For those who are familiar with Japan, the transition between March 31 and April 1 is not just the end of one month and the beginning of another. It is the transition between changing old to new and embracing everything which comes with it. Farewells to school life, friends, cities, and quite often jobs, take place at the end of March. Greetings, new beginnings and new faces at school and work, on the other hand, herald the beginning of April, and that is the life circle for many in Japan.
In a way to acknowledge this, the newly constructed mall for artisans and craftsmen, 2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN, located between JR Akihabara and Okachimachi stations (hence the name AKI-OKA), launched its spring event “TOKYO NEW LIFE MARKET” on April 2. Under the concepts of "uniqueness" and "individuality," participating craft shops offer a limited number of specially crafted objects fit for a new beginning – furniture, ornaments, bowls, cups, bags, accessories, jewelry and many more.
Each shop brings its own style to the event. Kuhkan Kobo Takuya, a stylish interior and furniture shop, presents a unique flower made of wood shavings to the first three customers each day, while the first five customers each day visiting Hacoa Direct Store, a wood craft atelier, will have their names engraved into a wooden name card case for half the price. For sake lovers, Toy Cafe TOIQUE, a unique toy cafe for adults, not kids, even offers strawberry liquor. And for the rainy, blue days - Tokyo noble, an umbrella shop, offers an endless collection of umbrellas in all colors and shapes – including even miniature umbrellas for decoration and interior.
In the spirit of craftsmanship and creativity, workshops and hands-on experience are also offered: making your own hat or accessories is possible at imeka and PicoLabo respectively. Customizing an umbrella is also possible at Tokyo noble.
Donation boxes for the March 11 earthquake victims can be also found throughout the mall. Hacoa Direct Store, STUDIO UAMOU, inoui and several other shops have launched separate charity campaigns as well, including donations of partial profits for the reconstruction of the most devastated areas.
An initiative of JR East Urban Development Co, 2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN brought new life to the area when it opened last year in December. The area between the two stations used to be dark, dangerous and had stayed vacant for years. The new white mall, however, with 2,540 meters total length filled with art and craft shops, boutiques, ateliers and cafés, drastically changed the previously desolate area and contributed to an even more lively and unique Akihabara: a place for creativity and uniqueness.
TOKYO NEW LIFE MARKET lasts until May 8. All workshops require reservations. 2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN is closed on Wednesdays.
For more information on 2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN see http://www.jrtk.jp/2k540/© Japan Today