I just got back from Japan, and have already started helping a couple of friends with their trip.
A friend, Mike Magers — is the primary inspiration behind MOST of these places. I owe him for making my trip really special.
Below is the email I wrote in case it helps at all:
All were fine.
Prince Sakura Tower is the best — it’s right next to Shinagawa Station, which will get you anywhere. Once in Tokyo, the train is SO easy. Seriously. I was nervous at first, but you go in, buy a ticket, it tells you what color line to be in and then based on the stop you’re going to, what side of the track to be on. It’s dead simple and fast. The cabs and ubers are expensive and slow in Tokyo.
Marriot was #2 of those options and has a good breakfast, but is far from public transit.
Sheraton was #3, but good enough.
If you wanna go fancy, the Park Hyatt is dope, the Ritz has an amazing top floor where you can do work and see the whole city, and the Andaz is pretty nice too. The Aman is unreal — but you should just go there to get drinks at the top. They have a flight of Japanese Gins that only costs $26 for a tasting. You should do it. Japanese Gin is gonna be what we all talk about 18 months from now (it’s the next Mezcal or Japanese Whiskey, just wait!).
(2) things to do
- The Fish Market — you can’t go early in the morning anymore to see the auctions. But you should still go. Go to the OLD one. The stands are still there and the new one is not authentic enough
- Nezu Museum: my parents went — they said it was good but that the garden is the best part
- Mori Museum: on top of Roppongi Hills — which is a massive building with a mall in it, a hotel, apartment buildings etc. The lines can get long though. This is like.. their empire state building kinda. It’s right off of Roppongi Station (which you can get to from anywhere). After it, there is the National Art Museum of Tokyo. Go there. It’s the best museum we saw.
- Ginza — if you head over to the Nissan showroom and just walk around, it’s a bit like their 5th Ave if you wanna go shopping. The other place to shop is Ginza Six, which is a fancy department store.
- The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum is actually cooler than I thought it would be, but check what exhibits they have open that day. There is the Yesubi Beer Museum next to it — the beer is good. But the tour is in Japanese.
- Daikanyama was our favorite neighborhood to walk around. If you go to the Tatsuki Book store — it’s a college campus and you get the college town vibe, which is cool.
- Our other favorite area to walk around was Ebisu — there is a pizza place called Seirenkin (the pizza in certain Tokyo restaurants is the best I’ve ever had, and I’m a New Yorker who is proud of NY Pizza…). Go to that restaurant and then walk around the area until you find some street totally lit up by those paper lamp things that you expect to be everywhere, but aren’t, and make you think “damn, I’m in Japan.”
Favorite bars are as follows:
- Bar Track — super local joint that plays vinyls and has an awesome drink selection
- Bar Trench — a bit american, but one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been to. A pain in the ass to find. Cool area to walk around though, and near Daikanyama
- Fuglen — it’s a coffee shop in the day, bar at night
- Ritz Hotel — it’s cool
- Park Hyatt — it’s fancy and cool
- Aman Hotel — Gin tasting flight
- Bar Benfiddich
- Gen — make a reservation (you have to call yourself, can’t have AMEX do it) — and it’s right next to Savoy, a good pizza spot you can go to before
- Beer Bar Bitter — right near Tori Tama — SUPER cool spot — hard to find. It’s on the second floor.
- Yakitori: Tori Tama — go, seriously. The chicken is unreal. Don’t let anyone convince you to get the chicken ovaries though… yikes — they taste like bad eggs.
- Sushi: honestly… it’s crazy expensive if you go to a fancy place. Like… $250/person. Or more. If you want that, some suggestions are: Sushisho Masa, Sushi Yuu, Sushi Sawada. But the best sushi we had was at The Fish Market. After work meetings we went to Umai Sushi Kan Akasaka — don’t get the lunch specials. Just pick the sushis, The lightly seared Toro was top 20 things I’ve ever put into my mouth.
- Okonomiyaki Imari Ebisu — go to this place for lunch when you go to Daikanyama and hang at the book store. It’s 100 feet away from it. Not too expensive, and a very authentic japanese lunch experience. Get the pork belly or the fried chicken. The shashimi is good too.
- Sereinken — best pizza ever. Savoy is good too (there are two of them, go to the one that is closer to Gen)
- Butagumi — the best Tonkatsu you’ll ever have. Get the “grilled cheese” as an appetizer. It’s literally just cheese that’s been grilled.
- Mimosa — it’s chinese dim sum — which is weird to do in Japan, but it’s amazing. Best Chinese food I’ve ever had. Get the egg and tomato thing, the bun, the spring rolls (they are incredible)
- Ramen: Ichiran, or Afuri
They have some of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever seen there.
- Nem Espresso
- Bear Pond
- SWITCH Coffee (make sure it’s open)
- Garden House Crafts (go a little hungry, their breads are delicious)
*Carve out a day to go to Daikanyama, get lunch at Okonomiyaki, then head over the Garden House Crafts for a coffee, and then walk to Bar Trench, and then bar hop to Bar Track.
Do it on one of the days you guys are a little tired of” being tourists” and it’ll be a good local day where you can work in each place and read.
Places that have since been recommended to me:
Bar Tram — related to Bar Trench
Bar Martha — A whiskey bar with a good selection and mean service
Ebisu Yokocho — an area with a bunch of cart vendors