At Home in Japan: Going Beyond the Minimal House and into the Geffrye Museum

By Culture24 Staff | 26 April 2011
A photo of cats looking out onto a garden
View from a living room onto a domestic garden in Nara, Japan© Susan Andrews
Exhibition: At Home in Japan: Beyond the Minimal House, Geffrye Museum, London, until August 29 2011

The architecture, decoration and style of Japanese homes usually comes tightly wrapped in a stereotype of kitsch minimalism. To challenge this, the University of Oxford’s Dr Inge Daniels spent a year poking around 30 houses in the Kansai region of the country in 2003, opening the doors of contemporary urban homes.

A photo of shoes inside a house
An entrance hall with step-up into a house in Nara© Susan Andrews
Daniels had conducted a multi-site ethnography on the humble Miyajima rice scoop’s journey from conveyor belt to modern kitchen for her PhD, so she was in a perfect position to pore over the decorations, displays, furniture and minutiae of her subjects and their homes. She has recreated them for an entrance hall, tatami room, bathroom and communal space you can walk through inside this show.

A photo of stuffed toys in a lounge
Souvenirs and decorations in an upstairs living area in an urban home in Osaka© Susan Andrews
“We hope that through an active engagement with these day-to-day spaces and objects, visitors will encounter another culture on an empathetic level, instead of gazing and imagining its exotic nature from a distance,” says Daniels.

A photo of owls and photos of owls
A collection of lucky owls displayed in an entrance hall in Osaka© Susan Andrews
The show also draws on project-specific photography by Sue Andrews, of London Metropolitan University, who collaborated with Andrews on a book, The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home, which accompanied the research.

  • Open 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday (12pm-5pm Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday). Admission £5/£3 (free for under-16s).
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