In Store: Window shopping
Stephen Cotterill indulges his yen and peers into the
retail oasis that is Glassarea Aoyama.
Nestled just off Kotto Dori in Aoyama, Glassarea is a chic commercial
niche offering a glimpse of what the average shopping experience would
be if everyone on the planet won the lottery. Open since April 10, this
elegant glass and metal mini-complex is the latest offering to spring
from Tokyu Corporation's restructuring strategy and houses select
fashion and interior boutiques, two restaurants and a suitably intimidating
hair salon. But even if you're not feeling flush with cash, Glassarea
offers a pleasant diversion with its paved walkways, inviting wooden benches,
and traditional wares from Fukui Prefecture.
Ladies apparel retailer Optitude has chosen its Glassarea outlet to be
its flagship store. In line with the retailer's concept of "optimism
and aptitude" (hence the name), the new store has an urbane feel
and is geared to the young salaried woman-about-town. Optitude's
own line is definitely for the sophisticate, with camisoles for ¥15,000
and up and a summer dress fetching ¥25,000 or above. There are a
few stylish trinkets placed among the nouveau flower arrangements, such
as Mime and Marge jewelry around the ¥5,000 mark, but generally
the prices are discreetly hidden with petite handbags starting at around
¥36,000. The second floor is mainly reserved for classy imports
such as John Smedley and Mr. and Mrs. Mcleod targeting the dot-com office
crowd. Massimo Rebecchi gets a fair bit of hanger space with Alpha sleeveless
tops from ¥15,000.
Open 11am-8pm daily. Tel: 03-5468-2651. www.optitude.com
As the name suggests, Casadecor Scena has a vaguely Spanish sensibility
and would add a splash of Mediterranean color to any Hiroo living room.
As well as giving floor space to chic imports such as an electric-orange
sofa from Park Avenue and wicked wire lamp stands by Foscarni at prices
around ¥200,000, Casadecor also makes room for reasonably priced
tableware and household accessories. A Tiamo mug from Leonardo, for example,
would set you back ¥3,500, while Liden Leaves aromatherapy oils
and balms containing real fruit and flowers average ¥2,500 per 500ml
bottle. The store also offers pick 'n' mix, self-assemble
Progetto Multisystem units for the living room and kitchen by Euromobile.
A little bit pricier than your run-of-the-mill DIY chipboard ensembles,
a full set of shelves and desk in the Dimension line could easily break
the million yen mark. Kitchen units, meanwhile, are strictly for those
on diplomat packages.
Open 10:30am-7:30pm daily. Tel: 03-5468-3630. www.casadecor.co.jp
Shunko Arisotei Aoyama
Next to Aoyama 291 is another bastion of Fukui Prefecture culture.
Shunko Arisotei is a high-end izakaya hailing from the eastern Echizen
district of Fukui, which is renowned for fish and crab caught fresh from
the Sea of Japan. The 62-seat restaurant was established in collaboration
with a local Echizen hotel and has a traditional Japanese aesthetic coupled
with the comfort of Western-style dining furniture. The evening menu reflects
the region's specialties with offerings such as sea bream sashimi,
dressed female crab and wakasa beef, which you cook at your table on a
heated stone. Entrees are priced around the ¥2,000, so, with a couple
of drinks thrown in, an evening meal would average around ¥5,000
per person. There are 30 varieties of wine, sake and beer to choose from,
including Fukui home-brewed Bon Nihonshu at ¥1,000 for an ichigo
bottle. The lunchtime (11:30am-3pm) set menu offers pretty good value
with a selection of grilled fish with trimmings for ¥1,300. The
soba dishes priced at ¥500 are worth a try, particularly as the
Echizen soba farmer that supplies the restaurant recently received an
award for excellence from the Ministry for Agriculture. Must be the country
air down there.
Open 11:30am-2:30pm and 5-11:30pm Mon-Fri; 11:30am-2:30pm and 5-11pm Sat,
Sun and hols. Tel: 03-5466-5820. www.arisotei.com
Minami Aoyama 291
Established by the Fukui Prefectural Government, Minami Aoyama 291 offers
a selection of the best products the region has to offer. Although a majority
of the store showcases traditional craftsmanship such as ceramics, lacquerware,
sake and handmade paper, there is also a large display of spectacles and
sunglasses. Fukui happens to be the biggest producer of eyeglass frames
in Japan, accounting for 85 percent of domestic production, and prices
range from ¥8,000 to ¥100,000 and above for state-of-the-art
eyewear. The second floor has a business center and an oddly named U-turn
center, which appears to be for smoking. There's also a massive
200-square-meter space available for events, wedding receptions and the
like. The area can be hired out for anything from ¥14,400 for half
the space for a couple of hours to ¥93,000 for the whole area, including
kitchen, for the whole day. If you happen to be from Fukui Prefecture,
it's a third of the price.
Open 10am-8pm Wed-Mon, closed Tue. Tel: 03-5778-0291. www.ma291.jp
This Cantonese restaurant is part of the Orion dining experience,
which also brought us Aux Bacchanales, among others. You Xian has a sister
eatery in Hong Kong and tries with some success to remain true to its
roots. The menu is certainly authentic, offering dozens of varieties of
Chinese tea in the ¥500-900 range, dim sum, noodles, rice and soups,
all reasonably priced. Whole vacuumed-packed pig heads and piglets hang
in the window for that extra touch of authenticity; fortunately, they
are off limits to diners. But you can buy tea and desserts to takeaway.
