For Jasper Morrison's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Jun 3, 2016
Hidden away in an unlikely courtyard in Tokyo's Yotsuya neighborhood is what may well be the world's first design shop stocked only with products by a single product designer. The Yanagi shop was opened in 1972 by Sori Yanagi, the son of Mingeikan (The Japan Folk Crafts Museum) founder Soetsu Yanagi, who is often mentioned in this column.
May 6, 2016
In a quiet corner of Tokyo's bustling Ginza district is a shop devoted to Japanese crafts that has been in business since 1933. Among the founding members of Takumi are no lesser personages than Soetsu Yanagi, Kanjiro Kawai and Shoji Hamada — the trio also responsible for founding Tokyo's Mingeikan (The Japan Folk Crafts Museum) in the '30s. With Takumi, their ambition was to establish a shop in the city to promote and sell Japanese rural crafts to sophisticated Tokyoites in order to make people aware of the quality and beauty of such goods.
Apr 1, 2016
If you have spent any time at or around Tsukiji fish market you may have noticed large rectangular woven baskets in the hands of the regular shoppers, or strapped to the backs of scooters and bicycles ferrying the mornings catch back to numerous sushi bars and izakaya (pubs). The basket is so popular with these market-goers and has been in use for so long that it's widely referred to as the Tsukiji basket.
Mar 4, 2016
There is a 19th-century English roasting dish that has lived in the Mingeikan (The Japan Folk Crafts Museum) since this venerable institution opened its doors to the public in 1936. How this piece of slipware (pottery decorated with a mixture of clay and mineral, known as "slip") got there is something I've wondered about since I first saw it in the museum some years ago. A visit to the Mingeikan to ask some questions of the staff about its journey to Tokyo revealed an interesting chain of cultural exchanges between Japan and England that influenced many of the leading ceramicists of the early 20th century — in both the East and West.
Feb 5, 2016
Luxury fashion stores line the street from Tokyo's Omotesando Station to the Nezu Museum. Walking from the station, you'll pass the wavy glass walls of Comme des Garcons, Prada's flagship store designed by Herzog de Meuron and many beautiful Issey Miyake shops. But you will also pass a more humble Tokyo treasure: the Hakusan Shop, located in the basement of the From 1st building (which is also the home of the Figaro Cafe, where a good impression of a Tarte Tatin may be had if required).
Jan 8, 2016
About half way along Kappabashi-dori, in the heart of Tokyo's kitchenware district, there's a beautiful shop named Kama Asa that is devoted to the sale of cast ironware. It may come as a surprise to the Western kitchen-goods shopper because in many countries the production of cast iron is all but dead. Though you might find a few pieces in the odd shop, you certainly wouldn't find a store devoted entirely to the craft. The use of cast-iron kitchen goods (despite its known qualities and health benefits) has almost evaporated in Europe, apart from the occasional casserole or frying pan.
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