The Tokyu-Denentoshi line leads from the heart of Shibuya in Tokyo to Tama Plaza in Yokohama in about 20 minutes on an express train. You’ll pass over the Tama river and the pulsing stations of Futako Tamagawa and Mizonokuchi and onto the quieter suburban train-stop of Tama Plaza. Tama Plaza station doesn’t have access to other train lines, but what it lacks in train access it makes up for in other public transportation. There are regular bus links to Toyko Disneyland, as well as Haneda and Narita airports, which are a respective hour or two away by bus.
The area, like Futako Tamagawa, is popular with the mama-set who lunch during the week both with and without kids in tow. Thus it is ridiculously family friendly and some like to spend a quiet day out shopping before the weekend crowds descend on the sales. The promise of a variety of events, from Christmas tree light ups to regular performances by Japanese Idol groups, keep all entertained and a with good selection of restaurants in the station or in the nearby vicinity, Tama Plaza’s popularity has steadily grown over the years. The Denentoshi line locals migrate to Tama Plaza on the weekend for a relaxing day out and travelers pass through the station on their way to the airports and amusement parks. The station’s open-plan design has evolved speedily over the last six years to cope with the increase in foot traffic and upmarket and often discerning tastes of their clientele.
Along with the last renewal of Tama Plaza station came the addition of Japanese design shops, fashion retailers and a shake-up of the cafes and restaurants to showcase some of the best of Japanese craftsmanship in the cosy comfortable shopping district of Tama Plaza. My favourite design stores in Tama Plaza are continually shifting as the store layout, the products shelved and the seasonal selections come into play, but for the Christmas season I have enjoyed filling stockings with 2016 Monkey fukin, red and white tenugui and fluorescent daruma dolls from these 3 stores.
1. Japan Department Store
This relatively new addition to Tama Plaza Terrace pops with vigor and enthusiasm for everything Japan-made. With an eye for seasonal Japanese produce, this store caters to purveyors of handmade goods with a flair for detail and of utmost quality. The four distinct seasons in Japan are highlighted in the colors and prints on display. The Japanese goods in-store hail from corners of Japan producing speciality woven, paper and wooden goods to name a few.
Japanese snacks and condiments give a nod to Retro Japan through some of the familiar and striking packaging designs and remind me of traditional sweets and snacks you might be lucky enough to encounter encounter in the more rural towns in Japan. It is a true delight to wind up the kids tin toys and to imagine a Summer matsuri in full swing or to flick through the Japanese design books and draw inspiration for a design revival at home. I could spend the better part of an hour at Japan Department Store examining Kokeshi doll tribes, testing organic Japanese cosmetics on every inch of my wrist and comparing the scents of the incense before being tempted to head on out by the next store.
If you are keen to try your hand at Japanese handcrafts you can check their website to either book ahead for the workshops. Tastings of local produce are also held instore and are a chance to learn more about the production behind many of Japan’s staple foods.
GATE PLAZA B2-1F
OPEN 10:00 to 21:00
2. Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten
With a 300 year history behind the name, Nakagawa branded stores aim to supply not only practical Japanese household goods, but those that reign supreme in terms of quality, design and overall aesthetic. The products range from everyday Japanese goods to help us cook, clean and live simply yet beautifully. From makeup brushes to home fragrances, and artful slippers that keep your feet warm in the shoe-free environment of a Japanese home, the Nakagawa brand brings the attention to detail that many a household gadget retailers lack.
As a great fan of Japanese cleaning products, which err on the side of natural living and follow a simple-is-best philosophy. I usually make a beeline for the natural scrubbers and variety of absorbent towels, followed by the upmarket cookware and the cosmetics. Whether you are a Cinderella-at-home or Cinderella-at-the-ball type or have no affinity to fairytales at all, you are bound to discover something new and intriguing in this store. I make in my mission to try all the lotions and potions and to sniff all the scores candles on display and feel refreshed for it.
The Nakagawa brand cheerleads Japanese craftsmen with good reputations for their skillful hand and meticulously finished end products. The precision Japanese knives highlight this prowess and mastery of food preparation in Japan and waited patiently behind a gaggle of Japanese housewives to inspect them myself. Safe to say that these knives have been added to my Christmas Wishlist.
GATE PLAZA B2-1F
OPEN 10:00 to 21:00
CLASKA Gallery & Shop deals in Japanese traditional crafts and carries new products made by Japanese designers. The items whether jewelry or a Japanese tea set mimic the tastes of the shop director Takeo Okuma and keep in mind that an ordinary life needs extraordinary things that exude style, functional dexterity and a sense of cool. I loved their Little Red Riding Hood crockery set and the bespoke earrings.
The Japanese lifestyle store also has a Gallery space which house a fresh batch of artist’s work at anytime. Claska’s overseas shipping service is of course available, which is music to many a travelers ears.
TOKYU DEPARTMENT STORE 2F
OPEN 10:00 to 20:00
Also worth a browse if in Tama Plaza for interior design goods, is Muji and the 212 Kitchen Store which has a fantastic Japanese design section tucked in the back. Here you will find the glass sake cups, miso bowls, chopstick rests and nabe pots, that may make you wish you had brought a bigger bag for your travels in Japan.
To access Tama Plaza in the Tokyu-Denentoshi line by train, it takes:
20 minutes on the Tokyu-Denentoshi from Shibuya (express)
30 minutes on the Yokohama Municipal Subway from Yokohama (Azamino transfer), then take the Tokyu-Denentoshi one stop to Tama Plaza
15 minutes on the Tokyu Denentoshi (express) from Chuorinkan
10 minutes on the Tokyu Denentoshi (express) from Nagatsuta