Juxtapoz Magazine – The Rough Shop: The Relic Uncovered on Shikoku, Japan

Juxtapoz Magazine – The Rough Shop: The Relic Uncovered on Shikoku, Japan

Juxtapoz Magazine – The Rough Shop: The Relic Uncovered on Shikoku, Japan

“Whatsoever it is you ‘re trying to get is not going to come in the sort you are anticipating.” If you are going to discuss about a minimal shop in the center of rural Japan, still left deserted only to have an array of previous treasures and notify the story of the spouse and wife who remodeled it into a feasible kind of artwork installation, then this referenced Haruki Murakami quote is apt. Japan has an strength, an earthy supernaturalism, that makes its magical reasonable characteristics arise in the most mundane of scenarios. In the little village of Kawamata on the island of Shikoku, Rufus Ward and his artist spouse Eri Itoi have developed the painstakingly specific The Tough Store, a located item paradise that combines a possibility discovery of an untouched shop in rural Japan with the enthusiasm of two artists who could existing the shop as effectiveness. And that is just what it is, a functionality loaded with memory.

Evan Pricco: In the most basic terms, what have you turned this store into?
Rufus Ward: It is an installation, a store, and a variety of museum. We made a selection to relocate as significantly of the authentic store as achievable to our exhibition house, which is in our home. Its title, Tough Shop, is dependent on the authentic owner’s identify, Arakawa, which interprets as a tough or wild river (Ara signifies tough or wild and Kawa indicates river). This was not likely to be a normal shop. We wanted it to be wild, powerful, crude, and genuine.

We took the shop’s initial inventory as properly as its home furniture, lighting, decorations, and ambiance and rearranged them in a distinct way, in a white-cube-style exhibition space. We attempted really hard to maintain the unique shop’s seem and feel but inject it with new strength and fashion. I generally paint rooms and inside layouts (I am far more painter than a 3D artist) and I fill these areas with odd mixtures of items to develop a particular mood. The Rough Shop was heading to be a actual physical embodiment of one of these paintings. I wished to recreate the mood of the authentic store, the awkwardness, strangeness, and too much to handle density of the merchandise, but weave it all with each other into a mash-up of museum, reward store, and artwork.

We haven’t resolved how extended to continue to keep The Tough Store but as the first inventory disappears (currently being all classic, there is a constrained quantity) we will fill the gaps on the shelves with artifacts created by ourselves and other artists or makers. We actually favored the idea of putting handmade crafts and art objects together with the other stuff. It will be like an exhibition in an exhibition. It presents it all a great balance and a weird synergy and with any luck , will pique someone’s curiosity. 


Your dad sort of walked me by this a tiny, but this shop that you took above in essence stood unchanged, unattended to, for decades?
Nicely, it was a shop but also a house, and the proprietor, Mr. Arakawa, moved out all over fifteen a long time back. The store had been closed for most likely 20 many years prior to we took it about. The intriguing point is, this shop experienced been about due to the fact the Showa period (at the very least due to the fact 1945) and most likely experienced its heyday about the 1980s when the very small village of Kawamata was prospering from the lumber trade and Japan was in its “bubble economic climate.” The goods within mirror this lengthy postwar time period while the majority of the things look to be left more than from 1980.

We to start with came to know about this store when we moved into the little village of Kawamata. Kawamata is generally a handful of residences perched on the edge of a river, crammed involving two massive mountains. We moved into an previous Japanese sake store and lived there for a year whilst we searched for a residence to invest in. I was jobless so I normally took walks all-around the place taking pictures and producing article content for the Kamiyama web site. The most important avenue had a large amount of vacant homes but this store caught out largely due to the fact it seemed as if it could continue to be open up for enterprise. Outdoors, there ended up 3 or four capsule toy vending equipment and a large old consume device. Searching via the store home windows you could see piles of plastic product kits, stationery, radio-controlled vehicles, rubber gloves, toys, fireworks, and many unusual things hanging from the ceiling. Almost all people explained, “There is certainly obtained to be treasure in there!” We just liked the plan of this toy shop present in these a little put in the center of the mountains and trees. The randomness of the merchandise and how they have been all crammed collectively in this position was truly new. It felt like a time capsule or a museum and it was inspirational and truly resonated with us.


The randomness nearly looks like a reward, truly offering you with an possibility for any route you chose.
I spent all my free time making different piles of points. It was an agonizing process since I preferred to doc all the things but we were being acquiring aid with the clearing-out system from the city office, so I experienced a deadline to form matters out. I didn’t know exactly where to commence but as soon as I received commenced it immediately became really addictive. Each day, I experienced no plan what I was heading to discover and how I was going to use it. Even the smallest, most worthless objects like a cutout fragment of newspaper grew to become extraordinarily intriguing. Why did the proprietor slash this out? What does it signify? How should really I display screen this? How does this fragment relate to the other newspaper clippings in this envelope? Why are they in this “Satisfied Birthday” envelope? Why are these handwritten notes in a glass jar wrapped in plastic? Why did he have so quite a few plastic baggage? I was tumbling deeper and further into a rabbit hole of trash. I was an extremely-centered, hyper-attentive rubbish hunter wallowing in an unidentified dead man’s daily life get the job done. Of class, I was also asking myself existential inquiries like, “Is this what is still left of us when we pass on? If I evaporated at this exact second, what form of mess would I leave? What type of photo would someone have of me?” The surreal characteristics of property-clearing in the center of the mountains in Japan, specifically if you are creatively inclined, are not shed on me. I will possibly have to create a guide about it in the long run.

