This is the space for Japanese style hotel as well as cafe and art space.Read More
QUICK COFFEE TIME
If you want to experience the down town street of Tokyo still left, go to Yanaka and walk around. This walk actually has been quite popular among Japanese, and the area has rejuvenated quite a bit. The coffee shop here is super small, and you could actually drink coffee at the store (there may be 4-5 chairs), but most people take it to go to resume the walk, Also, coffee is well blended with nice Tokyo downtown flair and has the nice dark coffee flavor that I like. Logos are cool as well. Definitely not a place to get too cozy, but would be a nice quick stop and could be a nice place to get coffee beans to take home. And it may be very hard to find it.
LOCAL BUCKWHEAT SOBA JOINT
This is technically the area I spent my childhood time, and this is the soba restaurant owned by my grade school friend. It's authentic, all hand made soba, and simply good. My favorite is always the cold soba noodle. I think you can really smell the buckwheat when it goes down your throat. You swallow and the smell somehow goes thru your throat and up thru your nose. If I am hungry, I add the tempura as well like the one you see in picture, comes with shrimp and seasonal vegetables tempura. And always finish with making soup with the hot water the soba was cooked and the sauce that you dip the soba in. And you take all the soba, everything you can to your body. Taste and healthy. God bless soba.
address: 6-9-16 Ueno, Taito-Ku Tokyo 110-0005
tel: +81 3-3831-4728
open: 11:30AM-9PM everyday except Wednesday.
nearest station: Ueno station (JR, metro)
THE TONKATSU MASTER
There is no secret. There is no gimmicks. It's all real. And it's all the chef's craftsmanship they have learned over the years, one chef to another chef. This tonkatsu is all about the balance of technique and quality of ingridients. At tonki, you can see that chef's cooking in front of you and see how passionately face the tonkatsu. There are only three types of meat-fillet, porknloin, and porknloin in skewer. And "Teishoku" means the bento style includes meat, cabbage, miso and rice. Get the full deal and enjoy!!
JAPANESE KUROGE WAGYU BURGER
I am seeing many Kobe beef burger in the states that makes me go "really?" "are you sure?" Not sure about the legal rights on branding of "wagyu". But I can say this burger uses the fine wagyu ( not Kobe beef) but fine domestic beef. Wagyu literally means Japanese beef from local farm. The cows are raised certain way to make the beef nice and soft as that's the way Japanese people like. There are 4 kinds of cows that we can technically call them as "wagyu". This "kuroge" (means black hair) cows are one of the four. Anyway, I love the burger here and it's little expensive but it's worth the try if you truly wanna experience the fine wagyu burger. There are many different toppings you can put on as option (choose wisely), and my favorite is just lettuce and tomatoes. The lettuce here is so crunchy ans does not get moist and weak like some of the fast food lettuce. I love the harmony of crunchy and the soft beef. So good!! If you want to do nothing rest of the day, get a pint of beer with the burger and it will knock you out!! English translation is there on the menu. One time, somebody told me "burger" is all about the balance of buns and what's inside. Make sure you pick the toppings right to enjoy the real "wagyu" experience.
JAPANESE POTTERY SHOPPING
Great selection on Japansee potteries from tea pot, cups, bowl, plates and such. If you are not traveling to anywhere outside of Tokyo such as Kyoto, this may be a good place to stop to see some souvenir options. They have brands like Arita-Yaki and Kiyomizu Yaki which are the special pottery from Saga Prefecture and Kyoto Prefectures. You can also find them in big department stores in Tokyo, but it sometimes feels different to purchase at the stores like this, who has been running the business in Asakusa close to 100 years.
JAPANESE FIRST BAR
This is called Kamiya "Bar" as this was one of the first bar in Tokyo but now operates as both the bar and the restaurants. Mr. Kamiya started the bar in 1912 and started selling the liquor he has created. It is called "denki bran", and they still sell this!! It's like brandy with some sweetness to it but the recipe of this liquor is still secret today and you can only get this around Asakusa. "Denki" means electricity and bran probably means brandy. It was sort of electric invention and innovational debut of liquor just like Edison's electricity. People usually drink the liquor straight and uses beer as a chaser. It's about 30% of alcohol. Have a try at the liquor from 100 years ago.
