No fanny packs allowed: an aesthete's guide to Tokyo

It may be minimalist but our guide to the Japanese capital's best style is perfectly formed with the city's celebrated Designers Week in mind

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 1:51am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 2:21am

The 27th Tokyo Designers Week opens on October 30 with this year’s venue created by architect Sou Fujimoto. Here’s our guide to where to get your style fix in Tokyo all year round.


Nuno is a must on any designer’s itinerary. There’s a treasure trove of fantastically modern scarves (the origami-style folding versions are beautiful) and textiles are available by the metre. (Axis Building, 5-17-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku tel: 03 3582 7997; Living Motif, in the same building, has a wonderful range of design goods, from Wasara disposable plates to Sori Yanagi sleek cutlery. (03 3587 2784;

Architect Kengo Kuma’s low-slung minimalist Nezu Museum – a garden sanctuary in the middle of the city – is worth a visit for its excellent exhibitions, elegant “glass-box” cafe serving matcha tea, and museum shop with its tightly curated selection of books, cards and contemporary Japanese fans (6-5-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, tel: 03 3400 2536;

Plain People, in the famous shopping road of Omotesando, is the place to go for casual but elegant clothing for women, plus art and accessories (5-3-5 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, tel: 03 6419 0978; A few steps away is the Prada store designed by Herzog and de Meuron, and Stephan Jaklitsch’s Japanese lantern-inspired design for the Marc Jacobs flagship store, which received an award from the American Institute of Architects before it opened in 2010.

Koichiro Kimura is where to go for avant-garde lacquerware sold from a tiny two-storey 1950s house in the back streets of Omotesando. One floor is lined with 4,000 white lacquered pyramids, Kimura’s signature shape. Gold USB sticks, hot pink flasks and dramatic red platters make perfect souvenirs. (5-3-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, tel: 03 6427 4877;

Take a taxi across town to DB In Station for an enticing array of stationery like Kudamemo fruit-shaped memo pads and packing tape printed with train tracks. Design your own stationery in their “STAMP it” interactive project (JR Shinagawa Station, Shinagawa, 2/F, 3-26-27 Takanawa, Minato ku, tel: 03 3443 5211).


Retro-chic Claska is beloved for its highly original interiors by architects Intentionallies. Rooms include the Weekly Residence, a conceptual space where the curved walls have an array of aptly shaped holes to store your belongings. Its shop Do has a tightly edited range of Japanese products like hand-beaten steel cutlery and fish-shaped soaps (1-3-18 Chuo-cho, Meguro-ku, tel: 03 3719 8121;

The newly opened Palace Hotel Tokyo offers a more luxurious experience with GA Design International’s seriously sophisticated interiors. The Chiyoda Suite offers panoramic views over the Imperial Palace, while the hotel’s Evian Spa is another must-see for its statement red loungers (1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chioyda-ku, tel: 03 3211 5211;


Emerge from breakfast at Ivy Place in Daikanyama’s T-Site – one of the innovative retail villages popping up around Tokyo – fortified with Chef Ryohei Kobayashi’s buttermilk pancakes (16-15 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, tel: 03 6415 3232

Brunch on Two Rooms Grill and Bar’s chic 5th-floor terrace in Aoyama’s sleek AO Building designed by Sakakura Associates (3-11-7 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, tel: 03 3498 0002;

Yutoku serves delicate soba noodles behind ISSHO Architects’ bold sculptured facade inspired by the wooden louvres of traditional townhouses – the perfect blend of architecture and cuisine. (4-12-2 Meguro, Meguro-ku, tel: 03 3719 2167;

Meanwhile, Nicolai Bergmann’s eponymous chic cafe and florist sports minimalist chic interiors with a vast vertical garden, smooth concrete walls and Georg Jensen tableware. Stock up on stunning red lacquer vases by Yamada Heiando. (5-7-2 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, tel: 03 5464 0716;

Stylish caffeine addicts are found hanging out in Omotesando Koffee’s tiny garden. Eiichi Kunitomo’s excellent espressos and cube-shaped cakes are served from a steel box frame inside a minimalist, 60-year-old traditional Japanese house.