By Patricia Belyea
TOKYO JP Exploring, not shopping, beckons me to Japan. Yet when I discover an exceptional store, I admire all the facets of the experience—the place, the products, and the people. Here are four shops in Tokyo worthy of your attention.
2-9-2 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
You go up an outdoor escalator to access the shop
Open every day, 11am to 6pm
Closest station: Azabu-Juban
Owned by the champion of Japanese arts and crafts Amy Katoh, Blue & White presents a curated collection of delectable products. Look for contemporary chusen-dyed tenugui (90 cm pieces of light cotton) if you like to cut up fabrics—plus artisan ceramics, designer clothing, traditional textiles, fun jewelry, collectibles, and gifts. You'll be sure to find a worthy memento of Japan in every price range.
272-0034 Active Ichikawa 2F, 1-23-2 Ichikawa, Ichikawa City
You walk up a set of stairs to access the shop
Open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Closest station: Ichikawa
Look for an inobtrusive sidewalk sign signaling that you have arrived at your destination. Although not in Tokyo proper, Quilt Party in Ichikawa City is a short half-hour trek out of the city. Or should I say pilgrimage! Renowned owner and sensei Yoko Saito reigns as the Queen of Taupe with her detailed and meticulous quilt compositions. In her shop, you’ll find low-volume fabrics, most designed by sensei Saito; kits and more kits (no photos allowed); books and periodicals; notions; and small gifts.
Terrada Harbor One Building, 1F, 2-5-5 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
The shop is on an island surrounded by canals
Open 11:30am to 7pm, closed on Mondays and Thursdays
Closest station: Tennoz Isle
The artist in you will die and go to heaven when you step into the chic Pigment store. Beyond impeccably displayed paints, canvases, papers, inks, and brushes, Pigments offers the elemental essence of color—pigments! A lab and museum takes Pigment beyond the retail realm into a comprehensive facility for creativity.
OzuHonkan Building, 3-6-2 Nihombashihoncho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
This business has stood at the same site for over 350 years
Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm
Closest station: Shin-Nihombashi
The word "washi” comes from wa meaning Japanese, and shi meaning paper. Ozu Washi takes the spirit of paper to great heights with the finest of Japanese papers. In the store you’ll find papers, brushes, stationery, gifts, writing implements, and more remarkable papers! A cultural studio shares the first-floor retail space while upstairs a gallery exhibits artwork made with handmade paper, and a museum holds archives from the history of Ozu Washi.