The "Real" Cool Japan

60529-1032: Toyo Ito's Tod's Omotesando Building

Since the term Cool Japan was first introduced by Douglas McGray in a 2002 article in Foreign Policy, the term has been used with little constraint. Trendpool has started a five part series about what truly constitutes Cool Japan

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The first article of trendpool‘s new four part series about what really constitutes Cool Japan, highlights Japanese design. Japanese design’s “subtle lines and minimalist approach”, says trendpool, always keep “in mind the principle that truly outstanding design also adds to the functionality of the item.”

The Honda CubIt cites the Honda Cub and Sony Walkman as early examples of post-war Japanese design that exemplify these characteristics before introducing Nendo as a current example of excellent Japanese product design.

“Very small ideas, very small designs are important for me,” says Nendo founder Oki Sato. “I guess that comes from my design inspiration, which is everyday life. Small moments can give a large surprise or something really different or really new. I really enjoy those ‘Aha!’ moments, and I want to share those moments with people.”

The second article looks at Japanese Architecture. It mentions Kenzo Tange and Kisho Kurokawa, leading figures in the establishment of the Metabolism Movement, as two Japanese architects which sent out “strong signals to the West, inspiring the work of many.” Also mentioned are the architect team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA who were awarded the 2010 Pritzker Prize. Among many other works, they created the deceivingly simple Dior building in Tokyo’s Omotesando.

The Comme des Garçons shop in Aoyama, Tokyo

The Comme des Garçons flagship store in Aoyama, Tokyo, an excellent example of cool architecture in Tokyo

In the words of trendpool: “Japan’s architecture has come to represent an amazing simplicity in design, where deep thought has been placed in every corner or space, as buildings are confined to the minimum of meters. Drawing on it’s rich history and culture such as the ancient simplicity of paper screens, tatami mattresses, tea rooms and wood-structures, and similar to how we described Japanese product design with its stripped back philosophy of ‘less is more’, Japanese building designs have eliminated distracting embellishments that are typical in the West. In fact ‘ this sense’, says Roland Hagenberg author of 20 Japanese Architects and CScouts own archiTokyo guide, ‘Minimalism was not invented in the West, but in Japan.‘”

Uncovering The Real “Cool Japan” – Part One
Uncovering The Real “Cool Japan” – Part 2
Uncovering The Real “Cool Japan” – Part 3
Uncovering The Real “Cool Japan” – Part 4
• “Uncovering The Real “Cool Japan” – Part 5”:—-part-5/

Top picture shows Toyo Ito’s Tod’s Omotesando Building (image #60529-1032)

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

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