Fathom Favorites : Tokyo

1. Le Baron

The payoff for walking down this dark alley is international impresario Andre Savaira's Parisian import which often plays host to magazine parties and launch events. Give the calendar a glance before heading over to avoid being shut out. As to be expected, sharp dressers have a good shot at getting in the door.

3 Chome 8-40 Minami-Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo, 107-0062

2. Tomigaya

Just south of Meiji Shrine, indie labels and cafes are flocking to this small residential neighborhood. After a morning run in Yoyogi Park, refuel at Little Nap Coffee. Pick your lunch from a Japanese-only picture menu at Levain (2-43-13 Tomigaya; +81-3-3468-9669), a tiny cafe and bakery with really good bread. Browse zines and art books at Shibuya Publishing Booksellers and do pre-dinner drinks at the Nordic cafe/bar Fuglen.

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-0063

3. Ueno Park

Especially beautiful during cherry blossom season, particularly around Shinobazu Pond where local families enjoy a hanami picnic. Around the same time is also the peony festival at Toshogu Shrine. The sprawling public park is also home to five museums and Japan's oldest zoo.

5-20 Uenokoen
Taito, Tokyo, 110-0007

4. Akihabara Electric Town

Flashing screens everywhere, promo girls, lots and lots of vending machines. If you were looking for overwhelming, sensory-overload Tokyo, this is it. The massive wholesale electronic district is packed with widgets and gadgets of the next century, otaku spots filled with anime and manga goods, and arcades for all types — there's one dedicated entirely to stuffed animal machines.  

Taito-ku, Tokyo , 110-0006

5. Tokyo Imperial Palace

While you can't actually step into the palace (the primary residences of the Imperial Family), the spacious grounds are a beautiful way to start the day. Go for an early morning jaunt in the East Garden and wave to locals jogging. 

1-1 Chiyoda
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8111

6. Daikanyama

For a change of pace, the Daikanyama neighborhood in Shibuya feels distinctively French and is filled with a mix of restaurants, indie and international labels, and some of Tokyo's best dressed. After shopping at Tenoha and T-Site, do a rooftop dinner at King George or drinks at Spring Valley Brewery.


Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0034

7. Shibuya Crossing

Right in front of Shibuya station's Hachiko exit is one of the most, if not the busiest street crossings in the world. Stake out a much-coveted window seat at the second-floor Starbucks on the North side to watch the scramble when all lights turn red, or experience the ordered chaos from the middle of the intersection. Come back again at night to when the streets are lit up by the neon signs above.

2-2 Dogenzaka
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0002

8. Building 109

To see where trends are born, brace yourself and head to Ichi-Maru-Kyu. Just over 100 trendy brands fill ten stories — each with its own team of sales girls fully committed to a head-to-toe look (think back-up dancer, country romantic, mountaineer). All compete for the attention of thousands of high schoolers who come for the fashion frenzy each day.

2-29-1 Sakamoto
Tokyo, Shibuya-ku 150-0043

9. Tsukiji Fish Market

The stuff of legends. Wake before the sun comes up to see chefs from near and far bid on the catch of the day followed by a fresh fish feast for breakfast. Only 120 people are let in each morning. If you make the trip but miss the cut-off, wait on line at the perpetually mobbed Sushi Dai or Daiwa-Zushi, both in row six inside the open-air wholesale market. The landmark is moving to larger digs (to make way for the Olympics) in November, so be sure to check the new address.

5-2-1 Tsukiji
Tokyo, Chuo-ku 104-0045

10. Meiji Shrine

The antidote for the sensory overload brought on by smokey pachinko parlors and cheesecake crepe-wielding kawaii girls: a visit to the century-old, 175-acre Shinto shrine in the heart of the city. Breathe in 365 varieties of evergreen trees before diving back into the urban jungle for more.

1-1 Yoyogi-Kamizono-cho
Tokyo, Shibuya-ku 151-8857

11. Mikawa Zezankyo

Mikawa Zezankyo

East of the Sumida River, a tiny restaurant churns out one thing and one thing only: tempura of the edomae variety, meaning it adheres to seasonal ingredients of the Shigunate era. Reservations are a must.


