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tokyo design guide {UPDATE}

by Grace Bonney

illustration by julia rothman

today’s tokyo city guide update comes from blogger johnny strategy of spoon & tomago. johnny grew up in tokyo and has updated his original guide with links to a custom tokyo google map and plenty of insider info on great shops, dining and lodging. thanks, johnny for this wonderful updated guide! –stephanie

*to preserve the original guide’s url, we’ve made these changes to the original guide. so some of the comments you see below will be from the original posting back in 2008. *

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

My parents moved to Tokyo when I was 1 and I spent almost 18 years there before traveling to the States for college (where I underwent reverse culture shock). Tokyo is my home and it’s a vibrant city where ancient and modern, liberal and conservative, and east and west collide. That’s right, east and west. Japanese culture has often been likened to a salad bar, in which, over the course of history, has had the luxury of picking and choosing aspects that they like from other cultures, effectively converting and incorporating them into their own. The Japanese aesthetic is a great example of this. And to understand it, all you have to do is look at the art and design that has come out of the country.

The following is a selection of shops, museums and architectural sites that have influenced me as an artist. It’s my pleasure to share them with you in this guide to design in Tokyo.

Google Map Link (Sorry, the map’s in Japanese but I’ve done my best to label shops and train stations in English )
View Tokyo Design Guide in a larger map

Area: Kagurazaka (Iidabashi Station)



This is a paper factory turned flower shop. But don`t think it`s any old flower shop. The fashion-influenced owner creates stylistic flower arrangements that blend aesthetics from the east and the west.

Tel: 03-5261-0229

3-4 Akagimotomachi, Shinjuku-ku

La Ronde d`Argile

The building was built in the 1950s but the store showcases the work of Japan`s younger generation of ceramic artists. The odd mix of traditional Japanese ceramics and French antiques create a unique atmosphere.

Tel: 03-3260-6801

3-4 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku


This is a great little shop that specializes in small accessories, tote bags, and leather goods. The modern-Japanese pieces are almost all the work of the owner.

6-58 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku


Iidabashi Station

Architect: Makoto Watanabe Architects

Completed: 2000

2-1 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku



Come here for Kaiseki Ryori, the ultimate in traditional Japanese cuisine. 8-9 courses are prepared by the head chef, who changes the menu on a daily basis. But be prepared to pay between $100~$150.

Tel: 03-5225-0173

3-1 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku

Mugimaru 2

Originally a watering hole for the locals, this cafe was recently redesigned by artist Nagato Iwasaki, who substituted shelving with drift wood and stuck bamboo into concrete. Enjoy some homemade manju (Japanese bun filled with sweet bean) and tea as you take some weight of those legs.

5-20 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku


The Agnes Hotel and Apartments

This hotel is geared towards long-stay guests. Rooms are equipped with a refrigerator, kitchen, and washing machine. The location is ideally situated in a quiet part of the area but still within walking distance of all the shops and entertainment.

Tel: 03-3267-5505

2-20-1 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku

Location: Shinjuku (Shinjuku Station)


In The Room

This is possibly the equivalent of Crate & Barrel in Japan. And their flagship store right in the middle of Shinjuku is sure to satisfy all your design cravings.

Tel: 03-3354-0101

3-1-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku

Nippon Form

Nippon form has an extensive collection of furniture and home furnishings that I would characterize as “modern-traditional” Japanese.

Located in Park Tower between the 3rd and 8th floors.

Tel: 03-5322-6500

3-7-1 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku


Beddings and home furnishings with a Scandinavian influence

Tel: 03-5353-6899

3-20-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku


Wako Works of Art

This is a great little gallery that has operated in the same location for 15 years. They have an impressive roster of both overseas and domestic artists from Wolfgang Tillmans to Yuji Takeoka. “from/to,” a side project with up-and-coming Japaneses writers is also very interesting.

Tel: 03-3373-2860

Sunview Heights Shinjuku 101-103

3-18-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku

Mizuma Art Gallery

One of the first art galleries to emerge in this area, Mizuma Art Gallery boasts a fairly impressive roster of artists.

tel: 03-3268-2500

2F Kagura Bldg., 3-13 Ichigayatamachi Shinjuku-ku

Location: Ebisu (Ebisu Station/ Hiro Station)

Art Up Deco Tokyo

This is the first overseas shop of the France-based boutique shop of original art pieces. Prices are very reasonable, making this a great way to give your room an artsy touch!

