A circle of friends connected by goof-touch! The “FIST BUMP” corner of the radio program “GRAND MARQUEE” features people who live and enjoy Tokyo in a relay format.
On June 12, Ken Yokomachi, the representative of anea design Inc. and the owner of the exotic plant store “BOTANIZE He also operates the exotic plant shop Botanize. We interviewed Mr. Yokomachi, a plant lover who even produces plant figures, about the appeal of exotic plants and his goals for the gallery that will open in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2023.
A Love of Tuberous Plants Turns into Figurines
Celeina (MC): In 2008, she established Anea Design Inc., an interior design company, and operates 6 cafes in Tokyo, Sangubashi, Nakano-Shinbashi, Shirokane, Hatchobori, and Monzennaka-cho, including “ANEA CAFE Matsumizaka,” which became a popular location for the TV drama “silent. The company also operates a cafe in Nakano-Shinbashi in Sangubashi. In 2016, he opened the exotic plant store “Botanize” in Daikanyama, focusing on tuberous plants, and in June 2022, he will open an Omotesando store. Currently, you are focusing on supporting young artists in Japan, introducing them at galleries and collaborating with them.
Takano (MC): It seems like you are involved in a wide variety of fields.
Yokomachi: That’s right. I am a jack of all trades (laughs).
Takano: My title is not “anything shop,” but …….
Yokomachi: My title is like …… “A man who loves plants and is loved by plants” (laughs).
Takano: Like Mr. Sunshine Ikezaki (laughs). Thank you very much…ANEA CAFÉ was also used as a location for “silent,” and you must have received a lot of feedback.
Yokomachi: Thanks to that, we still have a lot of people lined up every day.
Celeina: I was also curious about the “exotic plants” in your profile.
Yokomachi: They are a type of succulent plants in the “tuberous plant” genre, and we mainly deal with them at Botanize. Tuberous plants are a type of succulent plants that grow wild in Madagascar, North and South America, and Africa, and are characterized by their puckered stems and roots that contain a lot of water.
Celeina: Why and when did you fall in love with exotic plants?
Yokomachi: I was a boy who filled his room with cacti from about the third grade of elementary school.
Takano: What attracted you to cacti?
Yokomachi: The form. I had a very strong habit of collecting cacti, so I would just put together a bunch of cacti that were about the same size and looked the same. I guess I enjoy admiring them.
Celeina: Ever since I was in elementary school, when my parents would ask me, “What do you want for your birthday? I would say, “A cactus. (Laughs)
Yokomachi: That’s right (laughs).
Takano: That’s amazing. I’ve seen tuberous plants on the Internet, too, and their design is very mysterious.
Yokomachi: It’s cute, isn’t it?
Takano: Not only cute, but also cool, strange, and strange. I really like the blend of those things.
Yokomachi: That kind of thing seems to appeal to people with a high level of sensitivity.
Takano: Just by placing one in a room, it becomes an accent in the room.
Celeina: The more you talk about tuberous plants, the more Yokomachi-san smiles (laughs).
Yokomachi: Welcome to this place (laughs).
Takano: I feel like I’m stepping on one foot (laughs). Yokomachi-san, I heard a rumor that you have made a figurine out of your love for them.
Yokomachi: I brought one for each of you today as a gift.
Celeina: Thank you very much!
Takano: It’s pretty big, this one.
Celeina: I’m going to open it. It’s cute from the box.
Yokomachi: Thank you very much. I’m particular about the box, too.
Takano: First of all, the cube box is very nice. It looks like the blocks from Mario.
Celeina: (Opening the box) It’s super cute! I now understand what you were talking about earlier.
Yokomachi: Takano’s is gray, and Celeina’s is the normal color. This is the realistic coloring of plants. The gray one is a gradation of colors. Look at it from above.
Takano: Is this a cactus?
Yokomachi: It is close to a cactus, but it is not a cactus. It is a relative of a cactus.
Takano: Is this actual size?
Yokomachi: It is actual size.
Takano: Tuberous plants themselves are ornamental. Making a figurine of a tuberous plant means taking something that is for appreciation and turning it into a figurine, which is also for appreciation, which is interesting in a meta sense.
