TRAVEL: Ren Stern’s Guide to Tokyo

Frank Renaissance knows a thing or two about going global. The newly minted record label is based in both New York City and Tokyo, aiming to impact every corner of the world with their lineup of dope Japanese artists. Fresh off the release of their first single “A-Team’s Fables,” which featured a supergroup of six Japanese artists, the label is on the hunt to find its next superstar. Frank Renaissance will host “Looking for the Next Global Rap Star in Japan,” a virtual conversation about the collective’s passion for sharing Japanese hip-hop with a global audience. In partnership with the Japan Society of New York and moderated by journalist Patrick St. Michel, the event will take place March 23 at 7 p.m. EST and feature members of Frank Renaissance – co-founders Frankie Caracciolo and Ren Stern, Toyko-based creative producer Aya Apton, and New York-based A&R consultant Kayvan Daragheh – as panelists.

Frank Renaissance’s fervor for Japan doesn’t stop at the music – the collective is a big fan of all the country has to offer. Tokyo in particular has captured co-founder Ren Stern’s heart, and now that he lives there, he’s ready to take us around his favorite spots. Check out some of the highlights from Ren Stern’s Tokyo picks!


Share Green – Minami Aoyama

Ren’s go-to coffee spot, a relaxing atmosphere with florists, office buildngs, and other shops surrounded by a parklike green space.

For those weirdos like me who like some background music while they work, some afternoons you’ll have DJs playing downtempo beats in the background. You can also step out to the turf field in front of the café and lie out on one of the lounge chairs or check out the plant shop next door.”


Nubian – Harijuku

A trendy shop with all of the latest styles, this is where Ren assembles his best ‘fits.

“When we did our first track release event last November, I ended up copping a YTG sweater there for it that is still one of my favorite items in my closet. They have a ton of limited release goods from both domestic and foreign designers that drop there, so you better get your threads while you still can!”


Jazzy Sport – Shimokitazawa

Founded in Kytoto but now with a Tokyo location, this combination record store/dance studio is one of the best shops in Japan.

“I would highly recommend their Shimokitazawa location if you’re in the neighborhood. Admittedly, I haven’t bought any records at the shop, but I can’t resist flipping through their collection when I’m in the neighborhood.”


Donaiya – Sangenjaya

This food stop is located right on the side of the street and is one of Ren’s favorite places for a quick bite.

“You can post on the plastic crates that they leave for you, grab a beer, and make new friends as they sit next to you or pass you by on the street.”


Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery – Nishishinjuku

A sleek and modern display of exhibits both temporary and permanent, this gallery is a must-see for any art lover.

“Their recent Masaya Chiba exhibit was pretty spectacular and their Tom Sachs exhibit from 2019 was critically acclaimed as well.”


WWW/WWW X – Shibuya

With a state-of-the-art acoustics setup, vibrant lighting, and an atmosphere brimming with personality and creative energy, this is one of Japan’s premiere venues.

“My first show there was with Shing02 and the Cheehos, which is more jazzy, boom bap style hip-hop, but I’ve also seen more new school acts such as Daichi Yamamoto, Awich, Yurufuwa Gang, Wonk and Kid Fresino at the venue. I’ve also seen MadeinTokyo and Charlie XX there back when I first made it Tokyo. Depending on the night the venue hosts acts that range pretty broadly in genre, but you’ll be sure to catch a high-quality show.”


If you find yourself in Tokyo, be sure to check out these spots and more recommendations from Ren Stern. In the meantime, don’t miss Frankie Collective’s virtual panel “Looking for the Next Global Rap Star in Japan” March 23!