Lauren Hanawalt wasn’t given much notice when she found out that she’d be heading to Asia for a few photo shoots, but was very excited about her last-minute trip nonetheless. “Asia is a completely different world to me. Europe I’ve done several times, and you don’t quite experience the same culture shock as you do in Asia.” On a 30-day trip with the Bravo agency, she knew that she’d be staying an apartment with other models, but she didn’t know what else to expect. “I just kept replaying Lost In Translation in my head.” But after exploring Tokyo with her roommates, Lauren completely fell in love with the city and all it had to offer. “The fashion is cutting edge, the food is delicious, and the people treat you with a different type of respect than you find in New York. I hope I get to experience it again.”
Most people are familiar with this restaurant because of Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu’s famous fight scene in Kill Bill, but few have had the first-hand experience of the delicious sushi served at Gonpachi’s. Downstairs is a more casual dining experience, but you can make a reservation to have an amazing meal in the beautiful atmosphere of the sushi bar. “The geisha roll is a must.”
Tokyo is one of the most amazing places for shopping. If you’re a fan of the modern silhouettes of Yohji Yamamoto as Lauren is, you’ll love the shops that Tokyo has to offer. Shibuya, Daikanyama, and Tokyo Midtown are the three major shopping areas, but Lauren’s favorite is Daikanyama. “All the Japanese hipsters flock here, but its home to my favorite find: Alberto, a great little vintage shop that has great fifties jewelry.”
“Another shop that I came across at one of my castings is called Bajira. Great for those who love black or leather should definitely take a look.”
2F Ceder Stone Villa
The apartment where Lauren and the other girls stayed was right in the middle of Roppongi Hills, home to Tokyo’s nightlife scene. The beautiful four-story building of Feria is where the models go to kick back when they’re in town. “It’s the nightclub where Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana throw their D&G party, and it’s the place to be.”
B1F 7-13-7 Roppongi
Though Lauren ended up having to go on a shoot the day she was supposed to take the bullet train to Hakone, “Two of my friends who went said that the hot springs are absolutely amazing.” Head to Hakone and find some great deals at the spas near the beautiful hot springs.
It may surprise you to hear that Lauren’s favorite Tokyo purchase was made in a bookstore. “Cow Books is a great little bookshop located in Daikanyama. I was able to find an old eighties Japanese fashion illustration book called Draw Up: Katsu Yoshida, which I absolutely love.” They mainly specialize in used books, both in Japanese and English, but there are many great ones to be found.
Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi
Another bookstore Lauren loved going to after a long day of castings was Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi. “You’ll find any magazine that Japan has to offer here.”
Amazing. These can be found at any 100-yen store for a little heater to keep you warm. They loved to give these to the girls on outdoor shoots, and they work!
Every grocery store or convenience store in Tokyo has these adorable little cookies in the shape of mushrooms that will totally fulfill your chocolate craving. They’re delicious!
If only you could bring home fruit! You can sometimes find these Asian pears in the States, but they’re just not quite the same as the ones from Japan—and they’re even hard to come by here! But they’re a great healthy snack to opt for when surrounded by the junk food in Tokyo’s convenience stores.