Today I visited organic perfumery chain Cosmekitchen’s Naturopathy outlet in Shinjuku’s luxury Newoman department store to check out the aromatherapy fragrances of Japanese organic perfume brand Tokotowa Organics. I had met the founder of Tokotowa’s parent company Organic Styles at the Natural Cosmetics Conference 2017 in Berlin just last month – and of course I was immediately interested. A Japanese aromatherapy brand? Cool!
Tag Archives: Tokyo
This is more of a pictorial article! I was in Ginza a few days ago and whilst I was navigating my way through Ginza subway station I almost accidentally strayed into Tokyu Plaza department store. Like so many of Tokyo’s department stores and malls, Tokyu Plaza has several direct exits to the underground public transport system. On my way to the Marounochi line I saw one of the exits for Tokyu Plaza and went in; was charmed by the food places and restaurants in the basement levels and decide to explore the store further. And this is how I ended up walking around the Hands Expo Culture Mall for almost an hour, admiring arts, crafts and foods from all over Japan.
One of the highlights of this autumn’s Tokyo trip was the visit to Tokyo Design Week 2016. TDW is one of the biggest and most important design shows in Asia; it takes place each year in Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu-mae park in late October (this year, TDW took place from 26th October to 7th November) and it is – quite simply – fabulous.
Product design, robotics, arts and crafts, architecture, interior design, intelligent fabrics – off-beat, ingenious, weird, innovative logical and sometimes completely bizarre design ideas; from young creators and world-famous designers and architects, design school graduates from across Asia; big international exhibitors and niche companies. It makes the brain sparkle.
This was my third visit to TDW (here are my show reviews of TDW 2014 and TDW 2015) and in 2016, my personal favourites included a pair of robot carp, a stylish boutique skin care brand from Taiwan, an Ukiyo-e juke box and two dozen juice mixers that played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with different sounds. Click on the link for more pics of my favourite TDW 2016 exhibits!
A few days ago I was walking through drugstore retailer Ainz & Tulpe’s Harajuku store when the fabulous retro-looking packaging of Ueba Esou’s Gofun nail polish range caught my eye. That very same day, in a different part of Tokyo, I saw Gofun again; this time in a store selling traditional Japanese handicrafts. Besides the Gofun polishes, the store also carries Ueba Esou’s hand cream range – less retro-looking but equally charming. I started to research the brand and guess what – Ueba Esou isn’t a cosmetics company at all: they are a Kyoto-based manufacturer of traditional Japanese artist paints.
I was walking around Shibuya today (my must-visit stores in this area include Cosmekitchen in Hikarie department store, the big Tokyu Hands and, of course, design depato Loft Shibuya!) and saw this interesting example of gender-specific retail: Its’ Demo is a fashion/beauty store chain aimed at an exclusively female demographic.
I first came across Kyushu-based niche beauty brand Satamisaki Organics in Japanese drugstore retailer Ainz & Tulpe’s Shinjuku East outlet this October (you can read my article about the company’s fabulous new Tokyo flagship store here!). Ainz & Tulpe has a special section on the first floor that is dedicated to local beauty brands from across Japan.
From 24th October to 3rd November 2015, Tokyo Design Week celebrated its 30th anniversary with the biggest and most spectacular show ever. Granted, it was only my second time at Japan’s most important design trade show but the whole event was on a much bigger scale than in 2014, with a number of new exhibition sections. This year they also had a central festival/food tent which hosted live bands, DJ sets and other events. I was lucky enough to catch a gig by Japanese indie band Noodles and became a fan straight away.
Amongst my favourite shows this year was the Robot Inspired Exhibition (featuring famous android girl Asuna, a robot band and some seriously intriguing examples of 3D facial and motion capturing!). The Schools Exhibition – young designers from different Asian design institutes and universities – was also very worthwhile. And then there is Creative Life: the main TDW exhibition in which brands and companies from all over the world present their take on how we might live, communicate and interact in the future.
Another interesting store which Julia from Beautyjagd and I visited last week was Beauty Library in Omotesando, just off Aoyama-dori street. Beauty Library opened in June 2015 and is run by Japanese beauty company Nature’s Way.
The retail concept for Beauty Library was created by renowned Japanese design agency Nendo: a concept store presenting organic and natural cosmetics like library information, with an attached café serving healthy foods and beverages.
And Beauty Library is indeed a beautiful store with a generous glass-fronted entrance, plenty of light and free-standing wooden product shelves that really do look a bit like library shelves.
I arrived in Tokyo a couple of days ago and it’s lovely to be back! It’s also turning into a busy week again: Tokyo Design Week starts in a few days – look out for a show review soon! – and I’ve already started to check out my favourite beauty stores to see what’s been happening in the last six months.
My friend Julia from organic blog Beautyjagd is also in Tokyo at the moment and she suggested we visit the new Ainz & Tulpe drugstore across from the East Exit of Shinjuku Station. Which is what we did – and what a fabulous store it turned out to be!
During my last visit in Tokyo I had checked out a couple of smaller Ainz & Tulpe outlets in Shinjuku and Shibuya. Yes, I did notice the difference to the traditional Japanese drugstore retailers like Sun Drug, Matsumoto Kiyoshi etc. – Ainz & Tulpe stores are much more stylish with good product presentation and a modern store layout – but other than that the chain didn’t leave a lasting impression.
However, the chain’s new Shinjuku store is in a different league altogether. It was opened in July 2015 and is quite spectacular – three floors with a total retail space of 1,290 sq m. Located opposite the East Exit of Shinjuku station, close to Lumine Est department store, Ainz & Tulpe’s new Tokyo flagship offers a fabulous selection of Japanese and international beauty brands, gadgets, fragrances and something that I’ve only seen at Tokyu Hands so far: regional cosmetics from Japan. Click on the link below for a pictorial tour of the store and more info on the Ainz & Tulpe chain.
Although I spent a lot of time in retail-oriented places, my stay in Tokyo wasn’t just about shopping and cosmetics! A few days before I flew to Taipei, I visited Tokyo Designers Week, an international design festival which started out in Tokyo in 1985 as a trade show for interior and product design. Over the years the event has expanded to take in fashion, music, anime, films, digital art….you name it, TDW has it.
Tokyo Designers Week in 2014 was bigger than ever. The event covered four central themes – design, art, fashion and music – and brought together an inspiring and very diverse range of art and design from all over the world. The structure of TDW was rather complex, with a dozen separate exhibition spaces, an arts and craft market and an extensive schedule of workshops, talks, events and performances. And there were so many innovative, imaginative, weird, spectacular and just plain beautiful artworks, exhibits and installations that my head was still buzzing the next day!