1-3-1 Fukuzumi
Koto-ku, Tokyo, 135-0032

12. Ningyocho Imahan

Open since 1895, Imahan is one of the oldest sukiyaki spots in the city. Try not to drool as your server prepares the perfectly marbled wagyu beef sizzling in the shallow iron pot. Once the beef is cooked, it's presented to you dipped in raw egg (all that umami flavor!). End the meal with fluffly eggs scrambled with the remaining sukiyaki sauce. Oishii-desu!

2-9-12 Nihonbashi Ningyocho
Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 103-0013

13. Eatrip


Finding this spot takes a little work, but you will be handsomely rewarded. Turn down a non-descript alleyway in Harajuku and up a narrow flight of stairs leading to a tiny shop overflowing with flowers and an organic, farm-to-table restaurant that sits less than 20 people (make reservations in advance). Eatrip does dinner on Tuesday through Saturday and brunch on the weekend.

6−31−10 Jingumae
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001

14. Commune 246

Commune 246

A cluster of pop-up food stalls in a  lovely outdoor space away from the fray of Harajuku. There's the vegan Cori stand (rare in Tokyo), the cute Coffee Shozo, and the deliciously crisp Brooklyn Ribbon Fries. Check out the rotating exhibits of local artists in the Festival Tent or rent the parked caravan (instead of a hotel) for a night.

3-13 Minami-Aoyama
Minato-Ku, Tokyo, 107-0062

15. Tas Yard

Tas Yard

A destination cafe and garden shop where the rustic plates and O-Kitchen desserts are as much of a draw as the stock inside the pop-up shop/outdoor hut for wood carving workshops and rosette making. After coffee, cruise over to nearby Playmountain, another beacon of postmodern Japanese lifestyle from Landscape Products Co., Ltd.

3-3-14 Sendagaya
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0051

16. Momodori Roppongi Hills

Enter only when ready to grub at the yakitori joint at the bottom of the massive Roppongi Hills shopping complex. A mob of friendly, grill-happy young men in hachimaki (traditional headbands symbolizing determination) sling skewers of all kinds (meat, chicken, seafood, veggies) and keep the cold beer coming.

B2F Hollywood Plaza Roppongi, 6-4-1 Roppongi
Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-6108

17. Lapaz


Act like a local and post up for an afternoon at this cafe, mercantile, and event space. Go for coffee, tea, and baked goods, or take the Mediterranean sandwiches, salads, and pasta route. Either way: end up on a couch and take advantage of WiFi in the sunny back room. Pick up chocolates, stationery, candles, or other gifty items on the way out.

3-38-11 Jingumae
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001

18. Sakanaya Gouwan

Whether crammed in at the bar or tucked into a Tatami room in the back, the friendly cooks deliver the authentic Izakaya experience you've always dreamed of and the sashimi and tempura of tonight’s dreams. This hole-in-the-wall is tough to find but worth every baffling wrong turn. The best we can do: Just north of Tokyu Hands there's a 7-11; look for the alley entrance directly across the street, then head up hill. The restaurant entrance is on your right. Ganbatte! (Translation: good luck.)

11-11 Udagawa-cho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0042

19. Ebisu Yokocho

Ebisu Yokocho

It doesn’t look like much from the street. But once inside, this after-work and late-night dining destination reveals itself to be a revelrous winding food hall showcasing regional dishes from across the country. Grab frosty mugs of lemon shochu cocktails and take a table in the aisle where you can dig into all sorts of small plates from onigiri and sushi to yakisoba and steak.

1-7-4 Ebisu
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0013

20. Afuri Ramen

Afuri Ramen

Ramen is to Tokyo what pizza is to New York City: a hot-button topic that often boils down to water. All three locations of this popular mini chain swear by h20 from the wells of Mt. Afuri in Kanagawa. Pick and pay for a bowl using the picture menu on the vending machine, hand the ticket to the chef, and then join the best-noodle-bar-in-town debate inevitably going on at the bar. 

