When it comes to international shopping destinations, few places come close to Tokyo. Home to some of the world’s most important fashion and streetwear labels, the retail landscape of Japan’s capital city is unlike anywhere else in the world for a number of reasons. Most notorious, for example, is the city’s wealth of subcultures, cliques and tribes that can be spotted on corners throughout the city, a visual encyclopedia of fashion and styles from past to present and even beyond.
Then there’s the stores themselves. Tokyo shopping is notorious for being an experience unlike anything you’d expect to encounter in the West. A notable example is A Bathing Ape’s Bape Kids store, which features a giant ball-pit in its center, filled with banana-shaped plastic balls. In Japan, retail is often approached very much as a holistic experience, but why is this?
One point that is often raised is the fact that, for all its modernity, Japan is still very much a cash-based culture; there’s a belief that you should only spend the money that you actually have, so shopping in Tokyo with a credit card (either online or in a shop) is sometimes frowned upon. As a result, bricks and mortar retail is still an important part of city life, and there’s a greater incentive to create a unique and exciting experience that will encourage people to come and spend money in your store.
Beyond that, there’s the fact that Japan’s fascination with subculture is a visual phenomenon; people dress the way they do and hang out in groups in the streets in order to be seen by other people. I’ve spoken to a number of British people who expressed their disappointment coming across a group of skinheads in the streets of Tokyo only for the group to smile and bow as they walked past.
The point being, the idea of being seen spending your own money in the streets, and the idea of being seen wearing the things you have bought in the streets, combine to create the perfect storm for a vibrant, exciting retail scene. If you’re a fan of streetwear, you’ve no doubt dreamed of shopping in Tokyo at some point.
Then there’s the tax refunds. As a tourist, you can claim back 8 percent sales tax on purchases above ¥10,000 (about US$90) at many stores. You will need to show your passport at the store, and may need to pay full price and go to a separate counter to claim your refund. This only applies to purchases that are meant for personal use outside of Japan, and you may need to declare your purchases at the airport. So don’t lose your head while you’re shopping in Tokyo; keep hold of all your receipts, keep everything in its original packaging, and bask in the warm glow of a lovely tax refund.
Whether you’re a seasoned vet of the Harajuku scene or just planning your first ever trip, here’s our list of the best stores in Tokyo.
1F 2-7, Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 150-0033
Renowned for his label’s intricate, elaborately-decorated garments, it’s not surprise that when Yosuke Aizawa opened White Mountaineering’s flagship store in Shibuya, there’d be no half-measures as far as design was concerned. While the ground floor is laid out to look reminiscent of a mountain lodge in deep, earthy woods, the first floor is completely whited out from floor to ceiling, merchandised with the brand’s entire collection. Considering the brand’s roots in mountain climbing and outdoor culture, it’s a perfect fit.
Various Locations; Harajuku, Shibuya, Daikanyama
Supreme’s popularity in Japan is no secret; it was partly the Japanese tourists who flocked to the brand’s New York store in the early days that built Supreme into what it is today, and by the time they opened their second US location in Los Angeles in 2004, they already had three Japanese stores, supposedly to combat rampant counterfeiting as well as to satisfy consumer demand.
As you might expect, each store stays true to the brand’s original layout of wooden flooring, white walls and galvanized steel rails. The most popular spot is the Harajuku location, situated in the heart of one Tokyo’s busiest shopping districts with another iconic brand’s flagship store just below…
Kanzaki Bldg. 1F, 4-32-7 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Immediately recognizable thanks to its blacked-out exterior and distinctive ‘The Filth And The Fury’ neon lights in the window, NEIGHBORHOOD’s Harajuku flagship is everything you’d expect from the iconic Japanese streetwear brand; dark, dingy, moody and very rock ‘n’ roll. Decked out to look like a typical biker gang haunt, the store presents Shinsuke Takizawa’s iconic brand in its natural environment, stocking the full NEIGHBORHOOD collection as well as the brand’s ‘One Third’ kids’ line and ‘SVG’ or ‘Savage Archives’, a celebration of NEIGHBORHOOD’s most extreme designs throughout the years.
You’d be well advised to check out their Shibuya store also, which takes things to an even further extreme, if that’s possible.
