So finally you have the cash together and you're making that Tokyo trip. You're heard all about those artisan jeans , beautifully curated vintage and overall great quality ,but what’s the reality and where do you actually buy the good stuff?
We'll help is at hand with our total bias , exacting guide to where to buy what and why. Please check the links in detail before you land as things can get very confusing. Print out maps and down load overall maps from Superfuture Cities (a good start but a bit dated already as things change fast). So with shoes you can actually walk in, with decent socks as they will be coming off a lot, a fist full of dollars or a cleared credit card account at the ready, it's off we go.
Your staying at the Excel Shibuya (as the airport bus goes there so just about everyone goes there) or if you're holding a bit more folding maybe the Cerulean Towers (the high end one on the bus route) or even the banker set Park Hyatt. However the sharper ones amongst you will have ditched all that and be ensconced in a nice little Airbnb in Motoyoygi , just walking distance from Shibuya. But then you also landed at Hanada and not Narita so clever you. And few basic pointers....get a SIM card for the phone or one of those little wifi device as without it you will be lost , literally. Google is your friend (enjoy being tracked for once) and for fork sake research these places so you have back up print outs (with phone numbers for taxi drivers to double check with) that the hotel can translate for taxi or you will be stuck. Most for the best places have no signs so you have been warned!
First things first.....relax and "let me down easy" as the song goes. So it's a low key taxi ride to Daikenyama and off at Hollywood Ranch Market for their relaxed casual wear that made them so famous. Maybe not what it was but still a fully cluttered up ,wooden house, true Tokyo shop. Then it's down the side street to their Okura shop for an Indigo dye bandana and maybe an indigo t-shirt, but please see if you can really carry off all that indigo. Don't arrive too early as things don't really get going until 11am. So now your getting hungry and it's time for a quick grilled fish lunch at the (Japanese) workman cafe about 6 shops down. Just look for the pine front and the sliding and remember it's weekdays only. Cheap as chips but no chips and only rice with various fish but that's part the reason why you came here.
Then it's down the hill west to Meguro by the river for Nigel Cabourn's Army Gym shop and some of his Japanese made shirts. Then across to the main station there , down a back street and to J'Antiques. Probably Tokyo's number one vintage store but it's not pure menswear and can get a bit side tracked with esoteric military and french workwear. Still if you really must have a 'Nam era Jungle Jacket you will find it here.
Then time for something completely different and off in a taxi to 45r's famous/infamous shop in the Japanese wooden house. Climb the stairs and shoes off (remember the socks...) for the best Japanese made jeans with true vegetable Indigo dye around but raw please and none of the stone washed stuff - do people still wear that ? Next a taxi again (both these places are deep in residential districts) to the Kapital Duffer shop (aka garage and shoes off shop) for the wackiest casaulwear and its marvellous "RRL on something very strong" look. This place needs digging so go with an open mind and a full wallet. Their other 2 shops are walking distance from this and just ask for directions. The pants shop is interesting with its tatami level and better at jeans but all have their mad shirts. Yes they have started to wholesale (looking at you Peggs!) but best to see at source.
That's more than enough for day one and it's off to that top end sushi you booked to see why some only eat the stuff in Japan - a good place is something really special.
Then next day it's up the hill above Shibuya station for Ships and their lovely shoe selection and Illminate with their great vintage mixed with modern look for maybe an M65 , but really you would look much better in an M53 as they go so well with tailoring. From there it's a walk or 1 stop on the tube to Harajuku and the whole grail of men's vintage shopping in Tokyo , Berberjin. Stock up with some madly priced 60s 501s, vintage converse, vintage Patagonia and what ever is currently hot in the world of vintage. Remember it's all about the downstairs cellar with the truly special denims. The owner, Yamada, has written books on 501s so not much he's does not know. Coffee and a sandwich at the Deus Ex Cafe around the corner and your doing well covering ground at speed.
Nip around the corner to the classic preppy Beams Plus.This is the smaller interesting one as the others have become a bit more corporate and almost just a high end version of United Arrows. A lovely range of the best in modern prepp but you do have to be be on the svelte side to fit the generally smaller sizes.
Time for some higher end stuff and it's the flag ship Tomorrowland just down from the main part of Shibuya and then a cab again for the 8 floors of men's wear at Isetan in Shunjuku next to their main store. Then off to an interesting Izakaya you have researched and just remember the magic word "omakase" with agreed price limits...it can make the diffidence between a mad struggle to read anything off the menu and a truly great meal. Draft not bottled beer please to start and then ask for the recommended sakes and the evening will really start to go down hill. Have fun.
When you're finally bored of clothing it's time for Tokyo Hands with floors of everything but. The the high end vintage watch shops. So Corleone in Harajuku or for the braver ones its 20 mins north to the watch shops around Nakeno station (just as expensive but more interesting) like Good Watch in the 3rd floor of the arcade by the North exit. Also Jack Road near Good Watch and Lemon in Ginza are worth a visit.
So you want precise directions ? Then fly us over to help (or DM’s us nicely on insta). Have fun people watching and it's 10 points for a madly dressed local, but 20 points for a long term expat Gaijin who has gone native and dressed in a way that would get you punched in most Glasgow pubs. What... you want to know were to eat as well ! Thats gonna have to wait for a later edition.
So get used to bowing a lot, do your research, and fork sake don't lose your temper as just about nothing is as bad as mad Gaijin. Have fun and tell us how it goes.