- 2 Chome-5-1, Nishiogi-Kita, Suginami, Tokyo
- Distance from Station:
- 4 minutes on foot from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station (North Exit)
- 03-6913-7543 (Japanese only)
- 12:00pm - 8:00pm, Closed on Mondays and the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month
- http://wasen.tokyo/ (external link)
- Staff speak Japanese only
The Fascination of Japanese Culture and Art
[published September 2020]
Strolling down a side street about 5 minutes from the north exit of Nishi-Ogikubo Station, you can find a traditional style Japanese door that opens into another world. Wasen is a Japanese cultural store and rental gallery that connects people to Japanese traditional culture and to each other.
In its cozy space, the shop provides a variety of artistic goods made by around 28 artists. These include Bingata prints originated in Okinawa, Bizen pottery, lanterns made from Mino Washi paper, Marugame round fans, and more. Several products have been proposed by the owner; she conveys and puts customers’ requests into practice, sometimes through collaborations with artists.
The light and modern dishes made from washi paper can be washed, so they are used at bakeries and Japanese restaurants. A new item, the “aroma plate”, was born from a collaboration of two artists. Tiny “Tsukubai” and other Japanese materials make great souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones or yourself.
Not only the exquisite merchandise but also the interior decoration, which feels like an indoor Japanese garden, is worth seeing. Selected natural materials are used for decoration, such as kieselgur rock for the wall, natural wood for the counter and “Tataki”, a traditional technique combining three soils usually used in Japanese old architecture, especially as a floor finish at the entrance. “Fifumi Ishi”, scattered madder red stones on the floor, is another special material set up the same as Shugakuin Imperial Villa in Kyoto.
Since Wasen showcases a good amount of beautiful bonsai trees, the owner was looking for a place with good sunlight and conditions and settled at the current location in Nishi-Ogikubo in 2017. She hopes to spread interest in Japanese culture and art to young people which she has had some success at, as many customers in their 20’s and 30’s as well as international customers visit the shop.
A “triple win” is a notion from the Edo period meaning something that is good for consumer, seller, and society. Wasen is not only about selling Japanese crafted goods, but also about planting a seed for young artists and future craftsman.