What to Pack For: A Trip to Tokyo

We asked Michael Saiger, the creator of Miansai—the nautical-inspired accessory line responsible for making “man jewelry” socially acceptable—what he’s packing for his next inspiration trip to Tokyo (which includes an expedition to the city’s famed fish markets).

Are you a last-minute packer or plan-ahead packer?
I’m a last-minute packer; I literally pack two minutes before I head to the airport. I’m notorious for missing flights or changing them at the last minute. I think it’s genetic because my mother does the same thing.

Anything you won’t travel without?
On long flights, I have to have my Bose noise-cancelling headphones, but aside from that, I’m pretty easy. My carry-on, and probably the most utilitarian item I own, is a vintage Swiss WWII backpack. It’s been with me from hikes in Patagonia to all-day meetings in Japan.

Favorite travel companion?
My girlfriend, Camila. She is always down to do anything, whether it’s a three-day hike or crazy day in the city.

Any tips for surviving the long flight?
Stay hydrated, watch a good movie and dress comfortably—but not like you’re going to the gym.

What do you like most about traveling to Tokyo?
Every time I go, I’m always amazed by how polite the Japanese are—it makes traveling there that much easier. I also love the Japanese fashion sense. Everyone is super fashion forward; they’re not afraid to try new trends or express themselves through their unique style. That goes for women and men! Honestly, when I walk down the street, it’s crazy how many more men’s stores there are than women’s.

What’s the story behind the above photo?
This is one of our most iconic bracelets, which I left on a wish tablet at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. People come from all over the world to visit the temple and handwrite prayers on wooden boards hoping they’ll be answered. I am always inspired when I travel, and different elements from my experiences abroad often translate into the design aesthetic of Miansai.

Any favorite local spots you could suggest to us?
The view from BelloVisto bar, the rooftop bar at the Cerulean Tower Hotel, is amazing. My absolute favorite place for sushi is Matsuei. For breakfast, I love Orimine Bakers. They sell a puff pastry with powdered sugar on top that I eat every morning when I’m in Tokyo.

Where do you go in Tokyo for design inspiration?
The fish markets in Tokyo are incredibly inspiring for me when designing new collections. I love to wake up early, walk down to the market around dawn and see the boats coming in and unloading huge bluefin tuna. A lot of the Miansai design elements are very nautical, so seeing all of the fishing hardware around the market gets my creative juices flowing. On my most recent trip, I saw a new hook that was really cool—so maybe you’ll see a new hook design in the future!

Where are you hoping to go next?
I’m thinking Thailand or Greenland for my next vacation.

On location: Hello, Tokyo!

this month, we took to the vibrant streets of Tokyo, Japan. in between
shots, our crew managed to squeeze in a spot of souvenir shopping…
Sushi-shaped candy: “I brought these back as a cute gift for my coworkers.
Love the whimsy and tongue-in-cheek quality they have.
And, as with everything else in Japan, the packaging is just exquisite.”

—Gayle, head women’s stylist

Tenugui: “These are hand-dyed cotton cloths called tenugui. They feature
traditional Japanese patterns, and people in Tokyo use them for anything
and everything—gift wrap, headbands, lunch boxes, you name it.”

—Brian, crewcuts prop stylist

Handmade brushes: “I bought these handmade brushes in a tiny store in
the Asakusa neighborhood. You can find all sorts of traditional
Japanese items there, from makeup worn by Kabuki actors to
horsehair toothbrushes like these.”

—Allison, associate stylist

Soy sauce bowl: “This beautiful soy sauce bowl comes from a store called
Pass the Baton, which sells used items and traditional Japanese goods.
All the used pieces have a tag telling the story of where they come from and
their past owner—a really unique and personal touch.”


© 2014 by J.Crew. All Images and materials are copyrighted by J.Crew unless otherwise noted.

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