Our Guide to Tokyo
Tokyo is a city of contrasts. It is at once bustling yet serene, fast yet languid, bright yet subdued. Its fiercely protected culture makes it like nowhere else - it is a city rich with ancient history and still shines as a beacon of modernity and futuristic inclination. Here is a list of some of our favourite places for eating, drinking, shopping and art appreciation in this great city.
Den (Shibuya) – Delivers food that at times seems effortless, yet still has a sense of fun - our pick of the Michelin-starred eateries in the city.
Ebisu Yokocho (Ebisu) – A lively Izakaya arcade filled with neon signs, lanterns and dozens of tiny bars and restaurants. Be sure to visit in the evening when the atmosphere buzzes.
Afuri Ramen (multiple locations) – their signature ramen is made with yuzu which adds a touch of freshness.
Katane Bakery (Shibuya) – A little piece of Paris in Tokyo – beautiful bread and pastries.
Yakumo Saryo (Meguro) – A restaurant, gallery and tea salon set in stunning gardens. Zen-like and traditional with a foot in the past, this is a firm favourite. There’s also a shop with homewares, tea and wagashi sweets.
Ginza Shimada (Ginza) – High-end, small standing bar with some of the best Kaiseki in town, come early as there’s only space for 10.
Tatemichiya (Daikanyama) – A late night rock & roll Izakaya full of atmosphere, smoke, sake and Japanese punk rock.
Tonkatsu Maisen (various locations) – one of the best known tonkatsu restaurants in a homely, retro atmosphere.
Yakitori Toriyoshi (Nakameguro) – rare-breed ‘Date’ chickens are the star at this simple, traditional Yakitori restaurant.
Yakitori Imai (Gaienmae) – A slick, modern setting offering well-priced menus with luxury additions such as French pigeon.
Sushi-Ya (Ginza) – A brilliant, high end sushi restaurant where the young chef is the talk of the town. With only 8 seats bookings are essential.
Sushi Zanmai (Shibuya) – A chain of 24 hour sushi restaurants that are excellent quality, inexpensive and great after a late night out.
Kyubey (Ginza) – Old school, Michelin-starred sushi restaurant, it is pricey but sublime. They also have a basic chiwashi sushi lunch which is less extravagant.
Tempura Kondo (Ginza) – Often considered the best tempura in the city, it has 2 Michelin stars and the offering is simple, authentic and delicious.
Bar Martha (Shibuya) – A record bar with old school tunes, excellent cocktails and lots of whisky.
Bar Track (Shibuya) – Same owners as Bar Martha, with a more relaxed and intimate vibe.
JBS: Jazz, Blues & Soul (Shibuya) – The bartender is the DJ at this tiny bar dedicated to vinyl, with over 10,000 records lining the walls.
Gen Yamamoto (Minato-ku) – Cocktail tasting menus based on seasonal ingredients – with only 8 seats bookings are essential.
Bar Piano (Shibuya) – A tiny bar crammed with red velvet, chandeliers and taxidermy, it also seats 8 at a maximum.
Tea at Sakurai (Roppongi) – An intimate, simple space comprising a tea shop, roasting room and 8 seater teahouse.
Mori Art Museum (Roppongi) – Contemporary modern art gallery with exhibitions in many genres, including fashion, architecture, design, photography, and video.
MOMAT, National Museum of Modern Art (Chiyoda) – Collections of modern Japanese art, known for its 20th-century art and Western-style and Nihonga artists.
21_21 Design Sight (Roppongi) – A design museum created by architect Tadao Ando and fashion designer Issey Miyake. The split-level concrete structure sits on the edge of a park within the Tokyo Midtown art precinct.
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Shinagawa) – Set in a beautiful art deco building with exhibitions changing regularly. There is also a cute café overlooking the garden and a great book store.
NMWA, National Museum of Western Art (Taito) – An impressive gallery located in Uneo park. If the work is not to your taste then it’s probably worth the trip alone to check out the main building designed by Le Corbusier.
Tokyu Hands (Shinjuku flagship) – The ultimate in Japanese knick-knacks, bits and bobs and life essentials.
Dover Street Market (Ginza) – A multi-level retail space with installations and pop ups, creative visual merchandising and brutalist industrial design.
Isetan (Shinjuku) – Huge flagship department store worth the trip just for the food hall.
Arts & Science (Omotesando) – Set across a floor of a mid-century apartment, it houses a collection of small boutiques with vintage-inspired minimalism in luxurious, natural fabrics.
CPCM, (Jingumae) – A concept store of artisan goods and ranging from leather, custom hats to décor and ceramics, vintage and apparel.
Comme des Garçons (Aoyama) – The flagship store of this Japan-born label is vast, eccentric and almost gallery-like.
Issey Miyake (Aoyama) – Another flagship, the space shows the latest collections from the designer in dramatically stark surrounds.
Tsutaya Daikanyama (Shibuya) – ‘A library in the woods’, this incredible flagship bookstore is home to books, movies, stationery, music and a lounge open until 2am. Grab a great book from the shelves and settle in with a cocktail.
Gardens & Shrines
Meiji Jingu (Shibuya) – Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine. The shrine itself is beautiful and don’t forget to follow the signs to the outer garden and explore its serenity.
Imperial Palace Gardens (Chiyoda) – The grounds that surround the Emperor’s palace are beautiful, vast and serene.
Shinjuku Gyoen (Shinjuku) – Bring your Bento from Isetan’s food hall and explore the these stunning gardens with breath taking blossoms and lakes that were once a residence of the Naitō family in the Edo period.
Cibi (Sendagi) – Our friends Zenta and Meg Tanaka have expanded their incredible Collingwood café and concept store to Tokyo. A wonderful place to stop for coffee and tasty seasonal plates. Afterwards, browse through their collection of quality homewares and impressive design pieces.
Cafe de l’Ambre (Ginza) – Old school coffee house with meticulously prepared coffee. The 100 year old owner roasts, ages and even designs his own coffee cups and equipment.
Satei Hato (Shibuya) – Hand-drip coffee made from charcoal roasted beans in a formal yet old fashioned eclectic environment.
Switch Coffee (Shibuya) – Hole-in-the-wall café roasting and serving great coffee with friendly people.
Paddlers Coffee (Nishihara) – Beans are imported weekly from Stumptown roasters in Portland, with a calm wooden interior, communal tables and a homely atmosphere. A perfect pitstop for an iced Americano and a pastry.