For serious shoppers who don't have time to suss out an unweildy city's best-kept retail secrets, but still cannot resist a quick fashion fix, superfuture.com comes to the rescue. The site, which was started in 1999 by graphic designer Wayne Berkowitz, calls itself "urban cartography for global shopping experts" but it is much, much more. In addition to the great-looking graphic maps and the thorough reviews of hotels, shops, bars, and malls in over 25 different cities including Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, the site also offers such personalized services as concierges and city guides i.e. human beings who will walk you around. Sounds kind of pathetic, but if you land in Tokyo for the first time like I did last fall and you want to get a general overview of the retail scene in Japan's very confusing fashion capital, superfuture.com will set you up with an English and Japanese-speaking guide who knws every shop and restaurant from Ginza to Harajuku. In fact, Berkorwitz came up with the idea for the site for the very same reason: he had spent too many years as an English-speaking resident and graphic designer of city magazines in Tokyo drawing make-shift maps for visiting friends. Most of his friends shared his interests and wanted to visit shops, art galleries, and trendy hotels. So Berkowitz found himself repeadedly redrawing, as he puts it, his friends' "cheesy 'Official Tourist Map of Tokyo' with flouro orange marker pen." When he finally made a business out of his friendly largesse, Berkowtiz decided to include a concierge service that would offer members the opportunity to hire guides. That's how I met Nicole Bargwanna, an Australian Ex-Pat who has lived in Tokyo for almost a decade and who also runs a very successful fashion public relations and sales firm called H3O Fashion Bureau www.h30tokyo.com . For $1200, a superfuture "foot soldier," as they are called, will provide a customized tour of specified neighborhoods. There is also an option to do a half-day for $600.
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