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Sunday, June 3, 2001

Where to find those bygone gems

Staff writer

If you're after antique furniture you don't have to go to Camden Lock or Jubilee market in London to find that "one-and-only" piece. There are antique shops right here full of treasures from home and abroad -- and at reasonable prices.

S.H.P. specializes in English furniture and has a cafe, too.

Antiques and period pieces ranging in age from the 19th to the mid-20th centuries can be found all over the capital, but there are particular concentrations of shops around Meguro and Minato wards.

Here is a list of some recommended antique stores in Tokyo.

* Lloyd's Antiques Himonya: One of the largest and most well-known shops in Tokyo, in 1988 Lloyd's started selling British antique furniture and goods from the 1890s to the 1930s. It has now extended its collection of British furniture up to the 1960s and also stocks furniture from northern Europe (mainly Denmark) from around the '50s. From tables and sofas to cupboards and chairs, prices range from 30,000 yen to 500,000 yen. Every week, a container full of furniture and interior goods arrives from England. "There's always a trend in antiques, and our strong point is that we are always with the trend," says spokeswoman Tomoko Kubo.

Lloyd's Antiques Himonya is also a-chock full of UK furnishings.

A 15-minute walk from Gakugei Daigaku Station, Tokyu-Toyoko Line, or 15 minutes by bus from JR Meguro Station, (03) 3716-3338. Closed on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. It has branches in Hiroo, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yokohama as well as ones in Hakata and Kobe. www.lloyds.co.jp

* London House: On Meguro-dori, about five minutes' walk from Lloyd's, this shop recalls the lodgings of Sherlock Holmes, with its traditional British furniture and rugs. Furniture, lamps and silverware are all purchased from England. Look out for the beautiful, carved oak and mahogany chests and tables from the 1900s to the '60s.

A 12-minute walk from Gakugei Daigaku Station, (03) 3716-1606. Closed Wednesday.

* American Country Mall Depot 39: An ivy-clad shop located in the middle of Jiyugaoka's residential quarters welcomes you into a world of antique American country-style furniture, interior goods and quilts.

A 10 minute walk from Jiyugaoka Station, Tokyu-Toyoko Line, (03) 3725-7010. Closed Wednesday. www.depot39.co.jp

* S.H.P: Located on Komazawa-dori, this new shop (it opened in March) has a variety of mid-20th century furniture from England. The shop has a cafe with a patio at the back, with books and magazines in English. The owners worked in a large furniture shop before opening their own. Their current aim is to collect items by lesser-known British designers and to introduce them here at reasonable prices. Tableware is priced as low as 1,000 yen.

A 10-minute walk from Gakugei Daigaku Station, Tokyu-Toyoko Line, (03) 5701-6220. Closed Wednesdays. www.shp-eq.com

* Memories Collection: Since it opened in 1974, the shop owner has collected items from all over the world, especially Europe and China. Antiques on display fill the cozy, small space, which has the look of an art gallery. The items are selected with care (the prices range from 20,000 yen to 20 million yen, for rare silverware) and a dignified air fills the shop. A huge wooden horse stands in the center of the room. "I want the shop to represent a crosspoint between West and East," says its owner, Masaaki Sakuma.

One minute's walk from Azabu Juban Station, Nanboku and Oedo subway lines, (03) 3583-3910.

* Kensington: British antique furniture from the 1920s-'30s. The staff here are happy to offer detailed advice to customers.

A 7-minute walk from Shirokane-dai Station, Nanboku subway line, (03) 5793-5321. www.kensington.co.jp

* Kikori: Located just outside of Tokyo, this 30-year-old shop specializes in Japanese antiques. Its merchandise includes 100-year-old tansu chests made of paulownia, zelkova or Japan cedar, hibachi that come in different shapes and sizes as well as obi and kimono. Tableware including lacquer bowls, Imari plates and sake bottles as well as clocks and stationery goods are also on sale. There is a discount sale on the last weekend of every month.

A 3-minute walk from Hibarigaoka Station, Seibu Ikebukuro Line, (0424) 21-7373.

* An: It features Japanese antique furniture and goods from the Meiji to Showa eras ranging from a sake cup priced at 70 yen to a 400,000 yen chest. You can find some bargains, as the shop tries to match the needs of young customers who come to the shop, located inside the Loft hardware store.

A 3-minute walk from Kichijoji Station on JR Chuo and Inokashira lines, 4F of Kichijoji Loft, (0422) 23-6210.

For a more lively shopping atmosphere and maybe some bargains, check out these Tokyo flea markets.

* Togo Shrine: Located in the precincts of Togo Shrine in Harajuku, this huge flea market is held, weather permitting, from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first, fourth and fifth (if there is one) Sunday of every month. Items on sale include used furniture and household goods from minka (old-style Japanese homes).

* Iidabashi Ramla: Adjacent to Iidabashi Station (JR Sobu and Tozai subway lines) is Iidabashi Central Plaza Ramla, a large shopping center. A flea market is held on the first Saturday of every month in front of the center's restaurants, from 6 a.m. to around sunset. Items include furniture, tableware, artworks and instruments. For more information, call Iidabashi Central Plaza Ramla at (03) 3235-0181.

* Setagaya Boro-ichi: This is probably the best-known flea market in Tokyo, dating back to the 1570s. It is held Jan. 15-16 and Dec. 15-16, and features about 600 stalls. Items on sale include food, plants, secondhand accessories and toys. For more information, call (03) 3411-6663.

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