Style passport: Japan

The Museum at FIT has extended its "Japan Fashion Now" exhibit, proving we're not the only ones ravenous for Japanese panache. Here's where to experience the country's stores and spas without hopping a flight.

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  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Kiteya

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Kiteya

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Kiteya

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    Kiteya

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    Yumemiya cosmetic pouch with quilted flowers made from vintage kimonos, $13, at Kiteya

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Geta wooden clog sandals, $45 per pair, at Kiteya

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Washi paper fan-shaped dangling earrings, $30, at Kiteya

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    Ruby Sky flower-cluster candle, $25, at Kiteya

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Ruby Sky flower-cluster candle, $25, at Kiteya

  • Photograph: Tia Ryan

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    Korin

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    House knife master Chirau Sugai at Korin

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    Korin lidded bowl, $20

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    Korin traditional designs square plates, five for $73

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    Ao Nagashi custard bowl, $9, at Korin

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    Mishima Donabe ceramic pot, $25, at Korin

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    Togiharu hammered-texture Damascus Usuba knife, $120, at Korin

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

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    Toy Tokyo

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

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    Toy Tokyo

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

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    Gloomy Bear stuffed animal, $150--$250, at Toy Tokyo

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    Godzilla figurine, $15--$400, at Toy Tokyo

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

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    Kaiju Japanese monster figurine, $30--$40, at Toy Tokyo

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

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    Collectible plastic bears, $50, at Toy Tokyo

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    O.N. International Co, Ltd. camel-hued jeans, $245, Blue in Green

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    ATO checked shirt, $285, at Blue in Green

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    Pure Blue xx-010 purple-tinted jeans, $305, at Blue in Green

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    Full Court heavyweight-printed flannel, $235, at Blue in Green

  • Photograph: Tia Ryan

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    Tokyo Rebel

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    Sex Pot Revenge plaid hooded jacket, $169, at Tokyo Rebel

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    Atelier-Pierrot eyelet lace dress, $299, at Tokyo Rebel

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    Angelic Pretty pastel candy-printed frock, $300--$325, at Tokyo Rebel

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    Victorian Maiden striped dress with bows and lace, $359, at Tokyo Rebel

  • Photograph: Tia Ryan

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    Eyelet-trimmed parasol, $50--$60, at Tokyo Rebel

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    Innocent World printed tote, $39, at Tokyo Rebel

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    Putumayo pocket watch, $30, at Tokyo Rebel

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

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    Hayato

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Sakura

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Nail art at Sakura

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    Green tea served in hand-painted ceramic cups at Sakura

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Tins nontoxic glittery nail polishes, $17 each, at Sakura

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    Shizuka New York Day Spa

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    Shizuka New York Day Spa

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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Kiteya

ACCESSORIZE

Kiteya
This Japanese gift shop has to be seen to be believed—it seems like there's nothing you won't find in this spacious emporium. The simple interiors of Kiteya, whose name translates as "please come in," allow the vibrant, cheerful stationery, jewelry, bags, clothing and home decor to shine. Ironwork frame art depicting cherry blossoms, clouds and autumn leaves, and pink-and-peach striped linen covering the sky windows (meant to mimic how women traditionally hung dried-silk dyed kimono fabrics), lends the boutique's decor an authentic touch. Ninety-five percent of the merch hails from the mother country, with a good deal of it coming, more specifically, from owner Yumi Iida's hometown of Kyoto. Treat yourself to some small cheapies, like printed handkerchiefs ($9--$11), plastic striped rings ($10) and Yumemiya cosmetic pouches with quilted flowers made from vintage kimonos ($13). Guys can get in the samurai spirit with Geta wooden clog sandals ($45), sold with Tabi thong-toed socks ($8--$13) for winter wear. Hasegawa Shojudo hand--screen-printed washi papers come in a variety of cards, wallets and cases ($5--$15)—even as a darling pair of fan-shaped dangling earrings ($30). The back room is reserved for more high-end items, such as preworn kimonos ($100--$3,000) and pillows fashioned from obi sashes ($160--$250). But we fell hardest for artist Ruby Sky's gorgeous hydrangea flower-cluster candles ($25). TONY deal Mention TONY to receive 10 percent off purchases through January 31. 464 Broome St between Greene and Mercer Sts (212-219-7505, kiteyany.com)

