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Each IJC columnist loves Japanese culture and knows different facets in detail.
You’ll find original articles written with unique style and vision.

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  • Postalco – Find your new everyday essentials

    Sep 4, 2015

    From morning through night, the items we use on a daily basis seemingly become an extension of ourselves. In that sense, finding functional and beautiful products presents a challenge that once conquered can allow you to find further pleasure in the everyday. An independent design brand based in Tokyo, Postalco combines utilitarian design and high quality craftsmanship to create items that once used will quickly become an essential part of your daily life. Situated just around the corner from Shibuya station, their store presents an insight into their world and is a place where you can take the time to delve into the design of products that only get better with age. Postalco beginnings lie in New York, where 15 years ago Mike Abelson created what would become their first product – an envelope-shaped case for carrying A4 sized paper. Since that time the brand has relocated and established itself in Tokyo, where Mike and his wife Yuri lead a small team who design and produce a variety of stationery, bags and other goods. Combining considered design with Japanese craftsmanship and traditional techniques, they a way of adding both functionality and a sense of pleasure to many of the items that we use on an everyday basis. After originally being located in downtown Kyobashi, Postalco's store now sits above Flying Books in Dogenzaka, its calming space in stark contrast to the ever-bustling nature of nearby Shibuya. Original timber fixtures and displays play host to products that range from leather wallets to pen cases, year-long calendars and kimono-inspired ponchos for cycling in the rain. Sliding drawers reveal beautiful collaborations with the likes of Arts & Science and Opening Ceremony, not to mention an assortment of colourful notebooks that have been customised by Mike’s experimental printing machines. But beyond simply perusing the items in store, pick them up and run your eyes deep into their finer details, because that's when the quality of each of Postalco’s creations begins to emerge. Their design and production develops in partnership with many of the skilled artisans scattered across the city, resulting in a balance between form and function, craft and design. So whether you're in search of a notebook befitting of your favourite stories or a bag to keep by your side, the store is home to products that adds both excitement and ease to your everyday. <Information> -Postalco -Where: 3F, 1-6-3 Dogenzaka, Shibuya -When: Mon, Wed–Sat 11am-8pm; Sun 11am-6pm -Website: http://postalco.net/

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    by Ben Davis
    Ben is an editor, consultant and photographer. He currently works as Editor of Thousands Tokyo, an online magazine that shares the things locals love.
  • Aquvii: Get Your Token Tokyo Tsotchkes Here!

    Aug 24, 2015

    Your eyes do not decieve you; that is trio of fingers icing in a Mozart goblet. It's just one of the many humorous small goods and fashion that you'll find in this off-beat store in Shibuya. You know the saying, so say it with me; "Only in Japan!". It's a small shop, but they've maximized each inch they've got with a plethora of goodies from mostly Japanese artists and brands. The name Aquvii sounds like the word "akubi" or "yawn" in Japanese. Just like how a yawn can be transmitted from one person to another, they believe good things should also be passed on those around you. One of their best-sellers are these pearl accessories by Aoki Yuri. Her ear cuffs are made of pearls that look like bunches of popcorn kernels. Their signature item is this "face" hat. I was told they make it by steaming the hat on a mannequin (Aaaand the dashing sunglasses are sold separately, unfortunately.) "The Tag Does Not Make You". Although they started out as a one-stop-souvenir shop of tsotchkes , they have been dipping into apparel with their own brand. It's a blend of simplicity with the surreal, like if Muji apparel got put into a blender with some scissors and thread. The bags here are all quite unique and fun. The last ones are made in collaboration with the illustrator of their shop logo and Hitch Hike Market- it's a handy pouch for when riding a city bike. They sell interior items as well, and funny objects that inject a bit of humor into them. There a bits and bobbles of a twisted sense of humor scattered throughout the tiny shop; don't forget to look up at the walls and ceiling! My first ever purchase at this shop was a pair of earrings with one a fork and the other a spoon. In fact, while "souvenir shop" might conjure up touristy visions of junk goods, this store really tries to being something unique to the table without pushing the avant-garde envelope TOO far. The have also started selling framed art by local artists for a extremely reasonable prices. "We wanted people to be able to buy some art for the same price as a shirt. They come pre-framed so you can just take it home and hang it up," I was told. Case in point; when I visited the store, they were exhibition this little brand. In Japanese, Bread is "pan", so together it reads "panty". If you thought they must not be selling underwear like this... you'd be quite wrong! What's even better, the the items here don't break the bank- these colorful POP reflecting accessories are only 800yen each.   To get here, and to get your own little Tokyo Tsotchke, get off at Shibuya and take the Meiji-dori side exit, walking north towards Harajuku on the right side. Aquvii is just past the entrance to the infamous Cat Street and in front of Miyashita overpass park. If you're in Daikanyama, they have an "Antiques and Oddities" shop which would be a Czech Animation-lover's dream, as well as a new Gallery location in Ueno (Okachimachi). See the link below for addresses. Aquvii Tokyo (Shibuya) OPEN: 12:00-8pm 6-19-16 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku Online Site

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    by Misha Janette
    Key Japan fashion stylist-journalist-editor. Born in Washington State USA, graduated Bunka Fashion College. Honored as Business of Fashion's BoF500.
  • The best bookstore in the world: Daikanyama T-site

