Lessons in a Compact Life – A Collaboration with Muji Australia Photography: Jiawa Liu and Kurt Ji The problem with country-envy is that all the things you think are better ‘over there’ never quite line up with your pristine imaginings. Like many sheltered Asian kids in the brave 2000’s, I was completely Japan obsessed, or at least with the high school romances under cherry blossoms (Sakura) and scifi adventures in shining metropolises, so often portrayed in Japanese animation exports. So you can imagine my disillusionment when my gap year in Japan revealed that reality amounted to long days of boring classes at a countryside university, in which, while sakura did feature, no romance blossomed; my 20 square meter closet of an apartment was crammed inside the jumbled and flaking outer suburbs, where, space being a premium, roads were nothing more than alleys, and scarcely a single home had a wall to itself. It was in this context that I first came across the warm brown and beige shop front of a Muji store in an Osaka mall. Its clean and airy aesthetic cast a stark contrast against the cluttered environment into which I had already begun to assimilate. There was […]
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