If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, you’ll know that it’s pretty much much impossible to cover all the fashion, culinary and lifestyle spots it has to offer. Each time I’ve been there, I discover a new cafe or store, sometimes by luck – which is the best kind of experience. For me, the best kind of stores are those that offer a tight curation of products, as well as thoughtful store design.
Below, a round-up of Tokyo’s best cafes, stores and restaurants that aren’t your usual BB (basic bitch) suspects:
Cosmic Wonder is my favourite store, even in a city known for a dizzying number of beautifully designed spaces. The store itself feels akin to a hidden treasure; though located in the popular Aoyama district, it’s not easy to find as the entrance is obscured by an external chamber that is usually left empty.
Once inside, the expansive art gallery-esque space is home to both the eponymous clothing line, as well as an assortment of one-of-a-kind lifestyle products that are usually unique to Cosmic Wonder. For example, right now the current exhibition is of handcrafted Japanese straw baskets made with materials endemic to the country. There are many unique stores in Tokyo but none quite as singular as Cosmic Wonder – it combines art, architecture, fashion and nature seamlessly, which is why it’s always my first pit stop.
Toraya Cafe an Stand
Toraya Cafe an stand 北青山＠青山 * 『季節のスープとバン』 ・野菜のボルシチスープ ・あんバン * トラヤさんのあんスタンドにふらりと♪ * 選べるバンは、あんこを♡ * しっとりもちもち、 あんまんのようなあんバン、 とってもおいしい(๓´˘`๓)♡ิิ * 野菜たっぷりのスープも好き♡ * パフェもおいしそうだったし、 手軽においしいあんこがチャージできるので あんこ好きにはおすすめです( ˊᵕˋ* )♩ * * * #トラヤカフェあんスタンド #トラヤカフェ #toraycafeanstand #torayacafe #北青山 #青山カフェ #表参道カフェ #渋谷区カフェ #東京カフェ #あんバン #ボルシチ #ボルシチスープ #渋カフェめぐり #東京カフェめぐり
A double-storied cafe by wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) maestro Toraya (they’re one of Japan’s oldest and most renowned confectioners), this is a great place if you’re after something light in-between meals. There are several Toraya establishments in Tokyo, but we recommend this one; it’s the prettiest (okay, so we’re superficial, sue us). Here, they specialise in anko bean paste desserts (red beans) that are wonderfully light, fluffy and aren’t too sweet – in other words, the usual Japanese culinary preferences. They also make for great souvenirs for your foodie friends, though the omiyage (souvenir) offerings are on the pricier side.
3-12-16 Kita Aoyama
Graphpaper has quickly become a new favourite of mine, another store that masquerades as an art gallery of sorts – entering the sparsely decorated space, one is encountered with what looks like a series of black “paintings” – pull out the black “panels” however, and you find the clothes hidden within.
Offering a well-curated selection of minimalist menswear and womenswear labels (think hard-to-find German workwear label Frank Leder, OAMC, as well as their own eponymous in-house line), as well as a smattering of beautiful objet d’arts and ceramics. If you’re into art, they also have an actual gallery located next door where they hold exhibitions from time to time.
1A/2D KARI MANSION,5-36-6, Jingumae,Shibuya-ku
Breakfast and lunch at Yakumo Saryo are open to the public and dinner is by invitation only. Even though you could see more of the beautiful architecture and surroundings during the day, you could only enjoy the chef’s signature kaiseki menu at night. Owner Shinichiro Ogata is best known for his interior work on Andaz Tokyo, the restaurant reflects his minimalist style and aesthetic while the food expresses his love for Japanese traditions.
The brainchild of veteran Japanese designer Shinichiro Ogata, yakumo saryo is located deep inside the quiet residential neighbourhood of Yakumo (“eight clouds”). It takes approximately 15 minutes to walk there from the train station (you should be getting off at Toritsu-Daigaku), but don’t let that daunt you.
Formerly a residence, the space has since been converted into a by-reservation restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – only the latter is rather restrictive as newcomers can only book a dinner slot if they’re recommended by previous diners. Meals are served kaiseki-style (a traditional multi-course affair) and made with seasonal ingredients – however you’re not allowed to take photos of the restaurant’s beautiful interiors.
From the refreshing dishes to the exquisitely designed space – the restaurant is set atop a small hill, and is enclosed in a gated garden, resembling an ancient Japanese fortress – dining at yakumo saryo makes for a really memorable experience. Just be sure to make reservations prior to going down.
3-4-7 Yakumo, Meguro-ku
If you’re a fan of rare art, design and fashion books, you can’t miss out on Cow Books. A stalwart along the river in the picturesque Nakameguro area, the tiny bookstore specialises in all of the above but they also stock small trinkets that are perfect for souvenirs, such as pencils that come with multi-coloured leads. Bonus: the owner also makes some pretty mean drip coffee, so it’s really the ideal spot to drop by on a lazy afternoon for books you aren’t likely to find elsewhere, accompanied by a really good (tried and tested) cup of coffee.
1-14-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku
Farmer’s Table Ebisu
Located in the stylish Ebisu neighbourhood, Farmer’s Table can be found on the fourth floor in the building besides the Maison Margiela store. (While there are no lifts, it’s worth the climb).
As you may have guessed from the name, Farmer’s Table stocks mostly lifestyle items, such as ceramics, umbrellas, glassware to more quotidian products such as S-hooks – but utilitarian as it sounds, they’re some of the most beautiful designed S-hooks you’ll ever come across. There are also fashion and accessories pieces – people who dig delicate jewellery and rustic-chic Margaret Howell-esque designs will absolutely love it here.
Kyoritsu Denki Building 4F