The Desire to Communicate the Value of Noren from Various Perspectives to the World

Originally published on the EDO TOKYO KIRARI PROJECT

Nakamura was established in 1923 as a "shikkaiya," a business that served as an intermediary in charge of various stages of kimono making. After a period of hiatus, in 2014, it began operation again as a Noren (shop curtain)-related business and continues to promote the value of Noren to the world. As part of such promotional activities, a booklet titled "NOREN ENTRANCE TO JAPANOLOGY" was made in January 2020, in which these unique Japanese curtains are discussed by eight specialists from fields such as tradition, culture, architecture, art, and technology.

In the booklet, Mitsuharu Kurokawa, the president of the long-established Japanese sweets shop "Toraya," discusses the following experience.

"When I opened a store in Paris 40 years ago, the city initially said we must not put up a Noren as it would spoil the French cityscape. However, the local committee member in charge of protecting the cityscape carefully explained that these curtains are not mere advertisements but have a cultural value that shows that a store is open. Because of this explanation, we were given permission to put up the Noren."

Through this episode, Shin Nakamura, who planned/supervised the booklet, felt again the importance of dealing sincerely with people from overseas and conveying the value and meaning of Noren.

In addition, other experts discuss the appeal from their distinct perspectives, such as the architect Kengo Kuma, who refers to this Japanese cultural property as a "boundary" that partitions the storefront and inside of the store, and Robert Campbell, who sheds light on the relationship between Noren and Edo culture.

Mr. Nakamura says, "By communicating the culture and appeal of Noren from various perspectives, we aim to create a chance for people to look at Japanese culture and its properties."

The content of the booklet is available on the Nakamura website, from where it is hoped that the appeal of Noren will spread even further.

※This article was originally provided by EDO TOKYO KIRARI PROJECT (February 4, 2021).