This content requires
the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

flash player download

SCROLL

SOUND ON

COLUMNSSEE ALL +


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

Latest Column

  • Cafe Kitsune: Coffee in a traditional Japanese house in the heart of Aoyama.

    Jul 28, 2015

    I could wax poetic on the charm and genius that is Cafe Kitsune in Aoyama, but I`m just gonna lay it bare and honestly; this place is awesome. Kitsune is a Paris-based fashion brand and music label, founded by Gildas Loaec from France and Masaya Kuroki from Japan. Gildas got his break as an early manager for electronic legends Daft Punk, and Masaya came from an architectural and design background. Together, they formed Kitsune (which is a mystical fox creature of Japanese lore).   The cafe sits inside a traditional "washiki" Japanese house, and it wasn't broken so they didn't "fix" it, leaving the house in it's old school glory. They did bring in artisans to spruce it up a little, including some bamboo tatami mats made by a 70-year old studio in Shimbashi.   There are Japanese monograms strewn throughout the walls, a traditional "low" ceiling, and other finishings made from bamboo and rice. There is even a true-blue Bonsai tree on the counter, with a famous master of pruning coming in once a week to care for it. When Kitsune opened this cafe, they were adamant about having a home for this little guy.   The walls feature many paintings done by Masaya's mother, an artist.   Ok, so you're here for the coffee, not the building it's in, fair enough. Good thing the coffee is definitely something to write home about. Here is one of the baristas managing to pull off a perfect slow pour, despite my paparazzi onslaught.   Along with the usual suspects, they have slowly been adding to their menu a special selection of Cafe Kitsune exclusives. The photo above shows the green tea affogato drink. There is also an orange Kitsune Orenge for the summer, a bottled cider drink, and a cool Shakerato (shaken by hand).   There's no full-blown kitchen here, so it's not a recommendable place to stuff the face. If you do get hungry you can nibble on some sable cookies (cut in the shape of a kitsune, natch)  or get a simple French-style sandwich with baguette and ham.   There are just a few souvenirs available in the Cafe Kitsune, like some of their famous "Parisien" tote bags, or a small selection of their music albums. Actually, if you're interested in the fashion side of Kitsune and the coffee has you hopped up, then take a walk for a block away from the Omotesando Crosswalk which is where their fashion boutique "Maison Kitsune" is. It's a bit of a fancier side of Kitsune, especially since the cafe is so "at-home". Still, here they sells a very wide range of Maison Kitsune goods, from women to men to tee-shirts to accessories.   But let's get back to the cafe. It's just off the main Omotesando promenade, and hang a left at Issey Miyake. The cafe is at the end of this block on the right hand side. The zen-style entrance is both standout noticeable but also easy to miss. Look for the stone rock path! So whether you're just visiting Tokyo or not, you'll find that a huge number of local creatives keep this cafe as their home-base so you can't go wrong! Cafe Kitsune and Maison Kitsune Hours: 11:00-20:00

    Read All Text
    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.
  • Koishikawa Korakuen – Slow down, relax and recharge

    Jul 28, 2015

    In a city that regularly overwhelms the senses, it’s comforting to know that there are numerous green oases that allow you to regather your thoughts, rest your eyes, or simply just relax. And of those beautifully maintained pockets of nature that lie hidden within the city limits, Koishikawa Korakuen, is one of my favourite places in which to recharge amidst a sea of green. Nestled quietly alongside the pop mecca that is Tokyo Dome, Koishikawa Korakuen was constructed as a private residence in the early Edo period before being reshaped into a garden by Tokugawa Mitsukuni. Designed in consultation with the renowned 17th confucian scholar Zhu Zhiyu, Korakuen incorporates a circuit-style layout, with a large pond surrounded by varied terrain that draws on numerous Chinese influences. Although the city has urbanised and gathered speed around it, Korakuen retains a sense of serenity that makes it feel like an urban oasis. Along the meandering network of stone paths you’ll find rolling rises, softly shaded ponds and gentle streams that weave underneath tiny bridges – a beautiful series of mini-landscapes that feel like a watercolour painting unfolding before your eyes. Whether it’s gazing out over the iris fields from beneath the pine trees or finding yourself deep within the ume grove, each unique vista acts as a backdrop for your relaxation and respite. While other green spaces awaken a sense of adventure or border on the semi-surreal, an undeniable sense of calm makes Korakuen well suited to slowness and contemplation. A peace of mind awaits beneath the green-hued canopies, where you can enjoy the simple and natural pleasures that are so often lost on the city’s busy streets and boulevards. <Information> -Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens -Where: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo -When: 9am–5pm (last entry 4.30pm) -Website: http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/koishikawa/ -Entry Fee: 300 yen

    Read All Text
    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.
  • Destination Tokyo: Shop the world in Tokyo-style