1F Shiroganedaikowa-Bld, 2-9-6 Shiroganedai,
Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-0071, Japan
Tel:+81-3-5789-1138 Fax:+81-3-5789-1139


Assemblage has lamp shades from Denmark, photo frames from France, hand soap from Sweden…I think you get my drift.

Tel: 03-3770-7911

Moncheri Daikanyama 2nd floor
20-20 Daikanyama Cho, Shibuya-ku


Cocca is a great place to find original textiles, as well as lamp shades and other items that utilize their fantastic fabrics!

Tel: 03-3463-7681

1-31-13 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-ku

Cow Books

A bookstore slightly off the beaten path. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese. Cow Books has a great selection of art/picture books from the U.S. and abroad.

Tel: 03-5459-1747

1-14-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku

Cushu Cusyu

A great resource for natural furniture and small accessories, even plants. Perfect for adding a warm “organic” feel to your home. They also host a variety of artists and artisans so if you’re planning a trip be sure to check that out as well.

Tel: 03-6415-7550

1-31-16 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-ku

Franc Franc

Franc Franc has been a leader in providing good design at an affordable price. The flagship store just opened July 18, 2008. Dispersed across 4 large floors are everything from sofas and beds to lighting, bath goods, and stationary. Also keep your eye opened for numerous collaborative products between various companies.

Tel: 03-6415-7788


12-9 Utagawa Cho, Shibuya-ku

Gallery Zen

This is a must-see for anyone who loves good old traditional Japanese style; from Noguchi-esque lighting to custom designed ceramics and interiors. But be careful because they are only open from 1-6pm.

Tel: 03-3440-3844

Closed Wednesdays and Sundays

Mansion New Ebisu # 408

4-9-5 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku


Pure and simple. That’s what this store is all about. With an emphasis on handmade designs, you’ll find everything from furniture to wooden and ceramic tableware.

Tel: 03-3448-0066

4-19-21 Shirokanedai 2F, Minato-ku


MANAS is your one-stop-shop for everything wallpaper. I enjoy coming here for inspiration, even if I’m not in the market to redecorate my walls.


Nakameguro Oak Bldg 4th Floor

1-26-9 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku


A great collection of imported antique and new furniture and accessories. They also make awesome custom-made furniture.


1-9-7 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku


The furniture design company of influential furniture designer Eiri Iwakura.


4-7-2 Komaba, Meguro-ku


SHOP innovator&CASABLANCA focuses on simple Scandinavian style.

Tel: 03-3475-0241

3-50-11 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku


WAAZWIZ has a really great line-up of acrylic-based products ranging from functional furniture to esoteric art pieces. I love their sculptural quality.

Tel: 03-5784-0236

3-17-8 Aobadai, Meguro-ku

Y’s for living + fabric furnishings

Come here for all your modern bedding and fabric product needs from tote bags to felt cushions.

Tel: 03-5795-1520

SK Bldg. 1F

2-36-13 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku

Zero First Design

I love this store! They really have a knack for bringing to together original, as well as imported, furniture and home furnishings. I especially love their cushions!


Kosugi Bldg. 1st Floor

2-3-1 Aobadai, Meguro-ku


Aoyama Technical College

Architect: Makoto Watanabe

Completed: 1990

7-9 Uguisudani Cho, Shibuya-ku



The gallery space of artist Takashi Murakami and his many proteges.

2-3-30 Motoazabu, Minato-ku

Kodama Gallery

A healthy representation of contemporary Japanese artists including painters, sculpters and photographers.

Tel: 03-5449-1559

3-1-15 Shirogane, Minato-ku

MA2 Gallery

An excellent little gallery with a roster of Japanese and international contemporary artists.

Tel: 03-3444-1133

3-3-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku


After closing it’s doors in mid-2007, the bookstore/cafe/art space reopened in July of 2008. It is now equipped with 5-floors of creative fun!

Tel: 03-3446-4977

1-18-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku


Spiral is a multi-purpose cultural center that hosts a variety of events from contemporary art and design exhibitions, to dance and theater performances, concerts, fashion shows, and eve parties. Something is guaranteed to be happening whenever you go!


