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Tokyo's Sunday Issue & On The Corner
December 14, 2011
Check out Shibuya's multi-functioning creative hub, coffee shop and gallery
- Text by Satellite Voices
Guest Feature by Chiemi Isozaki
If you want to meet people from the creative industry in Shibuya, arguably the centre of Tokyo culture, it's worth checking out the creative complex Sunday Issue and On The Corner - No.8 Bear Pond cafe just off Meiji St. These two places, opened on a quiet street in 2010, changed the flow of passersby in Shibuya. Everything exciting starts here and you are guaranteed to bump into the best local creative talent. To find out a little more about these places, we had a chat with Kazuma Iriie, the investor of Sunday Issue and CEO of partycompany inc. running On The Corner and Megu Ohta, the director of Sunday Issue.
Satellite Voices: Please tell us about Sunday Issue.
Megu Ohta: Sunday Issue was opened to become like a Sunday paper, which means that you get up a little late, drink good coffee and look at cultural things such as art and books. At our gallery on the first floor we hold exhibitions by both foreign and local artists and special exhibitions supported by companies. At the library next to it, you can find a great collection of books selected by a team called Book Pick Orchestra specially for visitors to Sunday Issue. Also, we do little events at the bar sometimes. For example, curators and artists work behind the bar and serve guests to make it THE place to meet interesting people.
SV: The cafe, On The Corner, on the ground floor of the same building is popular among regular visitors to Sunday Issue as well, but what made you open places like these in Shibuya?
Kazuma Iriie: I run several cafes in Tokyo and one day I became interested in running a gallery too. So I asked Megu, who was already running a gallery in Roppongi where visitors can enjoy a few drinks, if we could do something new together.
Megu Ohta: Shibuya is one of the most crowded areas in Tokyo and the centre of Tokyo culture but there aren't many chilled galleries. There is also quite a high turnover of galleries. I always wanted to open a place in Shibuya you can go to relax and absorb creative things.
SV: I heard that you went to NY for some research before opening?
Kazuma Iriie: I wanted to open a cool "family restaurant". Cafes in western countries are slightly different from the ones in Japan. They open for long hours and anyone can go. I thought that was similar to what we call family restaurants in Japan (like American diners), so decided to go over and find out what a real diner is like. While I was checking places like Freemans which has a good atmosphere, Havana Cafe which is famous for tasty corn and the Ace Hotel with its popular burgers, Megu visited museums and galleries like the Chelsea Art Museum and the New Museum in Manhattan.
I was kind of thinking of opening a cafe on a corner in Tokyo, then this property became available. At the beginning, I was only going to open a cafe on the ground floor but we ended up renting the 200 square-metre first floor as well for our other facilities. While we were planning things, a friend of mine introduced me to the owner of Bear Pond, a very popular coffee shop in Shimokitazawa, so I asked him to join us. We also brought in the tasty pastries from Takibi Bakery, which are perfect for this good coffee. In the cafe, we offer slightly different menu at lunchtime but snacks and our Power Breakfast are available all day. Although more and more people are working in different places these days, you can't find WiFi easily in Tokyo. In addition because I used to work at an IT company, I really wanted our customers to be able to get online for free. Combine the fact that this place is quite close to Shibuya station and it's easy to see why we are always busy.
SV: You also have shared offices behind the gallery?
Megu Ohta: When we decided to rent the first floor, we got the idea of opening shared offices. Now we rent out regular desks for about £400 a month and you can register your company with this address. Open desks where you use any free desk anytime, cost about £250 a month and you can use WiFi, printer, fax, scanner, P.O. box. There are about 30 to 40 seats now and 80% of them are occupied. When we have a party at Sunday Issue, people at the shared offices come and join us and visitors to Sunday Issue go and see their friends who came to eat at On The Corner and vice versa. This all creates great synergy. We have a amazing community in this building and we love it so much.
SV: How do you want both Sunday Issue and On The Corner to grow?
Kazuma Iriie: I simply hope that creative people come to have a good time here. Having food, drinking coffee and talking about good ideas, then getting inspired at the gallery and go to the office to get some work done. My dream is to make it a one-stop shop for local creators.
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