Bakurocho, Tokyo 11.01.16

  • Noriko Konuma, curator of design gallery Kumu Tokyo, standing on top of the Palette Building, in front of the rooftops of Bakurocho

  • Starnet gallery and shop, outlet of a minimalist ceramics gallery in rural Mashiko

  • The Palette Building is a modern space created by the paint company Colorworks, complete with a showroom and rooftop terrace

  • ART+EAT cafe, one of the tenants of the Agata-Takezawa Building

  • Kitade Shokudo, a hip local restaurant, perfectly embodies the spirit of new-generation Bakurocho

  • Shigeo Kitade, owner of the “taqueria” Kitade Shokudo

  • Naoko Kozaka, owner of a tiny shop called Co-, home to more than 1,000 rare buttons painstakingly collected from around the world

  • Rare buttons on display in the shop

  • A restaurant just next door to the ART+EAT building

  • Organic clothing in the ART+EAT cafe

  • The Palette Building, created by the paint company Colorworks, includes a showroom and ground-floor cafe

  • Inside the Palette Building

  • Taro Nasu Gallery, one of the pioneers of the neighbourhood’s art movement, which relocated from its previous more conventional Roppongi location in 2008

  • The front of Starnet

  • The Starnet first-floor ceramics gallery

  • Assistant Shino Ozawa outside the Taro Nasu Gallery

Once a “ghost town” in the shadow of Nihonbashi’s neon glare, Bakurocho is enjoying a creative revival inspired by its Edo-era craft heritage. Danielle Demetriou visited the area for our latest issue – Keith Ng's images, featured here, accompany the article

“Bakurocho might not sound like an obvious place to set up a gallery. But it’s a special place. There is a growing creative community and a very positive friendly feeling among people who live here, which is rare in a big city like Tokyo,” says Noriko Konuma, the curator of Kumu Tokyo, a minimal design gallery in a renovated industrial space formerly used by her family's business on a quiet lane in the heart of the area.

The neighbourhood is located just a smudge away from the neon blare of Akihabara’s electric shops, the shiny department stores of Nihonbashi and the tourist crowds of Asakusa in the eastern side of the city. Yet, despite its location, Bakurocho is calm and low-key, with a typical Tokyo mismatch of concrete buildings having gradually replaced the old wooden houses over the years.

Its atmosphere is also resolutely old school – perhaps due to its heritage as a major wholesale area dating back to the Edo era. Like much of east Tokyo, Bakurocho is renowned for its craftsmanship heritage, with numerous generations-old artisan businesses traditionally based in the neighbourhood, offering products that range from leatherware and combs to toys and scissors.

And it’s currently in the midst of a creative revival, according to Konuma. “Ten years ago, morale was very low here,” she explains. “There was an ageing population, fewer businesses, economic uncertainty. It was like a ghost town after dark. But slowly, creative people have started to move into the area. Over the past five years, things have changed dramatically. Creatives relocating here are revitalising Bakurocho.”

For our latest issue, Danielle Demetriou visited Bakurocho. Keith Ng's photographs, featured above, accompany the article.

Pick up a copy of Icon 152 for the full story - and click on the image below to read more about the issue

 

Photography

Keith Ng

 

Words

Danielle Demetriou

quotes story

Ten years ago, morale was very low here. There was an ageing population, fewer businesses, economic uncertainty. But over the past five years, things have changed dramatically

cover feb

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