shopping

Tokyo Travels Day 4

It's Saturday morning and I wake up bright and early at 8am. One bonus of traveling internationally (at least for me) is that I tend to sleep and and wake earlier than usual while still managing to feel refreshed^^. 

Kohei has invited me to a group lunch today at a nearby restaurant with some of his friends. I take it easy in the morning and by around noon I get ready to head out. Eno messages me and asks what I am up to for the day. I tell him about my lunch plans and invite him to join. He messages back saying he'll meet me at the restaurant. Perfect!

By around 2pm, the entire party has arrived. Kohei's 4 friends Cindy, Ken, Len, and Misa are in attendance, all of whom live in Tokyo except for Cindy who is here on holiday, like me. Kohei, Ken, Len, and Cindy all work in finance. Misa is a flight stewardess. We're all chatting with one another from across the table when I find out that Ken grew up in New York. A fellow American, yay!

The Lunch crew! (I have no idea what's going on with my face here lol)

After lunch, Ken heads out to meet up with a friend of his. Kohei wants to go check out the Aoyama Farmer's Market and I want to go to Morita, a textile store specializing in antique kimono and fabric. Cindy, Len, and Misa follow Kohei while Eno comes with me to the store.

I show Eno the address and thankfully, since he is a local, he becomes my IRL Google Maps. 15 minutes later, we arrive at Morita. Opened by Tadashi Morita, the store is a little mom&pop shop run by Morita himself along with his wife. 

Morita storefront

If vintage fabric isn't your cup of tea, don't fret, this store carries more than just that. Not only do they carry a lovely selection of vintage kimono and fabrics, they also sell furoshiki (wrapping cloths), antique ceramics, and mingei (Japanese folk crafts). But alas, fabric is my bread and butter so that is what I gravitate towards! Morita carries a wide range of textiles from vintage cottons and silks to elaborately stitched sashiko and neatly woven sakiori pieces. This is fabric heaven for me. 

Stacks of vintage kimono

Beautiful Sashiko fabric

I rummage through the textiles for nearly 45 minutes before I settle on what I want to purchase. Although a bit pricey, the quality of the textiles justifies the high price tag. I buy 3 different fabrics, each about a yard per piece. One is a black cotton with a lovely woven white geometric print. The other two are deep indigo dyed cotton pieces that I will be using for a Haori coat I am currently making for a Brooklyn based client. I always get so giddy when I go fabric shopping, especially when I have the opportunity to get my hands on fabric like this! 

The fabric I bought at Morita

After I’ve purchased my fabric, Eno invites me to meet up with his friends for some dinner and drinks at an izakaya in Shibuya. When we arrive, two of his friends, Yuno and Jiyeon, are already standing outside (they will also be the models for tomorrow’s shoot). As we’re making introductions, I feel my phone buzz. Brendan’s been texting me throughout the afternoon. I check his latest text and he’s asking to FaceTime. As the group begins to head upstairs to get seated, I excuse myself to go talk to Brendan.  

Owner, Tadashi Morita, packing my fabric purchases

About 20 minutes later, I finish my call and return to the group upstairs. Another one of Eno’s friends has joined; his name is Toto. A few minutes later, I get a message from Kohei asking what I’m up to. I text him back telling him to join us. Just as I hit send, I get a message from Derek, a friend who was introduced to me by our mutual friend Anthony Latouche (aka Mr. Hat). Derek is from London and has been living in Nagoya for the past year for work. His message says he and his girlfriend are in Tokyo for the next 48 hours and would love to meet up if I’m free. I invite the two to join us, because, well, the more the merrier!!!

Isabelle, Derek, Yuno, and Aaran

Our group has gotten a bit too big for the izakaya, so we settle the bill and make our way to another izakaya. Eno says this place is great because of its crazy cheap beer and ample space. Not too long after we get there, Aaran comes with one of his friends. At this point, we’re taking over two tables. 

It's Kohei! 

Finally, the group decides to call it a night and head our separate ways. I walk Derek and Isabelle to the train and bid them goodbye. I’m so happy Derek messaged me during his precious 48 hours in town- it was such a wonderful surprise! I tell the two of them to hit me up if they find themselves in New York and they say the same if I find myself in London.

