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episode 3 “Finding an Atelier and Renovating Bricolage”

In the fall of 2020, Akari and her artist husband moved their base of activities to France. Every day, living in a different culture is a constant struggle and discovery. We are pleased to present "petit à petit," an essay about the daily life that akari has found in the midst of the severe restrictions imposed by the Corona pandemic.



akari has been active in international activities, such as producing party spaces of New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo and Italian Cultural Institute in Osaka, giving a lecture at the FIT (New York State Fashion Institute of Technology), and producing artworks of 5-star hotel “Renaissance Taipei Shihlin Hotel” of the Marriott Group Hotel in Taipei. Akari produces parties and events for corporate clients. Her focus is on creating interactive time and space for people. “PAPER PARTY” has been offered since 2012 as a party space constructed entirely through a cardboard medium, expressing new possibilities and transforming a space into an eco-friendly environment full of fun, excitement, and peer-to-peer interaction. Since 2015 lifestyle brand “by akari” has been started. From a corporate perspective, marketing strategies and company re-branding services are offered to clients in the commercial sphere, with a long track record of work in the cafe and restaurant sector. These seek to maximize company returns through the expression of ideas that reflect new trends, as well as valuing a woman’s perspective.


episode 3 "Finding an Atelier and Renovating Bricolage"

For a while after moving to France, we lived in a pretty apartment near Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement. The apartment was on the top floor without an elevator, the 6ème étage, which is actually the 7th floor since the 1st floor is counted as the 0th floor here. I had to climb the stairs to the seventh floor just to go buy bread in the morning, do grocery shopping, and even throw out the garbage. Wearing a mask and opening the door was my daily routine.

If I forgot something, I had to give up. If one of us went out, we would try to drop it from the seventh floor to the bottom by targeting the center of the narrow staircase, but we usually failed. My legs and feet got a workout every day, but I still loved the view of Magenta Street from this small apartment. We spent our first winter in this apartment, enjoying the view from the small window with a cup of coffee in every morning, with a glass of wine at a dusk, holding our dog in our arms, and it became a very important memory for us.

Stairs of an apartment building in the 10th arrondissement

View from the window


We were very happy to live in a cozy area. However, there was something we had to do. Yes, we had to find a studio.

My husband, who is an artist, had started looking for a suitable place to paint as soon as we arrived in France, but it was difficult to find the right place. It is not an overstatement to say that the real estate situation in Paris is a battlefield. The competition is usually 20 to 30 times higher. The landlord decides who to rent to. If you are a foreigner, you are usually rejected.

I asked acquaintances to look for good properties by word of mouth and looked at all kinds of properties on the Internet. It was a little far from the center of Paris, but it was impossible to find a place with a large space and high ceilings in the center of Paris.

The day after I found it on the Internet, I contacted the owner and went to visit it that day. Originally a factory, this place had a ceiling height of over 5 meters and north-facing windows. It was exactly what we had envisioned, and our hearts raced for the first time in a long time. Before our visit, four groups of people had already come to see the place, and we felt the hard way. In order to rent the property, we needed to submit all kinds of documents, including pay stubs for the past three months, electricity bills, and our past history. Being Japanese, without a residence permit, and unable to work, we thought it would be absolutely impossible to find this ideal property. But we really, really wanted to get it! With this in mind, we asked a friend of ours to act as an interpreter and negotiate with him, and as a result, although there were various conditions, we were able to rent the house in a very short time. This was a miracle, that's all I can say. Oh, thank you, God! That's what we shouted over and over again.

After four months since our arrival in France last November, we decided to move out of this small apartment full of memories.

What I experienced in Paris during the lockdown.

- Boiler failure on the third day of arrival, living without hot water in the middle of winter.

- Water leaked twice, flooded our small apartment.

- Toaster explosion.

- The motor that pulls the water up to the top floor broke down.

- Manifestations (demonstrations)

- Trash cans burned and police chasing rioters was a regular occurrence.

- Bank account activation and secret code problems....

- Urticaria, sudden bruises

- My husband suddenly vomited... I'll never drink vin chaud in the park again.

- My phone was stolen on the day I finally got my residence permit.

I experienced most of the things.


This is where our first chapter really begins.

The building converted from an old factory was an ideal space, but there were many elements that made it inadequate as a place to paint. 1 month of the renovation was done entirely by ourselves. The large DIY store was closed, and tools, lumber, paint, and other items that would normally be easy to get were not available. We couldn't reach them. Still, it was more important to create a motivating environment before creating the work.

The studio just after the handover. Dense entrance with overgrown plants.

We rented a car for 2 days only and made 2 round trips to buy lumber. The amount of lumber was so heavy as if the car would sink into the ground.

I wonder how many times we've been to Leroy Merlin to pick up our orders two hours after purchasing them online because the store is closed.

These photos were taken at Leroy Merlin when the store was still open. The paint is beautifully displayed and the color samples are exciting to look at.

Julia is tired.

This is a part of the wallpaper corner. With so many things to choose from, you'll want to do it all yourself, and you will.

We cut down about 300 bamboos, which had gotten into the wifi cables and were causing radio interference. We had muscle aches all over the body the next day.

We changed to wood flooring in order to avoid getting paint on the tile floor. It was a tremendous task.

These photos are a series of photos from the shelf building to when the completion was in sight. I stripped off all the rusty paint and built a 5m shelf out of MDF.

A single space was divided into three spaces. This keeps the dust from coming out from the work.

A sofa made from leftover materials

The dining table is made of 18mm poplar plywood. We spent a great deal of time choosing and ordering our favorite chairs for each other.

When I look back on what was the hardest part, it was procuring the lumber. It took an unbelievable amount of time to send them out, or I got a notice that what I ordered was out of stock, or I got something different. We had to think about the renovation process every time that happened.

After a month of being away from the beautiful center of Paris for a while and being totally devoted to the renovation, my husband was finally able to start his creative activities in the studio that was successfully completed, though his hands were constantly raw.

I can't wait to see the various miracles and new encounters that will happen here again.

In the morning of a still cold day when the renovation is finished, Julia sleeps on top of the skylight drying things out.

My  husband's first solo exhibition after moving to France is being held until July 7.

How the exhibition looks

The invitation of the solo exhibition


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