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Expert Advice: A Design Guide to Japan with Asako Ueno of Anzu New York

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Expert Advice: A Design Guide to Japan with Asako Ueno of Anzu New York

February 9, 2018

Where are the best off-the-beaten-path teahouses, design shops, restaurants, confectionaries, and places to stay in Japan? We asked Asako Ueno, owner and curator of Brooklyn-based Japanese goods shop Anzu New York, where she goes when visiting Japan. Here’s her mini guide.

Tokyo

One of Ueno&#8
Above: One of Ueno’s picks is the new home-goods and vintage shop Casica. “I love their big space,” she says. “Also, you can enjoy a nutritious Japanese-style lunch and coffee there. It’s hard to leave in a short time.”
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Above: “Yumiko Iihoshi is one of the popular ceramic designers in Japan. Anzu New York carries her ceramics,” Ueno says. The locations in Tokyo and Osaka (shown) “sell not only Iihoshi’s products but also her favorite things for everyday use at home.”

New from the designer behind Minä Perhonen, Akira Minagawa’s new shop, Call, sells textiles and clothing, Ueno says, “but also I enjoy the interior, like the chandelier, which glass artist Kazumi Tsuji made for this shop. They also have a grocery shop and cafe there.”

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Above: Ueno’s pick for traditional tea in Tokyo: Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience. “If you like minimalism, I will take you here,” she says. “The interior and presentation of their Japanese tea are so new, but yet based on the traditional knowledge. So beautiful and peaceful.”
Next on the list: Food for Thought, which Ueno describes as &#8
Above: Next on the list: Food for Thought, which Ueno describes as “so tiny!” The shop sells ceramics and French vintage in a pop-up style. “Yuko Watanabe, the culinary specialist, is the owner. I love her taste in food and lifestyle,” Ueno says.

Two more of Ueno’s picks are on the same street. Sake Shop Fukumitsuya Marunouchi: “This is a sake shop, but I always buy a little gift for my American friends and for myself,” Ueno says. “They sell packaged food and ceramics; also they serve sake ice cream, which is so good.” And the Tokyo location of Ippodo Tea, which also has a Kyoto shop: “I use this shop for tea shopping and also tea break.”

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Above: Ueno’s Tokyo restaurant recommendation: Higashi-Yama. “It’s like someone’s home. And of course delicious,” she says.

And Daikanyama Tsutaya Books is a massive architect-designed bookshop that’s noted among the most beautiful bookstores in the world. “They also sell gifts,” Ueno says.

Beyond Tokyo

For lodging, Ueno recommends Beniya Mukayu. &#8
Above: For lodging, Ueno recommends Beniya Mukayu. “This hotel is in the countryside of Kanazawa, a one-hour drive (or bus ride) from the city. Simple interior and hot bath—heaven,” she says.
The otherworldly Toraya Kobo, a factory for Japanese confections (wagashi) in Gotemba, can&#8
Above: The otherworldly Toraya Kobo, a factory for Japanese confections (wagashi) in Gotemba, can’t be missed, Ueno says. “It’s a day trip from Tokyo. I love the entrance, walking around the area,” (it’s in a bamboo grove), “and enjoying the in-season sweets.”
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Above: “Minä Perhonen Kanazawa is textile designer Akira Minagawa’s flagship shop in Kanazawa,” Ueno says. “It takes your breath away; they reuse a traditional old house as a shop so nicely.”

Another inn recommendation: the traditional Yudonoan in Yamagata. (Ueno worked on the interior design several years back.) “It’s surrounded by a rice field, with local food and hot spring baths, all owned by one family. For ‘do nothing,’ it’s the best place to stay,” she says. “I sometimes go the Ken Domon Museum of Photography when I stay there.”

For another day trip from Tokyo, Ueno recommends Evam Eva Yamanashi, a shop, restaurant, and gallery in Yamanashi. Bonus: &#8
Above: For another day trip from Tokyo, Ueno recommends Evam Eva Yamanashi, a shop, restaurant, and gallery in Yamanashi. Bonus: “It has a beautiful view of Mount Fuji,” Ueno says.

Headed to Japan? See our guide to Japan Design Travel, and browse more of our picks.

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