5-6-23 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku

Cha no Ma

A very stylish cafe adorned with mid-century furniture and chandeliers. Their menu is quite tasty as well!

Tel: 03-792-9898

Kangyo Bldg 6th Fl

1-22-4 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku

Kuro Hitsuji

A restaurant specializing in “Genghis Kahn cuisine,” a Mongolian inspired Japanese lamb dish. With an interior designed by Ichiro Katami, your stomach and your eyes are guaranteed satisfaction.

Tel: 03.5457.2255

1-11-6 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku

Location: Omotesando (Omotesando Sta./ Gaien-Mae Sta.)

Day by Day

From tableware to stationary and small accessories, this store has everything that is fabulous. Be careful. I always spend too much money here.

Tel: 03-6892-1010

3-7-10 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku


A treasure trove of imported and original small and enchanting things.

Tel: 03-5474-0708

2-28-3 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku


I love this store. Just think of it as the equivalent of anthropologie. But they also have a great little cafe where you can rest in between your shopping.

Tel: 03-5770-4826

CI Plaza 2nd Floor

2-3-1 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku


Offers a great line-up of prefab houses and designer kitchens. They recently completed a home in my neighborhood and I love walking by it! The furniture in their showroom is stunning.

Tel: 03-5775-641

2-3-23 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku


If you are looking for high-quality wooden furniture, you’ll want to check out Kagura first!

Tel: 03-3797-1700

5-9-5 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku


If you favor modern designs in any way, SEMPRE will have something for you. They have original collections of furniture and home accessories, as well as some imports.

Tel: 03-5464-5655

5-13-3 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku

Wise Wise

An interior design/coordination shop. I’ve often dropped in just for inspiration. They have the most amazing sample rooms!

Tel: 03-5467-7003

5-12-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku


An adorable little shop with antique-style lamps, coffee tables, mirrors, and anything else your antique heart desires.

Tel: 03-5485-8670

2-3-11 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku


Beautifully crafted wood furniture and small home furnishings with a distinctly Japanese feel.


3-38-11 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

Winged Wheel

A fantastic stationary store stocked full of awesomely designed business cards, letters, and wedding invitations. And prices are surprisingly reasonable!


4-5-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

Wood You Like Company

This is a great little shop that specializes in natural wood furniture. But I especially like their small goodies like wooden cube lamps, bookends and plates.

Tel: 03-5468-0014

5-48-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku



Architect: Tadao Ando

Completed: 1989

6-1-3 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku

Dior Omotesando

Architect: SANAA (Kazuyo Sejima / Ryue Nishizawa)

Completed: 2003

5-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

Louis Vuitton Omotesando

Architect: Jun Aoki

Completed: 2003

5-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

Prada Boutique Aoyama

Architect : Herzog&de Meuron

Completed: 2003

5-2-6 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku

Watari-Um Art Museum

Architect: Mario Botta

Completed: 1990

3-7-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku



Established in 2000, Lotus was responsible for igniting a wave of cafes (later know as the ‘cafe boom’) that popped up in Tokyo in the years to come. Designed by Ichiro Katami.

4-6-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku


Opening in 2002, montauk was born as an antithesis to the branding of the famous Omotesando street. It was designed by Ichiro Katami.

Tel: 03.5486.5928

6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

Location: Meguro (Gakugeidaigaku Station)


Baden Baden

One of my all-time favs, Baden Baden features work by undiscovered Japanese designers…and there is some really beautiful stuff in their shop!

Tel: 03-5722-3779

2-31-7 Chuocho, Meguro-ku


Used furniture and accessories shop.

Tel: 03-3791-5594

5-18-20 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku


Encompassing an entire building, GEOGRAPHICA is a treasure trove of used antiques from the late 1800s and early 1900s. They also have a media library and restaurant, which means you could spend hours there!

Tel: 03-5773-114

1-25-20 Nakamachi, Meguro-ku


I really admire this shop for their diverse collection of items, from furniture to tea cups and face wipes, that you just don’t find in other stores. They also host artist exhibitions!

Tel: 03-3716-2767

4-11-4 Meguro, Meguro-ku


Retailer of classic modernist furniture.

Tel: 03-3792-1950

1-1-3 Takaban, Meguro-ku


This shop gets its name from their eclectic selection of furniture, fabrics, and lighting.

