Japan is still one of my favorite travel destinations, and each time we come we fall even deeper in love with the Japanese aesthetics and way of being.
Yonobi's latest trip to Japan ended with a week Tokyo, and it felt somehow like coming home. Walking the narrow streets of Daikanyama, Ebisu, Naka-Meguro, exploring new neighborhoods, and falling in love with new amazing boutique and designer stores. Tokyo is a dream come true when it comes to shopping - and especially when it comes to design and interior.
But, first, if you're not traveling but just want some ceramics made in Japan. Go here to see our selection.
Tokyo is maybe my favorite 'design-store-city', the range of beautiful stores that sells carefully handpicked interior objects in this city are endless. None the less I tried to narrow it down to some of my favorites, and of course, Ceramics are to be found in each and single one of them.
SyuRo, Ueno, Asakusa
The Japanese brand SyuRo has long been on my list, and since I first introduced to their brand, visiting their Tokyo store been high on my wishlist.
Their atelier is located very close to the "kitchen street", which I talked about in the first Tokyo guide (read it here). The area SyuRo is located in is generally an interesting area to walk around in. It's filled with classic typesetters, canning factories, cloth wholesalers hardware stores and small family rund craft factories. And you can even be lucky enough to find small artisans and their art-studios around the streets. The mix is a true pleasure to walk around in.
SyuRo is beside an exceptionally beautiful store and atelier - a store that has an opinion and a mission, which I truly love. They believe that the world of today has forgotten their "monozukuri" (traditional crafts) in favor of "cheap mass production", causing some artisans to leave their traditional skills against their will. SyuRo works for retaining the treasures of the Japanese artisans, why SyuRo decided to offer a place for artisans to make use of their artisanry by familiarizing themselves with new materials and picking up ideas on unusual household goods. This way, they hope that both the goods will improve but their popularity will grow. Creating things that are more than "things". SyuRo intends to work on creation, today and always, for shitamachi monozukuri (local crafts) to thrive, together with the stories monozukuri (craft) has to tell. The result is an updated and modern take on traditional crafts made in Japan, you can find ceramics, leather goods, brass cans, clothing and much more. All things made to perfection and with a strong sense of details.
Proto, Ueno, Asakusa
On the first floor of a somewhat anonymous building behind a beautiful bright blue steel door, you find Proto - a little hidden ceramic gem. Proto sells a beautifully curated ceramics - lot Japanese but also from foreign artists. Besides ceramics, the store also sells other beautiful crafts, jewelry, woodwork and more. The store is simple and minimalistic in its display - almost creating a museum-like feel to it. A good place to find something unique craft to bring home.
AELU, Nishihara, Shibuya-ku
One of my favorite experiences during our stay in Tokyo was AELU. AELU [Aer] is a ceramic gallery and restaurant. The owner Tomohiro Maruaka, has impeccable taste and you feel this in any possible way - from the room itself to the ceramic displayed and of course the natural wines and food you get served in the restaurant. It's Japanese perfection all the way.
If possible do yourself the favor of making a reservation for dinner, and enjoy all the small and delicious dishes, which (off course) is served on carefully selected handmade ceramics that compliment each dish they serve. It is a wonderful experience - truly unique and satisfying in every way.
This store is one of my favorites in Tokyo. We ended up using several hours in here, just walking around the shelves and falling madly in love with the range of ceramics, glassware, clothing, flowers, books, furniture and much much more!
The ceramics here include the cool mugs from Echo Park Pottery and one of my favorite Japanese artists Yoshinori Takemura colorful ceramic universe. Definitely a store that should be on every design-lovers-list.
It was one happy surprise when we stumbled upon this gem of a store in the narrow and small streets in the Aoyama area. Doinel is a shop that sells interior goods and grocery, under the concept of dealing with the simple, genuine product found between craft and mass production. Their collection of tableware was especially beautiful and presented wonderfully in the store, with big tables with a full dinnerware set-up. Furthermore, my better half made me promise to note, that their collection of Whiskey and natural wine - also is worth mentioning.
Over the Counter, Aoyama
Under a stair in a pretty anonymous building, you find "Over the Counter", one of eight 'Arts and Science' stores created by Sonya Park - a Tokyo-based Stylist-turned-retailer. This store is a must visit in Aoyama, never have I experienced a concept store taking it to this level.
When you enter the store - you're met with a beautiful vintage counter, where delicate and very beautiful objects of design and crafts are presented in the class montres. And that's it. So if you like to see or buy something, the ever-so service-minded staff (well, we are in Japan) will then carefully present you with the objects. It's a truly unique and wonderful experience.
