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. He’s been there for nearly 5 years now but has not been to Tokyo and has never seen the store here. Since I’m in town, I figure why not check it out?
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.
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. With my new purchases in had, I decide to take my time and explore the other floors while I’m here. I notice a store called "Titty & Co." and I can’t help but giggle to myself. Besides the fact that I’m actually a 12-year-old boy when it comes to my sense of humor, I think I just find it all so funny because of how kawaii and girly the store is. Everything is pink and frilly and its name has ‘titty’ in it. I know, I’m such a child lol.
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 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. Around 11pm, 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.
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. I quickly notice that I am the only girl here. Guy after guy dressed in FILA, Patagonia, Champion, etc. come strolling in. The sportswear/outerwear aesthetic is very strong here.
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 rappers and DJ’s play, 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. By the time I get to Kohei’s apartment, I realize that I’m actually a little tipsy! I know Brendan’s at work (it’s Friday midday back in New York), which means I can’t FaceTime him. So instead, I send him some chotto drunk Sasa videos, which is basically me talking to myself, alone in a room, but pretending that I’m talking to him. By around 2am, I’ve taken a shower and crawl into bed. 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 chotto drunk Sasa to get some shut-eye, good night my angels!
2F, 1-17-4 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
2-29-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
1-20-5 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo