The bartender who served Yukio Mishima his Gin & Tonics at a bar in a former geisha district? Yes, please! A bearded, handsome, well-traveled shop owner who believes in raw materials? Please, tell me more! The people behind the places, and the stories they tell, is what makes the place special. At least according to People Make Places, a new initiative that wants to show you Tokyo in an intimate way, like you’ve never seen before.
The brainchild of long-time Tokyoite and travel writer Charles Spreckley, People Make Places is a beautiful collection of unique destinations in Tokyo with a focus on the individuals who shape them: “the chef and the restaurant, the designer and the brand, the barista and the coffee shop.” One of the subjects, Hiroki Nakamura, says, “To make good things, I have to start at the beginning – at the origin – with the raw materials. I cannot just add a logo to something that already exists.” People Make Places shares this philosophy when it comes to the places that make Tokyo so amazing. It’s about going behind the scenes of the coffee shop or the club and shining a light on the people – the raw materials – the make the place what it is.
People Make Places is available on different levels, for different budgets. As an iphone app it’s available for about $10, allowing you to carry their content on your phone as you venture through Tokyo. If you want something more tangible there’s a beautifully designed book, printed in Japan of course, for 8,500 yen (6,500 yen, or about $58 if you order before April).
For the more lavish spender the site also offers a customized concierge service for about $1200 / year that you can use anytime to help navigate Tokyo be it tour guides, finding the perfect restaurant or booking hotels. For those not quite convinced to open their wallet, an Instagram account provides a beautiful sample of the type of content the service offers.