Yasutaka Ochi is the owner of DILIGENCE PARLOUR, a flower shop on the B1 floor of Omotesando Hills. As a male florist, Ochi has been recently catching the public’s eye. Ochi brings a youthful new hope through his multifaceted work in the world of flowers, with a series of featured magazine articles along with his decorative work for luxury brands and galleries. He is also a diligent writer, spinning unique phrases that add to his appeal through his work in fashion magazines and on social media.
When we talk about DILIGENCE PARLOUR, the first thing that comes to mind is their iconic flower bouquets, which are a work of art when held by anyone who carries them, young and old, male and female alike. The shop has made a flower-filled lifestyle more familiar, with flowers wrapped in cellophane that even men aren’t be shy of carrying along.
We’d like to bring you an interview with Yasutaka Ochi, who is responsible for the operations of DILIGENCE PARLOUR.
---- Tell us about how you became a florist.
Yasutaka Ochi (hereafter “Ochi”):After I graduated from the Bunka Fashion College, I had decided to go to school to acquire a certification as a beautician. There was about half a year of time before school started, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to gain experience in an area I’d never been involved with, so I took a part-time job at the flower shop of a department store. I had absolutely no knowledge back then about flowers. At that shop, I learned the basics about how to handle flowers and combine them, and started working as a freelance florist on the side. This happened through my connection with a fellow classmate of mine from vocational school, and also through the people I was working with at my job, who introduced me to a lot of flower-related work. Work started to get busier, and I eventually decided not to go to beauty school, instead choosing my career path as a florist.
---- You said you did freelance work. Tell us about what led you to open DILIGENCE PARLOUR.
Ochi :One day back then, I was passing a boutique in Omotesando called THEATRE PRODUCTS. I noticed an empty flower vase in the display window, and it seemed like a waste that no flowers were decorated there, so I gave them a call. That led to my encounter with Akira Takeuchi, director and president of THEATRE PRODUCTS, a shop that now collaborates with DILIGENCE PARLOUR. Takeuchi told me that he had always wanted to run a flower shop, and that it was lucky that I had approached him at that time. At first, he only had me do the flowers in the shop and the decorations for collections. However, in 2011, he opened a THEATRE PRODUCTS event shop in the Shinjuku branch of Isetan, where they sold my flowers. That marked the beginning of DILIGENCE PARLOUR. So, while we were running a small flower shop for THEATRE PRODUCTS inside of their Omotesando store, I made some connections and was eventually able to participate in a flower shop competition with another flower shop in Omotesando Hills. That led to the opening of DILIGENCE PARLOUR there. “DILIGENCE PARLOUR” was the name of an ice-cream cart that THEATRE PRODUCTS had run in front of Laforet in Harajuku for a limited time in 2010. We went ahead and used that name.
---- Tell us about the concept behind DILIGENCE PARLOUR.
Ochi :DILIGENCE PARLOURは "植物の可能性を通して日常に価値ある商品を提供する"ということをコンセプトに始動しました。2016年、表参道ヒルズへ出店するにあたっては、さらに"流通"というものにもスポットを当てています。気楽に立ち寄れる店構えで、買いやすい価格の花をそろえ、軽くて持ち運びのしやすいパッケージで提供する。この一連の花屋の要素を"流通"になぞらえたのが特徴です。これは花が生産者からさまざまな段階を経て消費者の元へと届けられる、花そのものの流れていくさまが印象的で着想イメージに繋がりました。軽くて、早くて、アクセスしやすいもの。特別な日ではなくても、誰もが日常に、カジュアルに花を取り入れられるように提案をしています。
---- DILIGENCE PARLOURのアイコンとも呼べる透明のパッケージも、"流通"を意識して生まれたものなのでしょうか。
Ochi :まず武内が、花は後ろ姿も美しいから、紙で覆う必要はないんじゃないか、と言いました。さらに、生産者から市場へ、そしてDILIGENCE PARLOURを通過点に、消費者、またはその先にある贈り先まで運ばれていくという一連の流れ（＝流通）をイメージし、花そのものが運ばれていくさまを投影するような透明のパッケージになっています。例えば、PLAY COMME des GARCONSのハートマーク。多くの人があのアイコンを身につけて街を行き交い、洋服のデザインそのものよりも、街中をハートマークが流れていく光景を目撃し、憧れました。これと同じ現象で、あの透明のパッケージで人々が"花"を運んでいく姿や、パッケージを持った人同士がすれ違うシーンというのを印象的に演出したかったんです。
---- It seems you were on the mark! These days, the sight of people holding the cellophane packages from DILIGENCE PARLOUR is a distinctive sight at Omotesando. Are you procuring the flowers you sell yourself, and do you have any specific themes in mind when you do this?
