Japan has 47 prefectures, each with its own regional specialties. It seems like it would be impossible to visit them all on a single trip, but it can be done. Intrigued? You won't need to go any farther than Tokyo!
Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s 23 wards, is known for its famously congested crosswalk and the Hachiko statue outside the train station. It’s also home to the retail complex, Hikarie. In addition to housing restaurants, a gallery, and a department store, the complex is also home to D & DEPARTMENT.
D & DEPARTMENT, a project focused on finding and showcasing quality Japanese craftsmanship from all 47 prefectures, has opened a restaurant, museum, and travel store. All three are in the Hikarie building, where carefully curated products and foods from around the country are on display. It’s a unique opportunity to take a tour of the country with just one stop! Let’s start with the restaurant. d47 Shokudo
Located on the 8th floor of Hikarie, the d47 Shokudo restaurant features regional foods from Japan’s prefectures. With a wall of windows overlooking Shibuya station, you’ll have interesting views whether it's day or night. The menu changes monthly and features regional teishoku (set meals), desserts, and drinks, with explanations about the origin of each. I ate dinner at a shared table along the windows and watched the trains come and go while the evening city lights twinkled before me. Packaged regional foods are sold near the entrance, so it’s a convenient place (whether you eat there or not) to purchase edible souvenirs. You may even spot some ingredients and products that were featured on the restaurant’s menu. d47Museum
The d47 Museum rotates exhibits of well-designed handicrafts and other specialties from Japan’s prefectures. On my first visit, I walked through a small convenience store that was designed to fit right into the museum space. The shelves held items from various cities across Japan in a fun, interactive exhibit. When I visited more recently, the space held individual displays of regional items–from wooden toys to clothes to everyday household products. In the back of the museum, a small shop sold items from the exhibit and had a section of books and magazines. Written in both English and Japanese, the collection contained unique local publications you may never see online or in a large bookstore. d47 Design Travel Store Carrying products from all over Japan, the travel store is a one-stop shop for unique examples of Japan’s famed craftsmanship— from clothing to tableware to music to food products! On my first visit, I spotted a small jar of yuzu miso paste from Yamaguchi prefecture. I hesitated to buy a glass jar at the beginning of my trip, but I’d never had yuzu miso, so it was a rare find. The clerk wrapped it in bubble wrap, and the jar made it home safe and sound. In addition to the souvenirs, one of my favorite products at the store is the collection of travel magazines. Each prefecture has its own magazine with bilingual content, featuring specialties from that particular area.
So when time is short and your rail pass covers just one region, make the most of your stay in Japan and visit Hokkaido (an entire prefecture by itself), Honshu (contains 34 prefectures), Shikoku (contains 4), and Kyushu (contains 8, including Okinawa) at the d47 shops!