December 21, 2016

Tokyo Mottainai!


Tokyo is a center of colossal consumption. Every day, lots of stuff gets discarded. Lots of stuff also gets recycled. And now, things are getting "upcycled" into cool products and services. We look at a stylish new twist on a traditional Japanese value.



Dandelion Chocolate Factory & Cafe Kuramae A 60-year old warehouse in Kuramae that once served as a packaging wholesaler has been renovated into a chic chocolate factory with an in-house cafe. It opened in February 2016, the first outpost in Japan of a San Francisco artisan chocolatier. The new tenants fell in love at first sight with the retro character of this warehouse space and preserved as much as possible.


Trunk Hotel Pre-Opening Lounge This hotel in Shibuya will not open until 2017, but its concept is being previewed with this "pre-opening lounge." The interior decor is heavy on salvaged furniture and flea market finds. Even the coffee mugs are made of recycled cafeteria crockery.


Seal Omotesando Honten Sells bags made primarily of scrapped tire inner tubes. The material is extremely durable, waterproof, and random in texture and pattern, so every handcrafted bag is one of a kind.


Tsukiji Mottainai Project Uoharu Each morning, this restaurant buys up "imperfect" seafood that has gone unsold at the Tsukiji fish market, and turns it into delicious cuisine. Just because a fish is unusual in shape or size, or cosmetically damaged, doesn't mean it isn't absolutely delicious! The restaurant offers this great food at great prices.


Mottainai Kids Flea Market Once a month, this just-for-kids event welcomes third through sixth graders to sell their surplus stuff to other kids who come to buy. It helps toys, clothes and books find a new home rather than being thrown away.


Mottainai Farm Radice Daikanyama Restaurant that serves delicious Italian cuisine using "imperfect" vegetables which can't be sold through regular markets because of substandard appearance. Also hosts a storefront marché where the public can buy these "mottainai" vegetables.

Further Info

further info map
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1) Dandelion Chocolate Factory & Cafe Kuramae
Address: 4-14-6 Kuramae, Taito-ku
2) Trunk Hotel Pre-opening Lounge
Address: B1/B2 Aoyama Crystal Bldg., 3-5-12 Kita-aoyama, Shibuya-ku
3) Seal Omotesando Honten
Address: 5-17-12 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku
4) Tsukiji Mottainai Project Uoharu
Address: B1 3-3-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
5) Mottainai Farm Radice Daikanyama (Mottainai vegetables)
Address: 2-21-1 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku


Mottainai Kids Flea Market
Info: NPO Corporation "Kids Flea Market" website
Yamaharu co. Tsukiji
Address: 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku
Newsed Project (Upcycled merchandise)
Address: 4F A&X Bldg., 2-1-14 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku


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Lisa Wallin

Writer, translator, aspiring fitness instructor
When did you first come to Japan?:
I arrived in 2007.
Reason for coming to Japan:
When I first came to Japan, I was curious about the culture, and deeply interested in the Japanese alternative music scene -- I still am! There's still a lot of new, upcoming acts on the rise and it's exciting to do some digging to discover them.