CFDAdventures: Tokyo Diaries with Dannijo Part 1

Here at the CFDA we’re thrilled when our members cross transatlantic borders . It not only allows designers to seek new sources of inspiration, but it also promotes American fashion in a global arena. Recently, Danielle Snyder, one half of the design duo Dannijo, traveled to Tokyo and captured her sojourn for CFDAdventures.

Day 1, Oct 22. Arrival.

Everything is so clean and organized. Entering Tokyo was an efficient and pleasant experience—from customs to the car pickup –to the hotel arrival. I quickly noticed the overarching theme that tied everything together: attention to detail. I was finally in a place where people might be as detail oriented as I am.

Day 2, October 23. Everything as Yams.

We toured Tokyo with our friends Ayaka and Noriko. In the morning we walked around the Asakusa area and bought all sorts of Japanese souvenirs– think mini geisha doll key chains, chic fans, quirky magnets, and ornate candy. On our way to the Asakusa-jinja shrine, we met a beautiful girl named Chizuru who was wearing a stunning authentic kimono. She must have been a celebrity. We took turns taking pictures of each other.  I asked where she got her kimono, and she explained that she paid $20 and rented it for the day. My dreams were shattered. She wasn’t in fact a real geisha. But, nonetheless she gave me hope that I could too be a geisha, even if temporarily.

We received Japanese fortunes, made wishes in the wishing well, and headed to lunch for an authentic Japanese eight course meal. Noriko asked if we had any food allergies and aversions. We, of course, politely lied and said “no.” She flipped through her Japanese/English dictionary and when she found the page she was looking for, she looked up and asked if we enjoyed yams. “Of course! We love yams!” Jodie and I said in unison.

Everything that came out of the kitchen that day was some version of yam. One tasted like pumpkin… another cooked apricot… and for dessert we had Green tea a la…”yam.”

For the main course, we had some sort of dense stew, eel that had a consistency similar to calamari, and gelatin covered shrimp–which Jodie insisted was divine.

Jodie looked over at me and whispered “you have to eat it” in a motherly tone. I proceeded to nibble like a mouse on each and every item in my bento box. At the end of the meal they brought dessert. To my surprise it was my favorite – green tea ice cream with a miniature fork!! I housed the dessert and immediately looked over to Jodie and whispered, “I want another green tea ice cream ball” to which she snapped back “Well, you can’t have another.”

We walked around the sky tree tower, and naturally Jodie got for her kid niece and nephew what I got for my adult aged friends. Nano Block is everything. American toy makers: you better step up your game. Japan is killing it with their baby Einstein antics.

The next sequence of events summarizes why I love Jodie so much. I told her at the beginning of the trip how much I wanted to obtain an authentic vintage kimono. Ayaka took us to this underground vintage spot that smelled like moth balls, which meant it was awesome.

Jodie and Erika couldn’t have been more supportive. Two hours later I had tried on every combination of kimono—from ceremonial ensembles—to casual kimonos for casual geishas.

That night’s dinner was quite the experience. We had dinner with our friends Mariko and Hiroko, and the legendary Hiroyuki Sasaki of Tomorrowland. For three hours we were served an array of sashimi, most of which we had never seen before. Hiroyuki took a liking to me, which meant I would be expected to try anything he asked the chef to put on my plate and I would be intensely watched. I was so jetlagged I could barely keep my eyes open, but I was presented several shots of sake that were meant to help wake me up. I think I excused myself to go to the restroom at least four times to splash my face with cold water. 

Hiroyuki may or may not be the most stylish man of all time. We took pictures together on the balcony (check our insta) and agreed that we’d go dancing during our next trip to Tokyo.

Day 3, October 24. Soulmate Sighting. 

The next day we spent nine hours at Tomorrowland. The first six hours were interviews with Japanese editors and the last three hours were a welcome party for us. Fellow CFDA member and friend Simon Alcantara even came by to show his support during his month long stay in Tokyo (Hi Simon!).

The next three days we mixed business and pleasure and explored Tokyo during our downtime. The shopping in Tokyo is unreal. Not only do they have great brands and quality goods, but their retail experience is unparalleled.  The stores themselves are masterpieces. You could walk around a store exploring its exterior and interior design for 15 minutes before even getting to the product.

Of all of my Tokyo adventures and interactions, my most exciting and rewarding was Sunday coffee with my Japanese soulmate. I had discovered Hiromi Toshikawa’s photography in an esoteric record shop in Paris this past fashion week and bought one of her photography books. I then began to post pictures of her and her work on @dannijo’s instagram as well as my personal (@danielleasnyder) declaring my praise and love for her work. I, of course, unrealistically intended to meet her during my trip to Tokyo as I had read that she was still living there. After four days of talking about her to every local I met, my sister informed me that I would in fact get to meet the legendary Hiromix. One of our buyers that heard me talk about her ad nauseam had a friend, who had a friend, who knew Hiromi and she had passed along the word that I was a big fan.

Never before had my determination and persistence come to fruition in such a short time frame – a mere three days. I had met my Japanese soulmate! I leave you with this cliff-of-a-hanger because the best way a story always ends is TO BE CONTINUED….

xx Danielle Snyder


For more CFDAdventures, visit here and here.