Yokomachi: This series started as a collaborative project between MEDICOM TOY and BOTANAIDS, but at first, the person in charge at MEDICOM said, “What is this guy talking about? What is he talking about?” The person in charge of MEDICOM was like, “What are you talking about, making a figurine of a plant? But I persuaded him by telling him my passionate ideas. With plants, you have to water them every day and leave them outside. But with a figurine, you can always admire it in your bedroom or in the bathroom. You can even sleep with them.
Celeina: I could feel how Yokomachi-san said that he wants people to love them. I like stuffed animals, and it’s like sleeping with a stuffed animal in your arms.
Yokomachi: It’s very close.
Takano: I think plants are very sensitive, so you can’t touch them very much.
Yokomachi: With this one, you can touch it and sleep with it on your cheek.
Celeina: I see (laughs). Yokomachi-san, I asked you to choose a song that you would like to listen to together on the radio at this time.
Yokomachi: That’s The Way A Woman Is” by The Messengers.
Celeina: May I ask why?
Yokomachi: I simply like the rhythm. I’m a feeling guy, so I like the atmosphere. It makes me feel energetic.
Bringing the Japanese art scene to Bangkok, Thailand
Celeina: Since you have loved cacti since you were a child, was it difficult for you to translate your love of cacti into your work?
Yokomachi: For me, it was not difficult at all. I am getting more and more knowledge. Explaining what you really like and want to convey is the most persuasive way.
Takano: That’s true. That’s why you became an expert, isn’t it?
Yokomachi: That’s right. Soon, you also published a book on tuberous plants.
Celeina: Does the book include information on how to grow them?
Yokomachi: Of course.
Celeina: You mentioned earlier, while the song was playing, that if you disassemble the figure, the pot can also be used to grow plants.
Takano: It’s very realistic. There is a lot of attention to detail in this figure.
Celeina: As an introduction to tuberous plants, you can get this figure first, and if you feel you want to love it like a pet, you can move up to actual tuberous plants, right?
Yokomachi: You fell right into my strategy (laughs).
Celeina: I was caught in the act (laughs).
Takano: Once again, what is the appeal of tuberous plants?
Yokomachi: It takes about 20 to 30 years to grow to the size of a fist. Many species grow very slowly, growing only 1 to 2 mm per year. So, to a certain extent, there is also the pleasure of enjoying the finished form of the tree. It is a plant that is fun to grow, and it is attractive for both of these reasons.
Takano: Do you also like to grow them?
Yokomachi: I love it.
Celeina: By the way, Yokomachi-san, I heard that you opened a gallery in Bangkok, Thailand.
Yokomachi: That’s right. We are opening a gallery in Bangkok, Thailand on July 20 this year as a joint investment.
Celeina: What kind of gallery will it be?
Yokomachi: We would like to bring the Japanese art scene to Thailand, including works by young artists and top artists, and show them that “this is Japanese art.
Celeina: So you have turned your love of art into your job.
Yokomachi: I will bring only my favorite artists and my favorite works to Thailand.
Takano: You are full of vitality.
Celeina: Now, “FIST BUMP” is a circle of friends connected by gut touch, so we are asking you to introduce us to your friends.
Yokomachi: The representative of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dojo that I have been going to for more than 10 years, Mr. Yuki Ishikawa.
Celeina: What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? You have been going there for more than 10 years, right?
Yokomachi: It is a martial art that focuses on Newaza. I have been practicing for 12 years now.
Celeina: That’s cool. By the way, how would you describe yourself in one word, Mr. Ishikawa?
Yokomachi: Comrade. He is in an absolute position within the dojo, but we are about the same age, and we both started our businesses around the same time, so even though we are in different industries, we understand each other and the difficulties we have gone through. In my opinion, we are good friends and comrades.
Takano: Thank you very much. Tomorrow, we will welcome Mr. Yuki Ishikawa from the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dojo Carpe Diem, who is a comrade of Mr. Yokomachi.
Celeina: FIST BUMP: Today we have Ken Yokomachi, president of Anea Design Inc. and of the exotic plant store Botanaise. Thank you very much.
Yokomachi: Thank you very much.
J-WAVE (81.3FM) Mon-Thu 16:00 – 18:50
Navigator: Shinya Takano, Celeina Ann