It’s not a likely occurrence that a visit to the launch of a retail space in Notting Hill turns to talk bringing more harmony to the people of Europe. But that was the sort of chat I had with Noriyuki Ikeda at his new kimono and matcha shop, Wasokan, on Westbourne Grove.
With four shops in Japan already under his obi, Ikeda explained to me that he felt it was time to expand his Wasokan vision with an outlet in Europe. Following visits in 2013 to London and Paris, he discovered interest in kimono, matcha, and all things Japan was especially high in London and decided the British capital was the place to start sharing his passion for wa no kokoro, the “spirit of Japanese harmony,” with the world.
As Europe’s first authentic Japanese kimono, accessories and green tea retailer, Ikeda’s shop sells traditional kimono, new generation kimono, and kimono separates in a variety of styles and patterns for women, men and children, ranging in price from a few hundred to a couple thousand pounds.
Accessories (such as tabi socks and artisan bowls) and tea require less financial commitment but are no less authentically Japanese.
I had a wonderful time sitting in on a tea ceremony at the shop’s plain wood café counter learning about Ikeda’s plans and discussing differences between European and Japanese culture (the Japanese have a “horizontal” approach to life whereas Europeans tend to be “vertical” in how they go about things). Prices start from £4.50 for a pot of homare tea, £5.50 for a cup of matcha and £7.50 for a selection of monaka (sweet bean paste cakes).
In addition to selling kimono, Wasokan is to host in-store “kitsuke” lessons to teach people how to wear both traditional kimono and to share innovative styling tips for new generation kimono. Monthly “kimono de odekake” day trips for guests to wear kimono out and about are also in the works. Kimono can be rented as well.
Wasokan is located at 293 Westbourne Grove, W11 2QA. Find out more at wasokan.eu.