all photos by Brian Scott Peterson

Tokyo based illustrator Luis Mendo would often travel to the neighborhood of Asakusabashi to pick up sketchbooks. And over time he began falling in love with the creative and artistic vibe of the town. He and his wife Yuka were also getting tired of feeling isolated in Shinjuku. Their tight apartment was putting a strain on their love for hosting artist friends from overseas. So when they stumbled onto a 100-Year old building that formerly housed a rice shop, it immediately checked so many boxes for them. It was almost perfect.

After some renovations, Almost Perfect opened in October of 2018 and is essentially a short-term residency program for foreign creatives who want to come to Japan to learn, be inspired and display their work. The 1st floor serves as a gallery and cafe space. Luis and Yuka added a new wall to showcase art and also kept the old rice machines in place as a tribute to the owner’s past hours of labor.

the 1st floor exhibition and cafe space

The 2nd floor has been completely renovated and now functions as a sleeping quarters for the resident artist, as well as a shared office space. The top and 3rd floor is where Luis and Yuka reside.

Built right after the 1923 Kanto earthquake, the 100-year old building survived the WWII bombings and is in surprisingly great shape with lots of old elements remaining as a nod to its past. Almost Perfect has already completed its 1st residency with French comic artist Charles Berberian and is currently hosting their 2nd creative resident, British photographer Hugo Tillman. If you’re interested in becoming a resident, check out their website where you can also apply!

the resident creative’s sleeping quarters
the 2nd floor residency and studio