Baggu CEO Emily Sugihara On Why All Designers Should Visit Tokyo

“Bring comfy shoes. All of Tokyo is a design destination.”

Welcome to Wanderlust, a weekly series on Co.Design where some of our favorite designers share their secret picks and insider tips for the best design cities on the planet. Today, Emily Sugihara of Brooklyn-based bag studio Baggu drops us in a tote and takes us to her favorite design city: Tokyo.


What’s your favorite design city, and why?

Tokyo! It’s really just the perfect combination of the future and the past. Much more than the United States, Japan is super futuristic, but it’s like the futurism of the 1990s. At the same time, Japan is very respectful of the traditions of the past, and so the result is this glorious fusion of design eras, everywhere you look.

Where do you like to stay when you’re there?

My favorite is to rent an old house–the more tatami the better in one of the quiet neighborhoods, like Nakemuguro, alongside the banks of the beautiful Meguro River. It’s a young, hip neighborhood, but very quiet; I’ve been to Japan a million times, so I don’t like the touristy stuff. I like trying to spend my time there as an average person. Experiencing a different culture’s idea of “normal” is so great, and Japan is just so different from my everyday life in New York or San Francisco.

Where do you like to eat?

Anywhere with ramen! There’s a secret place with a black tarp and a bone I like to go to: Ganko Ramen. You should Google it. But if you can’t get there, you can go to any train station and get a bowl of noodles that will just amaze you.

What design destinations do you visit?


Walking around Nakameguro there a tons of small shops with local people making stuff. And the everyday shopping’s incredible: shops like Tokyu Hands, which sells pretty much everything. It’s like Muji meets Walmart: you’ll walk out of there with things you never knew you wanted.

Also? 7-11! You might think you know 7-11 in the United States, but it’s just a whole other world in Japan.

Do you have any good tips for people going there interested in design?

Bring comfy shoes. All of Tokyo is a design destination. Spend your day on foot and get really lost.