Modern Japanese design shops & studios
September 9, 2014 2:06 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are visiting Japan soon and would like to visit interesting shops or design studios that specialise in uncommon and/or beautiful products, specifically for homewares, textiles and children’s toys and decor. We’re interested in contemporary design and want to get a feel for the modern Japanese aesthetic.

As an aside – we also like collecting 20th century ephemera and would love recommendations for excellent vintage/bric-a-brac shops or antique markets, too.

We will be in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Takayama. Thank you!
posted by timshel to Travel & Transportation around Japan (9 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I highly recommend the blog Hello Sandwich... She has several day trip posts on the blog; travel guide may or may not be sold out! Author is a former Australian Vogue staffer living in Japan and very into craft, design, thrifting, etcetera. Have a fun trip!!!
posted by jrobin276 at 2:23 PM on September 9, 2014

Best answer: I was just in Kyoto a couple of weeks ago and visited the Loft department store while I was there -- DEFINITELY worth checking out. It felt like a sort of nicer, Japanese version of Target with a really fantastic stationary section. They're also currently showcasing a collection of artwork, homegoods, toys and jewelry made by local independent artists on the main floor.

You should also check out one of the larger Muji locations.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:01 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Personally, I'd buy ALL of the stuff in SOU·SOU or Buden Shouten (check the "wa modern" category if you're not impressed with the t-shirts with the piggy mascot).

As an aside – we also like collecting 20th century ephemera and would love recommendations for excellent vintage/bric-a-brac shops or antique markets, too.

There are flea markets once a month in some places-- in Kyoto, it's Touji temple and Kitano Tenmangu. Tokyo has their own flea markets. I went to Kitano Tenmangu when I traveled to Kyoto in 2011 and it was mostly bric-a-brac with the odd old kimono, tsuba or ukiyo-e prints. I ended up buying a (new) sarashi in a booth that sold kimono accessories.

FWIW, I'd recommend you to check MATCHA for more ideas.
posted by sukeban at 3:59 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (Also, I'm a big fan of Muji since they opened their stores in Barcelona. Big locations in Japan have everything from peanuts to lipstick to sofas to shoes to wooden children's toys. And the stationery, oh my god the stationery.)
posted by sukeban at 4:11 PM on September 9, 2014

Best answer: Kaikado's tea caddies are pretty special, and combine a minimalist aesthetic with traditional manufacturing; they have a shop in Kyoto.
posted by holgate at 4:26 PM on September 9, 2014

Best answer: Design Festa Gallery is on my to-do list.

And this might be too far afield, but my Twitter friend's husband does handmade glasses frames. Home base is in Kobe. (I guess a daytrip to Kobe is possible from Osaka, but I have no firsthand experience.)
posted by wintersweet at 6:12 PM on September 9, 2014

Best answer: Dedegumo in Kyoto makes gorgeous handmade watches, from start to finish. They're also quite affordable.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:50 PM on September 9, 2014

Best answer: I have a recommendation for a place to get recommendations: the couple who own Mjolk (an awesome shop focused on Japanese and Scandinavian design) in Toronto have talked about their trips to Japan a number of times on their blog. Unfortunately you kind of just have to scroll through, it looks like the last time they were there was last year. But they mostly visit the kinds of studios/shops it sounds like you'd be interested in.
posted by grapesaresour at 10:30 PM on September 9, 2014

Best answer: Came into suggest 2k540, it is perfect for what you're looking for. Also, the Coredo Muromachi department stores have shops with a focus on the modern Japanese aesthetic. D & Department (link in Japanese only, sorry) is another store with lots of quality made in Japan design products. Spiral Market is another, though they have imported items as well. You might also find the stores in Kitte department store near Tokyo Station interesting, and if you decide to go there, check out the Shin-Marunouchi Building. Also, just because I love the place, I'll throw in a recommendation for Village Vanguard (link in Japanese only) in Shimokitazawa. It's like a book store that also sells lots of other silly crazy stuff. They have shops all over the place, but the one in Shimokitazawa is just insane. Shimokitazawa is a nice little area with other interesting shops, so it'll be worth the trip. And if you do go to "Shimokita," head on up on the Inokashira Line to Kichijoji. That's also an area with shops that'll interest you, I think.
posted by misozaki at 1:31 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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