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Akira Isogawa Q&A

Akira Isogawa is one of Australia’s favourite designers and has contributed to a beautiful insider’s guidebook to Japan. Here he shares his favourite places to eat drink and experience the real Japan.

1. What do you look forward to most about visiting Japan?

I never miss an chance to go to Japan – the food is the best in the world, the art as unique as it is inspiring, and the fashion is, of course, unsurpassed by much else.


2. Where would you recommend a visitor go to lose themselves in the ‘real’ Japan?

Whatever you do, follow what the Japanese do. Public baths are a huge part of the Japanese culture and I love using the massage machines when I am there.


3. Could you describe your ultimate day in Tokyo?


Shopping! Tokyo has some of the best shopping in the world so I always try to go there when I visit Japan. The Tokyo neighbourhood of Harajuku is famous for its youth culture. The young Japanese express themselves in a quirky and original way by using a combination of designer brands and vintage clothing. In this area is Togo Shinto shrine, which has a flea market on weekends where you can pick up antique wares such as kimonos, art and books.


At Aoyama [an adjacent suburb] you can find the flagship stores of local designer brands like Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons and younger designers like Undercover.


To finish my perfect day, I would eat at one of Tokyo’s robatayaki for tapas-style local food and sake. This type of restaurant is orientated towards meeting colleagues and friends where four to six dishes can be shared.



4. Which Japanese designers should we look out for on a visit to Japan?


I love local Japanese designer brands, like Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons. I am also a big fan of Undercover, an exciting Japanese street wear label designed by Jun Takahashi. Undercover creates some of the most interesting but beautiful designs – it’s the essence of cool, Japanese urban style.


5. What are some unique gifts to bring back from Japan?


Visit the flea markets in Japan to find beautiful vintage textiles and fabrics, pottery and other traditional Japanese crafts. Everything is made by hand. The flea markets are the perfect place to find a unique souvenir – and often where I find inspiration for my collections.

Pick up Hidden Hotspots: An Insider’s Guide to Japan at Akira boutiques, Blancharu Restaurant in Sydney and the Dianne Tanzer Gallery.