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Tokyo City Guide

Make the most of your stay by sleeping in a traditional ryokan, dining on Michelin-starred kaiseki, scouring Muji Found for housewares and more.

Where to Stay  /  Where to Eat and Drink  /  What to Do  /  How to Get Around

Where to Stay

Conrad Hotel

Photo: 2017 Conrad Hotels & Resorts

Conrad Hotel

For a luxury business trip

Overlooking the verdant Hamarikyu Gardens and Tokyo Bay beyond, this five-star gem decorates its spacious rooms with refined modern art and details like five-inch sprig of ming fern (tachiboki) in vases at each entryway. The hotel is located adjacent to the shopping hub of Ginza, but be sure to save a little energy at the end of the day for the spa and 25-metre swimming pool on the 29th floor.

1-9-1 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku, 81-3-6388-8000, conradhotels3.hilton.com

Claska

Claska

For the Japanese decor

Claska offers bright accommodations categorized under four themes: Modern, Tatami, Contemporary, and D.I.Y. (Book the “Someone’s Atelier” room, where picture frames and artwork make you feel like you’re staying at a friend’s house.) The hotel’s rooftop terrace offers breathtaking views over the city and beyond Tokyo’s Meguro neighbourhood.

1-3-18 Chuo-cho, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 81-3-3719-8121, claska.com

Palace Hotel

Palace Hotel

For the best views

After a day of exploring the city, unwind at the discrete Royal Bar with a selection of elevated classic cocktails, like the specialty dry martini made with Gordon’s gin and Noilly Prat vermouth and spiced with Noord’s orange bitters. Dating back to 1961, the highly polished bar counter was salvaged after renovations in 2012 and is a legacy of the hotel’s first bartender, known as “Mr. Martini.”

1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, 81-3-3211-5211, palacehoteltokyo.com

Sadachiyo

For the tradition

One of the few remaining Ryokans in central Tokyo, Sadachiyo is a quiet haven in the bustling metropolis. Furnished with tatami mats and traditional futons and equipped with Wi-Fi, the rooms let you experience the comfort and novelty of an Edo-period inn while allowing you to remain connected. If you want to check out completely, head for the communal Japanese baths.

2-20-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 81-3-3842-6431, sadachiyo.co.jp

Tokyu Stay Shinjuku

Tokyu Stay Shinjuku

For the budget-friendly rates

Tokyu Stay offers comfortable rooms with minimalist decor, free Wi-Fi and a trouser press. (Some suites are equipped with a washer-dryer combo and a small kitchenette for longer stays.) Located only a few blocks from Shinjuku station, this fuss-free hotel is the ideal starting point to explore historical landmarks like Meiji Shrine.

3-7-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, 81-3-4530-0166, tokyustay.co.jp

Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi

Photo: Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi

Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi

For the family-friendly perks

At this 57-room property connected to Tokyo’s central train station, the bellman greets guests arriving by train and guides them through the hotel’s side entrance. A family-friendly haven, this Four Seasons helps reduce the stress of travelling with children by providing complimentary baby and kids’ toiletries, child-size bathrobes, and bedtime snacks and milk.

1-11-1 Pacific Century Place, Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, 81-3-5222-7222, fourseasons.com

Where to Eat and Drink

Sushisho Masa

Photo: City Foodsters/Creative Commons

Sushisho Masa

For high-end sushi

There are seven seats and no menu (except for the sake list) at this restaurant in Roppongi. Let chef Masa and his apprentices guide you through an extensive tasting-menu featuring over 40 sushi pieces, such as lightly-grilled golden eye sea bream nigiri and monk fish liver. Make sure to reserve your seats at least a month in advance.

4-1-15 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo, 81-3-3499-9178

Shigeyoshi

For Michelin-starred kaiseki

With an ever-present smile on his face, chef Kenzo Sato puts together a traditional multi-course kaiseki dinner made from local ingredients. The cherrystone clam and wild mushroom soup is topped with savoury custard, while a piece of Bonito fish is lightly seared and then delicately garnished with ginger and chopped green onions.

6-35-3 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, 81-3-3400-4044

Rokurinsha Tokyo

Photo: City Foodsters/Creative Commons

Rokurinsha Tokyo

For the ramen bowls

This busy noodle bar specializes in tsukemen, a popular style of ramen in Tokyo, where a bowl of plain noodles is served next to a rich soup. Dip your noodles in the broth, slurp, and repeat until you’re finished or ready for a noodle top up. Hidden in the basement of Tokyo station, this nondescript ramen shop is a local favourite so expect wait times to reach up to 40 minutes.

1-9-1 Marunochi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, 81-3-3286-0166

Tsukiji Aozora Sandaime

For affordable sushi

Located a few blocks away from the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market, this sushi restaurant offers an upscale dining experience without making an enormous dent in your budget. Try the bright red tuna sashimi and the raw prawn nigiri, served on a pillow of rice.

4-6-16 Ginza, Tokyo, 81-3-3561-7021

Arms Burger

Photo: Yuichi Sakuraba/Creative Commons

Arms Burger

For the burgers

Try the bacon cheeseburger, complete with soft buns, perfectly seasoned grilled patty, cheddar cheese, bacon and crispy lettuce at this burger joint near Yoyogi station. Order your sandwich to go and picnic at nearby Yoyogi Park.