United Arrows & Sons
3-28-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Part-tailoring authority, part-retail extraordinaire, part-Japanese fashion authority, United Arrows & Sons is nothing short of iconic. You might know them best by their Creative Director, Motofumi Kogi, known to most as Poggy, whose eccentric mish-mash style of modern tailoring, bright patterns and effortless cool encapsulates the store’s aesthetic pretty well, but United Arrows is home to a number of in-house brands offering a relaxed and unimposing take on classic menswear, alongside a selection of other labels. A must-visit Tokyo shopping destination for the classier gents among us.
GIP-Store (Guerrilla the Incubation Period)
Despite being one of the most iconic streetwear brands to come out of Japan, WTaps didn’t really have a flagship store as such until a few years ago. Their ‘Blackflag’ store in Aoyama stocked WTaps alongside likeminded labels, and it was a mainstay at NEIGHBORHOOD’s ‘Hoods’ locations, but nothing really bore the pure WTaps stamp. That changed with the opening of GIP-Store in 2011, a standalone flagship WTaps store in the trendy Shibuya district.
Themed to look like a hidden military outpost, complete with olive drab netting and cloth draped over the external windows, GIP-Store exemplifies Japanese labels’ attention to detail when it comes to creating a comprehensive brand experience. As for getting there on a day when the product hasn’t sold out? I’m afraid that part’s up to you.
OFF-WHITE C/O VIRGIL ABLOH™
5-2-13, Minami-Aoyama, Minato-Ku, Tokyo 107-0062
If you got the chance to catch Virgil Abloh’s recent lecture at Columbia University, you’ll know that architecture and irony play large parts in the designer’s approach to his work. True to this philosophy, his Tokyo shopping haven mimics the layout of a generic office space housing the fictional company “Something & Associates”, complete with desks, computers, water coolers and an LED ticker screen displaying real-time updates for the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
If there’s one thing that can be said of Virgil, the guy knows how to build a holistic brand experience, and if this one feels cold and sterile, that’s precisely what he’s going for. Interpret however you will.
The Real McCoy’s
6-25-8 Jingumae Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0001
Known for creating faithful one-to-one replicas of classic American military and workwear garments, The Real McCoy’s takes their name from the colloquial phrase describing something authentic and true; the real deal. Their Tokyo flagship is certainly in keeping with this vision, decked out to look like a military bunker or classic American outfitters.
Translation; lots of varnished wood, vintage rugs, leather jackets and neon lighting. As you might expect, fanatics of the brand in Japan go whole-hog, dressing like they’ve just come out of a John Wayne film, but more casual fans of well-made clothing know that your wardrobe isn’t really complete until you’ve got yourself a Real McCoy’s crewneck and M-65 jacket. Trust me on this one.
Free International Laboratory (FIL)
5-9-17 B1, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
With its stripped-down interior of white walls and polished concrete, the F.I.L. store is a welcome respite in the bustling Shibuya district. As the flagship store of Hiroki Nakamura’s pioneering visvim label, you know what to expect when you enter this store; pinnacle takes on classic American and Japanese wardrobes, mixed with influences from Nakamura’s various travels around the globe.
Even if you’re lucky enough to live near a store that stocks visvim in the west, chances are you’ve only ever seen a handful of products up close; this is your chance to browse the whole collection and really absorb the brand. If you still haven’t had your fix, then the GYRE shopping mall around the corner also has a visvim flagship, complete with the little cloud coffee café. Bring a full wallet with you. Scratch that: bring two.
3-15-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Tucked away in a comparatively small space in Shibuya, the Bounty Hunter store offers a comprehensive offer of everything the toy-brand-turned-fashion label represents. Offered alongside the streetwear brand’s latest apparel and collaborative releases you can find some of the latest collectible figurines, as well as comic books and other pop culture relics.
1F P-2 Bldg. 4-32-8 Jingumae Shibuya-ku
As you might expect from one of LA’s most respected sneaker stores and streetwear brands, the Tokyo chapter of Undefeated stays true to the OG’s formula, stocking pinnacle product from the best footwear brands out there as well as limited edition collaborative releases and, of course, Undefeated’s own clothing label. Some trivia for you; the store is actually located in the former home of atmos Harajuku, so the Tokyo sneaker vibes run deep round these parts.
150-0001 1F, 4-25-29 JINGUMAE, SHIBUYA-KU, TOKYO 150-0001
They were made famous by the Beastie Boys, they used an ape in their logo long before Bape and they encapsulate that original 90s streetwear swagger, so no, I won’t let you visit Japan without going to X-Large’s Tokyo store. The brand doesn’t get nearly as much shine as it deserves in the west these days, but its reputation in Japan has endured.