Ochi :仕入れは自身で行なっています。常に鮮度の高い花を提供することを心がけていて、店頭には冷蔵庫を置かず、新鮮な花を買い付けから2、3日程度で売り切ります。1本で購入される方も多いので、バラやユリなどが多く、コップに入れて１本で映える花を選んでいます。他の花屋で見かけるグリーンはあまり多くは扱っていません。花束にパーティー感を求める方が多いのですが、僕自身は1種類の花で作るほうがより洗練された印象になって好きです。たくさんの種類をボリューミーに組み合わせるよりも、例えば芍薬の蕾20本を束ねたほうがずっと豪華でエレガントに見えます。"花"そのものにスポットを当てたいので、これはDILIGENCE PARLOURのスタイルとして、もっとお客様の中でも定着していくといいなと思います。
---- You seem very busy with your writing work as well. The expressions you use in the words you spin leave quite an impression.
Ochi :I’m interested in feelings, or rather ambiguous things that have no distinct form like fragrances and tastes. I started putting these things into the written word because I wanted to connect the boundaries of these ambiguous things, sort of like tracing a blurry outline. It was around that time I felt that the flowers were too specific for this. For instance, when you say “rock,” the kind of rock you are talking about will vary completely depending on the reader’s imagination. That’s what’s interesting about words. I just find it fun to fit all the vague things you sense into one frame, like relying on your own experiences. Sometimes I feel that the variations in feeling that come about when you are writing can also be expressed with flowers. In that sense, I think it all comes back to my work with flowers.
---- You’re currently working both as a florist and as a writer. Is there anything else you want to do?
Ochi :Aside from flowers, writing and running a business, there isn’t anything else I want to do. Sometimes I start feeling depressed when I intensively focus on one thing, so I find it interesting to shift my focus from running the business to the written word. Then, when I’m writing, there are things I can’t express, so I try transforming the idea into flowers. This flow of work has stuck with me, and I feel it’s sufficient.
---- Tell us about your future dreams.
Ochi :Recently, one of the fellows that works for me got married, which made me realize that I need to put more effort into the company, meaning running the business (laughs). Getting married is a positive step, and I feel uplifted at the fact that having employed this person brought about this action. At the same time, I feel some uneasiness, as this is still a young company, and we need to think about how our employees are working. As long as the shop keeps running, my stance is that my employees can take as many days off as they like; but as of now, such a thing is still difficult from a practical perspective. This is an issue that’s common to all of our staff. Aside from what will happen to me, I’m more interested in the future of our community and organization, the commercial facilities we are involved with and the city as a whole. What interests me more than my own matters is upgrading ourselves together as a team.
---- Lastly, how do you feel about Omotesando as an urban area?
Ochi :Omotesando is an area that brings consumption into one place. Even within the cycle that occurs within a single year, what people are wearing on the streets changes. It’s fascinating to see how fast things change. Omotesando is a place that reflects the speed of change in society, so I feel that it’s a place of possibilities. In general, when people think of Omotesando, they think of fashion and culture, something separate from their daily lives; but for me, this area contains an aspect that’s different from these. When I’m out purchasing flowers at 7:00 in the morning and come back to Omotesando, the sun’s shining brightly and the streets are sparkling. You can feel a pleasant wind, and there’s something tremendous in the air. I always think of how there’s probably nowhere else you can find such a refreshing place in the center of the city. Setting aside the fact that such a variety of culture and shops are concentrated in this place, the environment here at Omotesando is very special to me.
DILIGENCE PARLOUR: Owner’s Profile
Owner of the flower shop DILIGENCE PARLOUR and representative of Europe, Inc. While active as a florist, Ochi is also engaged in writing for a variety of media.
Address: 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo OMOTESANDO HILLS B1F
Business hours: 11: 00-21: 00
>> Main Building B1F DILIGENCE PARLOUR SHOP For more information click here
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OMOTESANDO HILLS FINAL SALE 2021 SUMMER
A final sale will be held in the hall from Monday, July 19th. The final price down of this season's trendy items such as women's, men's and kids' fashion items and lifestyle miscellaneous goods!
Notice of business status of OMOTESANDO HILLS
OMOTESANDO HILLS we are shortening Business hours to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection. We apologize for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your understanding.