A new branch of Japan House, a project to spread information by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, opened its doors in London on June 21, 2018. These Japan Houses serve as PR bases from which to present the charms and wonders of Japan to the world—indeed, they serve as the face of Japan. JLL Japan’s Real Estate Management Services Department, which managed the project, has every intention of using the knowledge they gained from it on future projects.
Japan House London, managed by JLL, is open for business
A hub for spreading information overseas in order to increase the number of fans of Japanese culture has begun operations.
This hub, Japan House London, opened its doors on June 21. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs completely entrusted its operations and management to JLL. Japan Houses serve as information offices with the purpose of spreading Japanese policy and the many wonders of Japan across the world. There are others around the world, namely one in São Paulo, which opened in April 2017, and one in Los Angeles that opened in December that same year. London marks the third city. Their objective is to encourage interest in Japan and spark new cultural exchanges and communication.
The project was put in motion with the perspectives of both Japan and the U.K., and emphasis was put on creating a space where local people can have casual encounters with Japanese culture. The essential members of the office staff who operate the facility—the director, programming director, PR and communications director, —are all local specialists who have long careers in cultural enterprises and Japanese tourism, and a corporate development director whose job is to make the facility into a business is also appointed.
Spreading the wonders of Japan with diverse programming
Japan House London was opened in a historical six-story building on Kensington High Street, home to many cultural and industrial buildings. With two stories above ground and one below, the facility has a total floor area of about 2,700 m2. The spacious interior design is the work of internationally renowned interior designer Masamichi Katayama of Wonderwall Inc. In order to unite the three floors into one space, a round, glass elevator was installed, and around it climbs a spiral staircase—a fresh, original interior that would draw anyone’s eye. The ground floor contains a shop and a tea and snack stand, as well as offices and meeting rooms. On the second floor is a restaurant zone and office area. In the restaurant zone is a Japanese restaurant, where visitors can taste the very essence of Japanese cuisine. The office area is occupied by a government-related organization. Also on the first basement floor are an exhibition and multipurpose space and a seminar room, in which workshops and events where visitors can experience Japanese culture, and exhibitions showcasing the height of Japanese technology, will be held in collaboration with renowned designers and creators from Japan and the U.K. One piece of fascinating programming which can lead to regional revitalization after another is held at Japan House. One rotating exhibition held after the facility’s opening was “Sou Fujimoto: FUTURES OF THE FUTURE,” by architect Sousuke Fujimoto (June 22–August 5, 2018), which was followed by “Biology of Metal: Metal Craftsmanship in Tsubame-Sanjo” (September 6–October 28, 2018), an exhibition introducing the metalwork and related technology and techniques of the Tsubame-Sanjo region in Niigata Prefecture, which is well-known as a community revitalization project.
Target number of visitors almost achieved
Japan House opened to the general public on June 22, one day after its opening. More than 3,800 people visited on the first day. The target number of visitors for the year was set at 127 thousand, but more than 100 thousand people had already visited by mid-August. The goal may be reached by mid-September. Nobuyuki Kashiwagi, head of the JLL Japan Real Estate Operation Services Department who managed the project, feels that the response was better than he could have dreamed of. “Maybe it’s because the amount of people who have an interest in Japanese culture is increasing—not only in London, but in Europe as a whole.”
Japan House London was the JLL Japan Real Estate Operation Services Department’s first overseas project, and it worked on every stage—selecting a location, lease negotiations with the building owner, large-scale remodeling of the building’s interior and the negotiations with local authorities that came with it, finding tenants, and, of course, the management of the facility. Local flavor is a big deal in the real estate business, and if you aren’t well-informed of the circumstances in the area, you may face unexpected obstacles. JLL will take the knowledge it gained from this project related to building and operating facilities and put it to use in other projects from here on out. “If you want to start facility management overseas, we can support you with one stop service,” says Kashiwagi, the sheer degree of his confidence showing through.