ONE WEEK IN TOKYO

JANUARY 2018

Going back to Japan always makes me so excited. In early December I decided to explore Tokyo with new eyes. Of course, one short week wasn’t enough; nevertheless, I had a chance to discover a few great places I strongly recommend below. Like every time when I come to Tokyo, I was again blown away by what the city has to offer regarding fashion, food, nature, design, architecture, etc.

NEZU MUSEUM

The Nezu Museum is an art museum in the Minato district of Tokyo, beautifully designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The museum features a big collection of important Japanese paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, ceramics, textiles and archaeological materials, as well as objects in lacquer, metal, and wood. The Nezu Museum is also known for its extensive, Japanese-style garden, gorgeous in any season. While wandering around the gardens time seems to pass more slowly. I loved walking around these fall shades and enjoying the quiet atmosphere. After the visit, make sure to go the tea place for a cup of matcha and pastry while overseeing the gardens.

DESIGN FESTA GALLERY

Design Festa was founded in 1994 by three local artists to give all people with something they wish to express the opportunity to do so. A gallery for anyone and everyone, where artists are free to exhibit and sell without commission fees. The studio welcomes all comers, and there’s no censorship policy – whatever you want to create, they will display. First time I came here was ten years ago, and I was blown away by the artists there in a funky way, what I saw started from homemade horror movies to crying stuffed animals drawings.

MEIJI SHRINE 

Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the late 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West, Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine is wonderfully serene. The 12-meters torii gate at the entrance to the 200-acre park is made of 1,500-year-old cypress. The long walk to get to the temple really put you in a serene and peaceful mode.
Stop at the cleansing station where you can purify your hands and mouth before offering up a prayer. You can write your wishes on little pieces of paper and tie them onto the prayer wall.

BAR CASBA

Casba is a retro-furnished upscale basement lounge where the party and the atmosphere don’t start until 2 a.m. when the fashion and design crowds stumble in.
The decoration is the coolest and very playful. There are an old school TV and a VHD player, so between two drinks you could sing karaoke or watch the owner’s wedding video! She is a character; we were lucky enough to meet her that night and get to chat about her nail art and fun jewelry.

BAR PIANO

You’ll find this tiny bar in Shibuya’s characterful Nonbei Yokocho bar district. In Bar Piano you’ll be drinking from antique glasses surrounded by chandeliers, ornate pictures, and stuffed animal heads – so much decadence for such a tiny bar. There’s only space for three people at the ground floor bar counter so you’d do better to head up the steep staircase and try to find a seat upstairs instead where there is let’s say a little more room, ten people max could fit in ‘cosy way.’ This place is Out of time. Not to mention the bartender who has high expertise in make-up and piercings.

GRANDFATHER’S BAR

Established 40 years ago, Grandfather’s bar started with a playlist style that was uncommon at the time, blending rock LPs one song at a time. Today, the tunes are a selection of popular music from the ’70s and a fine selection of contemporary music.
It is quite hard to find; you won’t meet other tourists here, but definitely a place worth to stop in for a snack (hot peanuts are too die for) and a song request.
This is a place where you want to Shazam each and every song, which I did by the way! The vibe is retro cool and…smoky, yes in many bars in Tokyo you are still allowed to light up freely.

HIGASHI-YAMA RESTAURANT

Higashiyama‘s discreet façade on an unremarkable road in Nakameguro opposes its stylish interior. A perfect example of contemporary Japanese minimalism, inspired by traditional aesthetics. Here you’ll find sliding screens hiding private dining areas, dark lantern-lit corridors decorated with bold calligraphic artworks; modernist furniture; and big windows overlooking an inner courtyard-like garden. Not to forget the food, which is as eye-catching as yummy. Great place for dining alone or in a large group, but keep in mind that children are not allowed in the restaurant. The best is to have dinner at the counter so you can see the chefs preparing the food with so much grace, elegance, and passion. We had a six meals dinner including tempura, noodles and other delicious specialties. Then we headed to the cozy bar downstairs. I personally had tea, but the bartender is an expert in cocktails, it’s kind of a show to watch the process.

SASHA KANETANAKA

Located in a new mixed-use complex called Oak Omotesando, access is through a stone façade that narrows down ascending to the second floor via an open staircase. Sasha Kanetanaka dining space offers a wide-open view of a calming moss and a rock garden. To make the best of the minimal, softly luminous space and its courtyard, drop in for an afternoon dumplings flavored with matcha green tea, ginger, and brown sugar, or homemade jellies studded with plump kyoho grapes, along with the finest green teas. This place is so peaceful and zen, only a few steps from busy Omotesando, it’s the perfect lunch getaway.

PATH TOKYO

Apart from remarkable interior design, music on vinyl records, a wood and cement bar, a small terrace, and some cool staff members, Path offers some great western cuisine inspired food from early mornings to late evenings. Path is a café/bakery/bistro, open from 8 am to midnight, in a neighborhood near Yoyogi park that’s on the rise. Definitely my favorite Sunday brunch place, where you can’t resist some homemade viennoiseries (croissants, pain au chocolat) or delicious (Dutch) pancakes with burrata. The pastries crafted by Yuichi Goto are also exceptional: whipped meringue with fruit jelly, cannelés, madeleines, etc. Led by former alumni of La Maison Troisgros, it’s a MUST GO. I am not really a pastry person, but their pain au chocolat was literally melting. Also, the quiche was true bliss, any way you can’t go wrong with anything there.

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  • Jennifer/ 31.01.2018Reply

    Omg!! They probably had the beat food!! Thanks for sharing

    • ERIN OFF DUTY/ 31.01.2018Reply

      The food is just amazing. It’s totally worthy to visit Tokyo just to taste all the yummy dishes.

  • Vanessa/ 30.01.2018Reply

    Such a great post! I always wanted to make a trip to Japan and this makes me want to ever more!

    • ERIN OFF DUTY/ 31.01.2018Reply

      Thank you dear. You should definitely visit Tokyo, you will adore it, I’m sure.

  • Claudia/ 29.01.2018Reply

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    • ERIN OFF DUTY/ 31.01.2018Reply

      It’s all that and more. Totally worth a visit.

  • Sivylla/ 27.01.2018Reply

    Love this travel guide! Looks like you had lots of fun! Tokyo is def on my list now!

    • ERIN OFF DUTY/ 31.01.2018Reply

      Thank you dear. I had great time, totally unforgettable trip.

  • Elena/ 26.01.2018Reply

    Wow! That all looks so interesting and amazing! I definitely want to make it to Japan once, tje culture is so interesting and the country has so much to offer!
    Loved all your photos!!
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    • ERIN OFF DUTY/ 31.01.2018Reply

      You will love it, the city has so much to offer.

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    Very amazing pics! I’ve been to Osaka once, but unfortunately never to Tokyo.

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    • ERIN OFF DUTY/ 31.01.2018Reply

      Thank you dear. I am sure you enjoyed Osaka as well.

  • Lovely/ 26.01.2018Reply

    This is just so informative , adore all the pictures and makes me want to go visit Tokyo even more now! xoxo Lovely

    • erinadmin/ 26.01.2018Reply

      Thank you Lovely! Tokyo is such a great city, if you have a chance to go, I am sure you would love it!

  • An/ 25.01.2018Reply

    Love your Tokyo travel diary! We went for the first time last year and these photos bring back so many memories!! Such a beautiful city <3

    • erinadmin/ 26.01.2018Reply

      Thank you for your support sweetie! I love Tokyo so much, love coming back and exploring the city with new eyes every time.

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