Specialties of the house include barbequed pork strips, and the roast
duck does a fair impression of the Peking variety. On Saturdays and Sundays
the small open terrace and interior get filled pretty quickly, despite
the fact that the grand opening was only on April 26. Reservations are
Open 11:30am-10:30pm daily. Tel: 03-5468-0340.
This swish hair salon dominates the second floor above You Xian, offering
cuts for ¥7,000 and perms for ¥13,000 or more. They don't
have a set price list as such, which may suggest the sky's the
limit, but you can sit down with a "hair specialist" for
a lengthy consultation before they actually start specializing. Boasting
floor-to-ceiling windows and an array of cacti and fresh plants, Difino
will at the very least leave you feeling fresh and prepped for the next
stop in your shopping adventure.
Open 11am-9pm Mon, Wed-Fri; 11am-8pm Sat; 10am-6pm Sun and hols; closed
Tue and every third Wed. Tel: 03-5468-3361. www.difino.com
Milan-based Izumi Ogino has enjoyed respectable success by tapping the
high-end fashion market in Japan with her Anteprima outlet in Ginza and
another in Ikebukuro. Her mini-empire is expanding, and the stylish and
minimalist store at Glassarea, which opened April 12, is the latest addition.
Leather handbags averaging around ¥50,000 are the best sellers,
closely followed by delicate shoes and sandals in a similar price range.
More extravagant attire for those special occasions, such as a white leather
dress, could easily set you back ¥250,000 or so. A recent tie up
with japan's Itochu Corp. means that Anteprima outlets will also
be stocking jewelry, watches and optical wear from spring/summer this
year. As the Ginza store rakes in the cash, the Glassarea store is serving
primarily as a showroom. According to sales staff, the new fall/winter
collection will soon be on the shelves and a sales push with discounts
of up to 30 percent will kick off in the second or third week of July.
Open 11am-8pm daily. Tel: 03-5468-3547. www.anteprima.com
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tokyu Corporation,
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IN STORE ARCHIVE:
535: Anything goes
Add a little spunk to your life at Tokyo's zakka housewares shops. Hanna
Kite visits five of the best.
531: To a tee
Tokyos hottest T-shirt shops boast designs by some of Japans
top talents. Hanna Kite dresses down.
527: Treasure chests
Hanna Kite checks out five Tokyo jewelers that offer the perfect setting
for your next shopping excursion.
523: Arts and crafts movement
Trina OHara goes in search of the Japanese creative spirit.
Move over, Hello Kitty. Sexy has finally replaced cute in Tokyo's lingerie
stores. Hanna Kite reports.
515: Bowled over
Trina O'Hara tracks down the latest tableware to suit any time of day.
511: East meets nest
Trina O'Hara finds that Tokyo's flea markets and shrine sales suit all types
of personalities and interests.
503: The write stuff
Hanna Kite takes notes at Tokyo's finest pen and paper boutiques.
499: Blasts from the past
Tokyo trendsetters have a knack for making old fashions new again. Jennifer
Au goes back in time at the city's coolest vintage clothing stores.
495: In the bag
From haute to mass-market, designer to dowdy, Tokyo has a tote to suit every
taste and budget. Jennifer Au tracks down the best.
491: Paper chase
Steve Trautlein goes on a search for Tokyo's best English booksellers.
487: Happy trails
A love affair with the great outdoors is easily consummated at these Tokyo
retailers. Steve Trautlein gears up.
483: Top hats
Whether its a rooftop barbecue, a riverside picnic or an afternoon
stroll, there will be times this summer when youll want to keep the sun
off your face. Martin Webb hunts down Tokyos best headwear suppliers
so you can stay shady in style.
479: Oriental express
This summer, all things Asian are hot stuff. Martin Webb finds out how to
get the look without breaking the bank.
474: Haute haven
Forget Roppongi Hills aspirations to be the citys cultural hub.
This is the consumer capital of the world, and its all about shopping.
Martin Webb reports.
468: New kit on the block
Backed by street-wise fashion chain store Beams, these seven new stores
are upping the style quotient in Daikanyama. Martin Webb sizes up this brand
new shopping experience.
463: Can buy me love
Stuck for ideas about how to make Valentines Day extra memorable this
year? Martin Webb shops around for some great gift ideas for lucky ladies.
452: Perfect timing
For the rushed residents of our fair metropolis, keeping an eye on time is one
of life's little necessities.
448: House of style
The newly open Marunouchi Building is drawing legions of eager shoppers from
all over Japan
445: Present perfect
Tired of wasting your yen on last-minute gifts at duty free?
441: Toy story
Martin Webb tackles every parent's annual ennui and finds playthings that could
earn you more peace and quiet than you bargained for
437: Natural selection
Seven new "select shops" are giving style seekers an excuse to keep
433: Window shopping
Stephen Cotterill indulges his yen and peers into the retail oasis that is Glassarea
429: Jet, set, go!
With the holiday high season just around the corner, trendy travelers are in
hot pursuit of packing accessories
425: Loud and clear
No home is complete without a sound system, and for audiophiles, time at home
revolves around those little black boxes
421: Red brick revival
Once at the heart of Yokohama's bustling port industry, Akarenga Soko has a
new lease of life as an exclusive entertainment and retail complex
417: Eye browse
An eyewear boom has seen new stores open and old favorites prosper
413: Sporting goodies
409: Go Figure
An army of action figures
405: Puff 'n' Stuff
Tokyo's best cigar shops
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