Are we seeing a new wave of Japonisme in New York today? Or has Japonisme never left us?
Japonisme was a European artistic movement that started in the second part of the nineteenth century drawing inspiration from the Japanese arts and the wonderfully handcrafted products that Japan started to export when it opened its borders after a splendid two-hundred year isolation.
Japonisme was part and parcel of the Impressionist movement, colorfully expressed in paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Mary Cassatt, Degas, James Tissot, and many others, all avid collectors of woodblock prints by artists Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro.
It helps to understand Japonisme as the two sides of the same ryô: as an interest for all things Japanese from non-Japanese people, but also as the perception of this interest by Japanese people
Japanese culture has always had a strong attraction for people all over the world, with many points of entry: food, tourism, fashion, crafts, electronics and cameras, automobiles, manga, anime, cosplay, swordsmanship, etc. It has its own dynamics, favoring exquisite and delicate objects primarily created for the domestic markets of Japan, then exported abroad in all their Japanese-ness. Even if you’ve never felt the need to own a beautiful fan, somehow one day you find yourself in a fancy souvenir shop in Kyoto forking ¥5,000 for a gorgeous fan, wondering where and when you will use it.
Although Japonisme started as an artistic movement for the elite, today’s Japonisme has spread into Japanophilia for those in need of an alternative to their national culture.What started as an artistic pursuit for a happy few is today readily available to all, whether it’s a dinner at a good izakaya (that would be Izakaya Riki’s in midtown New York), or a moment spent at Bookoff browsing manga albums.
After six successful years operating a concession at the Kinokuniya boosktsore, the WAZA company has expanded and opened a multi-brand store in NoLIta, the trendy area in downtown New York City with a dynamic Japanese presence. Restaurants such as Ramen Lab, Yakitori Tora, Cocoron and Goemon Curry; hairdressers Nagihair, Yama, Kida, Takamichi Hair; art gallery Plus81; Tokyo Bike; Green Fingers Market, all contribute to the tradition of Japanese businesses discreetly clustering around each another with the belief that there’s success in numbers. So bring on the matcha, the ramen, the sushi and the yakitori, pour the saké and know your genmaïcha from your gyokuro!
Hailing from port city Yokohama, the WAZA company brings you cutting edge technologies in all sorts of beautiful products: ‘angelwear’ scarves from Amaïke; Raden glasses and lacquerware from Amano Shikki; cutting-edge denims from Indigo Hand and Rugged Works kids’ clothes by Caitac; furoshiki and tenugui textiles from Kenema/Miyamoto; colorful tote bags and cushions from Otafukuwata; metal wares for home and table from Nousaku; handmade purses and wallets by Morpho; comfortable and sexy underwear from mega conglomerate Gunze; jewelry by Fukashiro; origami handbags by Barcos; and hipster-approved shirts and jackets by Flex Japan to match with oh-so-cool ties and bowties from Nagashima Tokyo.
So to all of you Japan lovers, the WAZA team extends a warm ‘irasshaimase’! Please visit our store to discover our most recent Japanese imports!