On the list of my must-see stores in Tokyo was an intriguing-sounding shop in the Western parts of the city: Hansel & Gretel (yes, the store is indeed named after the Grimm Brothers’ famous fairy tale!) is located in the affluent suburb of Seijo.
To go there you take the JR Odakyu line from Shinjuku station to Seijogakuenmae station. Hansel & Gretel is on the first floor of the Seijo Corty building – it’s a little mall – which is located directly opposite the Central exit of the train station.
When you exit the ticket gates, take the escalator up to the first floor and Hansel & Gretel is on your left. The retail chain has quite a few outlets in Tokyo – another one is in Kichijoji along the Chuo line – but I think the Seijo store might be one of the larger Hansel & Gretels in Tokyo.
Anyway, Hansel & Gretel in Seijo is a proper concept store: they sell beautiful and unusual things from all over the world – interior design (including gorgeous hand-made glass from well-known Japanese glassblowers Sugihara) and kitchenware, fashion and accessories, stationery, books, home fragrance (they actually sell Parks candles, my favourite scented candle brand ever!) and a good range of organic and natural cosmetics.
Amongst the brands were Herbfarmacy from the UK, John Masters Organics (a very popular brand in Japan, almost every department store I’ve visited in Tokyo seems to have a John Masters counter!) and Aubrey Organics from the US, Jurlique and Trilogy from Australia, Weleda, Martina Gebhardt and Sonett from Germany, Chidoriya, Amritara, Kamitsuren and L’Oracle from Japan, Spanish brand Naobay and on the makeup side of things, Naturaglacé and mineral makeup brand MIMC, both from Japan.
After I had visited Hansel & Gretel I walked around the area near the train station. Seijo is a beautiful neighbourhood, very green with lots of trees and rather well-to-do; it is also the location of one of Tokyo’s more prestigious private universities. Check out the Odakyu OX supermarket which is on the ground floor of the Seijo Corty building – seriously elegant grocery shopping with some great food choices (they had an amazing selection of freshly-prepared sashimi which I had for lunch!).
Anyway, I was walking around the Seijo streets when I saw a low building that was overgrown with ivy. It looked intriguing, so I crossed the street and it turned out to be a beautiful herb store. Charis has been around for some 30 years and they sell a very wide range of dried herbs and essential oils – amongst the oils I saw some of the Yuica products I had seen at CosmeTokyo – as well as a range of organic and natural cosmetics and fragrances.
Imagine my surprise when I saw that they carried the entire product range of Florascent! Florascent is an organic fine fragrance house from Germany; they make beautiful and very original perfumes. Amongst the other beauty brands were Charis’s own label range of body care and massage oils as well as Naturaglacé makeup and La Casta face and body care. Another interesting-looking natural brand I saw in the store was De La Terre – a bit of Googling revealed that this is also a Charis Seijo brand.
Charis’ street address is 6-15-15, Seijo, Setagaya-ku; when you exit the Central ticket gates, turn left, walk across the forecourt of the station and then head straight down the street. Charis is located at the next street crossing, on the left side of the road. Look for the ivy-covered building. You can’t miss it.
I think the combination of Hansel & Gretel, Odakyu OX and Charis make Seijo the perfect antidote to the crazy, loud and super-busy Shinjuku area. It’s only about 20 minutes by train and yet you feel like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo. If you’re staying in the Western parts of the city, do yourself a favour and visit Seijo. And try the sashimi at the Odakyu OX while you’re there.