Tel: 03-3794-0469

1-17-9 Chuocho, Meguro-ku

Kakinokizaka Takumi

Custom and ready-made warm wooden furniture with a modern, minimal twist.

Tel. 03-5731-7991

4-10-30 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku


Claska Hotel

A boutique hotel that went under the knife and emerged with a brand new look, which is fantastic if I might add, earlier this year. Rates range from about $120 to $900/night. They also have good deals for weekly residences.

tel 03.3719.8121

1-3-18 Chuocho, Meguro-ku

Location: Roppongi (Roppongi Station)


Gallery Yume no Katachi

A gallery devoted strictly to the life and works of Shiro Kuramata, one of the most important and influential Japanese industrial designers.

1-8-4 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku

Mori Art Museum

Situated at the top of the 54-story Mori Tower, Mori Art Museum, with no permanent collection of its own, hosts exhibitions devoted to contemporary Asian art and international exhibitions. The view alone is worth it!

Tel. 03-5777-8600

6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku

National Art Center Tokyo

Designed by Japan’s star-architect Kisho Kurokawa, this is the largest museum in the country. Make sure you eat at Salon de The Rond, which sits atop a gigantic rotunda.

Tel. 03-5777-8600

7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku

Suggested For You


  • oh god, great guide!
    It would have been perfect when I lived there! I know some of the spots but a lot of new ones!
    I’ll keep fo future visits but things change so fast in tokyo.

  • what a great guide, it makes me want to go back to japan next week (well, i often feel like that). good to know that NADiff has reopened.

    i would recommend: 21 21 design sight, a small but lovely space designed by tadao ando behind tokyo midtown in roppongi: http://www.2121designsight.jp/index-e.html

    and also the hara museum, which is also not too large, but always has excellent exhibits. it’s a little out of the way, a bit of a walk from JR shinagawa station, but well worth it:

  • I am so excited to see this travel guide. My pre-husband and I just returned from our first trip to Tokyo and Kyoto last week. We truly loved Japan and everyone should visit if they can. The people we met were all so kind, helpful, and generous. The architecture new and old is breathe taking. The food is unreal…even fried whole little fishies. Oh and the fashion, I wanted everything! Also visit Kichijoji, west of Metro Tokyo. The train system is amazing and a fun adventure as well. Thank you again for writing about Japan!

  • Got to see Japanese Theater if possible. Depending on the season, various traditional shows play throughout the day and night. The only thing is if you do not speak Japanese the best way to get a ticket is arrive an hour before and stand in line at the actual performance venue. Things to look out for: Kabuki, Bunraku (puppets!) and Noh.

  • gah, this would have been so useful a few months ago!

    I would also recommend in the Omotesando area, eating at Mominoki House, checking the current out the current exhibition at La Foret Museum (top floor). Watarium also has a cafe, an awesome MOMA-esque shop, and great exhibits if you can catch them. Ebisu and Daikanyama are the areas to wander if you want to find smaller galleries and shops related to contemporary art and design.

    For those wandering to Osaka, check out the Orange Street district, it’s a district dedicated to all things design and was a complete discovery for me.
    I love-love-loved Japan – I met lots of wonderful people who helped me with my wandering, and I think I might need to return with this guide!
    p.s. another tip for any foreigners travelling in Japan is to get a Rail Pass BEFORE you leave – talk to a travel agent, you’ll save loads of cash.

  • Brilliant guide, thanks! I spent a month in Tokyo in June this year and it’s such a fantastic city. I want to get back there as soon as I can.

    A few other shops which I consider essentials: Tokyu Hands – they have stores all over but the one in Shinjuku is huge. It’s fantastic for paper goods, stationery, and wonderful craft supplies. Itoya in Ginza is a great stationery store too, and be sure to head out the back door into the lane to find the 2 Itoya annexes which sell the most divine papers. Sekaido in Shinjuku is the art supply store of my dreams. And of course you must visit Muji while in Japan. The flagship store is at Ginza station, but again, there are stores all over Japan.

  • THANK YOU…THANK YOU for posting this!! As someone living in Tokyo, this is so helpful! I can’t wait to check out some of the places I’ve never been to on this guide!! **BA

  • I love Tokyo, I lived there for 3 months this year, and I’d like to return as soon as possible.

    I found many great stores, especially in my fav districts Daikanyama, Shimokitazawa, Kichijouji and Naka Meguro.

