When I saw this mentioned on Muji’s Instagram account the other day, my jaw dropped: Muji is producing a hotel — along with a new flagship store — in Ginza, set to open in 2019. As this Spoon & Tamago post reveals (and that’s also where you’ll find more details on the Ginza project), it’s not Muji’s first hotel, as they’re also producing one in Shenzhen.
Well, since I left Japan, looks like Muji has launched dedicated “Muji Books” sections in some of their stores (pictured, a Muji Books in Shanghai). The big Muji stores — like the flagship Yurakucho one — always had small book sections, but now it looks like we have proper bookstores within their stores. Makes me miss Muji that much more.
I want a Muji Hut. Sure, it’s rather pricey at 3 million yen (around $30,000), which includes the construction costs, but still, I imagine this little thing somewhere on a mountain, to relax in. They go on sale this fall (Japan only).
I really love the cover to this Muji Campsite guide book (2015) that you see pictured, designed by Norito Shinmura. What a fantastic idea to use wood grain as a motif for water (and so the kayakers). Found via Gurafiku.
Andrew has completed a fantastic project in which he’s drawn some of Muji‘s most iconic products. Here’s how he describes the project:
To celebrate 25 years of being in Europe, Muji asked me to draw 25 of their most iconic products. You can collect all of them as postcards, in stores all over Europe, as well as being part of an in store display coming soon.
Gotta catch ’em all! Pictured, the classic wall-mounted CD player, designed by Naoto Fukasawa.
Fast Company has a post up sharing a selection of 11 ads that Ikko Tanaka produced for Muji during its early years. I absolutely love this stuff, not just because it’s Muji-related — still my favorite brand from Japan — but also because I’ve always had a love for the work of Tanaka (one of the best shows I’ve seen at the Ginza Graphic Gallery was a retrospective of his work).
Efficiency in Japan is no joke.
I recently shared this animated GIF on Twitter/Facebook – first shared by my buddy Joseph – and though it’s a really funny skit (featuring the one and only comedian/TV host Tamori-san) it really did strike a chord with me.
I make no secret that I’m missing a hell of a lot of things from Japan – my aunt Anne was recently a lifesaver when she brought me my go-to MUJI pens, which she picked up at a MUJI store in Dubai – but one of the things I miss most is the incredible sense of efficiency and responsibility you find in everyday life there (and I should specify that I’m describing my experience of living in Tokyo, and can’t really speak for other Japanese cities).
Yeah, yeah, I’m sure many will immediately point out nightmare marathon waiting sessions when dealing with the government, but that kind of bureaucracy paralysis is a staple of governments everywhere. And critique of the noted inflexibility when it comes to wanting to do something slightly different that doesn’t follow the set structure is a discussion for another post.
What I’m talking about here is the efficiency found in transportation, in stores, for most paid services (like deliveries).
One thing I’m finding hard to get used to is how often I encounter a lack of ownership/responsibility here. If someone is doing a job that they don’t care about, they’re not shy to let you know about it. Try to get specific details for something – “When will this construction work end?” – and you just get half-truths (to just get you to stop asking) or a plain ol’ “who knows,” which while better than half-truths, is still not what I want to hear when you’re doing your job, and I’m assuming it’s not the first time you do something like this.
But hey, it’s easy to rant about things, and I’m not saying that Japan is the promised land. But in terms of anything that relates to services, I’m definitely finding it difficult to adapt.
I miss Tamori-san too.
MUJI posts a beautiful flash-based essay — mixing visuals and text — on its global site, explaining the rationale behind the company’s line of products.
Is it just me, or does this photo from MUJI’s Xmas 2009 page for their “gateau au chocolat” mix look like a certain yellow pill-popping fiend.