Also, this Kamiya restaurant have different floors that serves the different needs. 1st floor is bar to get some drink and appetiser. 2nd floor is restaurnat for dining the western Japanase dish. 3rd floor is more formal dining experience, which has more Japanese than western. Western Japanese food might confuse you but basically curry, tonkatsu, deep fried, spaghetti, hamburger and such are this kind of dish, and you see some Japanese twist to that. Asakusa and Ueno area are influenced by the western culture in early 1900 and you see both of true Japanese culture and western cultures mixed in throughout the cities.
JAPANESE RICE CRACKER
I love Yanaka area, not only because I have grown up this area, but this place does not change much since I was little. This Senbei shop has not changed a bit. They opened up the store in 1913. Love that every time I walk by, it feels like I have not aged at all or gives me this nostalgia feel. And the rice cracker tastes the same as before. I love to just grab a few and walk around the city. Try this traditional rice cracker and feel the old Tokyo town. There are few more rice cracker place like this in Yanaka Area. It may be cool to stop by and tastes some difference in rice crackers.
The delicate pork cut-let
The Ueno area has many good tonkatsu places. One of my favorite is this place, which is more close to the Okachimachi station. I love sitting at the counter and see the frying skills. So what you see this place is chef's dedication on your pork. The timing of frying, the temperature, the way he prepares the cabbage and rice and bring it to your table. Everything feels like it's done with care and dedication to your meal.
Traditional Eel spot
One of the Asakusa traditional is Unagi, the freshwater eel. What they usually do is to barbecue grill with special teriyaki sauce then put it over the rice. This Koyanagi is my favorite place as it is located close to Asakusa temple and it's just delicious. You walk around the temple and feel the history and get into the mood. You stop by and start from beer and they give you the eel bone chips. You may order some fresh sashimi and vegetable to be your beer pal or already on to some sake. Then, You order Unaju, teriyaki eel over rice with Eel gut soup called kimosui to finish. They also have the English menu available. Soo good and soooo traditional old school Japanese. You complete all the eel as well from gut, bone and the meat. Enjoy eel. By the way, for those who don't like eel, there is great chicken teriyaki bowl as well. Nothing like the teriyaki you get in the states, no offense but this chicken bowl is so soft and juicy.
address: 1 Chome-29-11 Asakusa, 台東区 Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
tel: +81 3-3843-2861
hours: 11:30am-3pm, 4-8:30pm (thursday is closed, sunday is open all day)
Tokyo’s high-end shops
The area is Gorgeous, Inspirational, and tasty. Tasty may sound little cheaper than it should and everything in this area is sophisticated and latest and premium Tokyo has to offer. There are two locations I like in this area. One is the shops and restaurants in the midtown building, and the other is the art design space outside (see 21_21 Design Sight for detail). See the shop lists in the web to see what you like, but shops include from just Uniqlo stores to some premium brand shops like Issey Miyake. Puma for example has their Black Store to sell their collaboration line and limited and premium editions. Beams, the select shop also have their store in Midtown only to offer their premium sophisticated items. Design space is super inspirational and make sure to check the website to see the seasonal events and exhibitions that are going on.
Toyota Concept Store
This space is for people to see, feel and experience the Toyota's concept. You can see the latest technology and experience. If you love Toyota or car in general, I am pretty sure you will find something you like. I remember this used to have electric car showcase and people could go around the track, but electric car is out in the market already, so things have changed over the years and the new stuff keeps coming.
From Shibuya, you can take the Rinkai line to Tokyo Teleport station. Walk from there.
