Kuramae is the hot new Tokyo district you need to visit

The former industrial neighbourhood in Tokyo’s Taito Ward is now a hip haven for creatives.

Designer stores and cafes make the Kuramae distict Tokyo's trendiest secret.
  • Selena Hoy
  • August 2019

Meander around this precinct of Japan’s capital city to find a selection of quirky cafés, design boutiques and specialty stores housed in trendy converted warehouses.

Taito Designers Village

A converted elementary school houses more than a dozen artists and designers, who have turned the former classrooms into studio spaces. Though the studios aren’t open to the public, Taito Designers Village opens in new window hosts events and gallery shows – and sometimes even pop-up shops selling one-of-a-kind pieces – throughout the year.

Kakimori

Dedicated to “the joy of writing,” this inviting stationery store opens in new window specialises in fountain pens and notebooks. Their most popular item is probably the customised notebook – you can choose cover colours and patterns, binding, paper size and type to your specifications to be made instore. A few blocks away, sister shop Inkstand has bottles and bottles of pigments for custom-mixed ink.


Mokuba

Textile fans will delight in this specialty high-end ribbon maker. The two adjacent showrooms have thousands of types of ribbon, from silk to lace to tassels, all made in Japan and available for purchase. Continue across the street for a shop selling nothing but buckles, or around the corner for sewing tools and rivets.

Nui

This hostel, bar and café set in a renovated former toy warehouse hosts travellers as well as locals, who like to come to Nui opens in new window for coffee or a drink in the industrial-style lounge area. The food menu features a blend of Japanese and European cuisine, while the bar has a good selection of domestic craft beer (like Baird Brewing) plus Japanese whisky, sake and shochu.

The funky Nui hostel and bar is a popular haunt after dark.
The funky Nui hostel and bar is a popular haunt after dark.

Necorepa

This small cat-themed store opens in new window is part of the Neco Republic brand, a cat café chain benefitting rescue cats. Find jewellery, socks, hankies and mugs with cat motifs, as well as a line of leather goods. The cat head-shaped leather coasters and candles are especially cool. They also hold adoption events here on the first Saturday of the month.

Koncent

This haven for design lovers opens in new window boasts sleek interiors and useful products made by Japanese designers, such as Masako Ban’s stylish and lightweight Acrylic bags and Hiroshi Kajimoto’s “UnBrellas”, which open and close upside down for better drying. Koncent also has a café space serving up local Sol Coffee.


Privado

This leafy rooftop bar opens in new window on the seventh floor of the “Mirror” building offers lots of comfy sofas for lounging as you look out onto the Sumida River and toward the glittering Sky Tree. Nurse a cocktail over candlelight – the menu includes whisky (like Yamazaki 18y) and trendy Japanese craft gins, such as Roku.

Coffee Nova

Barista and certified coffee instructor Shiro Takahashi opened this micro roastery and café opens in new window in 2016 to bring his passion for coffee to his home neighbourhood. Try the smooth Kuramae blend made hand drip-style, accompanied by the cheese and onion toast, as you watch the roasting process.