Attracted by low rents, a supportive local government and a likeminded community, a diverse cast of young Japanese creatives – from coffee roasters to weavers – is giving the district a makeover and turning it into a nexus for made-in-Tokyo magic
Owner, Maito Design Works
Our goal is to make items that will gracefully age along with the person who loves them, so we make everything painstakingly by hand,” says Maito Komuro, the owner of charming textiles shop Maito Design Works. One of the techniques that Komuro employs is kusakizome, whereby native plants like sakura blossoms and Yaku cedar are used to colour natural fabrics without the use of harsh chemicals. Although much of the dyeing is done at a workshop in Fukuoka, Komuro built an atelier next to his Kuramae retail store so that customers can observe the dyeing process as well.
As with many other establishments in Kuramae, Komuro places heavy emphasis on fostering dialogue with his customers and prioritising uniquely Japanese products. “To us, it’s important to work together with creators across [the country] to produce things that are truly made in Japan,” he stresses.
On that note, Komuro recommends that visitors to Kuramae check out green tea purveyors Nakamura Tea Life, whose modern packaging looks more cocktail hour than tea time. “You can do tastings of their Japanese teas in the shop,” he reveals, as well as find out about the labour-intensive process behind handpicking, drying and roasting the leaves. Come lunchtime, Komuro is willing to wait in long lines at Ramen Kai. “They make ramen with dried sardines and shellfish. It’s only been open about a year, but it’s already really popular,” he says.