Almost Perfect Tokyo

Creative Artist Residence
founded by Luis Mendo & Yuka Okada
Tokyo, Japan

Founded in October 2018, Almost Perfect is a creative artist residency that finds its home in a converted 100 year old rice shop that was run by the same family for several generations. Walk in and you’ll see the huge machines that founders, Luis Mendo and Yuka Okada kept as a tribute to its rich history.
Now the ground floor is a gallery space for guest artists to show their work with a small corner for a permanent collection of curated artworks for sale. They also host meetups that help connect artists with a larger community here. Upstairs on the second level is the guest room and a small office space, and the top level is home to its founders, Luis, Yuka and their cat, Señor.

I dropped by one afternoon in April to chat with founders Luis and Yuka about their own creative journeys and what motivated them to bring Almost Perfect to life.


Luis Mendo

Luis Mendo previously worked as a graphic designer and creative director in Europe before coming to Japan where he honed his skills in illustration and drawing. His eclectic drawings can be found on websites, magazines and advertising campaigns worldwide. Most days he carries around a sketchbook and a pen to draw on the train or when in a cafe.
When I ask where he gets his inspiration from, he immediately starts telling me about the history of the neighbourhood. The city which they are located in is called Taito-ku, and it is traditionally home to craftsmen and makers of all forms - from leather and buttons to tin cans and sketchbooks. In fact, Luis was first in the neighbourhood to get a custom made sketchbook when he and Yuka stumbled upon the building that now houses Almost Perfect.

Luis’ love for his neighbourhood is endearing. As we look out the window next to his work desk, he tells me about how friendly everyone is and offers anecdotes about the neighbourhood: local craftsmen, the best spots for coffee and chocolates, and the neighbours with cats.


Yuka Okada

At our time of meeting, Yuka was in the midst of moving on from her stint in ethical fashion. She had begun her own fashion brand, INHEELS, 7 years ago as a response to fast fashion. Seeing the leaps and bounds that the industry has achieved over the years, she has now moved on to managing the creative residency full time. For the most part, meeting and hosting new artists is what keeps her inspired.

On the side, she’s picked up drawing and creating mobiles, some of which hang in the gallery on the ground floor of Almost Perfect. Yuka makes these by hand, using found objects such as leaves, twigs and leather off cuts sold in the nearby workshops.

I love this little tidbit that Yuka offered about Luis: “Luis has an incredible skill of being able to sketch and still be present, in the moment. We’ll be out with friends and by the end of the night he’ll have drawn all of us at dinner.”

Although the origins of its name may have been a matter of convenience, what Luis and Yuka have done with this old rice shop and their love for the arts seem to have created something beautiful. Almost Perfect represents a generosity of opportunities, a commitment to history and a sense of community. And that to me is truly what makes it almost perfect.

Luis Mendo
Almost Perfect
Yuka Okada

Visited April 2019, published June 2019.