Since Madonna was snapped midparty with a cigar in
her lips last year, the sweet-smelling sticks have been hot stuff. Martin
Webb braves billowing smoke to report on the best of Tokyo's cigar sellers.
Photos Anatole Papafilippou
Adjacent to the bustle and glamour of the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel lies
the cigar shop ACANTA, where a wide range of men's lifestyle goods fills
the futuristic-looking space. The majority of the inventory is cigar-related,
and there are also sunglasses, ties, Davidoff, etc. Cigar cutters, humidors,
tubes and scissors from Davidoff, Elie Bleu, and Cristofle are ideal gifts
for the cigar-loving husband, father, uncle, brother, lover or whoever
you can think of to provide an excuse to get close to these beautiful
pieces of craftsmanship. With its uncustomary glass-and-concrete interior
the humidor offers a unique selection of hard-to-find stogies. ACANTA
recommends Dominican cigars over the traditional Cuban favorites—purported
to have declined in quality over the past few years—and boasts one of
the widest selections in Tokyo. The cheery sales staff are exceptionally
helpful and can steer you, in decent English, to a suitable cigar for
your special occasion.
Open 10am-8pm. Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel Lobby, 26-1 Sakuragaocho,
Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3780-8335.
This friendly, family-run establishment caters to tobacco enthusiasts
in trendy Minami-Aoyama. Although there's barely enough room to accommodate
more than two customers at a time, the shop has a mind-boggling array
of tobaccos from around the world. The somewhat cramped humidor houses
a surprise-free selection of top names. You won't find anything suitable
for posing or party gags, just great cigars for the serious smoker. SMOKE
is well patronized, and the high turnover of stock means your cheroot
of choice is fresher than elsewhere. Aside from tasty torpedoes, SMOKE
stocks cigarettes imported from all corners of the globe. Beedies, the
professional hippy/traveller's smoke of choice, is available, as are Death
brand and Guram. For those who like to roll their own, there are a couple
of brands of loose tobacco and a decent selection of papers. The inevitable
cigar cutters, ashtrays and lighters are all at bargain prices, and there
are some knickknacks that might well stir a chuckle.
Open 7:30am-9pm. 5-6-22 Minami-Aoyama. Tel: 03-3486-1908. Nearest stn:
Omotesando, exit B1.
Tokyo Cigar Club
Tokyo Cigar Club boasts the widest selection of cigars in Tokyo with 30
brands, almost all from Cuba. Above the slick store is a cosy bar, furnished
with touches of Latin American passion. On weekday evenings one can find
dedicated aficionados from the embassies and neighborhood offices puffing
away to their hearts' content while savoring some of the premium beverages
from the swish bar. The Cigar Club reports that an increasing number of
female and expatriate customers have been taking an interest in this previously
male-dominated pastime and that clientele who frequent the shop and bar
defy stereotyping. Aside from the vast assortment of cigars, Tokyo Cigar
Club also carries handcrafted humidors, cutters and ashtrays imported
from Germany and France. The cigar smoker on the move should consider
the travel humidor embossed with the club logo. This being a club, members
are afforded certain privileges, but as the price of tobacco is fixed
by the government, these don't extend to discounted smokes. Make the journey
to the Azabu store or the Westin Hotel, and sign yourself up.
Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-6pm. 2-3-9 Azabudai, Minato-ku. Nearest
stn: Kamiyacho. Tel: 03-3583-7130. Bar open Mon-Fri 5pm-12am. www.intercontinental.co.jp/cigar
Le Connaisseur's dens of opulence occupy prime locations in Ginza, Roppongi
and Shibuya and are the perfect place for cigar lovers to stock their
humidor and rub shoulders with fellow fetishists. Each establishment twins
a cigar shop with an immaculate bar. Le Connaisseur's humidors are stocked
with over 100 types of fine cigars, and if you're at a loss as to which
to plump for, expert staff will guide you with impeccable politeness.
Ascend to the bar space to join torpedo-toking tycoons, international
men of mystery, and the odd cigar aficionado exchanging acrid anecdotes
and stogie stories. Thick with sweet fog, the bars sport cozy armchairs
that are easy to drift off in and are delicately lit in a way that is
very flattering to the jowls. Drinks aren't cheap (beer from ¥700,
wine from ¥1500), but the service is flawless. As a luxury destination
for unwinding after a tough week or a spot of self-indulgence, Le Connaisseur
is a good bet.
Open Mon-Sat noon-1am, Sun/hol noon-7pm. Ginza Hakua Bldg, 6-7-5 Ginza.
Tel: 03-3573-8686. Nearest stn: Ginza, exit B3, West 5th street.