Enjoy Different Perceptions at Community Store TO SEE in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
ONESTORY endeavors to explore various the destinations in Japan and to present the sensibilities brought by the story of the journey.
“Perception.” It’s an extraordinary word. Just as renowned tea master Sen no Rikyu used items such as gourds or buckets as tea-brewing utensils in tea ceremonies, “perceptiveness” means seeing something not as it is typically understood, but as something else entirely. Or, it can also mean choosing something with an outstanding eye for beauty. Someone with good fashion sense has the power to convince you to want clothes or accessories that suit their perceptions. Isn’t that what a so-called specialty boutique is? At the end of 2016, a space opened in Kyoto that one might call “perceptive.”
The name is Community Store TO SEE. It's an old, four-story building west of Kyoto Imperial Palace. The first floor is a coffee stand and shop, the second floor is a gallery, and the third and fourth floors are office spaces. What is unusual is that despite being located in Kyoto, nothing from Kyoto can be found inside. The owner Mitsuyuki Nakajima explains. “You can get works made by Kyoto craftsmen in Kyoto. Here, we have works from other prefectures that you can’t otherwise find in Kyoto.”
The store on the first floor deals in richly original products created in various regions of Japan. Made with high standards of craftsmanship and reliable quality, Mr. Nakajima has prepared a collection of these items that he personally recommends as well as clothes and assorted goods that will stand the test of time for their new owners. The shop also sells “Nakajima’s Lifetime Best 10,” a collection of books and manga selected together by Mr. Nakajima and book director Yoshitaka Haba. These are items which are not particularly well-known to most, items that you might not normally think to pick up. Plus, the coffee at their café here features beans from the Hiraya coffee shop in Aichi Prefecture’s Gamagori City and even recreates the way their coffee is prepared. The store also offers literary works from Kyoto-based authors. Because this is a place that emphasizes selling unique items that can’t be found anywhere else, they have original items made just for them. They have even asked Kyoto-based ceramic artist Daisuke Kiyomizu to create a café au lait bowl specially for Community Store TO SEE.
And, they don’t just sell products. At the second-floor gallery, there are always limited-time events such as pop-up stores (exhibition sales) and workshops from artists across the country. Through March 19, the gallery is hosting “SAVA! STORE” introducing craftworks created by young artists from Fukui Prefecture’s Sabae City which is known for its monozukuri culture of building and creating. The gallery can also be rented as a venue for displaying artworks or sharing ideas.
And as for Mr. Nakajima, what does he do? He’s actually a Kyoto-based photographer. He primarily photographs the treasures, buildings and scenery of places like temples and art museums. With his Sando Me No Kyoto (Third Trip to Kyoto) Project that reveals largely unknown sides of Kyoto through his camera, he shares not only Kyoto’s famous tourist sites but also its hidden charms both online and in print.
So, it was a photographer who opened this specialist boutique. You might be thinking that this seems like a completely different project for him to have started, but Mr. Nakajima responds that “it’s all the same.” This store takes items such as photographs and books that show information in 2D and displays them in a concrete 3D space. “TO SEE” literally means “viewing with the eyes,” but it also includes the meaning of “seeing and understanding things in a different way.” This is a specialist boutique where the shop owner scrutinizes items he sees and asks himself questions about their value, not simply going on public opinion or well-established perspectives. And, adding to this, Mr. Nakajima says that Community Store TO SEE itself is a kind of medium. Like magazines or websites, this store is a kind of media that expresses something and facilitates the ideas of artists working across Japan. Items created by various people, inspirational ways of living, words and ideas are all shared through this building. “That a building can be perceived as a kind of media” is yet another perspective.
In addition to items we’ve chosen ourselves, we also want to place greater value on items recommended by others as well as clothes or daily goods purchased with an awareness of the ideas behind. This shop is surely another place that you’d want to go and see in Kyoto.
● SAVA! STORE by TSUGI @ Kyoto (Event Information)
Description: Creative company TSUGI, a staple of Community Store TO SEE, deals in select Fukui products. Everyday objects such as Japanese paper, lacquerware, and ceramics will be sold at this event.
Time period: Feb. 18–Mar. 19
244 Tamauecho, Koromotana-dori Takeyamachi Agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City