    I’d like to recommend this book for anyone interested in art and/or interior design in Tokyo. It’s in japanese but has a great map and good pictures of the stores. It’s name is 東京アート&インテリアマップ (Tokyo Art & Interior Map) and you can buy it from amazon.jp.


  • Oh how I miss japan. My February vacation cannot come soon enough. Thanks for the lsitings – these are great and if I can I’m going to try to hit some of these stores on the next visit.

  • I was in Tokyo in April but didn’t have time to see nearly as much as I wanted to. I can’t wait to go back and I will be bringing this guide!!

  • great guide!! Thank you.
    i actually live in Tokyo, but never seen most of the places posted here.
    i’m so touched lots of people love Japan so much!

  • Very cool! I have lived in Tokyo for around six months, so I still have to learn a lot, but I recognize some of these places, and I’ll have to check out a few more! Thank you for the wonderful guide!

    P.S.: To echo Lisa, Muji and Tokyu Hands are definitely to-visit places! There’s a Muji near Ayoama that would fit right into this guide…

  • what timing on this guide … i landed in tokyo on the 22nd but decided i would also take a vacation from blogs. oh well. i’m sure my boyfriend is glad i didn’t drag him to all these additional places … i’m actually just starting to write up some of my favorites

  • I’m Gus. I am an interior designer. I want to move to Tokyo do you know any interior design / architecture practices guide or source where to find a job?

    Many thanks (;

  • hey I may be heading to Tokyo for a day or two. I am a printmaker and I am in search for fine japanese paper in rolls for printmaker/bookmaking. Do you know of any art supply stores in or near Tokyo??

  • hey there! heading to tokyo in 2 weeks, anyone know of a store where i can buy an noguchi lamp?


  • Hello.

    Thanks for an interesting blog.
    We are going to Tokyo in sept. and we really would love to meet som young illustrators. Do you by change know some we could get in contact with.

    Thanks from Copenhagen Denmark


  • Hi.
    I am very grad that you post our shop’s info(Art Up Deco Japan.) Thank you so much.
    Our shop has moved to Shirokanedai, so if you have a chance to change our address, I would be very appreciate.
    Our new address: 1F Shiroganedaikowa-Bld, 2-9-6 Shiroganedai,
    Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-0071, Japan
    Tel:+81-3-5789-1138 Fax:+81-3-5789-1139
    When you have a chance, please visit this new place.

  • Now this has to be the best guide to a place that I have ever come across. I will have to remember this if I ever in the future decide to go o Tokyo. Thank you for taking the time and sharing all this

  • Hi , I’m visiting Tokyo in a week’s time and I’d love to visit(BUY :)) some beads(crystals), instructional bead magazines/books, art supplies(brushes) and japanese paper for craft. if any1 can advise addresses and names that would be much appreciated. Ta.

  • Fantastic! My bf and I are off in April to visit all over Japan and will be taking this guide to Tokyo! So useful to have a guide that incorporates all the types of places we love to visit! Quirky and inspirational is what its all about!

    Lauren Ricci

  • Thanks for the update! It could not possibly have been more timely… I leave for Japan on Monday!!

  • I’m leaving for Tokyo and Kyoto next week. Can anybody recommend some good hotels in Kyoto? Thank you!

  • I’m so happy to see this guide updated! I moved to Tokyo two months ago, and it’s just in time to help me furnish my apartment. Love this blog, many thanks!

  • Great post. I would also recommend the ubiquitous Loft stores which are pretty much a mecca of well designed homewares, stationery and lots of other bits and pieces.

    I can also recommend the Andon Ryokan which is an architecture-designed boutique hostel in the suburbs of Tokyo. I loved staying there.

  • Hi love this guide, I have always wanted to go to Tokyo but none of my friends and family are interested in going. So i have decided to go alone can anyone recommend a hotel for a lone traveller.

  • Just returned from a fantastic trip to Tokyo, Takayama & Kyoto.
    In Kyoto, staying at The Three Sisters Inn Main was a wonderful experience. English phone is 81+75-761-6336

  • this is so comprehensive! i’m going to include this link in my weekly link review later. thanks for sharing! {hi from california} {i blog about asian related fashion}

  • Love, love, love it!! I moved to Tokyo 5 weeks ago and have been trying to find a guide like the one here. Thanks so much. Cannot wait to check out the shops!!