Expect all the wardrobe staples; tees, sweats, varsity jackets and classic sportswear, all adorned with X-Large’s signature bold lettering and numbers. Put simply, you don’t have an X-Large logo T-shirt in your collection, you’re doing something wrong.
A Bathing Ape Shibuya
Rise Bld. 13-17, Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042
Though there are a few Bape stores dotted throughout Tokyo, including one inside Dover Street Market Ginza, there’s a certain opulence to the Shibuya outpost that makes it feel a little bit special. Then again, it could just be the flashing lights, shiny surfaces and overall feeling that you’ve been immersed in a cartoon brought to life. Remember, this is the brand that brought extravagance and over-indulgence to the streetwear world, courtesy of NIGO®. Speaking of which…
2-12-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001
Flagship store of successor-label to NIGO®’s iconic BAPE, Cold Coffee is somewhat removed from the sci-fi, neon lights of BAPE, instead focusing on NIGO®’s love of vintage culture. Human Made’s output of vintage reproductions and 20th-century workwear is complemented with old-timey shop fixtures, wooden crates, paper maché ornaments and a jukebox, of course.
#201 From 1st Building, 5-3-10 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062
As one of the most unique and exciting streetwear brands to come out of Japan in recent years, the announcement that C.E would be opening its own flagship store in late 2016 was an exciting one. After all, how do you translate a brand so deeply-rooted in digital culture and post-reality into a physical, real-life location?
Fortunately, they didn’t disappoint, combining a minimalist arrangement of steel clothes rails, wall projections and exposed pipes with a tiled floor made from dozens of smashed mirrors. Housed within the claustrophobic, modernist red-brick architecture of the From 1st building, it adds up to a pretty powerful expression of the C.E identity. A must-visit for any Tokyo shopping spree.
Beauty & Youth Cat Street
1F, 5-17-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
One for the ladies, revered Japanese retailer United Arrows & Sons’ Beauty & Youth Cat Street location, opened in late 2016, is a women’s only store specializing in the brand’s own flagship labels as well as offerings from a number of likeminded brands.
Think simple, easy-to-wear, understated garments that just fall into an everyday wardrobe. Think of your typical well-dressed Japanese woman who’s killing it without even trying. Chances are she’s shopping here.
XXIII (C’est Vingt-Trois)
14-2 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0034
As you might have eked out from the brand’s roman numerical name, XXIII (or C’est Vingt-Trois) is a fashion label born from founder Taku Kono’s love of basketball legend Michael Jordan. The store mainly stocks Kono’s two in-house labels, XXIII and Black is Beautiful, but also houses a wide range of Michael Jordan memorabilia and a collection of a new and vintage Air Jordan sneakers (though you’ll be disappointed to hear that none of those are for sale). Hey, we all have our obsessions.
6-23-2 Jingumae Shibuya-ku
With two decades of history under its belt, atmos embodies Tokyo sneaker culture. Any sneakerhead knows that these guys have created some of the most coveted collaborations over the years, and the presentation of their store demonstrates that these guys just “get” sneakers. Put simply, no Tokyo shopping trip is complete without stopping by atmos.
20-11 Sarugakucho, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0033, Japan
The exterior of Okura’s Shibuya store is so unassuming you’d be forgiven for thinking it might be somebody’s house, but step inside and you’ll encounter possibly the greatest representation of Japanese craft and contemporary style you’ve ever seen. ‘Okura’ is a Japanese phrase describing a place where old treasures and mementos from the past are kept, and it’s precisely this feeling that Okura’s store creates.
Set against a backdrop of old wooden fixtures and “antique store” atmosphere you’ll find indigo-dyed garments from the likes of Blue Blue Japan and Hollywood Ranch Market. Definitely worth your time.
Have A Good Time
1 Chome-2-14 Nakameguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0061
Operating out of a tiny shop in Tokyo’s predominantly-residential Nakameguro district, Have A Good Time is a boutique store specializing in books, art, music and various knick-knacks that the team collect during their various travels. The store also stocks a few independent clothing labels as well as its in-house brand which, following a series of collaborations with the likes of Beams and Isetan, has become a cult label of sorts amongst Tokyo-underground aficionados.
Though many of Tokyo’s stores are guided by the latest trends and fads, this is one group of people who are truly dancing to their own beat.
