TOKYO

Amongst the many incredible places to visit in Japan, Tokyo is definitely one of them. I visited it in 2014 and 2003.

The only boutique hotel

Stay at Claska Hotel, the only boutique hotel in the megalopolis. It has charming Japanese style rooms, hip crowds and a stylish bar. And, as you would expect when in Japan, there is a dog grooming salon downstairs! 

The hotel neighbourhood, Meguro, is a 25mn tube ride to Shibuya or Harajuku, and is lovely.

 

If you wish to stay more central Tokyo, Tokyu Stay in Aoyama is only a stone throw from chic Omotesando, and good for a couple of nights.

Culinary experiences

Japan's culinary palette is far broader than just sushi and sashimi. Tonkatsu, onigiri, soba, udon, okonomiyaki, ... One trip won't be enough to try them all. Read my Japan Food post here.

If you are a foodie, you must have heard of Sukiyabashi Jiro, the tiny 3 Michelin star joint in Ginza but if you want a more off-the-beaten-track / exclusive experience, Sushi Tsu is as respected amongst connoisseurs and offers a unique kind of sushi. It is expensive but the food is out of this world. As opposed to classic sushi that use fresh raw fish, the chef marinates the fish for days or weeks. 

Higashi-Yama restaurant and lounge boasts a cosy contemporary decor with dim lights and offers excellent modern Japanese cuisine. The designer, Shinishiro Ogata has also designed the tableware and is renowned for his Wasara sustainable tableware collection . (He is a favourite of Chef Alain Ducasse's who has collaborated with him for his restaurants). I personally preferred dining at the counter looking at the open kitchen. The tasting menu is affordable and the selection of dishes interesting and precise as one would expect. Other Ogata san's concepts include an exquisite confectionery shop in Aoyama, Higashiya Man which specialises in manju (Japanese steamed buns).

At the other end of the scale, Yuraku Concourse is an alley of bars and restaurants with outside seating, located under the railroad overpass at Yurakucho. It can't get more authentic and fun. 

 

For Tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets), Maisen in Jingumae is the place to go to.

And if you want a break from Japanese food, a few block away from Maisen is the French crêperie Breizh Cafe ideal for lunch and elegant Japanese ladies. The crêpes are as good as its Paris sister restaurant.  

What to do, where to go 

Tsukiji Marketthe worldwide famous fish market is due to be relocated but that has been postponed. Check online and plan your visit (you must go around 2am (not 5am anymore), for a chance to access the Tuna auction). You can have fresh sushi breakfast on the outer market and access the wholesale area from 9am.

For fashion, food and gardens, spend half a day at Daikanyama T-site where the stylish Tsutaya Books store and lounge is a must visit.

Yoyogi park (and Meiji Shrine) is a nice break from the busy city and great for a picnic.

For the best shopping and trendy cafes and restaurants, spend at least one day in Jingumae

Hotel Okura in Minato is an iconic building open in 1962 and showing stunning 'Mad Men' style. Unfortunately, the old wing has closed in 2015 and is being completely refurbished in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics. 

Book well in advance (mandatory - up to 3 months ahead) the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, showcasing the work of the Japanese animation studio and its famous director Hayao Miyazaki.

If you can't sleep or simply feel in the mood for a night cap, try the tiny bars in Golden Gai, Shinjuku's nightlife maze . La Jetee is one of the coolest bars, opened in 1974 by former Japanese film industry professional Tamoyo Kawai. 

Try some of the darts bars in the area: Darts & Shot Bar Sector 7G, Darts Bar Zero One. They are super fun and uniquely Japanese.

TOKYO SHORTLIST

 

 

Accomodation 

Claska Hotel / Tokyu Stay

Dining 

Sushi Tsu / Higashi-Yama / Higashiya Man / Yuraku Concourse / Maisen / Breizh Cafe / Sunny Hills / +Ebi-ro 

Experiences

Tsukiji Market / Daikanyama T-site / Yoyogi Park / Jingumae / Ghibli Museum / Golden Gai

Tips

Another hidden gem sushi restaurant is Suhi-Sho in Shinjuku

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© 2016 by Cecile Rebbot.