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What you don’t want to miss in Tokyo


1.Explore Daikanyama’s fashionable neighborhood and walk the canal

Daikanyama Aobadai Canal
Daikanyama is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo. It’s hip and trendy, but not packed with tourists. To start your tour, head to Bonjour Records for a cup of coffee and listen to the tunes being played. Then, stroll through the streets filled with unique boutiques. Don’t miss a stroll along the beautiful Aoibadai Canal from Naka-Meguro station. This is an affluent area where you’ll see fancy vintage cars driving around and where the artsy crowd congregates.

Another major hotspot in Daikanyama is the modern T-Site complex (aka Tsutaya Books). Physical objects such as books, paper crafts and CDs are still very important in Japanese culture. Printing isn’t dead here.

Address: Bonjour Records (24-1 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku); T-Site Complex (17-5 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku)

2. Buy picnic goodies at Ginza Mitsukoshi Department Store and enjoy them in the park

Delicious macarons at Isetan Department Store
The moment you step off the escalator, you enter a gourmet paradise. The entire two basement floors are filled with food stalls selling everything from sweets to deep-fried tempura. It may take you a lap or two to get started on your pick-your-own picnic, but it’s fun! Fill up and head to a nearby park to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Important note: When collecting items, try to keep plastic/trash to a minimum as there are no trash cans in the city except for the subway stations. Also, don’t forget that the raw food area is lower down on the two floors.

3. Shopping in Takanouji’s alternative neighborhood

The best antique store in Tokyo, Don Don Down on Wednesday
Located in the west, Takanouji is known as Tokyo’s underground capitol. Here you’ll find a plethora of antique stores, novelty bars, artist studios and stores. The vintage scene is incredible, like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Don Don Down on Wednesdays is our favorite store, filled with luxury vintage pieces from YSL, Burberry, Issey Miyake and Balenciaga for between $50 and $100! Watch for their sale on Wednesdays.

Address: Don Don Down on Wednesday (2nd & 3rd floor 4 Chome-24-9 Koenjiminami)

Tensuke’s fun and friendly tempura chef
Have you ever tried a tempura restaurant? Have lunch at Tensuke – delicious and affordable! You sit at the bar while the friendly chef fries up beautiful food for you to eat one by one.

Address: Tensuke (3 Chome-22-7 Koenjikita)

4. Try the Japanese wagyu beef
You may have seen Wagyu beef on the menu before, but it’s probably American or Australian. In our opinion, nothing compares to the deliciousness of Japanese wagyu beef. What makes it even more desirable is that most of them stay within Japan. Several prefectures raise cattle, the most famous being Kobe and Matsuzaka.


Kobe beef, shabu-shabu style
Wagyu beef is a very marbled meat. It is fat-like, but not in a way that makes it elastic. Instead, when it is cooked, the meat becomes soft, full of flavor and melts in the mouth. The weight of the knife itself can cut through it.

Important note: The Wagyu industry is highly regulated, and that combined with small yields means that this cut is not cheap. The cheapest way to get Japanese Wagyu is at a reputable shabu-shabu (Japanese hot pot) restaurant.

5. Explore Harajuku Cat Street

Harajuku Backstreet
Most guides in Harajuku will take you through the main street of Takeshita Street. There you will see one tourist trap after another that cater to those who fantasize about seeing eccentric Japanese people in strange costumes. Street vendors will try to get you into their stores to buy T-shirts and other items. It’s a walk in the park, not a destination.

Instead, we were lucky enough to learn that Cat Street, south of Takeshita, is another place worth exploring. Stroll the streets and into the vintage stores and you’ll find more eclectic Japanese fashion. Takeshita Higashi Street (Meiji-dori Higashi Street) is also very fashionable.

