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The Big Day

Posted by Dave Bull at   9:36 AM, August 8, 2014 [Permalink]

While you were reading yesterday's post, I'm sure it didn't take too much effort to figure out the basic idea of what was going on - yes, today was the day we formally closed all the paperwork on the lease arrangements. The envelopes full of money that I showed yesterday have been exchanged for ... a pair of keys.

Mokuhankan - actually 'David Bull' personally - now has a lease on the second floor of the building at Asakusa 1-41-8, Taito-ku, Tokyo. The term - three years, extendable at our option - begins September 1st. For the first year, there will be tenants present up on the third floor, but we have an option to take that space too once it becomes available.

While talking about this project over the past couple of months, I have been using the word 'shop' for convenience, but my plan for the new place involves far more than just a place to buy woodblock prints. Only 1/3 of the space in the new building will be the store, with another third being a workroom for a couple of our printers (where visitors will of course be welcome to watch them work). It is the remainder of the space that will be the most important part of the project - the Print Party room.

Backers of the previous Ukiyoe Heroes Kickstarter project may remember that one of the reward levels was: "PRINT PARTY! – Visit David Bull's studio and get a lesson in printmaking!" It was an instant hit, reaching the 'sold out' level in a matter of minutes, and the parties themselves, held at our Ome workroom over the following months, were very successful.

That experience only served to emphasize to me that an important part of our 'mission' to spread the word about the beauties of Japanese traditional woodblock prints should involve actual 'hands on' activities. The people who made their own prints during those Print Parties will never forget the experience, and will treasure the prints they made forever. So the new Mokuhankan 'shop' is actually going to be more of an 'event space' than a simple store. Come to Mokuhankan, join a Print Party, and make your own woodblock print!

The website for the Parties is still being put together, but please visit this (provisional) page which has a lot more information about what we are planning, along with access information.

And now, here's a quote from a document I began preparing last week:

The latest version of our budget for this project estimates $35,000 being paid out for lease and construction costs over the August/September period in the runup to the planned opening day in early October. Our cash reserve currently stands just slightly shy of that amount, and we'll of course have our normal income and expenses continuing through this period on top of all the new costs. It's too close. For the long-term, we are looking very good, as we have negotiated a very reasonable lease on the building, so our ongoing monthly expenses are going to be quite manageable (we're not getting in over our heads here, we believe). It's the start-up period that is going to be very, very tight.

Money a bit tight? Check. Need something to put us 'over the top'? Check. All in a worthwhile cause? Check.

What's a guy going to do, call his mother? Well, at my age, I don't think that's such an acceptable solution, but luckily, these days we have alternatives!

Yes indeed - Kickstarter, here we come!

There is a big sticking point with Kickstarter though - I am not eligible to run a campaign there. They have a very strict rule that you must be a resident of one of their 'active' countries, and that list does not include Japan. (The previous Ukiyoe Heroes Kickstarter project was actually Jed's project, from Kickstarter's point of view, and all the revenue went to him, from which he paid us bit by bit as we produced the actual prints.)

I am a Canadian citizen still, but when I checked with the Kickstarter people to see if this would qualify me, they apologized, but made it clear that because I do not live in Canada, I am not permitted to open a project. Period.

So that is what yesterday's picture was all about:

This is my son-in-law Ioan, who is a Canadian resident. Even before we thought about Kickstarter, he and I had made arrangements that he will come over here this fall to help me with the construction. So one thing has led to another, and the other day he and I created a company in Canada - Mokuhankan Woodblock Prints Ltd. Ioan is the owner - and President - and it is his company that will be the 'Project Creator' of the Kickstarter campaign, fitting in nicely with their residency rules.

I'm going to spend the next few days getting the campaign details worked out and making the introductory video (mostly down in Asakusa ... which might be a problem with weather, as we have another major typhoon coming this way this weekend ...).

You may well ask, "With Jed not being involved in this campaign, what will you be offering as rewards?"

You'll discover the answer to that when the campaign itself opens up (hopefully) on the 15th of this month, but for now all I can say is ... we will be asking for ... 'A Wave of Support' ...




Added by: lmar on August 8, 2014 10:47 PM

I hope this also means your payment processing dilemma is solved as well. That would be fantastic!

When converting currency from CAD to JPY, be sure to shop around. XE is good, but some Canadian banks also offer reasonable rates for large volume transactions. This will save you an additional 1-2% over retail conversion rates.

Added by: Albert Andersen on August 8, 2014 11:50 PM

Opening in October? Then you'll definitely have to sign me and my brother up for a print party when we're in-country for Autumn leaves at the end of November. Exciting!

Added by: Slawik on August 9, 2014 3:50 AM

"A Wave of Support"

Something to do with Hokusai?
Anyway, I DO want to join a Print Party someday!

Added by: Margaret Maloney on August 12, 2014 8:48 AM

So many good updates! I look forward to seeing the Kickstarter when it goes up.

Added by: Mike B. on August 14, 2014 8:34 AM

Congratulations on setting up your first offshore shell corporation. You are now truly a modern businessman :-)

Added by: Dave on August 14, 2014 8:42 AM

shell corporation ...

Isn't it hilarious! But it's actually not so funny, that - compared to setting up the company itself, which was just a few minutes work online, we're having quite a bit of trouble getting a bank account set up.

There are so many rules and regulations in place to combat money laundering, etc., that we're having a very difficult time getting an account. I guess this is the same sort of situation as the security checks before getting on airplanes - it's all theatre that just gets in the way of normal people doing normal things, while the real 'bad guys' just do end runs around it all.

Sigh ...


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