Creative Insider’s Guide To Tokyo
Wouldn’t it be great to see Tokyo from a creative insider’s point of view? Independent galleries, creative spaces and of course food. So here you go, a list of hidden gems compiled by Tokyo-native, founder and creative director of Mamimu June Mineyama-Smithson.
Creative Space 8/
Creativity and Japanese Food All on One Floor
I love this place because you can satisfy your appetite for both creativity and Japanese food in one place. Spanning over the whole 8th floor in Hikarie in Shibuya, 8/ is a creative space that constantly holds multiple exhibitions and pop-ups and never fails to inspire me.
After soaking up the creative vibe, head to d47 SHOKUDO on the same floor for authentic traditional-modern Japanese lunch with a constantly updated seasonal menu that sources the best ingredients from all over Japan and complimented with a great view of Shibuya. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
ggg (ginza graphic gallery)
A Must-see for All Graphic Design Lovers
Another of my favourite spaces, ggg is a contemporary gallery that celebrates works of prominent graphic designers from Japan and abroad. Located in luxury Ginza shopping district, this little gem always has impressively curated exhibitions. And the prestigious Tokyo Type Directors Club's annual exhibition takes place here every year.
I still treasure my copy of Josef Muller-Brockmann retrospective that I bought from their lovely bookshop all those years ago. It's a must for any graphic design lover.
Yurakucho Station or Shinbashi Station (JR Lines)
Gekkoso Art Store
A Tokyo Institution for Everything Analog
Like myself most Tokyo creatives hold a soft spot for this place. Founded in 1917, this cute nostalgic art store has all the best things that analog has to offer. From original handmade stationery, sketchbooks designed with the golden ratio to award-winning housemade water colours. All tailored towards meticulous-minded creatives.
They’ll even lend you paints and brushes so that you can draw a little masterpiece on a postcard in their cafe located in the basement. Tokyo charm doesn't get much better than this.
A Superstar Creatives’ Luxury Playground
Whenever I enter Ginze Six I can almost sense the smell of Dom Pérignon. That's because this is a grown-up’s luxury playground located in the most premium shopping district in Japan. Ginza Six is a new giant shopping complex housing 241 domestic and international brands.
But that’s just the start. Its architecture, interior, and art installations have all been designed by biggest superstar creatives of our time. Yoshio Taniguchi (architect for MoMA, New York) and Kusama Yayoi (Naoshima Pumpkin art installation) to name a few. You’ll probably feel like you want to come back here with more cash. Good motivation, right?
A Stationary Wonderland That Never Fails to Impress
I grew up with this brand yet it never fails to surprise me. Especially the newly imagined flagship store in Ginza. With a mission to “make your creative moment more beautiful and comfortable”, this hip 12-storey store houses wonderfully designed goods from all over the world with something to make almost anybody's heart beat that little bit faster.
As if that wasn't enough, there is a “Paper Concierge” on the 7th floor to help you find THE paper of your dreams, the 10th floor business lounge (wittily named as HandShake Lounge) is completed with Vitra office furniture. Itoya even grows their own vegetables in the building and serve them in the cafe on the top floor. It always impresses me that this century old retailer is constantly evolving and innovating to stay on top of the game.
Meikyoku Kissa Lion
A Musical Oasis and Retreat in the Heart of the City
My oasis in the city. Once you step in, this cafe makes slip away from your daily life. Established in 1926, Meikyoku Kissa Lion (Classic Music Cafe Lion) has retained its retro charm and plays nothing but classical music all day long, from their magnificent speakers. Smoking is allowed inside but phone calls are not.
While you are allowed to talk softly (phew), most customers are generally on their own minding their own business. All the seats face towards speakers, so you can just enjoy the classical masterpieces with a damn fine cup of coffee (Agent Cooper would approve). This is special “me time” at its best. You can also request your favourite piece to play from a collection of more than 5,000 vinyls, so you can be pretty much guaranteed they will have what you want.
Field Trip outside of Tokyo
A Step into the World of Traditional Japanese Craftsmanship
I often like to get outside the city, and just an hour from Shinjuku, there is the perfect thing to immerse yourself in Japanese craftsmanship. The ‘Furoshiki’ printing company is a family run business that lets you get an up-close insight into how craftsmen work their magic on Furoshiki — a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth – from template production to dyeing and quality control. You can get a rare first-hand experience of the entire process of this delicate craft.
Mr. Fukuda, the owner carries on this family tradition and has been schooled in the craft since he was in kindergarten. You can get in touch with my friend Kyoko via Airbnb for this intimate experience in their craftsman's workshop.
Carry bold colours like Tokyo street snappers.