It could have lasted 6 many years because I would arrive dwelling fatigued mentally as properly as bodily, but astonishingly I received anything sorted in two months. Toward the conclude of the two months, I grew to become fewer apprehensive about holding matters that could possibly be helpful for making art and ended up just throwing nearly anything I could get my arms on into the rubbish luggage as quick as doable. I was in all probability a very little reckless and threw out some items I shouldn’t have, but thankfully I did preserve a stack of interesting drawings made by Mr. Arakawa when he was a kid. These are drawings he designed at university so all of them are dated on the again. They are from close to 1945, just about when the war was ending so they all have naive, nationalistic vibes to them. Amid the sketches of troopers and airplanes are wonderful scenes of day to day village everyday living, individuals walking, animals, structures, and crops. All of them are drawn in crayon on aged Japanese washi paper with the charming carefree purity of a kid’s hand. We want to exhibit them in the long term. A e-book would also be good.

Another spotlight of the original look for was a substantial locked risk-free which we noticed in the corner of one of the rooms. When we at last bought it open up it was crammed with Mr. Arakawa’s personal stamp collection! Apparently, again in the 1980s, the Japanese authorities reported stamp collecting was a good financial commitment for the upcoming. The issue was, all people begun amassing so the worth of the stamps did not boost. Nonetheless, they are attractive and we want to uncover a way to use them.

(Initial photo of the Tough Store, circa 1980s)

The plan was generally to preserve some of the authentic goods, like the stamps as artifacts.
Yes. We wanted to hold as much of the primary shop as attainable, but also attempt to develop some thing new and assumed-provoking. The mad range and randomness of the objects in the store was definitely anything we wished to make use of, but instead of making use of them all, we required to edit the collection and diligently decide out the items, or mixture of products, that really intrigued us. As soon as we had our last slice, then we could start creating and positioning things, making odd connections among objects, and definitely begin location the scene. Familiar but offbeat was our program.

How did you discover yourselves in this certain city on the island of Shikoku? When we converse about artwork in Japan, we stereotypically assume of Tokyo or Kyoto. So in Kamiyama, what form of arts and tradition was there ahead of you received there?
The artist-in-home application is the major detail on the calendar as significantly as artwork and society go in Kamiyama. It was started out in 1999 and it is even now the emphasize of the yr. 3 artists devote two months from September to November operating and residing in Kamiyama. The locals get the job done with the artists assisting them notice operate for the last exhibition which usually takes place in early November. It is an immersive and intimate working experience for everyone involved, and it is remarkable to get to know so numerous different artists in such an out-of-the-way position. Just after the residency has completed, the artworks are commonly saved in an deserted junior higher school, but there are also rather a handful of permanent sculptures lingering in the forest, protected in moss and little by little disintegrating.

When we arrived in Kamiyama, apart from the artist-in-home system, there ended up no independent galleries, artist-operate areas, art museums, experimental collectives, or anything like that. It was definitely rather refreshing! The town did, even so, have a dusty museum dedicated to farming and forestry, and the sheer vary of historical farming tools on display screen was pretty remarkable.


With Japan’s reverence for a regular way of carrying out factors, and in these kinds of a small city, what was the reaction to The Rough Store, exactly where you just let the art improve from within?
I imagine the initial response of most people was confusion, followed by disbelief, adopted by enjoyment. Alternatively than advertising and marketing this as an exhibition or art installation, we made the decision to just give it a title and explain to individuals that all the things was for sale so every person could relate to it in their personal way. In fact, the visitor demographic in Kamiyama is so wide. It’s what will make acquiring exhibitions listed here so entertaining. About seventy percent of the populace listed here is around sixty, and most likely most have by no means been to a modern day artwork exhibition. There are also a ton of newer, more youthful immigrants who are concentrated on their possess life-style alternatives like farming or I.T., but even among the these new settlers, I would say only a tiny handful have an energetic curiosity in modern art.

A whole lot of neighborhood individuals we spoke to remembered viewing the primary store as youngsters. They spoke fondly about it as a magical, wondrous place crammed with temptations. I know some individuals even traveled from Tokushima (a fantastic one-hour drive) to go to, so it must have been well-known and well-liked again in the day. When we initially stated that we acquired the store a whole lot of people today had been intrigued and required to know what we ended up advertising. They remembered certain toys that they always needed as youngsters and they wanted to know if they were nonetheless obtainable.

The Rough Shop can go in so many instructions, even a silent dissolution. But you can evolve with the space, and have selected artists collaborate with the thought of the space, also. How have you imagined its future?
We want to get a lot more artists and makers included but the artworks or crafts we opt for need to have to resonate in a sure way with the shop objects all-around them. These objects will not be displayed to attract your notice to them. They will not likely be highlighted or the main target of the exhibition but instead mix in and cover away, with any luck , adding a distinctive amount of desire to the shop location. They will be for sale like the other things, and in the end, as soon as they are absent, be replaced with new artworks or crafts. In this way, the exhibition inside an exhibition can modify and completely transform the shop into one thing else. That is our addition to The Rough Shop’s heritage.

This post was at first published in the Spring 2023 Quarterly