Online Seminars

Much of JLGC’s public-facing work for member organisations in Japan has moved online and the office has built a strong and regular programme for local government and related institutions, with two recent seminars part of an ongoing series focusing on strategy for organisations looking to promote their cultural content and crafts overseas.   

London based boutique shop Wagumi joined JLGC for an online seminar on ‘promoting the appeal of Japanese crafts in Europe’ for audiences in Japan’s public sector on 22 April, which saw 122 people register to participate from local government staff, businesses to university officials joining the audience for a presentation by the Lives London representative Ms Ryoko Mutasono   

Wagumi in London’s Oxo Tower is run by Lives London, a company that promotes international expansion, and sustainable products from Japan. The company offers a range of services including consulting and product distribution. The shop is in the area by the Tate Modern and the National Theatre with museums and other cultural institutions popular with tourists, meaning many multinational customers come to the store.   

The focus of the shop is supporting the development of overseas sales channels for traditional crafts by Japanese local governments and related organisations, as well as opening opportunities for wholesales products to museums and department stores elsewhere.   

The pandemic has meant Wagumi now handles a lot of online orders for daily use items under lockdown. There are six main areas of goods from Japan the shop is focusing on in-line with current shopping trends which have been seen in the last year when people are spending more time at home.    

Craft items like urushi (Japanese lacquerware), iron, aluminium and stainless steel products are popular with British consumers; iron kettles and aluminium products are especially popular with iron kettles said to be good for health, while aluminium goods have a modern stylish look. Cloth products such as tenugui towels, furoshiki (wrapping cloths), soft towels and sashiko (embroidery) made from cotton have a strong traditional brand coming from Japan with its textiles heritage. Ceramic products are particularly popular and glassware products such as Kiriko cut glass and Okinawan recycled glass, both originally developed in Japan, both see high sales in summer.   

On 26 May for our next online seminar, Japan House London’s Director-General, Michael Houlihan, and Simon Wright, Director of Programming, took part in an online conversation organised by JLGC fielding questions from the audience on potential future opportunities.   

In line with Japan House London’s mission to promote the diversity of Japan’s regions to a UK audience, Michael and Simon discussed their experience of working with local authorities across Japan to curate a diverse programme of events, exhibitions and displays which champion stories of regionality. Japan House had an award-winning exhibition platforming local industry in Niigata Prefecture, with the exhibition BIOLOGY OF METAL: METAL CRAFTSMANSHIP IN TSUBAME-SANJO exploring how these workshops pay respect to years of tradition while adapting their craft to embrace the future. Japan House London received the German Design Award Gold 2020 from the German Design Council for the exhibition.   

The next online seminar on the theme of ‘Support for local start-ups: case studies in Europe’ will be held on 29 June. Recordings of the events are now available to watch on the JLGC website here where information on future events in the series is also posted (Japanese only).