Korin
Chefs and restaurant insiders have known about this kitchenware specialty shop since it opened in 1982. Lucky for us non--Top Chefs, the showroom finally welcomed the public in 2002, allowing anyone to snag Japanese- and Western-style knives ($30--$5,800) and specialty tablewares ($2--$600), like a plum-shaped soy sauce dish ($4). One of the highlights of the high-ceilinged space, lined with Japanese Shoji sliding wooden doors, is the opportunity to watch house knife master Chirau Sugai sharpen customers' cutters (the service costs $15--$25) in a glass room. Sugai also offers free sharpening demo classes (Tue, Sat 2pm; reservations required), but before you get in on the action, score Misono Swedish steel knives with dragon graphics engraved on the blades ($65--$210) or Togiharu hammered-texture steel knives ($50--$150). If Martha Stewart is your homegirl, you'll be itching to use the store's eye-catchingly colorful printed plate sets (five for $29), Toruku Blue Nanban rectangle dishes ($13), cherry-printed chopsticks ($15) and Mishima Donabe flower-patterned ceramic pots ($25) for your next dinner party. Or make any pregame that much cooler by snagging a modern clear-glass sake carafe with a blue ice reservoir ($11). 57 Warren St between Church St and West Broadway (212-587-7021, korin.com)

Toy Tokyo
You'd never guess the owner of this totally Asian toys and tchotchkes mecca is actually a Jewish dude named Israel Levarek. He sold his 20-year-old Batman figurine collection in 1999 to open this store one year later, which houses dizzying displays of memorabilia—half of which is from Japan. The shop was designed to mimic similar stores in the Land of the Rising Sun, with bright lights, crammed arrangements and goods displayed in plastic bins. Jazz up your pad with three-foot-tall collectible plastic bears modeled after pop culture icons like Mickey Mouse, Iron Man and SpongeBob ($300--$400), or a smaller version for as little as $50. Snuggle up with quirky bubblegum-pink Gloomy Bear stuffed animals ($8--$35), squishable versions of graphic artist Mori Chack's iconic Japanese character, whose bloody paws are a result of attacking its owner in the name of animal rights. Nostalgic dudes will flip when they see the wall of clear cases housing hundreds of Godzilla figurines ($15--$200), as well as kaiju models of various Japanese monsters ($30--$120). And yes, there's something for girly girls, too: Pretty Blythe dolls with oversize heads (picture Barbie with a tennis-ball-size face) were taken off the market in the '50s for scaring children, but the toys were brought back in the '90s ($150--$250) and are sold with voguish outfit separates, such as Jackie O.--like colorful sunglasses ($20) and belted tube dresses ($20--$30). 91 Second Ave between 5th and 6th Sts (212-673-5424, toytokyo.com)

DRESS

Blue in Green
Type-A, detail-oriented shoppers (a.k.a. half of New York) will appreciate owners Gordon Heffner and Yuji Fukushima's encyclopedic knowledge of the Japanese clothing ($175--$2,600), accessories ($98--$638) and shoes ($225--$825) offered in their menswear store. We're talking the complete breakdown: These guys can tell you that the buttons on a pair of pants are made of steel and therefore won't rust, exactly how the fabric is woven, and if the jeans are made in a factory or stitched by hand. And you'll want that much information if you're spending the hefty prices commanded by these well-crafted pieces, 80 percent of which come straight from Japan (Fukushima's native country). The shop is best known for its denim selection, particularly unique styles such as Pure Blue Japan xx-010 purple-tinted jeans ($305) and O.N. International Co., Ltd. camel-hued varieties ($245). If you don't get too tripped out by the Where the Wild Things Are--esque animal statues and mannequin heads by local artist Heather Gargon, you can focus on nabbing lumberjack-chic Full Court heavyweight printed flannels ($235), ATO checkered shirts ($285) and the Real McCoy's military jackets ($725). Towards the rear, there's a small case housing jewelry and leather goods, including handsome Studio D'Artisan snap-cover cowhide wallets ($205). TONY deal Mention TONY for 20 percent off all tops and accessories through Wednesday 12. 8 Greene St between Canal and Grand Sts (212-680-0555)

