Tokyo City Guide
TOKYO is a futuristic city filled with eccentricities and traditions that at first glance can be intimidating and offer a bit of a culture shock, but upon arrival in this vibrant metropolis you’ll be graciously welcomed allaying any fears. In Japan’s capital city there’s much to see and do — from centuries-old shrines to skyscrapers to cruises on the Sumida River. Tokyo is home to 13 million people, so prepare for a hurried bustle, just don’t forget your manners. Proper etiquette is a vital element of Tokyo society, so practice good manners on subways, at restaurants, temples and shrines.
For unique shopping experiences, don’t miss department stores like Isetan and Takashimaya, or Ito-Ya and Winged Wheel for stationary, or Axis, Bloom + Branch, Dover Street Market, Michael Kors, Muji, Prada, Sadaharu Aoki, Sembikiya, Sugahara and Tokyo Hands for the best of fashion + food + design.
MUSEUMS + ATTRACTIONS
Sightseeing Tip: The subway system is clean and efficient, but many street addresses are not marked, so look for landmarks and don’t be ashamed to ask for help, Tokyo residents are friendly and will go out of there way even with the language barrier.
21 21 Design Sight
9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato
With architecture by ZR favorite Tadao Ando, this museum features design exhibitions and workshops.
2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito
Japan’s oldest and most sacred Senso-ji temple. Rub the Botokesan Buddha for good luck, snap the Kaminarimon red lantern for Instagram, and breathe in the Incense Burner to encourage great health.
THE fashion center for Tokyo’s young and hip with a mix of high-end and bargain shopping, street performers and Harajuku girls.
1-1-1 Shirokanedai, Minato
For a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience book a tea ceremony in this garden.
1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda
Japan’s emperor still lives on the grounds, so the palace is only open twice a year, but the East Gardens are open to the public daily.
1-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya
This Shinto Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji has lots to see especially on Sundays.
Mori Art Museum
52F Mori Tower
6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato
A contemporary art museum with a 52nd floor observation deck.
4B Maruoka Building
Learn the art of Japanese painting during semi-private lessons with Maria Tanikawa.
1-7-14 Yushima, Bunkyo
Discover the fine art of paper folding and try your hand at the ancient tradition.
National Sumo Stadium
In January, May and September sumo tournaments are the hot ticket. Book through your hotel concierge.
Tokyo National Museum
13-9 Uenokoen, Taito
Learn about the culture and history of Japan. A great rainy day option.
Tokyo Opera City
3-20-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku
Another good rainy day option offering excellent concerts and art exhibits.
Tokyo Sky Tree
1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida
The second tallest tower in the world with two observation decks. Afterwards, grab a bowl of ramen at Rokurinsha.
Tsukiji Fish Market
5-2-1 Tsukui, Chuo
The world’s largest seafood market. Read my review here.
Foodies Note: A majority of Tokyo’s restaurants are “introduction only”, so securing a table without assistance from a previous guest or hotel concierge can be challenging, so book in advance. Many restaurants are cash only, but service and gratuity are always included.
3-63-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya
A popular chain with delicious yuzu shio ramen.
3-6-10 Nishi Shimbashi, Minato
Chic coffee shop with delicious pastries and free wifi.
5F Izumi Garden
1-6-1 Roppongi, Minato
American bistro with delicious steaks, seafood, and salads for a taste of home.
1F Anniversary Building
1-6-4 Azabu-Juban, Minato
For a unique cocktail tasting experience. Only 8 seats, reserve in advance.
3F Kawabata Building
8-5-8 Ginza, Chuo
Serving Jiro-esque high quality sushi. A favorite with local chefs.
3-24-7 Minamikarasuyama, Setagaya
A bit out from central Tokyo, for delicious shio ramen created by an American chef.
6-12-4 Keyankizaka Dori, Roppongi
French-Asian cuisine a la carte or served omakase-style at a counter in the open kitchen.
2-2-32 Kandajinbocho, Chiyoda
So hip and popular is Zaiyu Hasegawa’s Michelin two-star kaiseki restaurant that securing a reservation can be challenging, but if you’re lucky, the experience will be one you won’t soon forget.
Barneys, 4F Kojun Bldg
6-8-7 Ginza, Chuo
Specializing in tonkatsu. Read my review here.
4F Carioco Bldg
5-4-8 Ginza, Chuo
Offering a Michelin three-star kaiseki dinner that’s well balanced and well executed.
9F Sakaguchi Bldg
5-5-13 Ginza, Chuo
Specializing in tempura. Read my review here.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato
Joel Robuchon expertly incorporates Japanese ingredients into his renowned French menu. Read my review here.
5-7-2 Minami-Aoyama, Minato
For a ladies lunch in a contemporary florist shop with a cafe serving an organic menu.
1-2F, 6-12-20 Jingumae, Shibuya
Two-story shopping mecca for Tokyo’s chic set. Try Cafe Navarre for farm-to-table cuisine.
5-29-2 Shinbashi, Minato
Sake boutique offering themed sake tastings to demystify Japan’s national drink.
1F Tsukamoto Sogyo Bldg
4-2-15, Ginza, Chuo
Experience sushi created by a great master. Service is swift. There’s no fanfare. Booking Jiro’s Roppongi location is easier to secure.
1F Jidousha Kaikan Bldg
1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato
Only 6 seats. Considered the absolute BEST sushi in Tokyo. Hidden in a parking garage.
38F Mandarin Oriental
2-1-1 Nihonbashi, Chuo
Excellent sushi with English-speaking staff well versed in guiding novices and experts alike in the art of sushi. Read my review here.
3F Suzuryu Building
8-7-19 Ginza, Chuo
Seasonal sushi expertly prepared and presented.
2F Sanyo Akasaka Bldg
3-5-2 Akasaka, Minato
Specializing in modern Japanese cooking. Read my review here.
5F A O Building
3-11-7 Kita-Aoyama, Minato
Experience Tokyo’s cocktail culture at this see-and-be-seen hotspot.
Traveler’s Tip: Tokyo has a dizzying array of hotels throughout the city ranging from opulent five-stars to chic boutique properties, I advise booking early and checking hotel websites for best-rate offers.
The Palace Hotel
1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda
To say I’m obsessed with this hotel would be an understatement. Everything about The Palace from its location to rooms, amenities, service and lobby scene is perfection.
The Otemachi Tower
Tokyo’s newest modern luxury hotel designed in classic Japanese style.
2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo
Near the business district, MO offers beautiful rooms, stunning city views and fine dining to guests with a discerning eye.
1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda
Only a short walk from topnotch shopping in Ginza with all the luxuries of a premium city hotel.
9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato
In Roppongi. A classic hotel with beautiful rooms and a nice spa.
Photos: Zavvi Rodaine
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