For a city notorious for it's bustle, peaceful corners are abundant in Tokyo. If you glance around, you'll find a small temple entrance, offering respite from the pace of modern Tokyo life, even amongst the skyscrapers downtown. These spaces are not empty. At all hours, you will find people taking part in the peace.
My first time in Tokyo was in 2015. I was starry eyed, straight off a plane ride I'd been dreaming of for months. I was so jet lagged I thought I may actually be sick and so eager to see all there was to see I walked so much I made holes into my shoes the first week.
Tokyo was the first place I experienced an onsen, a traditional Japanese bathhouse. I was coming off a really intense two-year job so I was looking for every opportunity to relax. The first bathhouse I went to was closed but some friendly local people in the laundromat across the street pointed me to another bathhouse that was open. I made lots of mistakes but learned quickly and the bathhouse culture became one of my favorite things in Japan. The next day, I booked a massage at Aman Tokyo, totally beyond my budget but for some reason, I wanted to try it, so I did. I don't think I'll make a habit of visiting Aman, but that's where I learned I never regret spending money on experiences that make me a healthier, happier person.
This trip three years later was so different from the first. Less eye-boggling awe. More planning and revisiting favorite spots. Less blisters on my feet. More biking. Less silence. More conversations with locals and my husband as we wandered around Tokyo.
We arrived from a relaxing four days staying at ryokans in the remote alpine town of Fukuji. With only fours days left to our trip, we were determined to fit in every possible experience. We rented bikes and zipped around from neighborhood to neighborhood. I highly recommend renting bikes in any city in Japan. Biking around Japan generally felt safer than anywhere I've biked in America because there were more bike lanes and the drivers were friendly and accommodating.
- Eattrip - You'll need to make a reservation well in advance but it's totally worth it the planning. They source ingredients locally and prepare beautiful, delicious artistic meals to be enjoyed.
- Shishitaro Sushi (鮨 新太郎) - This intimate lunch spot was a lucky find. When we first arrive to Tokyo, we were so hungry we just went walking around for lunch. This place was amazing though. We went back twice. The staff was so kind and happy to teach us about how our sushi was prepared, despite a huge language gap.
- WE ARE THE FARM (代々木上原店｜オーガニック野菜 火鍋食べ放題 ランチ 女子会 デート) - Organic farm to table restaurant
- Kabuki (蕪木) - A quiet place way off the main drag that truly embraces the art of coffee.
- Ippodo Tea Tokyo - Fancier than their Kyoto location, you should stop for tea here. Their tea is such a high quality and their attention to detail and education in preparation
- Tokyo Saryo (東京茶寮) - minimalist coffee shop
- SyuRo (株) - This spacious, minimally designed home goods store is tucked away on a very quiet street North of city center. It's where I found these gorgeous tea canisters.
- Tansuya - This shop was recommended to me by a lady who took pity on me and asked if I wanted to learn the proper way to tie a kitsube at a ryokan we vistied. There are several throughout Tokyo.
- Fuco (フーコ) - This shop, named after the friendly lady who owns it, is a teeny place where you will find local japanese designer work and other natural home goods.
- Edoya Brush Shop - These brushes are the finest quality imaginable. This shop has been in business since 1718. All of their brushes we carry are made from 100% natural materials.
- POASTALCO - Gorgeously designed leather goods and stationary.
- Fog Linen Shop - I offer some of Yukimo's beautiful creations in my shop (this this this this this and this) and it was so good to meet her and see her shop in person.
- Tsukiji Fish Market - Everyone who visits Tokyo should go here once. But go EARLY. Like at 5 AM. That's when the best action is happening and there are few enough people you can actually explore the market.
- When the bustle of Tokyo becomes too much, escape into Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
- Food & Company - One of Tokyo's first and finest natural food stores. The staff went above and beyond helping me find ingredients to continue cooking my favorite Japanese dishes when I returned home. A great source for organic, healthy snacks too.
- I did not end up loving the places we booked. Next trip, I will be booking in Airbnb well in advance. I wanted to stay at an Airbnb this trip, but waited too late to book. Let me know if you find someplace you love.
- I also have a longterm aspiration to spend a night at both Aman Tokyo and Park Hyatt Tokyo.
- In the famous Nakagin Capsule Tower. Fair warning, it has been under consideration for demolition for some time due to being a better idea conceptually than in practice. But that doesn't mean it won't make for a very interesting experience.
PLACES ON MY LIST FOR NEXT TRIP:
- うぐいすと穀雨 - This little cafe and bakery is said to have a delicious light lunch with tasty bread, fresh out of their ovens. They also offer coffee and herbal teas.
- AMORE Vintage OMOTESANDO
- Echikafit Ginza Kagari Ramen