Wanderlust Watches Guide to Tokyo


We love Tokyo. It's a vibrant city where you constantly discover new and amazing things to see and do. This wasn't our first visit to Tokyo so fortunately it gave us time to explore some of the more local areas on this visit. 

In Tokyo we stayed at the Dormy Inn in Shibuya which is a quaint, somewhat traditional Japanese hotel. There is an 'onsen' (Japanese hot spring) in the hotel and complimentary noodles served each night at around 10pm. The rooms are super small, but this isn't surprising in Tokyo. The main reason we chose Shibuya is for its' central location and accessibility to the rest of the city. 

We have put together a brief guide of our favourite areas to explore with some photos of our adventures - when we actually remembered to take photos - sometimes we got distracted by the food, drinks and general buzz of Tokyo. 

Daikanyame

Is an upscale and stylish neighbourhood in central Tokyo. It has a number of high-end boutiques which we discovered while exploring the winding streets.

One of the stores, Pistacchio, had some fly sneakers in its tiny modern interior.  

Log road is a new collection of free standing shops and cafes. It is actually built on-top of the old Tokyu line train tracks. It has a somewhat similar feel to the high line in Chelsea, New York. Fred Segal's 'kitchen truck' offered several dishes and drinks.  

Garden House Crafts was a great little cafe that fit into the minimal & modern vibe of Log Road. There was a great selection of savoury food, sweets and drinks.  

Ebisu

Neighbouring onto Daikanyama with a similar vibe. It also has a number of high-end boutiques and cafes and has a somewhat European feel about it. 

The best ramen we had while in Tokyo was at Afuri Ramen in Ebisu. 

Nakameguro

Has a laid-back, peaceful vibe with the Meguro River flowing through the neighbourhood. During April the tree lined river is beautifully covered with cherry blossoms. 

There are a number of small boutiques in Nakameguro along the river. 

Shibuya

Is one of the busiest parts of Tokyo. It has some of the top department stores and some of the coolest Izakayas (informal Japanese gastropub). 

The Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is a flower market with a beautiful tea house at the back of the store. Once you were inside it felt like you were in New York with the exposed brick walls and international community enjoying the atmosphere. 

While in Shibuya we visited our Japanese distributor. Shinji (pictured below), Kyoko and the team were very hospitable and told us about some great places to visit in Tokyo. I randomly mentioned to Shinji that I liked his bracelet and right then and there he gave it to me as a gift. 

An amazing hole in the wall cocktail bar we went to a few times was Ishinohana. The bartender made a great mojito and they had some amazing Japanese whiskey at the bar. 

A couple of great coffee places locally are Lattest and Fuglen. Also, Dean and Deluca at Shibuya station was a great spot when you wanted a quick snack - we may have had one too many of those muffins. 

There's also John Masters Organics where we went for a juice a few times. It can be kind of hard to get fresh fruit and veggies in Tokyo. 

There were some great spots in Shibuya for Kobe beef. On our last trip to Japan we went to Kobe and had the beef there and became addicted so it was great to get a local fix. 

Then there's just the general exploring of the Shibuya area with all it's busy backstreets. 

 Kagurazaka

A traditional Japanese neighbourhood with cobblestone streets. We mainly came here to visit Mojo coffee - started by a couple of Kiwi guys. 

 

Roppongi

Is well known for its night-life. What it is less well known for are its farmer's markets. The Hills Marche Farmer's Markets are held every saturday at Ark Hills in Roppongi. This is one of the best places in Tokyo to pick up organic vegetables & fruits, freshly baked bread, and a variety of cheese and wine.

Ginza

Is one of the more high-end parts of town with some high-end shops and department stores. It also has a great nightlife. 

The Park.ing is a retail concept store by the legendary Hiroshi Fujiwara.

Dover Street Markets are a multi-level fashion retail and concept store. On the top level is Rose Bakery. We had been to the one in Paris so it was great to experience this one in Tokyo as well. 

When you are all shopped out there is one of the best sushi spots in Ginza, Umegaoka. There was a pretty long line out the front of mostly locals so we knew we were onto something. 

Then it was back to the busy streets....

Yoyogi Park

Is a great place to escape the busy city. It is a large park in the centre of Tokyo near Harajuku. The last time we were in Tokyo it was early April and the park was covered in cherry blossoms - this is the best time to visit. The park was still a beautiful leafy green on this visit. 

Shimokitazawa

Is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Tokyo. It has a bit of everything - cafes, bars, art galleries and a tonne of other things to see and do. It is the place where we spent the most time as there was so much to explore. 

We had a great coffee at Bear Pond Espresso, although unfortunately when they had a go at us for taking photos inside we quickly went across the road to NYC Cupcakes - I don't respond well to censorship :)

Hakone 

While in Japan we also spent a night in Hakone which is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. It is less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo and while hundreds of years ago people used to spend days walking this distance, fortunately for us we were able to get a bullet train in 1.5 hours. Hakone is famous for its Onsen and natural beauty. Typically there are great views of Mt Fuji, although unfortunately for us it was a bit cloudy during our stay and we weren't able to see it. We stayed at Hotel Hakone which sits right on Lake Ashi which is a crater lake formed hundreds of years ago from a volcano eruption. 

In 1618, 400 cedar trees were planted by Matsudaira Masatsun. The trees are now 400 years old and are known as Cedar Avenue - they are a popular part of Hakone. 

If you have any suggestions for things to do in Japan please comment below. 


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