1F Saito Bldg, 1-23-14 Aobadai, Meguro Ward Tokyo 153-0042
Operating under the maxim ‘We Live for Fun’, Vendor is a boutique store that stocks a classic laid back wardrobe from the likes of nonnative, hobo, Folk and Kaptain Sunshine, but it’s their in-house Vendor label which is most worth the mention here. Their offering of simple cotton garments including pants, sweats, knits and bandanas are geared straight towards their laid back mantra, but built with a quality only the Japanese know how to do. Round that off with an immaculately-presented store full of character and charm, and it’s one that’s definitely worth your time.
Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 2F 4-28-18, 150-0001
Skaters shopping in Tokyo, this one’s for you. A real skater’s skate store, Prov is an independent store in Shibuya that sells everything skate-related — yes, that means hardware as well as the clothes. Expect everything from the old-skool big names like Anti-Hero, Baker and Krooked to the new wave heads like Call Me 917, Bronze 56k, Polar and Quartersnacks.
They’re even on top of some up-and-coming UK brands like Yardsale and Theobalds Cap Co., so you know they know their stuff. If you want to fit in with the locals, pick up a Prov ‘Old Joe’ crewneck.
Backdoor / Supply
8-7 Motoyoyogicho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-0062, Japan
One of the strangest things about shopping in Tokyo is seeing some of your favorite “niche” brands selling in dozens of stores across the city. This is where Backdoor/Supply shakes things up a little bit. Alongside familiar streetwear labels like Brain Dead, Doomsday, Bootleg is Better and Stray Rats, the store has a slew of lesser-known brands that are worth your attention such as Black Weirdos, Goofy creation and Powers. Anyone can go to Tokyo and come back with a Bape T-shirt. Do like Steve Jobs; think different.
3-21-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
If you’re a fan of the blacked-out, high-fashion streetwear look, Nubian is your one-stop shop. Stocking labels such as Balmain, Hood By Air, Alexander Wang and Public School within an immaculate space, it’s a dream for anyone on a Tokyo shopping spree who really wants to go all in. Pay special attention to D.TT.K, Ganryu and Facetasm for some exceptional contemporary Japanese streetwear.
Laforet Harajuku 2.5F, 1-11-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Fashion-forward guys shopping in Tokyo need to pay GR8 a visit. Neon lights, glass surfaces and only the most fashion-forward labels on offer, GR8 might just be the ultimate Tokyo shopping experience. Located within Harajuku’s Laforet mall, the store is home to the likes of A-COLD-WALL*, C.E, Phire Wire and Cottweiler, as well as a long list of labels you’ve never heard of. Take lots of photos and tell your friends about how your Tokyo shopping spree showed you that Japan is the future.
Dover Street Market GINZA
Ginza Chuo-Ku, Ginza Komatsu West 6-9-5, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
When talking about the mythology of Japanese retail, it makes sense to start with the store that created this in the west. Ironically, Rei Kawakubo’s flagship department store started out on London’s eponymous Dover Street in 2004, with the Ginza location following two years later.
Much like its iconic British namesake, Dover Street Market Ginza is the physical manifestation of the avant-garde COMME des GARCONS aesthetic; a weird and wonderful world unlocking the tactile and visual elements of fashion retail. And much like its London sister store, this place is a must-visit for anyone shopping in Tokyo. Expect striking art displays, unheard-of niche labels and a general feeling that you’re experiencing something unlike anything else in the world.
3-24-7 1F-2F Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Part-department store, part-clothing brand, part-Tokyo shopping icon, there are multiple Beams locations across Tokyo and wider Japan. In fact, you can be sure to find at least one Beams store in pretty much every district of Tokyo. Harajuku is where the store was born, however, so we’ll push you in that direction.
Alongside Beams’ brilliant in-house brands like Beams Plus and Beams T, you can be treated to a healthy selection of some of the best cutting-edge Japanese fashion as well as familiar faces like Nike and Levi’s. Above all, they’re a Tokyo shopping institution, and their basics are very, very good for the price. When you’re ready to leave your Supreme Hanes t-shirts behind, they’ll be waiting for you.
17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0033
Shopping in Tokyo for knowledge, not clothes? Spread across three interlinking building, the award-winning T-Site Daikanyama is the book store that puts all other book stores to shame. Offering everything from English-language titles to current and back-issue magazines, as well as DVDs, music, periodicals, art books and beyond, the store is a literal bookworm’s paradise.
Think of it as the Harrods of printed product, a seemingly-endless space of all things published. And if books aren’t your only passion, you’ll be glad to know there are camera stores, bicycle shops, pet stores and a Starbucks elsewhere on the site. Remember; reading is essential.
