I have an amazing store for you!!!
When we were planning our trip to Japan there were a few places that I said I 100% rain, hail, or tycoon wanted to see, and Pigment was one of them! Although there was no tycoon, finding the store was quite an adventure!
It all started the first day we were there, after taking the full morning to find the Harry Cafe (read about that here) we set off to look for the Pigment store. Similarly to the Harry Cafe, I innocently had though that if something was in Tokyo it must all be quite central…boy was I wrong! Justin and I made our way back to the Roppongi station from the Hedgehog Cafe, and proceeded to eventually find our way back to the city centre. From there we looked up at the over sized screens above us, filled with information in Japanese (!) and glancing back to the large railway map that, to me, was filled with scribbles and coloured dots! (Thank the universe for my Justin haha!)
We finally made our way to the right railway line and hoped on a train that we thought (and so did google) was going to take us quite directly to the store, however we knew it was going to be a bit of a ride! (Around 30 minutes!) We sat and went further and further along the line and being tourists, and our first day there, we were just enjoying ourselves and not really paying attention to the setting sun that was behind us! When we finally rolled into our station we were super excited to go see this store. I had been talking about it for some time, and we were both very excited to see all the products they had for sale and for viewing. We walked out onto the road and stopped to check Google Maps, which said to turn right and follow the road, so we did. The roads were small, there weren’t any other shops, it was all residential, we never passed a cafe or restaurant…not even a corner shop! As we walked we noticed people on bikes, coming home after a long day, all looking at us strangely. We now know they would have been thinking, what are YOU doing HERE?! I noticed a lot of head turning, and thought it was just because I was a tourist in a not so touristy place.
We walked back and fourth past what Google said was our destination a few times and finally, as we noticed the sun leaving the sky completely, decided to venture into the supposed destination and ask for help. The place itself was some sort of two story house-turned-factory! There was no-one there, we called out in English and Japanese and finally a man, covered in factory soot and grease came out to us…cautiously. We showed him the store on my phone and Justin spoke to him, but he said he had no idea where that shop could be and he told us that he had never even heard of it before!
So, we ran back to the main (ish) street and hailed down a taxi. The taxi man had a better idea of where we wanted to go, however at this point there was hardly any daylight left and I was feeling very defeated and thought we really weren’t going to make it in closing time – which was 7pm! Justin had a surge of optimism and was trying to keep my diminishing spirits up. Finally we saw something that looked like it could be Pigment, because of the bamboo cladding, so we stopped and ran over the road walked up to the open front door and……..it wasn’t Pigment. It was an art type shop..or museum, still under construction!! I was pretty much a deflated balloon on the floor by now but the taxi had gone so we decided to walk, the architecture of this building looked exactly like the ones I had seen online at Pigment so surely we were close. Luckily we kept looking because just down the road we found it!
Designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the store is like another world, with beautiful products and items on display! The design of the store really was a homage to traditional Japanese principles, materials and design, however it had such an elegant connection to modern Japan and modern art and technology. The store is covered in bamboo, which is used as interior ceiling cladding, formed in wavy lines, creating a grand yet light and open feeling. These long bamboo lines also connect to the products being sold, as the round, smooth lengths, remind me of paint brush handles. Bamboo is also used as shelving and display units, my guess would be that the floor is also bamboo! Pigment sells over 4200 pigments and over 250 kinds of utensils or additives such as brushes and animal glue. They sell everything you need, from paper and canvas to gold leaf and ink stones! This store really is a beautiful place for imagination!
Pigment employees artistic professionals, some with PhDs, and besides being the friendliest and most patient people you will ever meet, (We were in store until around 7.45pm), they have some real knowledge on the products they sell. Workshops are held frequently and by operating as not only a retail shop, but also as a museum and workshop, they really connect the past with the present, through the materials they use, and through keeping old traditions and mixing them with new media. This store is incredibly inspirational and had we had the time (and left over spending money) I could have very easily bought 1000 pigments!
What did I buy I hear you ask? Well let me show you!
I bought 5 beautiful pigments, 4 gorgeous watercolour squares and some gold leaf and a pink-gold leaf! We also bought some little bamboo tweezers they were just in use when this photo was taken!
Pigment really was in the top 3 for my Japan bucket list and although it was an adventure getting there, it was well worth the trip! They have an online shop for any of you who would love some of their products but aren’t planning a trip to Japan any time soon!
In the coming weeks I will be uploading a video of our time there, to my youtube. Follow me on my social media accounts to stay up to date with my adventures and tips!!
Love, Marleen xo