As usual, whenever we leave Tokyo for a few weeks for a holiday, we come back to a different landscape, with international brands making their debut in the capital and local ventures piquing our curiosity. Between brand new shops, not-so-new ones and upcoming openings, we rounded up our favorites here. Have a look and go explore!
By Vivian Morelli
Log Road Daikanyama
The fragrant wooden buildings and lush greenery now covering the old Tokyu line tracks at Daikanyama station, also known as the Log Road, is our new favorite city escape. It opened without much fanfare back in the spring, but it filled up rather quickly with locals and tourists alike. Start the experience with a craft beer at the Spring Valley Brewery, a sleek glass-covered establishment offering Kirin brews. You can then move on to Fred Segal, the L.A. clothing shop selling everything from vintage Chanel handbags to Ray Ban sunglasses. If the prices have you depressed, drown your sorrows in some warm doughnuts at Blue Star, where you can feast on Cointreau Crème Brûlée, Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Maple Bacon flavors, to name a few.
13 Daikanyama, Shibuya-ku (Daikanyama station) www.logroad-daikanyama.jp
H&M Shinjuku Renewal
Right in time for autumn, there is no excuse not to update your wardrobe when you can find stylish and affordable pieces at our favorite Swedish retailer. The Shinjuku branch of H&M has recently undergone a facelift, and there’s a lot to love about the changes. As usual, womenswear and accessories occupy the first floor, while menswear is right underneath, both presenting aesthetically pleasing autumn/winter collections, complete with fuzzy sweaters and oversized coats and scarves. The third floor has maternity wear and the most adorable baby clothes, so the whole family can get a makeover. The most exciting addition is H&M Studio, an exclusive high-end collection of gorgeous prints and knits, with a seventies feel.
3-5-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (Shinjuku Station) www.hm.com/jp
(Photos from fashion-press.net)
Gong Cha Taiwanese Tea
Gong Cha Taiwanese tea, perhaps best known as bubble tea or boba, is a popular beverage all around the world. After all, what’s not to like about a combination of frothy tea and chewy tapioca balls? Taiwanese specialty tea shop Gong Cha has finally opened a location in Tokyo, after populating the likes of Australia, Singapore, China, Cambodia and the United States. Not sure what took so long for Japan to finally carry their delicious teas, which come in over 30 flavors, hot and iced. Go for an original jasmine or oolong version, or try a milk tea or juice variation. Toppings such as aloe and basil seeds are available, as well as the usual tapioca.
6-6-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (Meiji-Jingumae station) www.gongcha.co.jp
Mama’s Waffle Kichijoji
Thankfully, a new opening that isn’t located in the usual Omotesando or Shibuya area. You’d think the queues would be shorter, but Kichijoji does draw the coolest crowds in Tokyo – it wasn’t voted “most desirable neighborhood to live in” for the past few years for nothing. Kichijoji’s latest
resident is Mama’s Waffle, which just opened at the end of August. Just like the name suggests, the concept is pretty straightforward: freshly baked waffles with toppings of your choice, such as lemon butter, salted butter, chocolate, maple, fig and orange. They’re also very cheap, all priced between ¥160 and ¥240, so fill up on those babies for a quick snack.
1-1-3 Kichijoji-Honcho, Musashino (Kichijoji station) www.facebook.com/mamaswaffle
About 5 years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a cupcake in Tokyo, even though the rest of the world was going bananas over the sweet treat. Surprisingly, Japan was very late to the trend, but suddenly cupcake shops are popping up all over the capital. The latest and much-anticipated newcomer is Lola’s Cupcakes, hailing from London. The Harajuku branch is set to open on October 3, and they will offer 15 different flavors daily, in a combination of classic recipes and seasonally-themed creations. No word on the taste yet, but judging by their popularity in the British capital, we believe they’ll be just our cup of tea. All we can say is, get ready to queue.
Jingumae 1-10-37, Shibuya-ku (Harajuku station) www.lolascupcakes.co.jp
Main Image: Lola’s Cupcakes