Antiques In Nagano

When it comes to vintage-hunting, I must admit London is much better than Nagano. Weekly vintage markets in & around London are teeming with people and a craze for anything vintage & antique is palpable. Apart from the actual markets, more than a few TV programmes related to bygone times and artefacts are on-aired on a daily basis whereby it indicates how much the Brits are into all things vintage & antique.
In Japan, however, that level of enthusiasm towards Japanese antique is non-existent. As the reflection of the fact, there are only a few vintage shops around the Zenkō-ji compound.

I came across this shop a few blocks away from the temple entrance…


The shop front was inconspicuous and looked rather private. The items on display consisted of ceramic plates, dishes, cups, pitchers as well as old dolls and roof tiles (瓦).
By the entrance, there was a bargain basket…


They were priced as ¥1,000, approximately £6.00.
The basket was stuffed with wooden bowls, a champagne cooler(?), a metal horse and some tools.

Then, I found this shop which seemed to be specialised in vintage ceramics a few minutes walk away…


The plate on the upper right looks like a delft blue plate, don’t you think? And I loved a Persian blue glassware in front of it….


It would not be strictly true to say that the Japanese are not interested in antiques. A few years ago, I visited the Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park and encountered a few coach-loads of Japanese housewives shopping for European vintage kitchen ware and chests. They do like vintage as long as their origins are western. I suppose it is related to the fact that the majority of contemporary Japanese houses are built and decorated in a western style, and non-eastern vintages fit better to it. Also a lack of variety in Japanese vintage in general keeps its audience number very small.

Next door to the antique shop, I found lots of cats…


If some of them ever manage to survive the passing of time, they may be cherished as “Kawaii” vintages? I sincerely hope so.

By the way, there is a really fun weekly TV programme featuring antiques in Japan. The show is called “Nandemo Kanteidan” (何でも鑑定団) – The Troop of Appraisers.
Participants bring their treasures to a live show and experts appraise them on spot. It sounds like the BBC’s popular “Antique Roadshow”, doesn’t it? Non, non, NON. On the stage with the venue full of gleeful audiences, each participant presents his /her (most of them are men) treasure, recounts the item’s history (how it comes to their possession) and estimates a monetary value of the item.
Then, the experts who sit on the tiered seating on the stage examine the item and give it their evaluation. The treasures the participants bring are worthless more often than not. And it is a kind of guilty pleasure to see how they fall flat on their face.
I am sure there are a plenty of fake and rubbish brought to be appraised in the BBC show too. Why don’t they show the moment when the expert says “Ohhhh, I am so sorry to tell you”? Wouldn’t it be more entertaining, don’t you agree?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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