Tokyo Rebel
We've always dreamed about stepping inside a Gwen Stefani video and taking the place of one of her over-the-top, boldly styled "Harajuku Girls" backup dancers. We could easily live out our fantasy at this charming boutique, run by husband-and-wife duo Jeff and Masayo Williams (he's American, she's Japanese). All of the brands in the shop hail from Osaka and the Harajuku district of Tokyo, a neighborhood Jeff compares to NYC's East Village (Tokyo Rebel is appropriately located on Avenue B). Red velvet curtains and rope lights bordering the floor highlight the simply decorated store's limited-stock merchandise, which is organized by the Harajuku subcultures: punk, gothic and Lolita (a super-femme look). Amid the punk racks filled with pleated skirts ($100--$150) and graphic tees ($35--$49), we discovered very Stefani Sex Pot Revenge plaid hooded jackets ($169). The goth section's dark, Victorian-inspired clothing is filled with garb that appears as if came straight out of Morticia Addams's closet, including a long black mermaid-cut jersey skirt ($199). But our favorite piece from that dark department is a darling Atelier-Pierrot eyelet lace dress ($299). The most festive styles are found in the Lolita displays, such as tea-party-ready Angelic Pretty pastel candy-printed frocks ($300--$325) and tamer Victorian Maiden striped dresses with bows and lace ($359). There's also a plus-size selection for Americans worried about fitting into the generally small sizes, where we spotted a pretty Maxicimam black-and-white lace skirt ($189). The accessories are not to be overlooked, especially eyelet-trimmed parasols ($50--$60), Innocent World printed totes ($39) and Putumayo pocket watches ($30). Bring in this article for 10 percent off through January 12. 170 Ave B between 10th and 11th Sts (212-228-1232, tokyorebel.com)

BEAUTIFY

Hayato
For sleek, shiny Japan-inspired tresses, many gals turn to Liscio Japanese hair-straightening services. This salon chain (with spots in London and Tokyo) offers the coveted service ($300--$400), with results that last four months to one year, depending on your hair texture. Once you relax into one of the eight shampooing stations in the dark-wood-and-chandelier-adorned space, you'll receive a titillating shiatsu neck and scalp massage before your mane is lathered. Then head to one of the 20 chairs for your cut ($60--$120 for both sexes) or color ($60--$180). Japanese owner Hayato Tanoue recruited eight hairdressers, all skilled in the Asian dry-cutting hair technique: The basic shape is chopped when locks are wet, and the details are clipped once it's blown dry. Though half the products used are from Japan, they are for sale, so you can take home Milbon hair wash ($18) and conditioner ($30), as well as Arimino leave-in conditioner ($20). 125 E 23rd St between Park and Lexington Aves (212-673-7373, hayato-ny.com)

Sakura
This spa chain (there are two locations in NYC and one in Tokyo) is not your average nail spot. The dcor is upscale enough to pass for a posh lounge, with black-paneled windows, sleek dark-wood tables, moss-green walls and framed photos of Japanese flowers. But the prices mimic those of a much less opulent salon; to wit, a regular manicure costs just $12, while a pedicure fetches $30. From the moment you step inside, you'll be busy choosing from countless stickers and Swarovski gems offered for Sakura's signature nail art ($5--$40) or sipping the complimentary green tea, which is served in hand-painted ceramic cups (the Japanese-imported dishware is available for sale; $20--$60). Other Japanese goodies you can walk away with include Tins nontoxic glittery nail polishes ($17) and special Erikonail eyelet-lace fingerless gloves ($16), typically worn in Japan during the summer to protect hands from the sun. 35 E 1st St between First and Second Aves (212-387-9161) * 1709 Second Ave between 88th and 89th Sts (212-722-1334) * nailspasakura.com

Shizuka New York Day Spa
There's no excuse not to relax in this quaint spa, run by aesthetician Shizuka Bernstein. Most of the friendly staff is from Japan, including Bernstein, and she aimed to create an atmosphere reminiscent of her origins. It's easy to see it in the decor, which includes curtains emblazoned with kanji (Japanese symbols), and wall art featuring cherry blossoms and bamboo. Soothing music fills the warm, gold-hued space, where all spagoers receive kimonos. Among the popular Japanese treatments are the famous Geisha Bird-Poop Facial (60 minutes for $180), nail-art manicures ($10--$100) and Sakura pedicures (45 minutes for $60), which soaks your feet in a cherry-blossom-aroma--infused bath before scrubbed them with a mixture of ground adzuki beans, rice bran powder and ground loofah, covering them in a mask made of Japanese green tea and massaging them with house-made yuzu cream. A highlight is the shiatsu massage (50 minutes for $105), during which a masseuse uses finger pressure and stretching to tranquilize both your mind and body. The blissful services end with a cup of herbal green tea and rice snacks, served in a lounge featuring a running-water fountain. TONY deal Mention TONY to receive a shiatsu massage for $84 (normally $105), a Geisha Bird-Poop Facial for $153 (normally $180) or a Sakura pedicure for $48 (normally $60) through January 31. 7 W 51st St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, sixth floor (212-644-7400, shizukany.com)

SEE IT NOW! Japanese street style takes over the Museum at FIT in "Japan Fashion Now," featuring 90 outfits from the country's most innovative designers. Seventh Ave at 27th St (212-217-4558, fitnyc.edu). Free; through Apr 2.

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