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The Antique Specialist: Junya Yoshikawa of R-OLD FURNITURE

The Japanese antique shop, R-OLD FURNITURE is charmingly located in Kamakura, the old historic capital, by the Inamuragasaki Station of the Enoden tram line. The shop itself is an old house built more than 100 years ago. The retro-style tram passes in front of it from time to time, adding to the inviting, nostalgic atmosphere. Inside, vintage furniture and ceramics from the eras of the Emperor Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-26) and Showa (26-89) are on display. However, the choice of items here is different from any other antique shop. Though they are old, they have a cool and stylish feel about them. Meet its owner, Junya Yoshikawa.

What made you start your antique shop back in 1999?

When I was 22 or 23, I was impressed by an old chest of drawers I came across at the antique fair held at the Machida Tenmangu shrine. It was said to be from the late Edo period or Meiji era. Until then, I wasn’t sure what to do with my future, but as soon as I laid my eyes on it, I said to myself, “this is it!” The dresser was well over 100-years-old, with the charm only time can create. It was pitch black and shining, and I was overwhelmed by its energy.
I worked for about a year at Oukaen selling collectors’ items before I started my own business as an antique dealer. For a while, I was selling in open-air antique markets, until I finally found this venue.

Tell us a little about the items you carry.

We have a large variety in our collection: desks, shelves, and chairs, interior like ceramics and glass bowls, from the Edo period for to the early Showa period.

This bowl, for example, is a rural handicraft, which has a different kind of charm from those made by professional artists. It was probably made in the Tohoku region. I guess it is from Taisho era, roughly 100 years ago.

This shelf has such character. It could be traced back to the 1950s and may have been used as a shoe rack. It’s worn out, so you can even see the fine woodgrains of Cedar trees on the surface. Cedar trees are inexpensive, but I am a big fan of them and have many pieces of furniture made from Cedar. The longer they have been used, the finer the woodgrains appear.

How do you purchase items?

More often than not, we are invited over to a residence when a client is about to move out or dismantle their house. Visiting old houses is exciting.

What are the most interesting and memorable collections?

I would say small sake cups from the Momoyama era (16-17th century).

Over 400 years old! Were they discovered in an ordinary house?

Yes, but by mere chance. Discovering pots and bowls made by such artists as Rosanjin, Kawai Kanjirō etc. thrills me too.

I love the soft round shape in ceramics that only the time can achieve.

What is the good thing about “Wa” (Japanese) antiques?

The fact that they fit in well with anything. They are made from the natural materials from this land, that is probably why they match so well with the atmosphere. European antiques are great, but they are not exactly my style. Perhaps they are a little too much. Japanese antiques, on the other hand, are subtler.

Not all of the items here are too typically Japanese though…

Again, I am more attracted to something simple and plain or cheapies even, things with no labels on it. Those things that are actually from Japan, but could be from anywhere, or any period; if you are told that they are from Africa or Europe, you could believe it. I collect these kinds of things. I see beauty in simplicity.

You often use the word, “ROCK” to describe items on your Instagram. What does it mean?

It means cool.

Your items are Wa taste, yet could go perfectly well with the occidental style.

Take an old vase for instance. It could go well with almost any style. It would be interesting to put it in the least Japanese-style atmosphere.

Tell us more about your store venue. It’s said to be over a 100 years old.

Correct. It was a private house, built back in the Meiji era. Initially, I was looking for a warehouse for storage. But I fell in love with this house my friend showed me and eventually decided to launch a store here.

What’s the greatest thing about your job?

The best part is that I am surrounded by things I love. I have some back at home too.

So what is it really like to spend every day in an old house, surrounded by Wa antiques?

Relaxed. I never get tired of it. My favorite spot is the engawa porch, facing the garden.

Do you think the older, the better?

It depends on the items, but personally, I find myself more attracted to the older things.

Visit the official website of  R-OLD FURNITURE here. 

Follow on Instagram here.

Photography by Yosuke Suzuki (Erz)

Original Text by Akihiro Tajima

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