The Shinchosha publishing company has maintained a warehouse in the Kagurazaka neighborhood of Tokyo for the last 50 years. But feeling a need to better utilize the space and, more importantly, involve the local community, the publisher decided to renovate the building and turn it into a multi-purpose space that functions not only as a café and lifestyle shop but also as a community space for lectures and workshops.
“We opened the house toward the street, and connected its first floor with the crossing using an organic-shaped wooden staircase,” says Kuma, describing the luxurious entrance that mimics the sloping hills of the neighborhood. “The stairs diverge in the middle, and one leads up to the second floor.”
On the first floor is a café that’s open from 8AM which, in Tokyo, is surprisingly hard to find. There’s also an interior/lifestyle shop curated by stylist Miyoko Okao. The 2nd floor fully utilizes the industrial look and feel of a warehouse. The space is divided into a vintage furniture shop and a lecture space. In keeping with the building’s heritage, books line the shelves and when there are no events taking place visitors are welcome to sit down and read.
“Kagurazaka is one of the few districts in Tokyo that best retains historic townscape,” says Kuma. The neighborhood is known to be popular with French expats. It’s home to a number of French institutions like Institut Francais, a French International School and numerous French restaurants. And many residents have likened its sloping streets to those of Paris. The naming of the space, la kagu, is actually based on a French pronunciation of Kagurazaka.