1-1-7 Ebisu
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0013

21. Palace Hotel Tokyo

Palace Hotel Tokyo

After a complete reboot in 2012, the 23-story hotel is now a celebration of contemporary Japanese design, art, and architecture, with sure-shot views of the Tokyo cityscape from just about every room (there's 290 of them). More than 1000 works of art decorate the space.


1-1-1 Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0005

22. Aman Tokyo

Aman Tokyo

Deluxe in the ultimate Japanese sense — in that there's nothing showy or ostentatious, but you know no expense has been spared in delivering the best to guests. Once you make your way to the soaring lobby, look up! The walls and ceiling were fabricated to look like the inside of a traditional lantern. Rooms (and service) are impeccable modern layouts with traditional touches. There's also a gorgeous whiskey library and an insane Japanese breakfast, complete with designer fruit. You'd be a fool to not take advantage of the glassed-in pool: A morning dip may be rewarded with views of Mt. Fuji.

The Otemachi Tower, 1-5-6 Otemachi
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0004

23. Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills

Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills

Despite its business district location (convenient!), the brand-spanking new spot feels nothing like a business hotel. Modern Japanese sensibilities bring a coziness to both the private rooms and public spaces, like the lobby area that doubles as a communal tea-drinking space, the lovely contemporary gallery, and the indoor/outdoor rooftop bar. Wake up in a comfy yukata and visit the spa on the 37th floor for panoramic views of the Imperial Palace and central Tokyo.

1-23-4 Toranomon Hills Mori Tower
Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-0001

24. Tokyo Park Hyatt

Tokyo Park Hyatt

When Yen is no object, reserve a sumptuous suite in this skyrise high above Shinjuku. Long after stealing the show in Lost in Translation, bold face names continue checking in and out during their stay in Tokyo. Take in the scene at the New York or Peak bars while sipping expertly crafted cocktails and snacking from silver bowls of rice crackers and mixed nuts.


3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 163-1055

25. Hotel Okura

Hotel Okura

Looks-wise, not much has changed since the hotel group opened its original location just outside the Ginza district in 1962 — the expansive, wood and gold lobby, warmly lit with mod paper lanterns is just so cool. Guest rooms are under a bit of Euro influence, but the dining options and spa floor are distinctly Japanese.

2-10-4 Toranomon
Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-0001

26. Grand Hyatt

Grand Hyatt

While considered the laidback counterpart to its sleek sister property in Shinjuku, the 53-story hotel anchors the action of Roppongi Hills. Start the day at the indoor pool, tour nearby Mori Art Museum and the Tokyo Tower grounds, and end up at The Oak Door for a drink or late-night bite.

6-10-3 Roppongi
Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032

27. Shibuya Granbell Hotel

Shibuya Granbell Hotel

A design-driven hotel conveniently located a few blocks from Hatchiko station. Splashy pop art punches up otherwise minimalist-but-comfortable rooms. From singles to suites, reasonable rates only add to its appeal.

15-17 Sakuragaoka-cho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0031

28. Claska


Japanese modern, Tatami style, weekly residence, or diy-style rooms make for a beyond cool boutique hotel (with just 20 rooms, this is probably the only boutique option in town). Do: the gallery and gift shop on the second floor, has a little nationally sourced something for everyone. The rooftop deck and lobby bar and restaurant more than make up for the slightly out-of-the-way locale.

1-3-18 Chuo-cho
Meguro-Ku, Tokyo, 152-0001

29. Cerulean Tower Tokyu

Cerulean Tower Tokyu

Located right in the heart of Tokyo's famous Shibuya neighborhood, contemporary rooms with stylish details and thoughtful amenities give this no-brainer business hotel more personality than one might expect. Floors 19-40 deliver the added bonus of sweeping, unobstructed views. Domo arigato.

26-1 Sakuragaoka-cho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8512

30. Origami Kaikan

A six-floor building dedicated to the art of origami where you'll find a gallery exhibiting origami works, a great shop selling washi paper and origami books, and a 4th-floor production space where washi paper is hand-dyed and painted. They also teach classes on the top two floors.

1-7-14 Yushima
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0034

31. Tenoha

A cafe, restaurant, co-working space, and design store all in one. Pick up a healthy lunch from the wellness-centered cafe and lunch in the Zen outdoor plaza. In the store, peruse beautiful brass trays, fancy hand creams, quirky-but-beautiful instant soup packets. It's a great place to rest, check your email (free WiFi) and refresh.

