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Stephanie Said's Tokyo Guide

Stephanie Said's Tokyo Guide

Sydney-based jewellery designer and Japanophile Stephanie Said shares her secret Tokyo google map links and tells us why ordering flowers is a must when in the Japanese capital.

What’s your favourite time of year to visit Tokyo?

I haven’t had the chance to be there for spring but autumn is overwhelmingly beautiful. There are chrysanthemums the size of your head on show, and gorgeous persimmon trees and camellia bushes. You can also eat roasted ginko nuts and chestnuts at this time of year, and the temperature is right for eating hot soba and nabemono.

Where do you normally stay when you visit?

My partner and I stay with his family in Kawasaki area, which is about 15km from Tokyo. This is the town he grew up in so we base our travels from here.

What do you love most about the city?

That exciting feeling of innovation everywhere; the appreciation for beautiful things – art is everywhere; and a respect and brightness in people’s attitude for nature and fellow humans alike all makes Tokyo feel quite perfect in so many ways.

What’s the best food you’ve ever eaten in Tokyo and where was it?

Sushi in a father-and-son-run sushiya that we stumbled into in a wood working area of Tokyo. This is the Google Maps link (because I don't remember the name!) but order the  “jyou seto” and you’ll get the chefs selection of sushi.

Favourite place to eat?

One place that is really beautiful is Toraya in Tokyo Midtown. It is a contemporary setting but you can also feel a lot of Japanese tradition. Toraya is a 400 year old wagashi specialist. (Wagashi is a traditional Japanese sweet made from Azuki beans.) The design of the sweets is so beautiful and they’re often to mark the seasons. For example, sakura flower shapes in spring tie, or snow-covered Mount Fujis in winter. Having the sweet wagashi with bitter matcha tea is a perfect combination. Attached to the café is a gallery space and a store to take wagashi home. It is close by to 21_21 Design, so worth doing together.

Favourite art gallery?

There are so many outstanding galleries in Tokyo, and with alternating exhibitions its best to check a site such as Tokyo Art Beat to make sure you plan and see the exhibitions that suit you. 

My favourites:

Mori Art Museum for perfectly curated exhibitions, plus being on the 53rd floor allows for some incredible sneak peek views of Tokyo. Take one floor up for a viewing platform.

Within the Maison Hermes building in Ginza, the gallery Le Forum on the 8th Floor always houses beautiful exhibitions, and the beautiful glass tiled building allows a lovely light. Chanel and Louis Vuitton also house gallery and performance spaces within their buildings and are worth checking.

ICC (NTT Intercommunications Centre) connects art and science in often incredibly innovative and interactive exhibitions. If you are there, see what is also on at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery which is in the same complex.

Where’s the best place to get an ‘only-in-Tokyo’ experience?

Keihin Industrial Zone is an industrial area that spans Tokyo and Kanagawa prefectures housing a seemingly infinite amount of factories, chemical plants, steel mills and oil refineries. While it can be dizzyingly sickening to see so much industry happening in one place, it is incredibly beautiful and Blade Runner-esque to see at night.

Best street or snack food?

My favourite snack food is oshi-zushi which can be found in a set at major train stations and some convenience stores. It is pressed rice cut into a square shape often with salmon or trout and shiso leaf and an olive garnish. Looks as beautiful as it tastes. 

If you only have a weekend in Tokyo…

It’s not enough – book more time ! But make sure to find someone to order flowers for from Azuma Makoto so you get the chance to see his head quarters in Aoyama, you’ll get to witness first hand the sublime floral work he and his team are creating.

Where’s the best place to see Japanese design?

Aoyama area near Omote Sando station. There are the Comme Des Garcons, Issey Miyake, Undercover and Yohji Yamamoto stores.  Or try the Sendagaya area for new designers like No,No,Yes! Leather Tailor and Scye Mercantile, and really innovative stationary stores like Kokuyo Café (which is part café part stationary store) and Papier Labo, which combines traditional Japanese stationary with great graphic design.

What do you always take home with you?

New stationery and tabi toe socks.

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Stephanie Said’s newest collection is available now.