japan: muji

first stop: muji. muji has locations all over japan, the rest of the asia and europe. but only one cluster of shops in the US, all in new york city. so i usually include at least a quick stop when i'm in nyc. but the stores in japan are on a totally different level.

oh, i suppose i should preface with a little intro. muji is kind of like how gap used to be (generic) but for products in all areas of your life. mujirushi translates loosely to "no logo, good products." so you'll mainly find useful items, minimalist in both design and packaging. so a lot of cotton, linen, kraft paper, whites, grays and natural tones.

poke around their japanese store site to get an idea of what they have (in japanese but there are enough pictures to help navigate). or go through their UK site for a different version, but in english.

and so, since there are so many locations all over japan itself, i had to strategically decide which locations to visit. i chose two flagship stores in tokyo: shinjuku and yurakucho.

we'd visited at least a couple muji locations while walking around, but our first real destination was muji shinjuku. actually, the original muji shinjuku is in the isamiya building on shinjuku-dori, with 4 floors of goods.

basement floor had men's wear, suits, shoes, bags, bikes and eyewear.

first floor had women's wear, shoes, children's wear and maternity wear.

second floor had stationery, health & beauty care, kitchen and diningware, housekeeping items, storage units and food.

third floor had living room items, bedding and bath, lighting and household appliances.

but the store directory indicated to us that there was yet another muji right around the block with another 4 floors to browse through. so we followed the little map and headed over. apparently, this location just recently opened back in july. google maps street view even shows the building under construction.

we entered on the first floor, which stocked men's wear (muji labo, yoga and general), bags and shoes. and just because the clothes are at a reasonable price level, doesn't mean the displays can't be high-end.

next, the mezzanine floor had a repeat of the other store: kitchen/dining ware, housekeeping items, storage units, household appliances, health and beauty, stationery and food (including single-serving wine and artfully displayed snacks).

then the basement had bedding and beds, living room stuff, cafe & meal muji (more fun displays including the huge wine glass chandelier) and their atelier section.

the atelier section is their exhibition area, where they display proposed projects. the day we were there, they had just put up (and for two weeks through nov 12) a display for muji-exclusive chairs designed by thonet.

then we went to the second/top floor where we found women's wear (muji labo, yoga and general). muji labo is muji's experimental clothing line, with higher quality materials and designs. we also saw more of their fun wall displays. this particular one was made out of stacked bolts of natural-colored fabrics.