6. Shop for Japanese kitchenware on Hopewell Bridge Street

Japanese kitchenware stores in Hopewell Bridge
After spending some time in Japan, you will undoubtedly be hooked on their particularly charming kitchenware. With a selection of wine glasses, chopsticks, plates, glasses and other tableware that restaurants can be proud of, Kappabashidogugai Street is truly the street where you’ll find many kitchenware stores. Once there, take the subway to Tahara-cho station and start shopping at the Kappabashi/Asakusa-dori intersection.

We set out to find a sake set and ended up putting together unique cups from different stores to make our own sake set. We also found some amazing 1mm thick beer mugs that we had tried at Shirosaka, our #1 favorite restaurant in Tokyo. They are so elegant and somehow make the beer disappear faster than normal 🍻

7. Drink world class cocktails

Bar Benfiddich Tokyo
Excellence in craftsmanship doesn’t just apply to Japanese sushi. We’ve found two great cocktail bars with professional bartenders serving unique and delicious drinks.

Bar Benfiddich (Yamatoya Building 9F, 1 Chome-13-7 Nishishinjuku): Head to this small bar in Shinjuku for unique cocktails made with homemade drinks, Ari had a Bloody Mary made with porcini mushroom vodka and fresh tomatoes.

Bar Mimi (6 Chome-6-19 Ginza): This basement cocktail bar has a relaxed atmosphere and is the perfect energy for small groups. The friendly bartenders make elaborate drinks, and we were lucky enough to be introduced to Yomogi, the “Japanese vermouth.” Mix a teaspoon of sugar and some cucumber into a glass, add ice and a 1:1 ratio of Yomogi to soda water.

Burnt potatoes 🥔💨 : high five. Our server was condescending and demeaning to our party members when they had a hard time explaining what kind of cocktails they liked. For a cocktail bar without a menu, this was horrible. Most importantly, we didn’t enjoy the cocktails as much as other top 50 bars in the world. Too pretentious and very disappointing. 8.

8. The freshest sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market

Mackerel sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market
If you like it fresh, head to the Tsukiji Fish Market for lunch. While the real fish auction has moved to Toyosu Market, you can easily find incredible sushi at this huge complex. The small streets are packed with fresh fish and sushi restaurants.

Some must try foods are the tuna line: lean (maguro), medium fat (chūtoro) and fat (toro). So far, our favorite is the chūtoro. it melts in your mouth! Ari likes the mackerel because it has a little diced onion on top.

Important note: There is an old surfer’s adage to never meet the first wave. When looking for a sushi restaurant for lunch, don’t wait in a long line and try to find a more inconspicuous place where there are no foreigners lined up in front of you. If you like what you order, don’t be afraid to politely ask the sushi chef for more. Try to remember the Japanese name of the piece and the chef will impress you. “2 chutoro onegaishimasu” (two medium fats, please).

9. Experience Tokyo’s jazz scene at Alfie Jazz Club

Alfie Jazz Club Tokyo
Alfie Jazz Club is a federation of locals in Roppongi. We heard an amazing Tokyo quintet consisting of three saxophone players. Three saxophonists are you crazy?! Yes, we were worried we were going to get in over our heads, but ended up being totally amazed at their set-up and skill level. Perfect melodies, several original compositions and captivating solos made for a perfect evening.

The historic Blue Note also has a Tokyo branch, but this time Alfie was perfect for us.

Address: Alfie Jazz Club (Hama Roppongi Building 5F, 6 Chome-2-35 Roppongi); Blue Note (6 Chome-3-16 Minami-Aoyama)

10. Walking through the brightly lit streets of Kabukicho

Walking through the neon streets of Kabukicho
Have you seen the movie Enter The Void? This psychedelic, experiential film showcases the dreamy visual effects of Tokyo’s neon lights and was filmed mainly in the entertainment and red-light districts of Kabukicho. This is one of Tokyo’s sleepless districts, where you’ll find the infamous Lover’s Inn.

Walk past the rough nightclubs where promoters hawk their wares, then head to the more popular Kinkai district. Listen to your favorite music and soak it up as you walk through the narrow streets lined with bars.

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