Fine Dining, Fashion, Art, and Luxury Are Waiting for You at Omotesando’s GYRE

Omotesando is one of Tokyo's leading shopping districts. It’s full of spots that trendy Tokyoites love, including luxury boutiques, variety stores with the latest cosmetics and accessories, and stylish cafes and restaurants. GYRE is a fashion complex located in the heart of the chic Omotesando that has caught the eyes and taste buds of these discerning types. Over the years, GYRE's international fashion boutiques, tasteful lifestyle stores, galleries, and its restaurant floor (which has undergone a major renovation in November 2019) have all become favorite spots for Japanese and international customers alike. We hope you’ll visit GYRE and experience a moment of luxury in a beautiful space that was created by harnessing the experiences and sensibilities of experts in the fields of food, architecture, and design.

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What Is GYRE?

Omotesando is a large road that faces Tokyo Metro Omotesando Station and Meiji-jingumae Station. Its name, which translates to "road approaching the front of the shrine," literally describes the fact that this avenue leads to the Meiji Shrine entrance. Rows of beautiful zelkova trees line a 900m stretch of this leading Tokyo shopping district, giving it its own, unique character. The trees charm people throughout the year with their fresh greenery in the spring, yellows and reds in the fall, and glittering illuminations during the Christmas season.

Day in and day out, this avenue attracts scores of shoppers thanks to its international fashion brands and shopping complexes. The area is also known for the famous buildings and structures designed by renowned architects. If you're the type who stays attuned to fashion, just walking through this area is sure to be an inspiring experience.

However, there is a particular site that shines among all these Omotesando highlights: the fashion complex GYRE, which first opened in 2007. As you can see in the picture above, this complex has a unique structure that resembles five stacked boxes twisted into a spiral. This sense of movement makes the building seem like a living organism with a will of its own. 

Designed by the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV, GYRE embodies the philosophy of SHOP & THINK, i.e. the notion of living with awareness of what is happening in the world. And since the complex’s name means “whirlpool” or “rotation,” it almost feels like it’s generating a sort of magnetic field that pulls things closer to it, including new people and energies. You will never find a concept like that anywhere else.

Eighteen shops and restaurants operate throughout the building's six floors, attracting locals and international visitors alike. Its curated selection of elegant stores that cater to every lifestyle includes international fashion brands like CHANEL, Maison Margiela, COMME de GARCONS, and KENZO; variety and interior design places such as MoMA Design Store and HAY TOKYO; and the GYRE GALLERY art space.

Escape the Tumult of the City and Retreat to Nature at the GYRE.FOOD Dining Floor

Now is a particularly great time to visit GYRE thanks to the launch of the gourmet GYRE.FOOD restaurant area, which opened on January 10, 2020 on the fourth floor. Rooted in GYRE's SHOP & THINK philosophy, this floor's all-encompassing concept is based around the theme of cycles.

A surprising scenery awaits you as you set foot here. The walls and floor of this spacious 1,000-square-meter space are covered with earth and plants, calling to mind the image of buried, ancient ruins or a cave in the heart of a dense forest.

A stack of blocks in the shared space creates a playful area where visitors can sit, unwind, or relax over conversation.

This space was designed by Tsuyoshi Tane, a France-based architect who has worked on such projects as the Estonian National Museum, the Toraya Paris store, and the Kofun Stadium, a shortlisted proposal for Japan's new national stadium. After thinking about the future of food culture, Tane appears to have settled for a starting design point based around soil. With global warming leading to large-scale desertification, the architect has created an experimental space where the restaurants themselves appear to be returning to the soil. With this, Tane is asking diners to internalize the future of the environment while also creating a space where the future of Tokyo's food culture is created.

The broader concept of the GYRE.FOOD space was developed by the HiRAO INC CEO Kayoko Hirao, who is responsible for GYRE's overall direction, and chef Yuri Nomura, whose vast experience in the culinary world includes restaurant eatrip, housed in a historic building in the Meiji-jingumae area of Harajuku. Kai Tanaka, from the Shinjuku Golden Gai district lemon sour bar The Open Book, provided on-site direction. Food direction is overseen by Ryoma Shida, who trained in Paris and refined his skills as a sous chef at the Ginza restaurant ESqUISSE. This collective of creators have all brought their knowledge, taste, and ideas to the table to create the elegant GYRE.FOOD space.

Pictured: cuisine at élan.

This floor features four different establishments: the restaurant élan, the all-day-dining restaurant EUREKA, the fünklein bar, and the grocery and souvenir store eatrip soil. élan serves French courses while EUREKA is based around reasonably priced French-inspired dishes. In addition to the food, guests can also order drinks at fünklein, making the entire floor work together to deliver the best service possible. élan and EUREKA share a kitchen, and together are testing measures to reduce food loss, including composting and finding waste-free ways to use their ingredients.

All food comes from the earth, enters our bodies, and then eventually returns to the earth. GYRO.FOOD embodies the food cycle of the natural world and gives a glimpse into the near-future right in the heart of Omotesando, one of Tokyo's leading downtown areas. Omotesando restaurants often grow crowded as visitors flock to the area on weekends and holidays. However, GYRE.FOOD's 150 seats, airy, open-plan design, and terrace seating make this a perfect place to relax at on your day off.

GYRE.FOOD / 4F

Japan's First Cocktails on Tap! Try Drinks Made with Unique Japanese Ingredients at fünklein!

Located in this shared, open-plan space is a bar that’s particularly worth a visit: fünklein. The surprising number of taps lining the neat counter quickly catches the eye. Served from these 17 taps is not beer but original cocktails in a wide range of vivid colors. We asked the bar’s owner Kai Tanaka and bartender Ichinose for their recommendations.

