Gumi-chan’s tiny but happy life comes to Paul Smith

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

Gumi-chan is a little girl who lives in the small Japanese town of Kusunoki with her mother and father, her brothers Toshio and Makoto, and her dog Ossan. It’s always 1961 in Kusunoki, a time when Japan was filled with optimism as the economy surged but the old communal ways still remained. A little utopia, in fact. Now you can savour its perfect miniature world at Paul Smith in Albemarle St.

Gumi-chan is the creation of doll-maker Kazumi Akao, who came up with the characters, and her collaborator, designer Nobuhiko Yoshimitsu, who contributes the production, character design, scene building and georama.

Akao was born in Obama in Fukui in 1961 and uses her own happy childhood as inspiration for the scenes in Gumi-chan. She shows us a vanished world where everyone is smiling, neighbours help each other out and everyone thinks the future is bright. Its row of little shops is incredibly detailed, right down to the vegetables on sale in the grocer’s.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

This is Gumi-chan with her dog Ossan.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

Gumi-chan’s father runs a bike shop. Here he is with a distinguished customer Paul Smith himself, looking suitably young given it’s still 1961, standing outside Paul Smith’s own shop.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

The lady who’s amazing the crowds by lifting up a lorry is Gumi-chan’s mother, and the baby on her back is little brother Makoto.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

In the background is the local cinema, showing Sakamori-kun Banzai! which promises plenty of singing and dancing and World War III which claims that ‘real war came to an end in the twentieth century. In the twenty first century we’ll make war with toys.’

Here’s Gumi-chan’s grandparents. Her grandfather has gone over to a western-style suit and homberg hat but her grandmother still wears a kimono.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

The little street food stall outside the butcher’s sells tonkatsu (pork coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried) koroke (croquette potatoes) and menchi katsu which is a sort of fried meat cake. it looks very tasty, as the satisfied customer attests.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

At the eatery you can get all your favourite lunches – ten-don which is rice with tempura on top, my favourite oyako-don, which is chicken and omelette on rice (oyako rather cruelly means parent and child) curry-rice, fried soba, ramen and more. There’s a poster advertising the Kusunoki autumn festival on the wall.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

This is the eatery’s okami-san, standing outside her shop with her traditional broom.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

The only person in the town who doesn’t seem to be happy is the grocer.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

Surprising, given the number of customers he’s got.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

Although they advertise cigarettes at Kadoya, they seem to be selling mainly stuff for kids.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

There are lovely little details everywhere you look – like this tabby cat that’s fallen asleep on someone’s shoe.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

These close-up pictures give you a false idea of the size of the models – they really are very tiny and the whole street of shops takes up only a few yards in the Paul Smith shop.

Gumi-chan at Paul Smith

Gumi-chan is on display until 27th February. The Paul Smith shop is at 9 Albemarle St and is open 10 am to 6 pm Sunday to Wednesday, 10 am to 7 pm Thursday to Saturday.

9 thoughts on “Gumi-chan’s tiny but happy life comes to Paul Smith

  1. Thank you for coming and introducing the exhibition “Gumi chan”!

    “グミちゃん”を見に来てくださってありがとうございました。とても詳しく書いてくださったことも嬉しいです(*^^*)

    Like

    • 素敵なグミちゃんの展示会をありがとうございました!お客さんがどんどん見に来るように祈っています。
      Thanks for a great exhibition! I hope a lot of people come to see it.

      Like

  2. Wow, this is great! But I don’t know Gumichan. Should I?

    The meat shop is exactly how I found our after-school meat croquette shop to be in Hiroo, now gone, but a similar one exists one stop away from me in Kasuga in Bunkyo-ku.

    Like

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