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Insider's Guide to Tokyo

Canadian illustrator Justine Wong takes us to her favourite spots.

Justine Wong

Photo: Kee Byung-keun

Justine Wong moved to Tokyo in 2016, after falling in love with its flashy city life on a trip a year earlier. While the Toronto native (whose watercolour illustrations have appeared in The Walrus and Lucky Peach) recently returned home, she spent a year eating her way through the city and forming a community with other expat illustrators. “My favourite thing about Tokyo is how vast it is. It’s filled with possibilities.”

Jomon Roppongi

Photo: courtesy of Jomon Roppongi

1. Jomon Roppongi

Jomon is what you’d expect of a classic izakaya – steamy and intimate. Since all the dishes are shareable, it’s best to go with friends so you can try a bit of everything. I recommend the homemade sesame tofu and the deep-fried croquette, which is filled with a runny egg yolk.

Fujimori Building 1F, 5-9-17 Roppongi, Minato-ku,

Todoroki Ravine Park

Photo: Guilhem Vellut

2. Todoroki Ravine Park

Although it’s located in a residential neighbourhood on the west side of Tokyo, when you’re in this overgrown park, it’s like you’re not in the city anymore. A few old shrines and wooden seats dot the path that runs alongside the Yazawa-gawa river. I like to bring a bento box and eat my lunch here.

1-22 and 2-37/38 Todoroki, Setagaya-ku


Photo: Deguchi

3. Kaisu

The owners of this hostel are really into surfing, so even though the interiors have a Japanese esthetic with dark wood and white walls, there are surfboards throughout. They wanted it to be a space for travellers and their friends to gather, which is why they host art exhibits almost every month. It’s also a nice place to grab a midday beer or coffee.

6-13-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku,

4. Kosoan

This tea house serves classic Japanese desserts, like anmitsu, which is fruit on a bed of jelly served with sweet syrup. When you enter, you remove your shoes and shuffle on tatami mats to a low table. On a rainy afternoon, I like to sit by the windows that overlook the lush garden, when a hot matcha is paired with the sound of the rain.

1-24-23 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku,



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