Saturday, September 11, 2010

Art Deco in Modern Japan

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

I love Art Deco and Art Noveau. Today, I'd like to take you on an unusual journey through Japan's Art Deco and show you some fine examples from the 1920's and some really great examples that can be seen today.

In Kyoto's Gion, the geisha district. Near all-traditional Japanese buildings there are a number of super-futuristic mostly metal buildings that looked like spaceships. From Deadprogrammer.

When my wife and I bought our house we wanted to decorate the entire house in Art Deco flavor but we decided against that as, if you are not really careful with Art Deco, you could have a house filled with what looks like junk.

I think my house has a definite Art Deco mood

We also gave up because, after spending a long time looking for suitable Art Deco furniture in Japan, we couldn't find any nice pieces.

Cover of "Soreiu" a monthly Kimono magazine from the Art Deco era

Like I said, if you are not careful with Art Deco and coordination, you could have a room filled with what looks like junk.

Anyone who loves Art Deco would know that Japan and China had much influence on it... But why is it, then, that good Art Deco is difficult to find in Japan? Good question.

Subway station poster circa 1924 by Sugiura Hisui, Colour litograph, 1927
"The Only Subway in the East". Colour litograph, Japanese, 1927. Scanned from "Art Deco 1910-1939" edited by Charlotte Benton, Tim Benton and Chislaine. From Art Deco Blogspot.

In the 1920's, Shanghai, China was the place where many foreign nations had their embassies and foreign staff stationed. Because of that, Shanghai was probably one of the best places in the world to buy Art Deco until the last 15 years or so. Up until about 1995 one could go to Shanghai in China and buy lots of great Art Deco furniture for dirt cheap but those days are long gone.

Shanghai's old town is gone and has been replaced by massive skyscrapers, apartments and shopping complexes.

While it is possible to buy Art Deco Vases and wall art, I is extremely difficult to find good sofas, beds or this type of furniture.

Items like this Spirit of Ecstasy can be found in Tokyo if you search

Even though Art Deco is hard to find, and outrageously expensive if one can find it, there was an Art Deco movement in Japan and traces of it still can be seen today.  

"Kodomonokuni" Children's Land, Japanese Children Magazine, 1920's

A walk through Tokyo, down Meguro Dori will most probably be able to satisfy many Art Deco and antique shoppers. Meguro Dori is famous for used and antique furniture shops all within walking distance of each other.

Whether one really wants to buy or just wants a look, the used antique shops in Tokyo on Meguro Dori are your best bet.

The easiest way to get to the antique and used furniture shops on Meguro Dori is to ask a taxi driver to take you to Meguro Post Offic (the shops are all near there). Just get into a taxi and say, "Meguro Yuubin kyoku." If you are into more adventure, take the Toyoko Line from Shibuya to Gakugei Daigaku (4 stops) and head for the post office. Meguro Dori is a big road and there are many antique shops all up and down the street.

Happy hunting!


Keywords: antique, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Art Deco, Meguro Dori, Art Noveau, Mike Rogers, Marketing Japan,


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