5-64-7 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo, 81-3-3466-5970, arms-burger.com

Fuglen Coffee

For a coffee and an afternoon snack

Fuglen stands out on the Tokyo coffee scene, thanks to its espresso and its decor, an eclectic mix of dark teak wood, mid-century furniture and vintage paraphernalia. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon pick-me-up and a quick bite after visiting the nearby Meiji Shrine, one of Tokyo’s most popular attractions.

1-16-11 Tomigaya, Toyko, 81-3-3481-0884, fuglen.com

Gen Yamamoto

Gen Yamamoto

For the cocktails

Presiding over a counter crafted from a 500-year-old slab of mizunara oak, Gen Yamamoto is one of Tokyo’s most famous bartenders. The cocktail menu at this eight-seat bar showcases national ingredients like Nagano quince, Miyazaki kumquat and Fukuoka strawberry.

1-6-4 Azabu-Juban, Tokyo, 81-3-6434-0652, genyamamoto.jp

Down The Stairs by Arts & Science

For a post-shopping lunch

Japanese label Arts & Science’s foray into the restaurant world is a canteen located “down the stairs” from their concept boutique in the Aoyama district. The open kitchen serves healthy Japanese dishes and salads on plates by Astier de Villate (the glassware is by Japanese artist Kazumi Tsuji).

6-1-6 Minami Aoyama, Tokyo, 81-3-5464-3711, arts-science.com

What to Do

United Arrows

United Arrows

For the menswear brands

Known for its elegant take on wardrobe essentials, quality craftsmanship and collaborations with big names like Adidas, this Japanese retailer has over 160 stores nationwide. United Arrows Women is a block away.

3-28-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 81-3-3479-8180, united-arrows.jp

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Photo: JNTO

Tokyo Imperial Palace

For the best running route

The five-kilometre trail around the Imperial Palace is a favourite for runners from dawn to dusk. Soak in the views of Edo Castle before stopping at the Run Pit, near the Takebashi subway station, where change rooms and showers are available.

1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo, 81-3-3213-1111, sankan.kunaicho.go.jp

Daikanyama T-Site

Daikanyama T-Site

For the literature and drinks

Spanning three buildings, the Daikanyama T-Site has the city’s largest collection of books, manga and magazines. The award-winning modernist complex is worth a trip just to see its basket-weave façade. The Anjin Library & Lounge offers an on-site cocktail bar and a dining menu.

17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 81-3-3770-2525, real.tsite.jp

Found Muji

Photo: Ryohin Keikaku Co, Ltd

Found Muji

For understated housewares

Muji’s creative team scoured the world, amassing mainstay housewares that fit the Muji philosophy of well-crafted minimalism – think Chinese bamboo steamers, Indian tiffin lunch boxes and English teaspoons.

5-50-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, 81-3-3407-4666, muji.net

Harajuku

Photo: JNTO

Harajuku

For a taste of Kawaii

Make like a local in the Kawaii mecca and enjoy a sweet crêpe from Angels Heart on Takeshita Dori, the neighbourhood’s main street. Then head to Kiddy Land, one of the city’s largest toy stores, and check out the floors that are entirely dedicated to Hello Kitty and Snoopy.

Angels Heart, 1-20-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, 81-3-3497-0050, cafe-crepe.co.jp
Kiddy Land, 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, 81-3-3409-3431, kiddyland.co.jp

Chidorigafuchi Park

Photo: ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO

Chidorigafuchi Park

For views of the cherry blossoms

Hanami, literally meaning “flower viewing,” refers to the period between March and April when people all over the nation stand in awe of Japan’s pink cherry blossoms. For a magical hanami experience, rent a boat at Chidorigafuchi Moat and paddle through the sakura-covered waters surrounding the Imperial Palace.

1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo

How to Get Around

Getting from the Airport

From Narita International Airport (NRT)

The Narita Express will take you to Tokyo station in 50 minutes. If you don’t mind a longer ride, take one of the limousine buses that leave from right outside the arrivals terminal. (The buses are orange, and you can buy a ticket at the counter inside.)

Narita Express: jreast.co.jp
Limousine bus: limousinebus.co.jp

 

From Haneda Airport (HND)

Take the Tokyo Monorail or a Keikyu train for the 35-minute ride from Haneda Airport to Tokyo Station. Taxis to central Tokyo cost between ¥5,000 and ¥11,000 and take about 25 to 45 minutes, depending on your destination.


Public Transportation

Tokyo is rail and pedestrian heaven; there really is no need to rent a car. Even if you’re planning a one-day excursion as far as the mountain town of Nagano, the trains will get you there. The subway can be intimidating at rush hour due to the amount of people. Otherwise, the train system is clean and always on time. Fares are calculated based on distance travelled on any given trip. Navigate most lines easily with The Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway Day Pass which costs about ¥1000.


Taxis

For late-night adventures, you can find a taxi just about anywhere, but they’re not cheap – even a short ride can cost you ¥870. Remember: no tipping, and don’t close the door on your way out of the car – it’s automatic.

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CITY GUIDE     HOTELS     TOKYO