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Dessein's design aficionados guide to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka

June 14, 2015

At Dessein we are huge fans of the Japanese design aesthetic and we recently undertook a design tour of odyssey-like proportions. Our trip included visits to Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo, where refined minimalism and wacky futurism create fascinating contrasts. The trip more than satisfied our love of travel and if you love design, Japan is one of the most inspiring countries to explore.

Highlights from our trip included the 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo’s Minato-ku, designed by Tadao Ando. The museum is directed by three Japanese design masters – fashion designer Issey Miyake, graphic designer Taku Satoh and product designer Naoto Fukusawa – and we were completely inspired by its exhibits.

The Daikanyama T-site in nearby Shibuya-ku is perhaps the most beautiful bookstore in the world (although it’s so much more than a bookstore!). Spread across three interlinked buildings, it was designed by Tokyo-based Klein Dytham. A friend who works at the studio and tells us the next T-site will be opening soon in Osaka!

The Benesse Art Site Naoshima, located on three islands of the Seto Inland Sea, was such a highlight of the trip. Along with collecting art works, it provides artists and architects with opportunities to create and exhibit original works within unique the nature and culture of the Seto Inland Sea.

There is so much to say about this amazing country – design is only the beginning!


Here’s our top 5 cultural and dining destinations in Japan:

1. Tuna Auction atTsukiji Fish Market – the world’s biggest and busiest fish market holds an action-packed tuna auction at 5am and is well worth the early rise.

2. Graf Studio in Osaka – the studio sprawls over 4 floors and includes wonderful local design and handmade products.

3. Han no daidokoro Dogenzaka in Shibuya - Yamagata Beef (Yakiniku) doesn’t get any better than this!

4. Tokyo or Mori tower – you can take in breathtaking views of the city and, if it’s a clear day, you can catch site of Mount Fuji.

5. Tōdai-ji Temple in Nara – this is the largest timber structure built in the 8th Expect to encounter some friendly deer from the adjacent Nara Park – regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, they like to roam freely!

Browse through our Perth design tour, click here. And stay tuned for more news as we head back to Perth for a very special pop-up event!