A well-known part of Tokyo's food industry, Tanaka is the manager of The Open Book, a lemon sour bar in the Shinjuku Golden Gai district. While visiting bars and restaurants all around the world, he noticed the popularity of cocktails overseas while also becoming aware of a difference between cocktail consumption in Japan and everywhere else. With that in mind, he set out to offer customers accessible and authentic cocktail experiences by creating Japan's first experimental bar serving mixed drinks on tap.

When we asked Ichinose the bartender which of the 16 specialty cocktails on offer would best suit international visitors, he suggested the Jahana Old Fashioned (1,200 yen). This cocktail gets its name from the Okinawan candy company Jahana which produces the Japanese sweet kippan, made with the same winter melon-flavored sugar that’s used in Old Fashioned. When making kippan, one typically discards the sugar used to pickle the winter melon. However, the sweet substance itself actually has a rich flavor that pairs beautifully with whiskey. The Jahana Old Fashioned is a simple cocktail made with rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, orange peel, and winter melon syrup.

Cocktails are normally mixed in a shaker, but both the novelty and the combined flavor that comes from premixing and storing these specialty cocktails in casks is definitely worth seeking out. The difficult part of developing cocktails on tap is adjusting the flavors. Carbon dioxide gas is used when drawing from the cask, which can in turn influence the flavor of the drink. Lots of trial and error was required to make the cocktails taste exactly as they were supposed to. In the end, the lemon and orange peel flavors in the Jahana Old Fashioned worked well with the carbon dioxide to create a refreshing flavor that you won’t find anywhere else.

Before the bar's opening, the staff traveled across Japan, visiting areas such as Nagano, Shikoku, and Okinawa. There, they harnessed the local ingredients to create a range of unique Japanese cocktails. Other recommendations include the Lemon Sour (900 yen), which was designed to include as much Japanese lemon as possible; the Chawari (900 yen), made with Japanese tea; and the Gyre-Ball (900 yen), made by chilling both the glass and whiskey to -25°C / -13°F. The range of cocktails will change from season to season, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to try something truly special.

The bar has both an English menu and English-speaking staff, so feel free to ask if you have any questions about the drinks. Additionally, fünklein serves coffee, tea, sandwiches, and other light meals, and you can also get food and sweets delivered from the adjoining all-day-dining restaurant EUREKA. Large tables and terrace seats overlooking Omotesando are perfect for all occasions, including drinks with friends, that special someone, or a break when out with the kids.

"Whether it’s for a party or an intimate gathering, we hope you'll stop by for a casual drink with us, day and night," owner Tanaka told us. fünklein is the sort of bar where attention to detail is evident in everything from the cocktail ingredients to the welcoming layout. You're sure to be glad you visited.

MoMA Design Store's Carefully-Curated Selection of Enjoyably Good Design

After an intoxicating experience at GYRE.FOOD, head downstairs to look for some tasteful souvenirs. The MoMA Design Store, located on the third floor of GYRE, features a lineup of goods chosen by curators from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Sourced from all around the world, these items excel in both form and function.

The first international outlet of the MoMA museum store, the MoMA Design Store stocks a wide range of charming items, including kitchen goods, stationery, fashion accessories, and even smartphone and computer goods, all of which were selected because they exemplify the shop’s goal of enabling everyone to access and enjoy art.

Items that feature the work of beloved international artist Yayoi Kusama are particularly popular. The spotted-pattern decorative skateboards seen above are reproductions of originals created by Kusama especially for the MoMA Design Store. Left: Yellow Trees Skateboard Triple Set (71,500 yen), Middle and Right: DOTS Skateboards (28,600 yen/each). The smaller snow globes (11,000 yen/each) are also very popular souvenirs and quickly sold out when they were first introduced. With them, you can hold a world constructed by Yayoi Kusama in the palm of your hand and then shake it to make it snow, creating a charming, dream-like scenery.

The works of famous Japanese artist Yoshimoto Nara also have plenty of fans here. The Welcome Girl / Solid Fist artist-designed skateboard (28,600 yen) is a limited-edition piece designed in collaboration with MoMA and is a great pick, as is the original memo pad (990 yen) and the color pencil set (2,200 yen)

At the shop, you’ll additionally find items featuring motifs from famous artists like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as collaborations between MoMA and popular brands like Champion and NEW ERA, and even cutting-edge tech products. A range of affordable original MoMA goods are also available for under 1,000 yen.

English-speaking staff can help you find the perfect item. And because the shop’s mission is to spread beautiful design to the world, products here are changed on a monthly basis, so you'll always find something new to inspire you at the MoMA Design Store. So drop in and find something to add a little color to your day.

GYRE is the perfect place to discover food, shopping opportunities, and spaces that can't be found anywhere else. We highly recommend including it in your Japan travel plans. It won’t just make your trip better, it might even inspire you in ways that will make your tomorrow a little richer.

GYRE

About JRF

The commercial facilities mentioned in this article are managed by the Japan Retail Fund Investment Corporation (JRF). JRF has been listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (securities code: 8953) since March 2002. It was the first investment firm in Japan to specifically target and finance retail property assets. As the largest Japanese real estate investment trust (J-REIT), JRF strives to secure stable and improved distributions of its dividends and steady increases in the value of its property portfolio through selective investments in prime retail properties.

For more information visit: https://www.jrf-reit.com/english/index.html

Disclaimer
* This article was made for the sole purpose of promoting the Japan Retail Fund Investment Corporation (JRF). It is not an invitation for investing in JRF’s securities or other financial instruments. Please make investment decisions at your own discretion and risk.
Asset Management Company: Mitsubishi Corp. – UBS Realty Inc.
(Financial Instruments Business Operators: Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No. 403, Full Member of The Investment Trusts Association, Japan)

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.


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