The olympic park
The place was built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic as a 2nd stadium. Various sports like soccer, wrestling, volleyball were played here. Now the place is used for not only some sport events but also as a public park. People come to run, come to walk the dog, or bring kids to play in the park or being lunch for picnic or play in the water during summer. The water is called Jabu-Jabu Pond. It may be better to spell Jaboo-Jaboo for English, but it is the Japanese sound or the noise of playing with water. You could also rent the bicycle for a ride around the park. It's super nice to walk or run when cherry blossoms are out in April. There is also a gallery space to see some small museum type of place from the past Olympic. If you are tired of the city walking and wanna just enjoy the park with the kids to re-charge, this is a nice getaway. It's 15 min from Shibuya. You take the Den-entoshi line from Shibuya to Komazawa Daigaku and little walk.
Classic Amusement Park
This place must be around for a long time. And yes, it was opened in 1853 original (and it was renovated in 1947). I know I used to play here when I was kid. Now it feels like an amusement park and retro museum combined. However, they have been renovating the rides while still trying to keep the retro feel. It really feel like you are back in 70's, the Japanese Showa era, when industrial business was growing. It's in Asakusa. It could be a nice stop to feel the Japanese classic retro feel and have kids play in the classics rides. You sometimes see Tokyo as the most innovative city, but we also try to keep our history as much as we can. This probably is not a perfect example, but this is part of it. Also, for the little kid, this is probably much better than the Temple sight seeing in Asakusa.
Free view from high
This is a government building of Tokyo prefecture, where Tokyo government officials work. But at the same time, they open this sky view place free for visitors (how nice!). You will be able to see the Tokyo view from 202 m high with 360 degrees view. They are open from 9:30am to 11:00pm. So you can watch from the nice morning view to a night view (careful..Holiday time are different). What is better than FREE View? and you can see the Tokyo Tower, Sky Tree, and even Mount Fuji on a nice day. There is also a cafe area, and you can see the view with coffee!! Coffee is NOT free!!!! I remember when I was young and had lots of energy, this free night view spot was everyone's favorite place to take your girl out to the date!! It's a probably a nice 10-15 walk from the Shinjuku Station.
It's interesting to see that opposite side of Uniqlo, there is a select shop full of high end fashion items. The shop concept is directed by Rei Kawakubo, the founder of Comme Des Garcons, and she describes the space being "beautiful chaos". You will find so many exclusive item for DSM, premium collections from Comme Des Garcons, Dior, Sacai, Undercover, Tiffany, Prada, Chrome hearts, Supreme, Alexander Wang, Nike and more. As described beautiful chaos, yes it is that. Feels like you are in the fashion clothing amusement park.
Here are some simple drawings of map to illustrate how things are.
In simplest way, Japan is like that...and so is Tokyo. And Motokyo is focusing on the east side of Tokyo in blue highlights, which is called 23 ku (ward or county for you). It's the most exciting area of Tokyo (no offense to the west side people).
Here is the east side of Tokyo. Basically, this is all you need to know (no offense to the west side of people) but this is usually the area people visit and people call it downtown Tokyo. Yamanote line goes around the Tokyo area, as long as you master how to use Yamanote Line, you should be able to get to most of places in Tokyo downtown.
It's not sea bass. It is actually a bus to get to the places thru Tokyo bay. There is a station near Hamamatsucho station and my favorite is to go to Asakusa from there on a nice day. You go into the Tokyo bay and go down the river and under some historical bridges in Asakusa. There are several kinds of cruisers and hopefully you get on to the one you like!! There is also a cafe by the station...there is frozen yogurt place and it's good. You can also go to odaiba from there as well.
Soba Since 1791
This soba restaurants has the history. They know how to make soba. It's on your way to Tokyo Tower and love to see this historical soba place as is. My recommendation here is the cold Sanshoku soba in a pic. Sanshoku means 3 color, and You just have to enjoy the 3 flavor as of soba thru your nose. People say Soba is to swallow (not to bite) and smell the soba flavor in your nose. It's very similar to Don't think, Feel it. There is also other options of soba in hot broth as well. But personally if you wanna smell the soba, the get a cold soba.
Contemporary Tokyo Art
There is always something new in this museum, so make sure to check what exhibits they have when you go. But they usually have the contemporary art. Very inspirational. but what's cool about the museum is the view you will get from high from the tower. Also, you get the access to bar, and cafe which is also great and feels premium!