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First Japan House opens in Brazil


London, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo. There is little at first sight that seems to unite these three cities, which are diverse in geography and climate as well as architecture, cuisine and atmosphere.

Yet these metropolitan hubs will soon be connected by one unexpectedly common thread — the launch of an ambitious new global project that celebrates all things Japanese.

Japan House — an initiative developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and creatively directed by Muji art director Kenya Hara — involves the opening of buildings in each of these three cities celebrating the best of Japanese culture, from architecture and design to food and fashion.

The properties may look completely different physically — thanks to the involvement of an eclectic array of Japanese architects and designers — but all include a gallery space, a top-quality Japanese restaurant, a boutique selling Japanese products and an ever-changing schedule of cultural events, seminars and workshops.

The first will open its doors to the public in Sao Paulo on May 6. An eye-catching four-story space designed by Kengo Kuma, it features the architect’s signature style in its abstract contemporary facade of multi-layered hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood slats, alongside modernist Brazilian cobogo hollow brickwork.