Words: Anna Lavdaras.
Simply put: Tokyo is otherworldly. Steeped in age-old rituals and culture yet on the brink of technological innovation and avant-garde fashion, the capital city of Japan is a holiday for the individual who desires hyperstimulation. Every minutiae of Japanese interactions—from the ways the locals slurp their speciality foods to the greetings they confer upon one another and the means by which individuals comport themselves on public transport—offers up an endless stream of observation for the avid flâneur. The city is simultaneously clean and chaotic, spilling over with a wealth of architecture, foods, galleries and experiences to share while on vacation. Below, our carefully curated haunts and then some to incentivise your next trip to Japan…
A home away from home
Boutique hotels are difficult to come by in Tokyo, but one solution is the Instagram-approved Claska. Centrally located in Tokyo’s design district with a rooftop lounge to retreat from the hustle and bustle, each room is fittingly decked out by a different local designer, personalising every visitor’s stay. The Tokyo Station Hotel is another alternative located in the heart of Shibuya, where trendy bars and popular clubs are within easy reach.
Give your CC a workout
Situated in the Aoyama district, this picturesque suburb is dotted with beautiful zelkova tree-lined streets. Here, luxury designers are interspersed with urban brands, making for a balanced collective of labels one can splurge on or find a steal. En route, stop by Café Kitsune in the same neighbourhood to ready yourself for some retail therapy.
This luxurious shopping mall in the heart of Ginza is home to local and international high end designers, making it an inevitable stop on the stylish tourist’s map of Japan. Be sure to visit Conran Shop for homewares, Imabarti Towels, Higashiya Japanese treats and Found by Muji to satisfy your minimalism cravings.
Known by visiting regulars as the Brooklyn of Tokyo, this small neighbourhood is packed with a cool, young, Comme des Garçons-clad crowd. The minimalist landscaping, chic collection of boutiques and outdoor eateries round out the ideal environs for a sartorial stakeout and an Instagram or two.
For a truly unforgettable meal, be sure to make a reservation for lunch at Ometosando Ukai-Tei. As you enter, a private teppanyaki chef will escort you to your table where a mouth-watering set menu of your choosing will be served. Following dinner, dessert is shared in the ornate sitting room where diners can take in the view of the surrounding neighbourhood. Cap off your night with a sunset martini and a side of live jazz at the Park Hyatt, where you’ll come upon one of the best spots to see the city.
Whatever you do, you cannot conclude your vacation to Tokyo without consuming at least one bowl of ramen. While we’ll forgive you if you become overwhelmed with choice and err on the dish once—what with so many streets with storefronts boasting the best of the traditional soup—we advise you concentrate your search on Ramen Street. Here, some of the best bowls in the country are served up—conveniently located underneath Tokyo Train Station.
Where to ‘gram
If you’re after snap-worthy sights, set yourself in the direction of Shibuya. Stroll through Yoyogi Park—past the shrines and golden gingko tree forest—until you reach Harajuku Station, where a sensory overload inevitably ensues.
21_21—an art space-slash-museum in Tokyo’s midtown area Roppongi—was founded by storied fashion designer Issey Miyake, graphic designer Taku Satoh and product designer Naoto Fukasawa. Explore the surrounding area and make a reservation for lunch at Gonpachi Nishiazabu—where Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill was also filmed.
Don’t leave without…
A visit to the Golden Gai—a quaint walled-in neighbourhood with some of the tiniest bars and restaurants you will surely ever see, with most eateries serving just four people at a time. And if you haven’t already—spend some time people watching at the famous Shibuya Crossing—the busiest intersection in the entire world.