NEWoMan, Shinjuku Station
Shinjuku Station is one of the most relentless places in Tokyo: a city with over 40 million who are heavily reliant on public transport. NEWoMAN is the latest antidote to the rush which pretty much happens every hour, not just for one hour. From top to toe it is a layer cake of public space and retail that features: a rooftop farm producing produce for the top floor restaurant, a garden which appears to be for members only, a Lumine department store and nursery all sitting above the trains, taxis and buses. In the midst of all the chaos of Shinjuku there is a real gentleness to NEWoMan. It claims to have been “designed to brighten up women’s every day and their whole life” and it does that.
Log Road Daikanyama, Daikanyama Station
Luminary L.A. lifestyle and fashion brand Fred Segal has literally opened its Tokyo flagship off the beaten track by converting 220 metres of disused Tokyu Toyoko line into Log Road Daikanyama. There is a micro-brewery which might be a bit “Craft with a capital C” for many westerners but is perfect for the Japanese market, a small ‘mart’ selling luxury groceries, stand-alone menswear and womenswear stores, a bakery and beauty clinic. As always with Fred Segal, the retail product is imaginative and exceptional, but what makes Log Road so great is really the public realm which is slowly closing in over time with drooping greenery, beautiful park benches and lighting that gives the whole precinct a kind of magic glow.
La Kagū, Kagurazaka Station
Having had the pleasure of working on a Kengo Kuma building in Sydney we are well aware of his ability to create retail spaces you never want to leave. La Kagū sits right at the mouth of Kagurazaka Station, welcoming customers up an elegant cascade of steps into an old book warehouse converted by Kuma-San. Selling ‘lifestyle and knowledge’ the store dedicates 25% of its floor to a lecture space. Great food, product and architecture aside, the joy of La Kagū is the care that lives in every centimetre of the building, from the diner’s placemats, to the toilet signs which have been artistically tweaked to add humour and warmth.
mAAch Ecute, formerly Manseibashi Station
After the Second World War, many of the archways under railway tracks in Tokyo were given to retailers free of rent as a way of helping small business get up on its feet again. You can still see some of the old guard today, but usually located in the arches further away from station entries. mAAch Ecute is a recent reinterpretation of Tokyo archway retail in a building that hasn’t been used as a station since 1943. A tunnel has been carved out down the length of the site, intersecting 11 different retailers in lifestyle, fashion, food, beverage and a small ‘library’. There’s a lot going on in small places at mAAch Ecute – it’s interesting, resourceful and respectful of history.
Tokyo Corporation/Tokyo Metro has recently turned its attention to the underbelly of Nakameguro Station. Beneath the rumble of trains is a carefully selected family of retailers: Tsutaya Books with an embedded Starbucks are the big brands, Margaret Howell’s diffusion MHL store provides something global, but for the most part, Tokyo Corporation has placed local retailers and businesses like Artless, a design agency with its own bar, coffee shop and gallery. This approach means that even the new tenants feel like they truly belong and the station has become a community highlight, rather than just being a place for transit.
About Study Tours
Study Tours are not intended to be city guides. Their purpose is to try and understand how different cities function, what kind of life they provide their inhabitants and what we might be able to learn from them. Think of them not as a comprehensive list of things to do but as a comment from a curious fly on the wall, delivered without an opinion of how the city ought to be better. All our Study Tours can be found here.
Barrie Barton is co-founder of Right Angle Studio. Since 2005, he has overseen the company’s strategy and insights, establishing it as as one of the most influential agents of urban change in Australia and increasingly across the world, with Right Angle now also working in London and Johannesburg. Qualified as a lawyer but motivated by creating cities that improve the lives of their inhabitants, Barrie brings a casual style and humanistic understanding to property development.
All photography by Kaoru Yamada