Got a cute snapshot of the 3 of us before Isabelle & Derek head home! 

Kohei and I take the train back to Akasaka. We get off at our stop and on the way we pass by his local watering hole, The Quarter House. He asks if I’d be down to pop in for a quick drink and I say sure! The first floor is a restaurant and the basement is the bar. Kohei tells me a locale runs the restaurant while his son runs the bar. As we descend the stairs, I see there is a small group hanging out. A friend of Kohei’s is rummaging through a stack of records while the owner, his wife, and their two friends are drinking at the bar. I take a seat and start talking to the bartender.

Her name is Minami and it turns out, she used to live in New York for 6 years! Minami is a jewelry designer and used to work at Momo Sushi in Brooklyn, right off the Morgan stop on the L. I’m so surprised. I tell her I go to that place all the time! I must have seen her before. She asks what I do and I tell her about The Kimono Kid and how I make custom kimono. I tell her my studio is also in Brooklyn off the Grand stop. She asks me where exactly the studio’s located and it turns out, her ex-boyfriend has a studio in the same building. What a small world!

The Quarter House (photo courtesy of @mizuki_1120)

It’s around 1am when Kohei and I finish our drinks. We say goodnight to everyone at the bar and head back to the apartment. It’s been a fun day but boy am I happy to be crawling into bed now!

Tomorrow, Talia will be coming to stay with me in the guestroom suite that is available via the building management. I’ll also be shooting with Eno, Aaran, Jiyeon, and Yuno tomorrow. It’s going to be a big day so time for some shuteye now. Night night!

 

Sasa 莎莎


MORITA

5-12-2 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Monday-Sunday 10am-7pm

 

THE QUARTER HOUSE

5-1-34 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo 
Monday-Saturday 6pm-2am

Tokyo Travels Day 3

TGIF! It’s Friday! After waking up at around 8am, I head out to grab some breakfast. With my coffee and riceball in hand, I go back up to the lounge to check my daily round of emails. At around 10am, I FaceTime my boyfriend Brendan. He pops up on my screen and I see that he’s outside on the streets of New York. I can barely hear him speaking because the wind is so strong. He’s just left Brazilian Jiujitsu practice and is walking home. He's so cold that he keeps switching his phone from his left to right hand. I even see his eyes begin to water. It’s nearly 3 degrees Fahrenheit (that's -16 for you Celsius folk) in Manhattan and it’s in the high 50’s (14 Celsius) and sunny here in Tokyo. I sure left New York at the right time!

After I finish talking to Brendan, I head out of the apartment to start my day. I’m going to Omotesando to check out the Nepenthes store. Brendan works for Nepenthes, a Japanese clothing brand based in Tokyo with also a store and office in New York. Since I’m in town, I figure why not check it out?

Exterior of the Nepenthes Tokyo store

Exterior of the Nepenthes Tokyo store

I take the metro to Omotesando station and then walk through the small winding roads until I reach the Nepenthes store.  Situated between some residential-looking buildings, the Nepenthes store looks quite grand. It is 2 stories and made of almost entirely concrete minus the glass windows that take up the majority of the front façade. On the left, is a winding staircase, which leads to the second floor. A large fallen tree is placed precariously by the front entrance, a decorative juxtaposition to the industrial veneer.  I enter the first floor, which is only footwear. It’s rather small, probably less than 200sq feet. As I take a look at the shoes, the lone sales guy compliments my Engineered Garments jacket that I am wearing (a birthday present from Brendan).  I thank him and we chat for a little bit. Then I ask where the apparel section is and he points me upstairs.

The apparel section at the Nepenthes Tokyo store

The apparel section at the Nepenthes Tokyo store

I exit out the front door and walk up the exterior staircase to the 2nd floor. Although much bigger than the footwear section, it still feels a bit cramped, especially in comparison to the New York store. But the selection of clothing is beautiful. They carry mostly Needles, South2west8, and of course, Nepenthes. But I also notice a small section of Engineered Garments. (There’s not much because EG has their own store in Tokyo as well.)

