Tokyo, is a really special place that somehow juxtaposes hustle with serenity, colour with tonal, ‘kawaii’ (even the construction sites are ‘cute’) with sophistication, over the top with simplicity and technology with tradition. It looks like a really busy place (and it is), but it functions with such a rational calm. There is a great respect for personal space and it is never really noisy- there is no yelling or incessant honking anywhere. Tokyo is one of the greatest cities on earth; you will eat some of the best food of your life, experience some of the most impeccable service, see some of the most spectacular views and I dare call it the shopping capital of the world. You could spend 2 weeks in this city and only scratch the surface; I’ve highlighted some of my favourite spots if you’re only there for a short time.The concrete architecture is complimented by stunning parklands.
Come out of the park and boom, you’re in Harajuku- check out Takeshita street to take in the youth culture, crazy fashion and witness teenage girls parading the streets in matching outfits. The funny thing about this photo is that it looks like how I imagine some people believe Japan to be- insanely busy, chock full of people. This is a true image of what you would walk through on a weekend afternoon in Harajuku, but never once did I feel claustrophobic or irritated with the amount of people in one place…okay, except for at Kiddyland on a Sunday; six floors of fun and I barely made it through one 😉 J’antiques is hands down one of the best, most well curated vintage clothing stores on the planet…just make sure you’ve saved your pennies if you want to come away with anything!
The Park Hyatt (Shinjuku) if you’re going super fancy- you will never want to stay anywhere else.
Hotel Claska (Meguro) is supposed to be pretty cool.
Shimokitazawa is a cruisy place to walk around and check out the shops and eateries. Ebony of Hello Sandwich blog lives there and is always giving it a good rap.
Nakameguro/Daikanyama- the neighbourhoods tend to blend into one another and these two were my fave. You could spend all day checking them out.
Shibuya- of course. You must see the Hachiko statue, walk the busiest crossing in the world and check out all the shops in one place.
Harajuku- From kooky 3 dollar sock shops to every high end designer store, Harajuku is for shopping…and people watching. Walk through Yoyogi park from the train station and spend the day roaming the main streets and back lanes.
Go to the 45th floor observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Shinjuku) for the view.
Check out 21_21 Design Sight (Tokyo Midtown)
Coffee- La Vie à la Campagne (Nakameguro) is an adorable, quiet spot.
Sandwiches – King George (Daikanyama). The owners are a really cool couple who speak english and I still daydream about the pickles.
Ramen- Santouka (Shibuya). Very hard to find, no english, but worth persevering through the hanger for.
Gyoza- Harajuku Gyoza (Harajuku).
Katsu- Ima (Roppongi). Michelin star traditional style katsu restaurant. If my cabbage salad bowl had been bottomless, I would have been okay with that.
Sweet- Green tea soft serve ice cream everywhere, especially in touristy spots. So good, I’ve had 3 in one day.
Fancy: New York Bar and Grill (Park Hyatt Shinjuku). You’ll pay a very pretty penny for your Lost in Translation experience, but you might only be in Tokyo once and the view is worth it.
Loft (Shibuya)- 6 floors of creatively designed everything, mostly for the home, but you can find accessories and stationary, kooky bath salts and mugs that hug each other.
Tokyu Hands (Shibuya)- Crazy craft store full of everything you could possibly need or never knew you needed. My favourite section is the minerals and science part, which also is attached to a cute cafe and outdoor area…if you’ve made it through the 12 stories, you’ll be thirsty.
Haus & Terrasse (Shibuya)- Japanese made clothing and jewellery.
Opening Ceremony (Omotesando)- Just go for the visual merchandising and staircase alone. *Warning: they do not like you to take photos.
Found Muji (Aoyama)- Beautifully curated small shop of homewares and clothing in mostly neutrals.
Okura (Daikanyama)- traditional Japanese indigo shibori dyed clothing and boro fabrics abound. You’ll have dyed and gone to blue heaven.
J’antiques (Nakameguro)- From Navajo beaded belts to 70’s Indian dresses to Romanian folk vests- they have found it all…and it will cost you…a LOT. Incredible though.
These are just a few of my favourites, remember you can walk around any neighbourhood and stumble upon the most incredible spots without them having been pointed out before. When in Tokyo, just be open to exploration.