East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has landed in the bustling heart of Singapore, taking over a part of the Orchard MRT Xchange with its new Inspiration Store. Happening 17 December 2018 to 31 August 2019, this pop-up is a multi-sensory platform where guests are invited to take part and experience Japan in new and meaningful ways. Every few weeks, the store will transform to showcase different Japanese themes and displays with a focus on sustainability and community.

The best thing about the Inspiration Store? Commuters get to learn about Japanese culture from renowned local and Japanese artists, craftsmen, designers, and even chefs, via the various activities and workshops for free! But don’t be mistaken, the installations at the Inspiration Store isn’t just about promoting Japanese culture, and neither is it solely about selling Japanese food and merchandise. Their true aim is to instil a sense of wonder and inspiration into our daily lives. Like Alice falling into Wonderland, you’ll find yourself immersed in the engaging showcases and installations at this whimsical space.

Inspiration Store’s inaugural installation is “Forest of Love”, which will run till 5 January 2019. Centred around the universal theme of love – going beyond romantic love to include love between friends, family members, and so on – it’s a fitting theme for the festive season given the pop-up’s desire to be a new platform for the public to communicate and take inspiration from each other’s ideas.

True to its name, “Forest of Love” showcases a large wooden tree as the store’s centrepiece, adorned by various heart-shaped objects, from heart-shaped tables, chairs, and even heart-shaped paper on which you are invited to write your own message about love. It could be a message of what love means to you or even a shout-out to the special people in your life! The fluorescent markers provided invites you to be as creative as possible, after which you can hang your heart-shaped message onto the large tree.

There’s also a free workshop designed by Yuna Tanaka, an aspiring contemporary artist from Hiroshima City University, where attendees can learn to make special wooden ornaments using Japanese Kumiko techniques (a simple yet ingenious interlocking technique using wood) in under 10 steps. As with the love messages, you can hang the snowflake ornaments on the centrepiece as part of a collaborative effort to fill the space with – you guessed it – love.

The store also has plenty of photo opportunities; you can snap a photo with a friend at the heart-shaped photobooth – complete with LED Lights for that Japanese neoprint effect – or by the insta-worthy decorated tree. Share your experience at the Inspiration Store thereafter via social media with the hashtag #InspirationStore.

If you can’t make it down for their inaugural showcase, keep an eye out for what’s coming up next in the Inspiration Store by following them on Instagram or on Facebook. A glimpse of the next installation includes Daruma and Japanese umbrellas – we already can’t wait to see what creative ideas will inspire us next.

The Inspiration Store is located at Orchard MRT Xchange, B1-30, Singapore 238878. Open daily from 10.30am – 8.30pm. The second theme will start on 11 January 2019, and will be closed from 5 to 11 January for the next theme transition.