Tokyo’s Underground Shopping Paradise – The New York Times


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The entrance to Tokyo’s PARK-ing Ginza store, the brainchild of streetwear godfather Hiroshi Fujiwara.

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Motohiko Hasui for The New York Times

TOKYO — It has been three decades since Hiroshi Fujiwara, universally referred to here as the godfather of streetwear, started writing a column in the indie magazine Takarajima. Fujiwara’s “Last Orgy” bulletins brought readers monthly news flashes about the hottest rappers, the latest 12-inch vinyl, photographers, D.J.s, skateboarders, sneakers, break dancers and American heritage brands.

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T-shirts on display at PARK-ing Ginza.

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Motohiko Hasui for The New York Times

The column also helped introduce concepts like the mash-up to Japan and enhanced a form of cultural hybridization that became an art form here. Mr. Fujiwara’s stamp remains subtly visible in a lot of contemporary consumer culture, from New York to Tokyo and beyond, and thus a certain cool clings to anything that bears his creative stamp.

That’s surely true of the PARK-ing Ginza, a store secreted in an underground garage steps from the mobs thronging the Ginza shopping district.

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An underground shopping emporium lies beneath the Sony building in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood.

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Motohiko Hasui for The New York Times

The store opened in March. For a previous and unsuccessful retail outing, Mr. Fujiwara opened a shop inside an emptied swimming pool. While consumers couldn’t be enticed to venture into the deep end, beautifully understated hipsters and other stylish types are more than willing to roll in off the street and tumble down a spiral ramp into the PARK-ing Ginza.

A store in a lightless underground setting is not so alien a concept here as it may be in other cities. Tokyo, after all, is threaded with vast networks of underground retail concourses beneath train stations or office towers. Some of the more delectable shopping is found at food halls in the subbasements of major department stores.

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One tenant is Bonjour Records.

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Motohiko Hasui for The New York Times

The PARK-ing Ginza was inspired by a tunnel where Mr. Fujiwara once parked his car. He exited the vehicle to find a Chinese restaurant doing a thriving business in a location resembling nothing so much as the bunker that once served as Kimmy Schmidt’s address.

Designed by the architect Nobuo Araki, the bare cavernous space below the Sony Building was once home to an even unlikelier operation, the echt Gallic restaurant Maxim’s.

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American influences about at the PARK-ing, from L.L. Bean-inspired goods to Grace Jones references.

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Motohiko Hasui for The New York Times

He scrapped the flocked wallpaper and stamped red velvet to expose raw concrete walls and ductwork. Mr. Araki added a stucco-covered entry ramp and created spaces at entry level that he rented to outposts of the locally revered Cafe de Rope Ginza, along with Bonjour Records, whose speakers were blasting the Dutch D.J. Tiesto’s moody dance remix of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” when a reporter recently stopped by.

Down the ramp is a cluster of cagelike enclosures constructed to house the PARK-ing Ginza’s anchor tenants (Nike; retaW, the fragrance and beauty brand; and Denim By, a collaboration between Mr. Fujiwara and Ryo Ishikawa’s Vanquish brand) along with a rotating roster of pop-ups by Fujiwara collaborators like Jun Takahashi of Undercover or delightful start-ups like the label Descendant.

Descendant offers products emblematic of the cultural hybridization Mr. Fujiwara did so much to inspire all those years ago. With their whale rugs, Nantucket motifs and rescaled interpretations of L. L. Bean’s classic canvas tote bags, the goods designed are so deeply American in spirit, they could only have been made in Japan.

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