4-26-32 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
1 Chome-5-19 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0041
3 Chome-38-1, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0022
Specializing strictly in Japanese brands, Studious is a select department store that attempts to showcase Japanese fashion, culture and style in a comprehensive setting. Brands such as Number (N)ine, John Undercover, White Mountaineering and Jam Home Made are proud features at Studious, all displayed in an immaculate retail setting.
There are numerous locations dotted throughout Tokyo, with three in Harajuku alone, but each has something slightly different to offer. The first address listed here is for their Harajuku flagship, so head this way for the proper experience and spread your wings further afield if you like what you see.
Used Select Shops
1-17-7 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
6-14-2 jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
One of the city’s many ‘used select’ shops, Ragtag is a thrift store like you’ve never seen before. Where Western vintage shops are normally populated by old Florida Gators jerseys, strange-smelling insulated jackets and Disney World merchandise, Tokyo thrift stores are a bit different. Japanese customers will often only wear a piece a handful of times before passing it on, leaving stores like Ragtag with an insane brand roster of near-deadstock product including Bape, Mastermind, Supreme, Thom Browne, Fragment Design, Neighborhood, Visvim, APC, Maison Margiela… you get the idea.
I’ve heard stories of people finding ridiculous steals in stores like Ragtag, so don’t let traumatic past experiences of thrift shopping in the West deter you; this is a whole other level. Those shopping in Tokyo on a budget should consider Ragtag a must.
Icom Shibuya Building (4th floor), 11-6 Udagawa-Cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042
Described by the authorities over at Superfuture in words like cramped, grungy, underground and “Salvation Army”, 10 Tow takes a different approach to high-fashion consignment, instead seeking out left-field and experimental fashion designers.
As a result, it has been said that the occasional grail piece of Helmut Lang, Margiela or Yohji Yamamoto has appeared in here on occasions, along with a list of lesser-known designers that will shut down any Raf-fanatic in the battle of European fashion darlings. Remember; there’s no such thing as “semi-Avant Garde”.
New York Joe Exchange
1 Chome-15-14 Kichijoji Minamicho, Musashino, Tokyo 180-0003
Relatively new on the scene, the New York Joe Exchange is another sprawling thrift store located inside an old bathhouse where all pieces are sold for under 10,000¥ (roughly $90) with an average sale price of 2,000¥ ($20). Translation: you’re in for some ridiculous steals.
They also buy product from people that bring pieces in, as well as offering trades, so there’s always a supply of new stock, but they’re also pretty particular about what product they want week by week, so if you’re thinking of loading up a few suitcases of unwanted clothing, maybe think again.
6-4-10 Ueno, Taito-ku Tokyo 110-0005
Nakata Shoten’s Ameyoko store is a true OG in military gear, and sells authentic army surplus from a number of countries including the US, France, UK, China and more. Not only that, they have healthy stock of a number of iconic military brands like Alpha Industries and Avirex. You’d be forgiven for thinking when you’ve seen one army surplus store, you’ve seen them all, but this place just might make you reassess your thinking.
2 Chome-25-12 Kitazawa Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031
Denoted by the large neon flamingo signs that deck the store’s entrance, Flamingo is a true-to-the-core American vintage store, stocking clothing strictly from the ’40s to the ’80s, and thanks to an American buyer, they’re never far from having new, interesting stock. This particular store opened in 2005, though they have other locations in Harajuku and Kichijoji if you happen to be in those areas. Like I said, big glowing flamingos; you can’t miss them.
Food & Drink
2-35-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001
You’re shopping in Tokyo, walking around on all these streetwear pilgrimages, so you’re gonna need to stop for lunch. Opened around the same time he launched Human Made, Curry Up represents NIGO®’s venture into the culinary business, a small restaurant specializing in Japanese curry dishes such as butter chicken or spicy beef curry, with daily specials. With dishes ranging from ¥800-¥1300 (roughly $7-11), it’s a popular spot for a quick and affordable lunch with the added bonus of streetwear kudos. They even have their own t-shirts and sweats — yep, they sell out. But what if you’re not that hungry?
2-5, Nanpeidai-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Oh no, we’re not done yet. 2-5 Café is the latest in NIGO®’s culinary ventures, and takes its name directly from the man himself — ni-go is literally 2-5 in Japanese. As you might expect, the streetwear legend’s café serves some of the finest coffee Tokyo has to offer, complemented by a menu of cakes, pastries and pancakes, curry dishes from the original Curry Up restaurant and a burger created by Pharrell exclusively for the café. Think of it as breakfast, lunch and dinner — the NIGO® way.
