From the cloud-piercing, glowing skyscrapers of Shibuya to the vintage shop-lined narrow streets of Shimokitazawa, Japan’s capital provides an enormous sensory range. Whether you’re looking to order a nightcap in an atmospheric speakeasy or you prefer a serene soak in a hot-spring bath, Tokyo has something for all tastes and personality types.
Housed in two low-rise buildings and just seconds from trendy Cat Street, the 15-room TRUNK (HOTEL) is Tokyo’s hippest home away from home. Its exterior is a zen-luxe stunner, with lush greenery spilling over tiered balconies. The sun-drenched “Terrace Suite” is worth the splurge, but the whole place is infinitely Instagrammable and hums with energy. Expect to find a host of designer-clad, latte-drinking creatives filling the lobby lounge during the day before switching to cocktails at night.
If immersing yourself in the local art scene without ever needing to leave your hotel sounds like your ideal staycation, then book a room at BnA_WALL, where you’ll literally sleep inside a work of art. (Note: BnA stands for “Bed and Art.”) Located in Nihonbashi, each of the 26 rooms is designed by different local artists. Some rooms are soul-soothing beauties, while others are wildly kaleidoscopic. As for the WALL in the hotel’s name? That refers to the ever-evolving two-story mural that greets guests in the lobby.
Don’t be intimidated by Den’s two Michelin stars or being recognized as the best restaurant in Asia by the World’s 50 Best group in 2022. The vibe at this modern kaiseki restaurant is warm and full of fun. A super-fun must-order is the “Dentucky” chicken: mochi rice-stuffed crispy chicken wings that arrive in a fast food-style takeout box. Another is the Den salad, which is made with 20 seasonal, individually prepared ingredients, including a carrot carved into the shape of a smiley face—and sometimes topped with an edible ant.
Brown Rice by Neal’s Yard Remedies
Pocketed between Omotesando and Harajuku, Brown Rice by Neal’s Yard Remedies offers organic, vegan, and authentically Japanese meals in a stylish and serene space. There’s plenty of fermented food on the menu, like miso and pickles, along with tofu, vegetables, and brown rice. The seasonal vegetable curry is perfect, and so is having a glass of plum wine in the leafy courtyard on a sunny day.
Care to sip absinthe in (speakeasy) style? Then wander down an alleyway in Ebisu until you reach Bar Trench. This small, suave haunt is known for its stock of absinthes and herbal liqueurs as well as its signature tipples. For something fruity and fancy, order the “Blackcurrant” cocktail: sparkling sake, Pernod, Angostura bitters, and blackcurrant sorbet.
If you’re craving a lemon sour, this homey watering hole is the place to go. Look for a nondescript sliding wooden door in Golden Gai. Inside, enjoy Open Book’s signature offering (lemon juice-infused shochu with soda water) while browsing the book-lined walls—books that mostly belonged to the bar owner’s late grandfather, author Komimasa Tanaka.
Explore the low-key and eclectic Shimokitazawa by starting off at City Country City, a cafe-cum-record store located on the fourth floor of an office building. For another fourth-floor hideaway, search for No Room For Squares, a jazz bar hidden behind a vintage Coca-Cola vending machine. Swing by Bear Pond Espresso for a caffeine fix before thrifting for duds at New York Joe Exchange. Ready to relax? Book a day trip package at the luxury onsen ryokan, Yuen Bettei Daita, and soak in a hot spring bath.
Yayoi Kusama Museum
Tickets for this popular museum dedicated entirely to, you guessed it, Yayoi Kusama, should be purchased in advance.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Be sure to frolic around this sprawling leafy oasis, especially during cherry blossom season.
The hundreds of ceramic cats dotting the grounds make sense when you learn that this Buddhist temple is thought to be the birthplace of Maneki-neko, or “beckoning cat.”
Koganeyu, an 88-year-old sentō (communal public bathhouse), got a modern makeover in 2020, complete with a D.J. booth, a cafe, rooms for overnight stays, and a craft beer taproom. Unlike many other traditional bathhouses in Japan, tattooed visitors are welcome to enjoy the facilities, which include multiple bathing areas and a sauna.
Descend the graffiti-covered stairwell of DOG in Harajuku and you’ll discover a treasure trove of everything leather, spiked, studded, and shredded. This basement boutique—which opened in 2000 and has dressed Lady Gaga and Rihanna—boasts a huge inventory of punky vintage and reworked clothing, as well as outrageous pop star-friendly pieces.
This dreamily designed mega-bookstore makes it easy for readers to spend an entire day inside.
NUBIAN is stocked with all of the heavy hitters in the high-fashion streetwear world, from Off-White and VETEMENTS to Japanese labels like Needles and READYMADE.
Care to purchase a bouquet of dry flowers elegantly enclosed in a glass dome? Then this pharmacy-themed dry flower shop has got you covered.
Comme des Garçons, Maison Margiela, and Acne Studios are just some of the labels you’ll discover at this thrift shop that mostly deals in designer pieces.
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