Meguro-dori, the street that runs west from Meguro Station, was once home to numerous imported-car showrooms, and not much else. Over the past few years though, it has gained fame as Tokyo’s No. 1 interior shopping drag, lined with around 50 stores selling new and used furniture and assorted home wares catering to almost every imaginable taste.
On weekends, the 4 km of the strip from the intersection with Yamate-dori to the upscale Jiyugaoka district, as well as nearby Komazawa-dori, on which another 20 or so home furnishing stores are located, teem with increasingly youthful crowds of shoppers looking to spruce up their living spaces.
While business seems to be booming for many, in an effort to bring even more design enthusiasts to the area, 32 of the stores have teamed up with the Meguro City government and Hachette Fujingaho, the publishing firm behind Japan’s two most prestigious interior style magazines, Elle Deco and Modern Living, to create MIST, a nine-day event whereby participating stores hold major sales, some offering discounts of as much as 80 percent.
This is the eighth MIST (“Meguro Interior Streets”), and with additional support from Pioneer and the city of Meguro, is the most comprehensive so far. It ends on Oct. 15, so store-goers in search of a bargain should visit by the end of this weekend.
Also part of the promotion is that idiosyncratic Japanese obsession, the stamp rally. Visitors spending over 1,000 yen at any one of the MIST stores — easily recognizable by the branded balloons floating inside and out — get a sheet that can be completed by visiting five other participating outlets and marking it with the stamps available there.
Once completed, post it into one of the boxes at the stores for a chance to win one of 32 prizes, one from each participating store, including a Pioneer home theater system, a stunning crimson armchair and an antique watering can.
According to Tetsumasa Suda, the head of the MIST organizing committee, and one of the first store owners to set up shop on Meguro-dori, the area still has plenty of potential for further growth. “Because there aren’t that many places for parking, and we’re quite far away from any stations, there has to be a lot of stores in the area for people to come,” he explains. “There are about 70 in total now, but there is room for more and we’re hoping to get more fashion stores and restaurants into the district, too.”
Hungry shoppers can refuel at places like perennial hipster hangout Meguro Drive-In, enjoy Osaka-style octopus balls at the nearby Ganko Tako, or tuck into a steak at Ribera steakhouse, which offers hearty meals for a regular clientele that includes many professional wrestlers.
Adding considerable panache to the strip is Claska, Tokyo’s first boutique hotel, which houses a tastefully appointed cafe that is a popular gathering place for local creative types, as well as a dog-trimming salon and modest art gallery.
But of course, the real attraction of this tract is a vast array of interior goods. From Karf, a purveyor of “total lifestyle designs” with a tasteful selection of pine furniture and a newly opened floor dedicated to kitchen coordination, to Prospect, a licensed dealer for the drool-inducing Flexform line designed by Antonio Citterio, the stores here cover a broad spectrum of the design universe.
MIST chairman Suda says that the most attractive thing about Meguro-dori and its surrounds is the possibilities it affords for self expression. “Almost all of the stores here are small businesses run by highly individual owners, who have their own particular tastes,” he says. “Whether it’s country style, European antiques or a mid-century modern look, everything is here, so it’s a great opportunity to mix and match and create your own totally unique look.”
Also highly recommended are slick, modern-interiors proponent AB Design by Yasuo Kondo, 1960s and ’70s American and North European furniture specialist Lewis, classic antiques store Lloyds Antiques Himonya and purveyor of shabby chic Found, which boasts a down-at-heel cafe where weary shoppers can take a low-key break.
Other stores not to be missed are Modernica, the Tokyo showroom of the eponymous U.S. store emblematic of mid-century modern style, and Pour Annick Used, a cozy shop specializing in natural-look antiques mostly from Scandinavia.
While hardly a street festival, MIST does make this area even more bustling and busy than usual, so for those who prefer to shop in peace, waiting until next weekend to make their visit might be advisable. If the buzz and bargains on offer during this event are what appeal, MIST is not to be missed.