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Growing up, Hanako Maeda, founder and designer of the women’s ready-to-wear label ADEAM, had not one, but two hometowns: Tokyo, where she was born, and New York. From age five onward, she split time living in both cities with her parents (founders of Japanese women’s wear brand FOXEY) as their work demanded. So, when Maeda started her own label after graduating from New York’s Columbia University where she studied art history, she mined both cities for inspiration. (After her first collection debuted at New York Fall/Winter Fashion Week in 2013, Saks Fifth Avenue snapped it up exclusively; ADEAM has since expanded to luxury e-commerce sites like Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter, and has three boutiques in Japan.) Today, Tokyo remains at the crux of how the 29-year-old lives and works: “I'm inspired by how Japanese women have a distinct sense of style,” she says. “Especially when you look at the girls in Harajuku, you see that they dress as a form of self-expression. Fashion is their creative outlet. [For my Fall 2017 Collection], I was inspired by gothic and Lolita fashion—which is heavily inspired by Victorian fashion, but mixed with a little bit of punk spirit.” We asked her to take us through the places in Tokyo that keep her coming back. Read on for her guide.
What neighborhood are you from in Tokyo? Where do you live now, and how long have you lived there? I'm from Azabu, which is a multicultural area that has a lot of embassies and also museums. Currently, I split my time between New York City and Tokyo. I've been living back and forth since I was five due to my parents’ business and my own line, ADEAM. My home in Tokyo is close to Roppongi Hills, in the center of the city.
What hotel would you recommend for friends visiting town? I recommend the Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi Hills. It's in a very central location in Tokyo, and the hospitality there is amazing. I also love that they have seven different restaurants, each with different cuisines such as sushi, kaiseki, French, Italian, and more. (6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-Ku; 81-3/4333-1234; tokyo.grand.hyatt.com)
Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? For an authentic sushi experience, I recommend Sushi Arai (4 Chome-19-8 Kasuya, Setagaya; 81-3/5313-7423; sushiarai.com) and Sushi Ryusuke (81-3/3572-1530) in Ginza. They are not as well-known as Sushi Jiro, but are considered to be the rising stars of the Tokyo sushi scene, and serve wonderfully fresh fish from Tsukiji. Sushi Arai is more of a traditional Edomae experience, and Sushi Ryusuke serves more creative dishes, such as the fluke sashimi appetizer topped with black truffles.
What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? I love taking visitors to Sasha Kanetanaka in Omotesando. It's my favorite Japanese teahouse, and has a beautiful garden in the center of Tokyo. Their lunch courses are perfect for a light Japanese kaiseki experience. (3-6-1 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku; 81-3/6450-5116; kanetanaka.co.jp)
Where can you find the best cocktails? Gen Yamamoto serves the best cocktail tasting menu. They serve 4-5 courses of mini cocktails using seasonal Japanese fruits. (Anniversary Building 1F, 1-6-4 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku; 81/3-6434-0652; genyamamoto.jp)
Wine list? I love the wine list at Esquisse in Ginza. The Chef Sommlier, Eiji Wakabayashi is incredibly knowledgeable about French regional wines, and can create a custom wine pairing for you. The wines pair perfectly with Chef Lionel Beccat's modern French, which has influences from Japanese cuisine and uses local ingredients. (Royal Crystal Ginza 9F 5-4-6, Ginza; 81-3/5537-5580; esquissetokyo.com)
Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? For an all-out Japanese kaiseki tasting menu, I recommend Ryugin in Roppongi. Ryugin always includes seasonal delicacies such as blow fish or Matsuba crab, so if you're looking for a unique Japanese experience, it's the perfect place. They also have a great sake list to go with the tasting menu. (1F, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 81-3/3423-8006; nihonryori-ryugin.com)
What is your go-to after-hours bar? Ben Fiddich in Shinjuku is, hands down, the best cocktail bar in Tokyo. It's a bar hidden in a nondescript office building in Shinjuku, but once you enter the bar, you're immediately transformed to a 1920's style speakeasy. The head bartender Hiroyasu Kayama can make anything according to your request, but my personal favorite is the Pisco Sour. The egg whites are perfectly frothy and the right consistency. (9F, 1-13-7 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; 81-3/6279-4423; facebook.com)
What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon? I love spending my afternoons at The Tokyo National Art Center. They always have interesting exhibitions, and right now they're doing a Yayoi Kusama retrospective. (7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 81-3/5777-8600; nact.jp)
What is your Sunday morning routine? I usually go to Feel Cycle for a Sunday morning spin class (Hollywood Plaza 3F, 6-4-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 81/570-055-319; feelcycle.com), and then stop by at the Elle Cafe for green juice and coconut yogurt parfaits (5-51-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/6451-1997; ellecafe.jp).
Where is the best brunch? Path is a hidden gem for weekend brunches. It's a small bistro in Shibuya that's famous for their dutch pancake with burrata and proscuitto. I also like their piping hot croissant that they bake every morning. (A-Flat Bldg, 1-44-2 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/6407-0011)
Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? I've gotten hooked on Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, and was excited to hear that they opened a Tokyo outpost. I like their Aoyama café, as it's close to my home, and has spacious terrace seating for a nice afternoon break. (3-13-14 Minamiaoyama Minato-ku; bluebottlecoffee.com)
What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? For the perfect view of the Tokyo Tower, I recommend Tofuya Ukai. It's a traditional kaiseki restaurant that is famous for their house made tofu dishes, and you see a beautiful view of the Tokyo Tower as you enter the restaurant. Their Japanese garden is also a must-see. (4-4-13 Shiba-koen, Minato-ku; 81-3/3436-1028; ukai.co.jp)
What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? I love walking around the Aoyama and Omotesando neighborhoods as there are so many hidden cafés and shops in the area. For a fix of traditional architecture, head to the Meiji Shrine.
What are your favorite off-beat cultural attractions in the city? Daikanyama T-Site is a nice spot for art books and old records. They have a lounge where you can enjoy the books while having coffee and small bites. (17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/3770-2525; real.tsite.jp)
What’s your favorite shop, store, or boutique? Tokyo Midtown (9 Chome-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku; 81-3/3475-3100; tokyo-midtown.com), where I have the ADEAM flagship store, is my go-to shopping destination. It's a high-end shopping complex, where you can find everything from clothing, furniture to deli takeout. They also have my favorite beauty salon, Uka there, so it's a one-stop shopping spot for me (81-3/5413-7236; uka.co.jp).
What’s the ultimate souvenir from your town—something you can only get there—that you recommend people bring back with them? I recommend Edo Kiriko glassware as the souvenir from Tokyo. It's a traditional Japanese crystal glassware that originated in Tokyo in the Edo Period (18th Century), and is unique to the city. In particular, Kagami Crystal in Ginza is known for their Edo Kiriko glasses. The crystal sake glasses paired with a bottle of Japanese sake make for a perfect gift. (Daiwa Building, 2-1, Ginza 6-Chome, Chuo-ku; 81-3/3569-0081; kagami.jp)
What’s the city's best-kept local secret? A lot of people think of sushi or tempura when it comes to Japanese cuisine, but oden is the ultimate comfort food for colder months. Oden is a traditional Japanese hotpot that includes a myriad of ingredients such as vegetables, fishcakes and tofu. My favorite oden spot is Ichigo Azabu who serves an elevated version of this classic comfort food. Their most famous dish is the ichigo tamago, which is a perfectly cooked egg, oozing with yolk and dashi broth. (My-Corner Bldg. B1F, 2-5-14 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku; 81-3/5772-2936)