Spiral Market, Aoyama
Located inside the Spiral Building, which is designed by Fumihiko Maki, you find this great store filled with the perfect mix of Stationary, leather goods, homeware, Greetings cards, and other accessories. They actually have a whole station only for gift wrapping, where you can find the perfect wrapping combo. Their range of ceramics and glass are also worth mentioning - a bit more 'classic', then some of the other places we visited, but still very beautiful.
Hakusan shop, Aoyama
Hakusan is a classic pottery shop in Japan, selling primarily ceramics produced in Hasami, on the island of Kyushu (one of Japan's pottery hotspots) since 1958 and many of the original designs are still in production. The store and the ceramics became famous around the world when designer Masahiro Mori created the G-type soy sauce dispenser. The design is now a permanent part of the store's inventory.
La kagu, Kaurazaka, Shinjuku-ku
A former book warehouse owned by Japanese publisher Shinchosha, La Kagu, takes the lifestyle-shop to a new direction. This two-story shops stocks men- and womenswear, tools, kitchenware and nonetheless vintage Danish furniture. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed by their selection of ceramics when I visited, but, to what I heard, they change their collections quite often - and everything else a pleasure to look at, so still worth a visit!
Besides the store itself, they also have a nice café with outside seating - overlooking their maybe main attraction - a huge and impressive organic shaped timber staircase, leading all the way from the street to the door. Which all day is filled with people enjoying the weather, taking pictures and sipping ice-coffee.
Tsutaya, T-site Daikanyama
'Tsutaya' is still one of the best bookstores I have ever visited. It's located in the very cool T-site buildings by Klein Dytham Architecture, where the exterior comprises hundreds of interlocking T-shapes that subtly reference the logo of Tsutaya's logo. Inside you can find books about everything - and I mean everything. I especially got lost in the design section, where whole aisles are just about shop-interior, crafts, ceramics, Japanese retail wrapping and much much more.
When you're done dreaming your self away in the books, take a walk around the other shops found in the T-site area. Hungry? go for a bite at Ivy Place or walk across the street for a coffee at the newly opened Saturdays Surf, a very cool and beautiful designed retail and coffee shop.
Still on my list, but haven't been YET ...
Claska, Meguro. The last time we visited Tokyo we had the pleasure of staying at Claska hotel, a very hip and nice designer hotel. But this is so much more than a hotel, under the direction of Takeo Okuma, the Claka stores offer a mix of traditional craft, everyday homeware, and modern design.
Folk-craft shop, Wakamatsu-cho. Heard it should be the place for finding Japanese Mingei (folk craft). The store is five floors, where each store is dedicated to different crafts. The store was unfortunately closed last time we went.
Gekkoso, Ginza. A quirky art-supply store, which sells a broad selection of brushes, paint, paper - and everything else your inner-craft-person desires. The store also holds a café.
When traveling in Japan, always remember to check for local markets. It is still, in my opinion, the most unique and satisfying way to find Japanese ceramics, woodwork, kimonos etc. Even though we didn't make it by this time, one of my Tokyo favorite markets is still the 'Ôedo Antique Market, you can read about it in my first Tokyo guide here. This time though we made it to the Heiwajima Antique fair. It is the oldest (since 1978) and most famous antique fair in Japan. Normally there are over 280 dealers from all over the country, so be prepared to spend some hours looking around the stalls filled with antique ceramics, kimonos, teapots, maps, paintings, toys and much much more. The Antique Fair is held 5 times a year in March, May, June, September, and December.
Other Tokyo markets: Boro-ichi street market, Yoyogi Park Flea Market, Mottainai Flea Market, Hanazano Shrine Aozora Kottoichi, Ariake Retro Festival. Oedo Kottoichi Flea Market ... just to name a few
Both times I went to Tokyo we stayed at an Airbnb in Daikanyama, which is still one of my favorite Tokyo areas. Daikanyama often referred to as “the Brooklyn of the Japanese capital,” is one of those places; a hidden gem where modernity and comfort combine the perfect harmony. A popular weekend destination for locals, this area’s relaxed vibe, tree-lined pedestrian-only streets and trendy eateries make it a suburban oasis located just a 15-minute walk from the world’s busiest intersection.
Besides great shopping and cozy streets, Daikanyama also has a strong food game. Get your breakfast or afternoon tea & cake at Garden House Crafts. Your afternoon bear and dinner at the Spring Valley Brewery or grease up with a burger at Sasa Grill near Daikanyama station. End your evening at Bar Martha, a speakeasy bar located in Ebisu (very near Daikanyama), which serves delicious cocktails, beers, and whiskeys.