In the business of styling up Tokyoites since 1976, 'select shop' extraordinaire Beams has grown into an international fashion player during the more recent part of its 40-year history, but is still most renowned for its role as a domestic trendsetter. That Japan-centred know-how is wrapped into a pretty new package at Beams Japan, the brand's latest retail outlet, opened on a prime slab of Shinjuku real estate in late April.
Unlike your average Beams store, this one brings together exclusively made-in-Japan items, handpicked by the company's ever-vigilant buyers. You're looking at a dizzying collection of clothing, crafts and art, the visual qualities of which are sure to hit you right after stepping through the door. The ground-floor 'Local' section is watched over by a ceiling mural depicting a dragon and hawk, while the shelves are stocked with handheld fireworks from Fukuoka, traditional Japanese toys from Yamagata and original Beams Japan T-shirts and mugs.
The event space on the left side of the entrance is currently featuring collaborative paraphernalia themed on the Kuniyoshi and Kunisada ukiyo-e exhibit, on until June 5 at Shibuya's Bunkamura. Don't miss the skull-and-ghost skateboards, decorated with Kuniyoshi's spooky woodblock prints.
Up on the second floor – labelled ‘Fashion and Design’ – you'll find quirky wearables for both women and men, including Toyo Enterprise’s 'Souvenir Jacket' and rare sweatshirts by Loopwheeler. The only-here clothing theme continues upstairs, so you're sure to leave with something to spice up the old wardrobe.
Pop culture geeks will want to head straight for the fourth floor, where X Japan headman Yoshiki’s kimono brand is exhibited next to hanging scrolls drawn by illustrator Yusuke Hanai and Converse sneakers decorated by Yoichiro Uchida, who owns an orchid-speciality florist in Fukuoka.
The top floor is home to Fennica Studio, an art gallery that displays Japanese arts and crafts – currently ceramics by Atsuya Hamada of Tochigi's Mashiko, home of mashikoyaki ware and a pottery centre since ancient times. Look out for plenty of exciting exhibits and workshops here in the future.
And the show still ain't over. The basement houses the Nikko Kanayama Hotel’s Craft Grill, a venerable yoshoku eatery dealing in delicacies like '100-year curry' and Taisho-style crab cream croquettes.