1-3 Sarugakucho, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0033
Pizza Slice is not interested in the Romana/Neapolitan debate; they do not care for Chicago deep-dish. They specialize in one thing and one thing only; authentic New York-style by-the-slice pizza. Offering a concise range of classic toppings – pepperoni, Italian sausage, anchovies, mushroom, jalapeño, meatballs, garlic and classic margarita – they’re true to the simplicity that makes an NY slice so great, and offer a range of pizza-themed merch as well. Just leave the cutlery and remember to fold. Don’t play yourself.
6-7-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001
Already a mainstay on the East coast of the USA, Luke’s Lobster has been steadily expanding into Japan over the past few years and now boasts 5 locations there, with two situated in Tokyo. As with the US chapters, Luke’s Lobster sells authentic Maine lobster rolls alongside crab, shrimp and all the necessary extras like fries and beer. The price is a premium compared to lobster rolls found elsewhere in the city, but nobody else is shipping their lobster direct from Maine either, so expect good quality seafood.
1 Chome-1-7 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0013 3-63-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo 1-23 Kamimeguro, Meguro, Tokyo 153-0051 1-8-10 Azabu-Juban, Minato, Tokyo
There are numerous Afuri locations dotted throughout Tokyo, and it’s built a solid reputation as a go-to restaurant for authentic, delicious ramen dishes. Offering a healthy selection for both carnivores and vegetarians, customers purchase an ordering ticket and then make their selection from a vending machine, and simply wait for their food to arrive. Afuri set the standard when it comes to their craft, using high-quality ingredients and authentic recipes. I’ve had a few friends post recurring images from Afuri on their trips over there, so if they’re going back in a city with as broad an offering as Tokyo, you know it’s good.
1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu, Minato, Tokyo 106-0031
A restaurant perhaps better known to many for its interior design than its food, Gonpachi’s Nishi-Azabu location featured heavily in Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 film Kill Bill. Don’t get things twisted, though; they offer a range of traditional Japanese dishes for a reasonable price, as well as a few higher-priced meals. Of course, it’s always crowded in there, and some have commented you’re paying more for the atmosphere than the food, but if you’re a big film buff that’s in need of some nourishment after your Tokyo shopping spree then you know where to go.
Starbucks B-Side by Hiroshi Fujiwara
5-11-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
I know what you’re thinking; it’s a Starbucks. And okay, yes, it’s a Starbucks. I can’t really argue with that. It’s a Starbucks. But wait! This is a Starbucks concept store designed in partnership with streetwear legend Hiroshi Fujiwara so that makes this Starbucks better! Right? Okay, well, maybe it is just a Starbucks. But the layout is pretty impressive, and the natural lighting and luxurious seating arrangement is certainly a step above their usual dingy, Seattle-rust aesthetic. So maybe it’s just a Starbucks, but it’s not just a Starbucks. Honest. Moving on.
ØL by Oslo Brewing Co.
37-10-B1F, Udagawa-cho, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0042
Oh yes, the craft beer craze has successfully penetrated Japan. There’s no escape. Fortunately, Japan as a nation is already well-known for a number of quality beers, but this particular outlet offers the best of not only domestic labels, but also a range of Scandinavian craft beers as well – along with a pretty delicious complementary food menu. Confession time. I’m not really wild about the whole craft beer thing. If you were in Berlin, I’d tell you to buy a bottle from a shop and enjoy it. If it were London I’d tell you to just get a pint from a half-decent pub. But then I know when the Japanese do something, they commit to it 100 percent, and as for Scandinavia, they’re dominating Europe in art, fashion and design right now, so I’ll trust them on this one and push you in their direction.
Bear Pond Espresso
2-36-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031
1-17-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0002
Bear Pond opened back in 2009 and quickly set out to establish itself as Tokyo’s coffee authority. Founder Katsu Tanaka learnt his craft over nearly 20 years in New York, attending events and seminars hosted by leading names in America’s artisanal coffee scene – yes, this is a thing that exists. If you’re a fan of unpredictable store rules a la Supreme, you’ll love this place. There’s a strict no photo policy, you’re expected to choose quickly, order first, sit down second and Tanaka refuses to serve espressos after 2pm because it gets too busy. Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just gather them together and pass them on to you.
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