OCCUPATION: Founder, Room to Read Tokyo
MY STYLE: When it comes to fashion, I keep it simple, chic, and modern. My favorite brands are Shanghai Tang and Tory Burch. For our home, I like a contemporary modern look with an Asian twist. Both my husband and I love collecting modern art and also Asian antiques, which blend well, I think.
I LOVE TOKYO BECAUSE: It has everything! It’s very metropolitan, sophisticated, and modern, with the best restaurants in the world, yet Japanese traditions still exist. My husband is American, so we socialize in both the international and Japanese communities. Another city I love is Kamakura, the historic capital of Japan, which is about an hour away from Tokyo. We spend most of our weekends among the temples, beach, and big Buddha there, so our children can appreciate traditional Japanese style in Kamakura and a more contemporary, metropolitan pace in Tokyo.
Tokyo International Players
Megumi Nakajima-Caldwell’s daughter, Alissa, takes acting workshops at the Tokyo International Players, a non-profit theatrical organization. Because all of the plays are performed in English (Japanese synopses provided), both the stage and red-cushioned seats attract members of the city’s international community. Not all of the company’s productions are appropriate for mini-expats, however. This season, it’s put on Metamorphosis, the world premiere of A Kabuki Christmas Carol, and The Crucible, but is also set to perform The Wizard of Oz. Visit the online box office for tickets!
Tokyo American Club
This place has been a hub of activity—and relaxation—since it was founded in 1928. Sure, you can get your shoes shined or play a few games of bridge or squash, but the Tokyo American Club is so much more than your typical upper crust expat watering hole. For one, its members hail from over 50 countries, and the club’s library, cooking classes, and open mic nights speak to the emphasis placed on cultural exchange. Megumi Nakajima-Caldwell takes her son to the club for swimming lessons. In addition to a gorgeous glass-enclosed pool atop the club’s new building in Azubudai, there’s an open-air kiddie pool, with lounge chairs for parents close at hand. There are also several eating spots at the club, including a family friendly café that serves pizza, and the more upscale Decanter, the menu of which reads like those of leading American nouveau restaurants in New York.
Piping hot French bread with butter, chicken liver, scallops with a pesto mushroom risotto, carpaccio, sorbet. These may not be the dishes that usually come to mind when you think Tokyo, but that doesn’t mean they won’t blow you away at the cozy Pignon. “My husband and I are always so impressed by Rimpei, the Japanese bohemian chef who has travelled the world preparing great food and returned with the secrets to Morrocan and French cuisine,” says Megumi Nakajima-Caldwell. I recommend sitting at the counter and doing Omakase—just give your chef your budget and he will whip up something fitting.” Omakase is even an option for Western visitors, as Rimpei is fluent in English.
Loft is the rare spot where both you and your little ones will leave with an arms’ full, or at least a wish list. The store specializes in home goods and gift items with a fun, young vibe. While you’re considering a sleek kitchen accessory or 60s-inspired green loveseat, your kids will be knee-deep in stickers, wigs, costumes, and a plethora of cool stationary, diaries, stickers, stamps, and pens. If they’re not the type to play with something as old-fashioned as paper, fear not—Loft also carries headphones, speakers, and other iPod accessories. Megumi Nakajima-Caldwell goes to the Shibuya branch with her ten-year-old daughter. “Ten can be a difficult age to shop for because they’re not teens but they’re no longer small children, but Alissa always finds plenty here,” she says.
Le Chocolat de H
Calling all chocolate snobs! Lovers of Jacques Torres or La Maison du Chocolat will feel right at home at Le Chocolat de H. It’s a gourmet sweet shop featuring the edible art of Hironobu Tsujiguchi, the youngest patissier ever to have won La Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie (literally the World Cup of Desserts!). Chocolates are certainly the bestsellers at his cozy boutique located in the Roppongi Hills complex, but you’ll also find mouth-watering macaroons and other goodies. Enjoy some onsite or get a box to go. They make great gifts; in fact, the lucky recipient might just love you forever.