Architecture + Home Décor

The Danish-Japanese Connection: Author Jens H. Jensen

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By Susan Rogers Chikuba

Jens H. Jensen is a prolific contributor to glossy magazines in Japan and abroad, and a well-known author of books introducing Danish lifestyle concepts to a Japanese audience.

A Jutland native who has lived in Japan since 2002, Jensen oversaw the creation of the Danish eatery Madam Blå in Tokyo Station. He is also a cofounder of the Japan Kolonihave Organization, a nonprofit seeking to revitalize Japan’s countryside by introducing the concept of kolonihave, garden communities to which Danes retreat in warmer months. “I was looking for a kolonihave to escape to on weekends when we lived in Tokyo,” he explains, “but as there weren’t any, I decided to make one myself. A friend introduced me to the owner of some idle farmland in Odawara, overlooking Sagami Bay, and it all took off from there.”

On scheduled days from March to October, visitors can now spend mornings at Enokolo, as it’s called, tending a permaculture garden that yields leafy greens, radishes, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, strawberries, and more. They prepare and enjoy lunch together, and relax outdoors. “On occasion we do workshops for soapmaking or natural dyeing,” adds Jensen.

Jensen also keeps busy renovating his 40-year-old wooden house in Kamakura, southwest of Tokyo. When he does make it to the city, we asked, what are his favorite haunts? “Madam Blå, of course, for the Danish waffles and organic coffee. And Jensen Bakery near Yoyogi-Hachiman Station; it’s better than most bakeries even in Denmark!”

To learn more about Jens Jensen’s projects, visit jenshjensen.com. To see images of the Japan Kolonihave Organization in action, visit kolonihave.com.

Photographs by Ben Matsunaga