Masamichi Toyama is an unpredictable businessman who has achieved great success in his personal and professional life. While astute in business, art has always been Toyama's passion. In 1996, with no formal art training, and while still an employee at Mitsubishi Corporation, he held a one-man show at a Tokyo gallery showcasing his tile work, which resulted in a sold out event.
Following that success, he was motivated to combine his keen business skills and his artistic talents to lay the foundations of his businesses: Soup Stock Tokyo, a retail soup kitchen; neck-tie brand, Giraffe; and the ultimate recycle shop, Pass the Baton. All his ventures were built around the common theme of selling products closely related to our everyday lives.
Although Toyama's schedule doesn't allow for much time away from work, the well-connected businessman and artist includes many cultural events on his agenda. He shares with The Genteel his personal favourites in Tokyo - from food and shopping, to the best emerging artists and where to go to be inspired.
Haydee Kobe: What are some of the places in Tokyo that inspire you?
Masamichi Toyama: The trendy Daikanyama Hillside Terrace neighbourhood boasts unique retail shops and restaurants. I feel a personal connection and admiration for the neighbourhood not only because I have lived there for many years but also because the landowner is a childhood friend. I am also inspired by the modern architecture and evolution of this neighbourhood, which took 20 years to complete!
While in Daikanyama, I enjoy shopping at Okura and eating at its small restaurant, Bombay Bazar Cafe, located below the shop. (Okura, 20-11 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, 03.3461.8511; Bombay Bazar Cafe, B1 20-11 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, 03.3461.8512)
I like the denim shop, Hollywood Ranch Market because they customise and tailor my denim to perfection. (Hollywood Ranch Market, 28-17 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, 03.3463.5668)
I love the atmosphere and enjoy the customers visiting the new Tsutaya Daikanyama T-Site concept shop, which boasts an insurmountable amount of books and magazines featured alongside digital media, a café and a restaurant. (Tsutaya T-Site, 17-5 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku)
Neko-me is a bundan bar in Shinjuku district; a literary salon, where discussions amongst magazine editors and artists keep me inspired, motivated and also affords an opportunity for friendly debates. (Neko-me (Cat's eye), B1F, 5-12-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 03.3350.4304)
|Toyama at Smiles headquarters.
Photograph by Haydee Kobe.
HK: What are your favourite retail shops in Tokyo?
MT: My shop - and the ultimate recycle shop - Pass the Baton. (Pass the Baton, 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 03.6447.0707; 2-6-1 Marunouchi Brick Square, Chiyoda-ku, 03.6269.9555)
Trading Museum COMME des GARCONS is a concept shop on the second floor of the chic Gyre building along Omotesando-dori. (Trading Museum COMME des GARÇONS, 2F, 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 03.3486.8590)
Lolo is my favourite clothing store located in the Nakameguro neighborhood and the first to collaborate with Pass The Baton's Marunouchi location. I buy their suiting pieces and pants. (Lolo, 3-22-1 Aobodai, Meguro-ku, 03.5768.6361)
Also located in Nakameguro in an apartment, 1LDK is another favourite menswear shop carrying an array of edgy designers. (1LDK, 1-A, 1-8-28 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 03.3780.1645)
HK: What are your favourite restaurants in Tokyo?
MT: Rozzo Sicilia is a cosy restaurant in Shirokane of which I am an investor. The staff consists of three people: the chef and two waitresses. (Rozzo Sicilia, 1F, 1-1-12 Shirokane, Minato-ku, 03.5447.1955)
Today's Table in Jiyugaoka was opened by my friend and Dean & Deluca Japan president, Yokokawa-san. Although not quaint, the design is open, airy and modern, located on the third floor of the concept shop, Today's Special. (Today's Table, 3F, 2-17-8 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, 03.5729.7160)
Machilda is a cosy wine bar and restaurant located in Hatsudai with limited seating for only six people. (Machilda, 1-36-1 Hatsudai, Shibuya-ku, 03.5351.8160)
|The Tsutaya T-Site book store.
Photograph by Haydee Kobe.
HK: Who are some of the most exciting artists breaking new ground in Tokyo?
MT: I prefer independent, underground and obscure artists. I also enjoy attending live music shows, especially from my favourite artist-of-the-moment, Amazarashi. The band's live shows include collaborations with ground breaking illustrator artists that project their work on to large screens, causing them to blend into the animated background.
Shortly after the 3/11 triple disasters, Pass the Baton collaborated with artist collective and social activists, Chim↑Pom whose performances and art is often described as controversial.
I respect and support my friend and famous pop artist, Nara Yoshitomo and will be attending a reception for the artist this month.
I also enjoy discovering and investing in the works of unknown artists such as wood sculpture artist, Takanori Ishizuka whose work, "A Nice Pair" will be Pass the Baton's first artwork donation purchased from the charity proceeds of the shop. The sculpture will be housed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in Kiba.
Read Haydee Kobe's profile of Masamichi Toyama here.
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