    Aug 17, 2015

    I have been around the block and seen a book or two, and nowhere am I more inclined to haul off with a metric ton of them than after visiting what  deem to be the best bookstore in the world: Tsutaya at Daikanyama T-site.   This is not the oldest bookstore ever, and it won't win any historical awards (although the architecture of the building has nabbed it some hefty accolades). In fact it just opened in 2011 and is still fresh in terms of new retail. But what it lacks in history is made up in how it serves as a gallery of books and curated goods that relate to them. This form of "curation" has been a concept in Japanese retail for many many years, and they call them "select shops". So while this is a very well-stocked bookstore, it is also a lifestyle store with so many hidden treasures inside.   Everything you need to make "kaki-gori", Japanese shaved ice. When I visited, there were recipe books for traditional Japanese shaved ice with local artisinal glasses and mixes being sold along side them. And, since shaved ice is a summery treat, there were traditional wind chimes next to them from a local workshop. And before you think this is only about pushing new books or selling out for big publishers, there were coves like these hidden along the shelves all throughout the three buildings that make up the whole bookstore.   Try your luck, with the gacha-gacha toy machine! If you're a fan of obscure authors or artists, you'll have a grand time. Take illustrator Keiichi Tanami and his psychedelic art book and matching tea cup set, or shirts by the ironic Tacoma Fuji Records, a record label that doesn't actually sell music. There's a toy machine for ¥500 to try and get odd art-inspired figurines, and a Frida Kahlo book exhibit replete with real indigenous costumes on display. Of course, there is a big selection of western books as well as highly obscure Japanese books and magazines, like the bilingual Reality Show magazine. There's a Starbucks coffee shop inside, and all throughout the buildings you can peruse the books with your coffee, or lounge at the many leather benches that line the glass facades. Upstairs is a special restaurant/lounge called Anjin and it houses over 30,000 vintage magazines for you to flick through. Of course, you can also look through books from the shop as well.   But even if you leave empty handed, the setting around the T-site is something not to be missed. It's like an oasis in the concrete jungle, and place where mostly locals come to relax with their pets (there are dog knobs on the decorative rocks outside, for locals to tie up their dogs) and bring their families for a stroll among the leafy garden. You'll notice there are lots of specialty stores here too, such as Kitamura camera shop and Bornelund toy store. And if you have a dog at home, maybe you can shop for a stylish outfit for her at the dog goods store.   The Ivy Place restaurant and cafe is one of the most popular joints in town, and it brings a very international flavor to the site. The neighborhood of Daikanyama is known for being where design aficionados converge. So if you're a fan of the understated perfection, or "Muji" side of Japanese design, then the T-site and surrounding Daikanyama area cannot be missed!   To get to T-site, take the train to Daikanyama Station, and find your way to the big road, walking away from the sloping hill until you see it on your right. The business hours are also impressive, with the 1st floor (books and Starbucks) open from 7am to 2am, with the upstairs open from 9am.

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    by Misha Janette
    Key Japan fashion stylist-journalist-editor. Born in Washington State USA, graduated Bunka Fashion College. Honored as Business of Fashion's BoF500.
  • Fujimaru – Fall in love with a well-crafted wine

    Aug 3, 2015

    The city’s many specialty stores, each with a mesmerisingly deep dedication to their chosen craft or cultural pursuit, not only contribute to Tokyo’s rich diversity but also provide countless opportunities to discover (and possibly fall in love with) something new or unexpected. Built around the sense of communion that comes with sharing a glass of wine, Wineshop and Diner Fujimaru combines a convivial atmosphere with a passion for well-crafted wine and gourmet dishes in a way that’s bound to make you wish you lived just around the corner. As the first store in Tokyo for the Osaka-based wine purveyor and distributor, Fujimaru Asakusabashi opened early last year in an unobtrusive building along the river. In a downtown area known for its history of craftsmanship, the store boasts a range of around 1200 wines chosen for the feelings they evoke and an appreciation for their maker’s intent. Inside the concrete-clad second floor space, the wine room and diner sit literally back-to-back, allowing diners to hand pick a bottle to accompany their meal or enjoy a quick snack at the kitchen counter before purchasing some wine-to-go. The store's craft-based approach extends to the food menu, which brings together the best of Japan's farmers, producers and provedores. With a more than ample selection to choose from, popular dishes such as the Osaka-style octopus croquette with garlic oil and creamy chicken liver mousse are complemented by an array of appetisers and fresh bread from the wine-loving Parlour Ekoda. And so whether it’s one of Fujimaru’s original creations or a bottle from Yamagata, Normandy or Georgia, there’s more than one perfect combination for you to try as the afternoon, or evening, ambles along. Each visit seems to result in delightful discoveries from both the menu and wine room, yet I'm ultimately always drawn back for the poetic undertones and warm conversation that permeate through this spot both day and night. From watching the staff work away at the ruby tiled counter to gazing out towards the river where flat topped yakatabune sway at their docks, you’re ever-likely to find the ideal setting in which to enjoy good company and the sensory delights of each glass poured, and each dish served. Without doubt, Fujimaru is the kind of place you’ll want to make part of your everyday routine. <Information> -Wineshop and Diner Fujimaru -Where: 2F, 2-27-19 Higashi-Nihombashi, Chuo -When: Wed–Mon 1pm-10pm (Also closed second Wednesday of the month) -Website: http://www.papilles.net/

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    by Ben Davis
    Ben is an editor, consultant and photographer. He currently works as Editor of Thousands Tokyo, an online magazine that shares the things locals love.

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