City Guide: Tokyo
Tokyo is a special place for our founder Frances. She loves the energy of the city, the beautiful hospitality and definitely the coffee culture. Who better to tap for their favourite spots?! Always on the lookout for the lowkey, but interesting and inspiring, places to shop, eat and move. We asked Frances to take notes on her most recent trip (celebrating our Black Anise launch) and she served up some really special places.
"At once bustling and serene, steeped in tradition, whilst hyper focused on the future… Tokyo is a place of contradictions for me and perhaps because of that, one of the most inspiring places to spend time."
Reset – I love to fit a yoga class in when I’m travelling as an opportunity to ground, reset and remind myself to be in the moment. Nami yoga studio is tucked away in the business district of Minato-Ku has gorgeous teachers who speak in English and teach with a supremely distinct Japanese flavour. From the hasami mugs and six choices of tea, to the tranquil vibe and peaceful teaching style of a deceivingly tough vinyasa flow.
Caffeinate – You’re spoilt for choice in Tokyo, but I couldn’t go past my favourite New Zealand coffee brand – Supreme, who’s Shibuya outpost is the height of cool and the best of Wellington meets Tokyo (be sure to check out their rooftop). If one stop doesn’t satiate your coffee fix, Good Good Not Bad also in Shibuya is one of the newer additions to the Tokyo coffee scene. Grab a cold brew to go and head to the epic MontBell flagship next door for a browse of their beautiful technical gear.
Shop new – There’s no two ways about it, Tokyo is an absolute shoppers heaven. I’d challenge the least “shopper” among us, not to be charmed by the incredible retail displays, service and sheer diversity on offer. Whether it’s ceramics, technology, fashion or furniture, in formats from wabi sabi to kitsch to understated cool, Tokyo has it all – in spades. A favourite for me is the Nose Shop flagship in Shinjuku which sports not only an incredible mix of the top niche perfumes from around the world, but a giant nose on the wall and a perfume sample vending machine. While you’re there, step by Super A Market enroute for the latest / best local and international contemporary clothing, footwear and selected goods.
Shop old – I love to pick up a vintage treasure when travelling, there’s something about the one-off nature of both the garment (and the previous life it led) and the memory of the trip that makes it doubly special. The back streets of Shibuya are great for seeking out something special. Number Me, a cute little boutique has classic vintage such as Gucci loafers alongside an eclectic array of new fashion and lifestyle from local designers. 10Tow hides behind a nondescript door, up 4 flights of stairs and is a treasure trove of vintage and secondhand Yohji Yamamoto, Commes des garçon and and other Japanese and international designers.
Stay – We stayed in the super well situated and beautifully appointed All Day Place in Shibuya. Eco friendly in the chicest, most understated way. In true Japanese style, rooms come replete with freshly laundered sleepwear and slippers, a selection of beautiful teas and even the chicest bio toothbrush and toothpaste I’ve ever seen, plus there was no over-fragranced-hotel-vibe you so often get when travelling (and is guaranteed to give me a headache).
Eat – Where to start… from street food, to high end Tokyo has anything and everything in between. My advice is that so long as it’s local (and the place is full of locals) you can’t really go wrong. We had an incredible grill and sashimi meal at uber local hole in the wall Yuji (ask for the chefs recommendations), and an exceptional late night degustation replete with sake matches at Ikyu. The only rules are – be open minded, and ask questions – the Japanese love to introduce you to their specialities, so long as you show a little interest and willingness to try their recommendations, you’ll be showered with hospitality.