GG's Guide to Japan
GG Maull goes East—no, not to the Hamptons—to Japan! Follow Gretchen, her husband, and her favorite handbags on a sensational trip across Tokyo, Kyoto and Naoshima.
First stop, check-in! The flight from New York to Japan is around 13 to 15 hours. Thankfully, Gretchen had her Power Tote Bag with a large interior pouch for her laptop and accessories, and room enough for her Effie essentials pouch, which carried everything she needed for the flight (sleep mask, toiletries, and all!) Gretchen is organized, prepared, and ready to crash in her suite at Aman Hotel. This rebel has a big day ahead of her in TOKYO!
Off to a sunny start with the Mini-GG in Rainbow Wave!
Gretchen and Bennat kickoff their Tokyo tour with a walk through the Imperial Palace Grounds and the East Gardens. What a beautiful day for a stroll! Everything; clear lakes, trees in bloom, shimmered in the sun, including our Mini GG+ in Rainbow Wave, which she wore as a belt bag in the parks (and transitioned into a dazzling mini bag for refreshments later on.) Gretchen is a nature lover, so going hands-free was the best! Being able to move freely always opens up her world, and it enabled her to connect with the rich landscape and culture of the palace grounds.
Fun fact: On some Tokyo Metro lines, certain trains are reserved for women during peak hours.
Then, while day-tripping throughout Shinjuku City, Gretchen sports her trusty Rebel Holster & Belt Bag in black. This svelte little beauty carried her passport, credit cards, lip-balm, and travel essentials in two (or one) secure pouch. The Tokyo Underground was no match for a Rebel equipped with a Belt Bag!
At Bar Piano, a speak-easy with fabulous red velvet-covered walls and a downstairs bar fashioned from an antique piano, the Cocktail Clutch fits right in!
Any nighttime outing with the hubby calls for something with shimmer and panache, so Gretchen glams up for the evening with her black Cocktail Clutch. With her phone and lipstick kept safely hidden within the Cocktail Clutch’s bouncy demeanor, Gretchen confidently strides onto the Tokyo scene, where hidden nightspots have become all the rage.
Fun Fact: Masa restaurant in Ginza has a female sushi chef! (Women were typically not allowed to become sushi chefs because men thought their menstrual cycle would alter their palette and sense of smell.) We found one REBEL in Tokyo breaking down barriers!
NIGHTLIFE MUSTS in Tokyo:
Jazz Lounge Maduro at Grand Hyatt Tokyo
Bar Piano - a hidden bar beneath Nonbeiyokocho, or Drunkard’s Alley, 1-25-10 Shibuya
Grandfather’s -Flat Bld. B1F, 1-24-7 Shibuya
After a dizzying three-day stay in Tokyo, Gretchen and Bennat set forth for Kyoto. A calming torrent of Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens, Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan, and an official World Heritage site. In Arashiyama, the duo visited the ethereal Sagano Bamboo Forest, and got into the spirit of the old city!
Fun fact: In Kyoto, many people dress in traditional kimono.
Gretchen paired her kimono with her Mini-GG in Silver Dollar and got to enjoy a hands-free Green Tea ice cream with some new friends. Kawaii!
Next on their itinerary was Fushimi Inari-taisha, the head shrine of Kyoto. The Fushimi shrine sits at the base of a mountain, over 700 ft above sea level, with 2,000 steps to the top (a round four miles!) Challenge accepted.
Wearing her Pistol Power Belt Bag as a short cross-body, Gretchen hiked the trail under the orange arches to see the breathtaking view of Kyoto. No hiking pack needed! GG MAULL bags are designed with even weight distribution, so she was able to scale the trail as though she were carrying nothing! Gretchen felt at ease, and free to experience this life changing journey with her husband, to the fullest, and without limitations. That’s exactly why she founded GG MAULL; every woman needs a bag that complements her dynamic lifestyle and sense for adventure.
They even had lunch at Owariya, a restaurant that has served soba noodles to emperors, monks, and tourists alike for over 540 years! And they stopped at Yamatoya, the number one record bar in Kyoto, for some jazz and smoked whiskey. Yum!
Another fun daytime activity in Kyoto is visiting and eating at the Nishiki Market. We enjoyed the best donburi, a classic Japanese dish where different ingredients are served in a bowl over rice. At the market orders are taking by a vending machine. :) Gretchen enjoyed hers with uni and ikura--so delicious!
NAOSHIMA & TESHIMA
Next, Gretchen and Bennat visited the island town of Naoshima in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. Nicknamed the "Art Island," Naoshima boasts many island sculptures, six museums, and just one hotel. Love it!
Built into the hillside, the Chichu Art Museum displays paintings from Monet's “Water Lilies” series, the Benesse House Museum shows contemporary sculpture and installations, and there is the Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum, with an outdoor sculpture garden--so cool! But the most famous sculpture on Art Island is the pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama. We love supporting other female artists.
It was inspirational to see art on the other side of the world. The vibrant colors and patterns will definitely inform new GG Maull designs!
A rural island nearby Naoshima, Teshima has become an exciting destination for contemporary art in recent years. First, they stopped at a lovely spot on the water for lunch before hopping on electric bikes to ride to the Teshima Art Museum. Designed by architect Ryue Nishizawa, the museum is completely out of this world, and so is the vivid, rainbow Yokoo House by Yuko Nagayama.
The beautiful island scenery made the bike ride all the more worthwhile. Gretchen wore her Mini GG + as a cross-body, meaning she could take it all in, without having to stop and adjust her handbag. Life is just so much more enjoyable hands-free!