Tokyo is one of the most awe-inspiring mega-cities on Earth. It is a world within itself, and there is no absence of adventure to be found (but if you’re flying in from the United States, be warned that the jet lag is harsh).
> Gonpachi Nishiazabu
For film buffs (and especially Quentin Tarantino buffs) this is a can’t miss: Gonpachi, an eatery located in Roppongi, is the restaurant that is said to have inspired a memorable set in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movie. This cavernous old Edo-style space is a Tokyo dining institution, with other less-memorable branches scattered around the city. Kushiyaki (charcoal-grilled skewers) are served here alongside noodles, tempura and sushi.
A: 1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu, Minato | Hours: 11.30am-3.30am | Price: $$ | T: +81 3-5771-0170 | W: gonpachi.jp |
> Aman Tokyo
The Aman Tokyo is an exceptional property, with soaring-ceilinged rooms and a perfectly pitched sense of discreet luxury that is typical of the hotel company’s understated approach to design. It offers guests a few activities, including a sushi making class at Ginza Iwa Hanare—which only seats 7 people—with a master chef named Katsuaki Suzuki. Learn to prepare everything from akami (tuna) to uni (sea urchin) and savor every bite. Then, take a class in Iaidō swordsmanship (Iaidō is an ancient, graceful Japanese martial art). Attendees will learn the basics of samurai etiquette, but then get to finish the class by swinging a very real (and very sharp) katama blade.
A: 1-5-6 Otemachi, The Otemachi Tower, Chiyoda | T: +81 03 5224 3333 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: aman.com |
> Robot Restaurant
Arrive 40 minutes early at Robot Restaurant before showtime and, after check-in at the ticket counter, head to a lounge area where you can grab drinks or food at your own expense while enjoying live music before the show starts. Sit back in your seat and be amazed by the flashy neon lights, dancing girls in colorful outfits, giant robots, and other oddities like a robot monster and dinosaurs. The show is accompanied by traditional Japanese “Taiko” drums and techno music — a crazy fun-filled spectacle not to be missed! Food and drinks are also available for purchase at intermission. The food options are sushi bento and BBQ bento, and drinks include draft beer, canned beer, sake, alcoholic coolers, mineral water, and various soft drinks.
A: 1-7-1 Kabukicho, B2f, Shinjuku | Hours: 4pm-11pm | Price: $$ | T: +81 3-3200-5500 | E: email@example.com | W: shinjuku-robot.com |
> Totti Candy Factory
If only for the Instagram opportunities, stop by Totti Candy Factory for their famous polychrome cotton-candy. It is the size of a traffic cone and dyed the pastel colors of a rainbow. Some have even been known to wear the confection as a hat.
A: 1-16-5 Jingumae, RYU Apartment 2F, Shibuya | Hours: Mon-Fri. 10:30am-8pm Sat-Sun. 9:30am-10pm | Price: $$ | T: +81 3-3403-7007 | W: totticandy.com |
> Hotel Okura Tokyo
Though the main section of the historic Hotel Okura Tokyo—built in 1962, and considered a landmark of mid-century modernist Japanese design—has been demolished, the South Wing is still standing. And it is just as glorious as the glory days. The Hotel Okura has a Wes Andersonian vibe apparent without feeling made for a set; old stationery fills every counter, chits are still signed, the packaging is lushly overdone, pretty much everything is monogrammed, and there are an absurd number of uniformed bellhops in the entryways and elevator vestibules. All in all, and wonderfully so: it still feels lost in time. Let’s hope it stays this way when its new wing opens next year.
A: 2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato | T: +81 3-3582-0111 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: hotelokura.co.jp |
> Yayoi Kusama Museum
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s exhibitions draw in crowds eager to admire her incredible kaleidoscopic pieces, polka-dotted pumpkins and reflecting infinity rooms. The prolific 88-year-old has opened her own museum in Tokyo, where guests can immerse themselves in her unique works. This summer’s program is called “Here, Now, I have Reached the Grandest Start of My Life.” It traces Kusama’s earlier days—including childhood drawings that “capture her hallucinations.” Understandably, the venue is popular—call your hotel concierge in advance to arrange for tickets, which must be booked beforehand.
A: 107 Bentencho, Shinjuku | T: +81 3-5273-1778 | Hours: Thu-Sun. 11am-5pm | Price: JP¥1,000 | E: email@example.com | W: yayoikusamamuseum.jp |
> New York Bar at the Park Hyatt
Tokyo has its fair share of venues-with-views (many of its luxury hotels are located atop skyscrapers). No vista, however, is as iconic as The New York Bar’s, which is located on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku. This hotel, in particular, was made famous by the movie Lost In Translation—you almost never hear the Park Hyatt mentioned without some reference to the film. But don’t go to this bar for that. Go for the jaw-dropping vignettes of an endless city, the buzzing vibe, the transcontinental elegance and, maybe, an espresso martini to help offset the jet lag. It is a night to remember.
A: 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku | T: +81 3-5322-1234| E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: hyatt.com |
> Tsukiji Market
Fruit, vegetables, flowers and meat are sold here, but it’s seafood – around 2000 tonnes of it traded daily – that Tsukiji is most famous for. The Seafood Intermediate Wholesalers’ Area, part of the inner market (jōnai-shijō), is slated to move to new facilities in Toyosu in October; the equally fascinating outer market, comprising hundreds of food stalls and restaurants, will stay put.
A: 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo | Hours: 24/7 | T: +81 3-3547-8011 | W: tsukiji-market.or.jp |