20–23 Daikanyamacho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo , 150-0034

32. Tsutsumu Factory

An explosion of stickers fill the two-story stationery shop — from pandas and smiling sushi to sumo wrestlers and cats — they have just about everything you can imagine in adorable (kawaii!) sticker form. 

37-15 Udagawacho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0042

33. Akomeya Tokyo

Akomeya Tokyo

An entire stand-alone shop dedicated to rice? You're in Japan, so of course. The second floor is filled with a myriad of traditional and modern home goods. Shop for donabe (traditional earthenware pots), furoshiki (versitle wrapping cloth), bamboo bento boxes, and more. Downstairs is a terrific little rice bar/cafe with a showcase displaying premium rice from all over the country. Stay late for a saké tasting.

2-2-6 Ginza
Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-6601

34. Vacant

Orchestrated by No Idea, an events group known for curating arts, music, and culture happenings. The first floor is a mish-mash cafe and curio shop. There's usually something worth investigating on floor number two — an installation, performance, maker's market, or party. 

3-20-13 Jingumae
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001

35. Tokyu Hands

A mecca for DIY-ers and hobbyists, floors are organized by interests: stationery (decorative masking tape has its own section), only-in-Japan grooming goods, kitchen tools, and outdoor supplies. Those with an affinity for quirky paper ephemera might not make it past the free hint file pamphlets (step-by-step mini guides on everything from proper tooth brushing to balloon animal design). 

12-18 Udagawa-cho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-8580

36. Today's Special

Concept shop and lifestyle resource is the latest destination for inspired housewares, accessories, and tools for everyday living. Take a tea or bite of seasonal fare at Today's Table on the third floor, or take home packaged specialty foods made exclusively for the shop.

2-17-8 Jiyugaoka
Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 152-0035

37. T-Site

A newish media compound from mega bookseller Tsutaya. Get lost for hours milling about three buildings and a multiuse courtyard. Break for a starbucks coffee, Muji snack, or a breather in one of the many smart-looking seating areas. 

17-5 Sarugakucho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0033

38. Safari Vintage

Make this jam-packed thrift store the first stop on a tour of the Koenji shopping district and neighboring Shimokitazawa. Vintage shops cover block after block. A smattering of record shops and sidewalk cafes break up the landscape.  

1F, 3-57-4 Koenji
Suginami-ku, Tokyo,

39. Popeye Camera Shop

A boutique chain stocking the essentials (cameras, no-nonsense accessories, 35 mm film) and the extras (polka dot photo corners, pocket albums, some of the best-looking camera straps around). Print services and hobby photography classes are offered as well.

2-10-2 Jiyugaoka
Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 152-0035

40. Muji

The brand made famous by being brandless applies its philosophy of simplicity as easily to office supplies and utilitarian housewares as it does to clothing and food. Stores big and small, some with their own cafes, can be found without trying. The Yurakucho branch in Ginza is the largest of them all, look for the Found Muji section carrying indie (mostly local) brands.

3-8-3 Marunouchi
Chiyoga-ku, Tokyo, 100-0005

41. Idée

Known for furniture, the lifestyle retail shop from design star Teruo Kurosaki (you know, the Terence Conran of Tokyo) mindfully condenses all the variety of a high-end department store in one place. Hand-towels, wine glasses, handmade earrings, stationery, a quintessential dining room set: every item increases the desire to move right in. 

2-16-29 Jiyugaoka
Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 152-0035

42. D-Mall


When life requires that you wear striped shirts and loose-fit premium denim, pack biologique snacks into primary colored canvas totes, and carry a few delicately illustrated books around, this shop outfits in true Japonaise style. 

2-27-6 Jingumae
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001

43. Bonjour Records

For the person whose devout attention to an obscure, independently published arts zine can only be rattled by the unpleasant realization that either the limited-edition vinyl needs to be flipped or the artisan coffee has run dry, this fashionable record and men’s shop is a must.

24-1 Sarugaku-cho
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0033