By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – As home of the largest Japanese community outside Japan, São Paulo city has been chosen to hold the first cultural center of Japanese government’s global project, The Japan House. The center will open its doors to the public this weekend in the city’s most iconic avenue Avenida Paulista.
The new cultural center, designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has the mission of renewing Brazilians’ perception of contemporary Japan, combining art, technology and business.
“Japan House offers opportunities for engagement, surprise and inspiration for today’s Brazilians to meet and discover the ‘contemporary Japan’,” says Angela Hirata, President of Japan House São Paulo.
The center hopes to host music performances, lectures and business get-togethers to bring the Brazilian and Japanese worlds closer together.
The cultural center will host a cafe featuring Japanese sweets, a restaurant with typical Japanese recipes, a gift store with traditional Japanese art items and a multimedia space, featuring more than 1,900 books about culture, food, design and technology available to visitors for consultation.
The Japan House will open with an exhibition on bamboo art, from small decorative objects to large, imposing sculptures.
“The presence of bamboo [in Japanese culture] extends from the tea ceremony to martial arts, from music to architecture, from the visual arts to rural utilities, from religious rites to child pranks, from literature to innovation and technology,” says Japan House’s curator and programming director, Marcelo Dantas.
“It has permeated the whole life of this people since always, linking contemporary Japan to ‘pre-history’ Japan,” adds the curator.
In addition to the exhibition, the House will hold several lectures in the month of May, on using and creating art with bamboo, including jewelry and rituals performed with the raw material.
According to organizers, the Japanese government plans to open two other cultural centers, in addition to the one in São Paulo, in the near future, one in London and another in Los Angeles.