Now that I’ve checked out the Nepenthes store, it’s time for me to indulge in one of my guilty pleasures- frivolous shopping at Shibuya109! Shibuya109 is not only a popular shopping mall for young girls, but also a landmark and popular meeting point due to its size and centrality in the Shibuya area. This 7 story department store is chock full of kawaii clothing and kitschy accessories. It’s been ages since I’ve last shopped here. But I’m on a mission- I want to buy a few items at Moussy, one of my favorite mid-price clothing brands. I buy myself a jacket and a sweater, both versatile pieces that I can wear now and transition into for spring. 

 
Shibuya109 shopping center   (Photo courtesy of  tokyo-fashion.tumblr.com ) 

Shibuya109 shopping center (Photo courtesy of tokyo-fashion.tumblr.com

Cosmetic contacts for sale at Shibuya109

Cosmetic contacts for sale at Shibuya109

Finished with my aimless browsing, I head back to the apartment to drop off my new clothes. It’s 5pm and I have plans tonight with my friend Shota. Shota is the brother-in-law of my dear friend Yunmi. I’ve known Yunmi since I first moved to New York and she is like a big sister to me. She and her husband Tomota are some of the best people I know and Shota lives up to the family name.

I text Talia to see if she and Blaise have any dinner plans. She tells me they’re free so I invite them to come meet me and Shota in Nakameguro. At 7:30pm, the 4 of us meet outside the Nakameguro train station. I make the introductions between Blaise, Shota, and Talia. I’m smiling- I love it when my friends become friends with one another! Shota leads the way (he lives in Nakameguro) and we follow him into one of his favorite izakayas.

Shota, Talia, and Blaise!

Shota takes care of the ordering and soon enough we’re filling our bellies with lots of beer and yummy yakitori.  After a few rounds of beers, Shota orders 2 rounds of sake. By now, Talia is craving something sweet so we head out and walk over to an Aloha (a chain of Hawaiian cuisine restaurants) for some pie. After dessert, Talia and Blaise decide to call it a night. They have to catch the last train home to their airbnb in Nerima, which is a bit far out from Tokyo city center. Shota and I bid them goodbye and then we’re off to go out for the night.

Peeking into an izakaya!

Peeking into an izakaya!

Yummy Yakitori and Sapporo beer! 

Me and Shota! 

Shota takes me to his friend’s joint, Solfa, a hip-hop club in the heart of Nakameguro. Apparently, one of his favorite MC’s is playing tonight, JJJ. We get to the club and he greets his friend/owner of Solfa. Introductions are made and then the guys do their bro thing. The two get caught up in catch-up talk so I go inside to take a look around. The main floor of Solfa is rather small. It has a bar in the front, an open dance floor in the center, and a DJ booth in the back. Off to the right-hand side is a door, which leads to the main performance space. After the guys are done catching up, Shota and I grab a beer and chill by the bar. It’s nearly midnight when people start rolling in. Guy after guy dressed in FILA, Patagonia, Champion, etc. come strolling in. The sportswear/outerwear aesthetic is very strong here..

Me hanging by the bar at Solfa ^^

Me hanging by the bar at Solfa ^^

JJJ’s set is about to start when suddenly Shota leans on my shoulder. He’s swaying dangerously back and forth and can barely keep his eyes open. Oh boy, do I know that look… Shota’s drunk! Although I was looking forward to seeing the show, I knew it was best to get Shota home before he blacked out. Thankfully he lives just a few blocks down the road. I then proceed to get into a cab and head back to Akasaka.

I forgot how painfully expensive Tokyo taxis are!!! The ride from Nakameguro to Akasaka was barely 15 minutes and my fare was well over 3,000yen (about $30USD). New York will always win the taxi battle, no matter what country I’m in. Tomorrow, I will be checking out an awesome antique kimono and textile store, I cannot wait to see their inventory... Now it’s time for me to get some shut-eye, good night!

 

Sasa 莎莎


NEPENTHES

2F, 1-17-4 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

 

SHIBUYA 109

2-29-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10am-9pm

 

SOLFA

1-20-5 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo