Gleam Furniture, Moto Azabu
Making a space your own when you're not sure how long you'll be there can be a tricky thing, and it's one of the reasons so many expats rely on the likes of Ikea for everything from candleholders to kitchen tables. Often, even if we would prefer something with a bit more character, we don't want to fork over the mounds of cash that most Japanese furniture stores require for even the simplest pieces, as we know we'll likely have to part with them one day and we won't get back what we paid. This is why I was so surprised when I recently stumbled upon Gleam, a furniture store in Azabu with a focus on beautiful yet affordable wooden pieces.
Gleam was started in 2008, but until now its business has been mainly online. The Azabu store, which opened in September, showcases the brand’s full line of products, from small interior accessories like photo stands and lamp shades, all the way up to larger pieces like tables and chairs. The pieces are all handmade from reclaimed scrap wood, giving them a natural character and history that will only get better with time.
On my first visit to Gleam, I mostly passed the time checking out all the smaller items like potted succulents, picture frames and little round stools. But I also marveled at the beauty of some of the larger pieces, such as the Torocco table, one of the brand’s signature pieces. With a beautifully refinished wood top and metal wheels and bars underneath, it calls to mind an old farm cart, and would make a great statement piece for any kitchen or dining room. And at ¥68,200, the price is reasonably on par with what you would find at Ikea or similar stores.
Prices throughout the store range from ¥800 to ¥126,000, and the designers also take both semi-custom and fully custom orders, so don’t be afraid to ask if you have something specific in mind. For not much more than a mass-produced piece would cost, you could end up getting something that you’ll cherish forever, and even want to take with you if or when you leave Japan.
Address: 3-10-9 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Wed–Mon, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.