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Sunday 27 March 2011

At Home in Japan: Geffrye Museum exhibition

Visiting the Japan at Home Exhibition
Last week saw the unveiling of the new temporary exhibition at The Geffrye - At Home in Japan, an installation that transports you inside a typical Japanese home, dispelling all the myths you've ever had about Japan being all about technology and minimalism. Two Japanese people told me today how authentic the exhibition is and that it made them feel at home, so I was eager to take a look myself.
View from an apartment window
Inside, the exhibition consists of photos taken from Japanese homes, surrounded by real interior items so you can physically feel as though you are there with views to boot. This is my favourite image - the photos are blown up so they are lifelike. I was surprised to discover that there's so much character evident in the residences and not a hint of plain white walls. Many of the apartments in Japan are lined with greenery and pot plants to evoke the sensation of being outdoors since gardens are unheard of.
Good luck owls and cats are placed in the entrance to Japanese houses
Shoes are not worn inside Japanese homes and so the entrance hall consists of racks of shoes along with good luck charms. Gifts and items brought back from travels are also a key feature of the Japanese home. Personally I'm very keen to go to Japan on a shopping spree - clothes shopping as well as buying some quirky kitsch homey things to brighten up my life (I used to live with a Japanese girl who had amazing magazines filled with images of cool and colourful clothes and gifts that had me salivating with envy!)
 The exhibition referenced the fact that hi-tech loos, with warming seats do exist but most folk have a normal bathrooms, like this one above.
Amazing fish print fabric
 There was also some amazing fish print fabric hanging in the loo which you can't quite see, but take my word for it, it was very sweet.
Cutlery drawer
 The cutlery drawer amused me as rather than be filled with ordinary knives and forks there were so many types of chopsticks and tiny ceramic bowls. I'm terrible with them. I actually went for a Japanese meal on Friday but shamefully used a fork. Although when I eat noodles at home I do use a pair of plastic chopsticks only joined together, and I think that's called cheating?
Bunny print screen
 I also fell in love with this sweet rabbit screen. Screens remind me of being on holiday, as I've never been inside a British home that own uses them. One day I think I'll have one in my flat, just because they are so unique over here. 
School year book
My favourite exhibit was a coffee table filled with photo albums. Education in Japan is taken very seriously yet the school year book was full of character - each pupil posing in humorous ways. I wish I'd had fun school photos like these.

Maybe I'm biased (I've been working at The Geffrye for four years as an arts and crafts teacher) but I honesty believe that they do have some of the best temporary exhibitions - very imaginative, and they effect your senses and emotions at the same time - I've felt that after every one I've been too. It may be a small museum and a fairly small space but they know how to use it.

So my recommendation is drop by, see something different and feel inspired to appreciate your own home a little more.

The exhibition runs until August 29th and costs £5, £3 concessions and under 16 are free.
A special symposium takes place on May 14th where experts will be talking about the Japanese home more detail. There's also a range of creative and craft workshops for all ages over the next couple of months. 

There's also a great book if you can't get there - thanks Lisa!


  1. Thanks for posting this - I probably won't be able to visit London while this exhibition is on :( but there's a book and it looks really interesting!

  2. Thanks Lisa for the great tip, I saw the book there, it was a good resource and have added the link to bottom of the post.