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Blooms Day


Search down an inconspicuous alley in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, and you'll find Munsell, a flower shop that sometimes isn't a flower shop. Conceptualized and owned by Shu Umezawa, Munsell asks, “What is the bigger picture of gifting someone flowers?” That is to say: what do the flowers say about you?

The shop's name, Munsell, is inspired by American painter and art teacher Albert Munsell’s color system specifying hue, intensity and lightness. Beyond the primary tints, the colors can be bright or dull and inspire a range of emotions for many of us. Valuing these subtle differences, Umezawa opened Munsell to deliver flowers that suit the individual. The result is unique, gorgeously arranged bouquets based on the receiver's traits and charms.

Customers aren’t asked what colors of flowers they would like in their bouquets. Instead, Umezawa is more interested in the feelings and expressions they wish to include. Customers partake in a short interview to discover what kind of person to whom they are gifting the flowers and their feelings toward them.

“Flowers are always different,” says Umezawa. Treat them well, and their beauty will last a long time, but if you take your eyes off them for a moment, they will quickly wither away. These small changes, a constant of Japanese philosophy and poetry, give us a sense of life—growing, transforming and ever-fleeting, but above all, overwhelmingly beautiful.

While it's easy to see flowers as more than flowers—but art—Umezawa wasn't always enamored by them. Before Munsell, he often had to draw blossoms as an art student, and admittedly, he didn’t consider himself very skilled. Umezawa always loved people, though, and realized flowers could make you feel closer to someone. He gradually raised his artistic skill and combined his passions.

Umezawa studied ikebana (flower arrangement) in his second year of university and worked as an assistant to the head of a flower arrangement school after graduation. He then continued to study under floral artists, honing his skills freelancing as a bridal venue decorator before finally setting up Munsell in Meguro.

However, understanding how much flowers can mean to the people we love, Umezawa thought flowers alone might not be enough. So now, Munsell often leads workshops. At these, he displays and sells flower-related fashion and accessories for people who want to express their love of flowers from a different point of view. Workshops, seasonal exhibitions, flower-related products and art are available once or twice a month. Umezawa hopes to include teas and original herbal blends in the near future.

Munsell is a flower shop that goes beyond flowers for the sake of an event or occasion. If our personalities don’t match the arrangement, it might seem shallow, meaningless or even boring. Shu Umezawa takes this into careful consideration. He makes arrangements as an expression of love for the people in our lives. Yes, Umezawa is a florist—but sometimes he’s not really selling flowers.

Address: 2-13-28 Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-6712-2345


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