Category Archives: Culture

Innovative Japanese Stores Help to Revitalize Hollywood

As the year winds down, it is nice to be able to share some very positive news. Hollywood will soon be the home of two very innovative Japanese concepts, Japan House and Miniso, that are both scheduled to open within the next couple of weeks.

Japan House is a unique project of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a world outreach effort to promote Japan’s best art, cuisine, design, entertainment, fashion and technology. Three world class cities where there is a strong Japanese influence – Sao Paulo, Brazil; London, and Los Angeles – have been selected as the sites for the program. Because of its heavy pedestrian and visitor traffic, Hollywood was chosen as the site in L.A.

Yuko Kaifu, president of Japan House L.A., explained that the aim is to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan, by creating a hub from which to showcase and communicate Japan as a country of countless charms, able to enrich the rest of the world.

Japan House will occupy a total of 14,000-sq.ft. at the Hollywood & Highland center on the second and fifth floors. Its various elements include a retail shop and small café on the second floor that will carry an expertly-curated selection of unique Japanese products, scheduled for a soft opening on December 20th. Also on that floor will be a gallery space, which will feature as its first exhibit “Anrealage: A light un light”, showcasing works of innovative fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga, who uses photosensitive fabrics in his collections. That exhibit is set to run from January 19 through March 21, 2018.

The fifth floor will open in summer 2018 and will house a library, a salon and restaurant, where visitors can browse books on Japanese culture, attend lectures and demonstrations, and dine on fine Japanese cuisine. According to Michael McDowell, Executive Vice President of Japan House L.A., the 40-seat high-end restaurant will rotate in top chefs from Japan.

Miniso

Set to open a flagship store in Hollywood in January is Miniso, a rapidly-expanding Japanese seller of lifestyle products. Miniso is occupying 4,757-sq.ft. of space on Hollywood Blvd. that was previously occupied by American Apparel. The firm specializes in providing simple high-quality products at competitive prices. The majority of their items range from $1.99 up to $30.

The company has opened 1,000 stores around the world in the past three years, and its revenues doubled from $750-million in 2015 to $1.5-billion in 2016. Five stores are set to open in California. Besides Hollywood, there will stores in Santa Ana, Lakewood, and Moreno Valley. A store in Pasadena has already opened.

The location of these two unique concepts in Hollywood is encouraging. Especially with other retailers retrenching, there is a need for to rethink retail. The type of retail that can still succeed is experiential, one-of-a kind concepts. Japan House and Miniso both fit that model. We will be watching to see how both stores (and the fine dining restaurant) perform. Their success would pave the way for other similar concepts to come to Hollywood.

What is particularly encouraging to us is that they both recognized the potential of locating in Hollywood. We have been expecting to see an upswing in retailers. With the rapid revitalization that is occurring in Hollywood, we have seen new residential, office and hotels, but have yet to see a significant turn-around with retail. Hopefully, these stores will lead the way.

I’m planning to visit the new stores as soon as they open. I hope you will also!

___________________________

Leron Gubler has been serving as the President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the past 25 years. His tenure since 1992 continues to oversee the great comeback story of Hollywood.

 

A New House Is Coming to Hollywood

Recently I attended a gala press announcement hosted by the Japanese Consulate and Consul General Harry H. Horinouchi. I was particularly interested to learn about a cutting-edge initiative that is going to be very beneficial to Hollywood, and which is bound to become a new attraction for both locals and tourists.

Known as Japan House, the program is a new public diplomacy initiative from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to showcase the best of Japanese arts, culture, innovative technology, food, and more. The Ministry has selected three locations around the world to showcase the initiative – London, Sao Paulo and Los Angeles. Of particular interest to us is that Hollywood & Highland has been selected as the Los Angeles location.

The Los Angeles Japan House will bring the most authentic aspects of Japan to the world and will promote understanding and appreciation of Japan in the hopes of strengthening U.S.-Japanese relations. The concept is still being refined, but you can expect Japan House to open within 2017. You should also know that our own Beth Marlis, Chamber Chair of the Board, is on the advisory board to the Japanese consulate, working to make this a reality.

There are a few things that we already know about Japan House. It will consist of two separate locations at Hollywood & Highland. On the second floor, the facility will take up over 6,000-sq.ft., with a shop, café, multi-media room (and special presentations about Japanese culture), and a seminar room. On the fifth floor, there will be a Japanese restaurant featuring top Japanese chefs and an event space (in over 8,000-sq.ft.) which can accommodate 200 people.

This is exactly the type of attraction that Hollywood needs and can host better than any place else in Southern California. We already know that Hollywood is a magnet for people from the entire region. Enterprises such as the El Capitan Theatre, the Pantages Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl and Amoeba Records have proven that this is the place for entertainment. We are the top tourist destination in Los Angeles County as well – and with the pending opening of Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – we expect that our desirability will continue to grow.

I believe that unique attractions such as Japan House have their greatest chance at success here. And they help our “brand” as well. For Hollywood to succeed, we must be able to continue to add new attractions that will draw people. We cannot sit back while other areas of Southern California open popular new venues.

Tourism, along with Entertainment and Health Care, are our three major employment sectors in this community. Thousands of jobs rest on our ability to continue to improve the Hollywood brand. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one way that we constantly reinforce the brand, but we cannot rely just on the tried-and-true attractions.

We welcome Japan House to Hollywood and look forward to having their involvement in this community. As we learn more details about their plans, I am sure that the level of excitement will grow even more!

_____________________________
Leron Gubler has been serving as the President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the past 24 years. His tenure since 1992 continues to oversee the great comeback story of Hollywood