’m sure.
The exterior is really beautiful, but it isn’t an old castle. Actually it was rebuilt in 1960, and the interior is now a museum.
The laying of Japan: parking lot, stone tower for spirits, bamboo, and office building.
Kumamon bear, the character for Kumamoto City.
We also visited the former home of author Lafcadio Koizumi who is famous for translating traditional Japanese folklore and ghost stories for a Western audience.
His home and garden were very beautiful.
American icon-ism in Japan.
We would be spending most of our visit with our friend Ai Hosokawa, who took us to an incredible coffee shop called Antiques-Coffee.
The owner is a famous Ikebana artist (pictured), curator of antiques, bee keeper and makes some incredible coffee which is served in lacquer-ware cups by famous wood artisan Ryuji Mitani.
Most of the antiques come from Japan, Korea and China. There are also beautiful floral arrangements to be found throughout the cafe.
These two Mei-Ping vases really caught my eye. The one on the left is ceramic and the other to our surprise is made from copper coated with lacquer-ware. We ended up taking that one home with us.
The antique glass vase also caught my eye, but I could only chose one piece for myself so early on in the trip.