    Jul 16, 2015

    Let's be real; Shinjuku is not exactly a neighborhood known for having it's own fashion credentials. In fact, it is teeming with chain stores that can already be found in many other shopping hubs around the city. Sure, it means Shinjuku is incredibly convenient. But since it is very likely that you'll be passing through this massive hub a number of times on your visit, you might want to find a place that is a bit more unique to spend your money at than the rest. That's where clothing and interior store Destination Tokyo comes in. You'll have to work a little bit to get there, but the reward is great. Don't worry, I said just "a little bit". Find the "LUMINE EST" mall attached directly onto the East Exit side of Shinjuku Station, and make your way down to the annals of the B2 floor. The shop is closest to the Kabukicho & Police Box end of the hall. Depending on the week and the brand on display, it can look a bit fancy from the outside. But upon closer inspection you'll find its brands are full of friendly personality. In fact, while the store is called "Destination Tokyo", it's a multi-brand shop that pulls in items from around the world and carefully selected to reflect Tokyo's freewheeling unique taste. Even better, despite being imports or not, the prices are very reasonable for being so unique. With the great exchange rate you can get something really neat for USD$50-100. For example, these fantastic socks by Japanese brand Nonette are about 2,000yen. Or you could get some earrings or acrylic flower rings by local Japanese fringe designers for 8,000yen. Unlike the goods in the shops surrounding this one, the items sold here aren't chosen for their trendiness, but rather for their bright colors, patterns, and one-of-a-kind qualities. Just look at some of the patterns! The shoes were made to look like unusual materials like hay, marble or concrete, and some were straight-up sci-fi looking. Jacques Le Corre is a best-selling bag and hat brand from France here, and while it looks very retro Parisian-chic, I discovered a scarf printed with a photo of a  stuffed animal on it. It's these little discoveries that remind of walking around a random Tokyo neighborhood and coming upon a majestic piece of architecture or some other treasure hidden away. There are brands from New York, Italy and France, as well as far reaching places like Berlin, Candra and even Argentina, like Tramando. One of the highlights is Japanese brand Nozomi Ishiguro. As a former designer for Comme des Garcons, he has a "couture" line of some of the most unique and wild clothing you'll ever encounter. Even the tag on the clothes says "In couture, there's never `too much`". Rock on! Along with the clothing, there is a selection of interior goods as well. The cash register is actually housed in a little room that has become a tea shop, selling premium Bellocq tea from New York and French plates and ceramics. While there are a lot of global brands here, it's a magnet for Japanese style mavens and they know it's charms well. In the time I spent looking around the store, there were a number of locals, including a Nozomi Ishiguro super-fan who was there to check out the newest goods. Tokyo has never not been a constantly moving city, and to reflect that Destination Tokyo changes up its layout and goods every week or so. In Sept., it will reveal a new interior decor and start adding artwork to it's shelf oeuvre as well. No matter what your destination really is, be sure to check out Destination Tokyo.  B2F, LUMINE EST., 3-38-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo (East exit/Kabukicho Exit of Shinjuku station, inside the station building) OPEN: 10:30 - 21:30 Saturday, Sunday&Holiday 10:30 - 22:00

    Read All Text
    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.
  • Paddlers Coffee – Make yourself at home

    Jul 16, 2015

    It is a rare yet brilliant moment when you come across a place that, having been crafted with the warmth and attention to detail usually reserved for private spaces, feels so comfortable that you can’t help but want to make it yours for the day. Tucked away in a former residence just off the Nishihara shotengai, Paddlers Coffee is a cafe with a homely charm that has quickly become a neighbourhood favourite since opening its doors earlier this year. After several drip-only coffee stands – one of which remains in Jingumae – and popup events that have spanned both morning markets and mountaintops, Paddlers’ first standalone store is built upon the same dedication to brewing high quality coffee, this time using a vintage La Marzocco espresso machine. Sourcing beans exclusively from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, barista Takehiro Kato has based his menu around creamy leaf-bearing lattes, full-bodied americanos and punchy espressos, all fine-tuned according to the mood of the day. Yet as fine as each cup may be, coffee is just the beginning – not the limit – of the cafe’s charms. Upon stepping inside you'll find the sounds of classic vinyl permeating through the timber and concrete interior, while hand-shaped ceramic mugs, quirky vintage finds and almost-hidden paintings add a hint of fun to the cafe’s easygoing atmosphere. Furthermore, subtle details such as the leisurely recline of the terrace seating and the pleasantly communal nature of conversations at the old ship’s table not only put you at ease, but make the coffee taste all the better. For co-founders Daisuke Matsushima and Takehiro Kato, Paddlers brings together pieces of the places they’ve visited, people they’ve met, and beautiful items they’ve accumulated over the past decade in Japan, Portland and throughout the Americas. And while you’ll usually find at least one of the affable pair behind the counter, the community that they’ve built over the past few years are also ever present. Whether it’s the friendly florist potting flowers each Friday morning, visiting baristas from across the Pacific, or local creators popping up in the gallery space, you’re never too far away from an encounter with the very people who have made Paddlers such a warm and welcoming destination. With a selection of sweet and savoury treats ranging from fresh pastries via Katane Bakery to home-style lemonade and gourmet hot dogs, Paddlers continues to capture the hearts of customers both young and old. From toddlers who play with toys on the floorboards to coffee lovers and long-time Nishihara residents who appreciate the cafe’s gentle rhythm, the cafe has become a place where all are welcome and it’s easy to just go with the flow. <Information> -Paddlers Coffee -Where: 2-26-5 Nishihara, Shibuya -When: Thu-Tue, 7.30am-6pm -Website: www.paddlerscoffee.com

    Read All Text
    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.

COMING SOON...

FEATURES SEE ALL +


How cool is Japan? We strive to develop varied themes,
so you can share intriguing aspects of Japanese culture from traditions to latest trends.