A lesser known neighbourhood with a character all its own, Nishi Ogikubo–or Nishiogi as its affectionately known–is home to an excellent assortment of galleries where you can both browse and buy a diverse selection of Japanese and international works of art. Spaces can be found all throughout the streets between Nishi Ogikubo Station and the Zenpukuji Gawa River, so you’d do well to spend an afternoon wandering around and seeing what you chance upon. Nevertheless, we’re happy to offer a few humble recommendations.
This unique shop is owned and operated by Batta Company, a clothing and textile designer and manufacturer–though they also sell handicrafts, glassware, furniture, works of art, and various small oddities which defy classification. Everything is displayed so beautifully that the shop feels almost like an art museum, though one where you can take home your favourites. Clothing is predominantly designed for women, though men’s and unisex pieces are also available–not to mention a great set of designer t-shirts. It’s also the site of pop-up exhibitions from local fashion designers, visual artists and craftspeople.
Everything in Fall is eye-catching, including the stained wood hangar it calls home. A weekly rotation of exhibitors bring in a fresh set of mixed-media visual art positioned alongside the store’s stock of high-quality stationery, edible goods, and mid-century vintage paraphernalia. Delicious retro kitsch is mixed in with traditional ceramics resulting in a madcap assortment that’s a blast to pick through.
At almost 70 years old, Iseya Bijutsu is Nishi Ogikubo’s oldest antique store, and it shows–while other galleries and shops in the neighbourhood dip (or dive) into pop art, Iseya feels pleasantly classic. Owned and operated by Tokuji Inohana, it exhibits calligraphy, kimono, and other works of visual art. Inohana’s love of art allows him to develop direct connections to local artists, whom he occasionally directly commissions to create the work he exhibits in his private gallery.
Mado’s Showa-era gallery space is less than five minutes from Nishi Ogikubo Station, and as its name suggests (“mado” means “window” in Japanese), its large windows let in plenty of natural light. It makes for a versatile space that rents itself out to artists looking for a place to show their work, of which there are plenty: its 2018 calendar shows a steady booking of embroidery, stone beadwork, wood crafts, and other media.
Rozan primarily showcases the work of owner and artist Fumihiko Oshima, who has been selling his deceptively simple ceramics at his shop-cum-gallery for over 30 years. Decades of practice has resulted not just in an exquisite body of work, but an intimate knowledge of craftsmanship that helps him aptly curate a monthly showcase of work from other local artisans. Pairing Oshima’s work with his guests’ casts both in a new light, meaning you’re always in for an exciting double bill.
The next time you’re looking to get a taste of Tokyo’s art scene, skip the museum in Ueno and head west to Nishi Ogibuko, instead.