No matter how many times you have been to Tokyo, it is a place that you will fall in love with over and over again. Where do we begin? It is impossible to capture the essence of Tokyo in words or photos; it is a city like no other. There is always something new to discover in this amazing city. It is like every corner is blessed with magic, ready to enchant and bewilder. Can’t say for sure that there is only one pick, so here is a guide to our favourite neighbourhoods in Tokyo.
G I N Z A
Recognised as among the most luxurious shopping districts in the world, Ginza houses all the leading luxury brands’ flagship stores like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Dior.
Not only is this the place to head to for shopping, it is also the area to go if you want to splurge on a good meal. Tokyo, for those of you who don’t know, is the city with the most Michelin-star restaurants in the world, and many of them are located in the Ginza District.
In between shopping, we would suggest stopping by Hidemi Sugino and Henri Charpentier for desserts and coffee. Both of them rank among the best patisseries in Tokyo.
H A R A J U K U
Stretching from Harajuku Station to Omotesando is Harajuku, but Takeshita Street is the place that most people associate with when it comes to this famous area. Shops open and close all the time, but the spirit of Harajuku will always remain the same. Vibrant and full of life, Harajuku is the epicentre of Japanese youth culture and fashion, and it is littered with independent boutiques and hip cafes.
No one visits Harajuku without having crepes. These warm French-style Japanese crepes are so popular that you can find many renditions all over the world these days. There are four to five crepe stores in Harajuku, but we like Angels Heart and Marion Crepes. On a separate note, chip lovers will be happy to know that Calbee has a shop in Takeshita Street, and it offers hot potato chips straight from the fryer.
O M O T E S A N D O
Our favourite neighbourhood is Omotesando, the Champs-Élysées of Tokyo. From shopping, to nice cafes and coffee places, to lifestyle concept shops - Omotesando has surprises at every corner, and we can easily spend a whole day wandering around.
There are many famous tonkatsu restaurants in Tokyo, but the place that everyone seems to agree is the best place to head to is Maisen Tonkatsu. Also, we absolutely love Omotesando Koffee. Housed in a machiya (traditional wooden house), it is a small and simple space, very minimalistic, and it feels as though you are having a good cuppa at a neighbour’s house.
Omotesando reminds us of Venice. There are many small streets waiting for you to explore, discover, and to get lost, in a good way of course.
S H I B U Y A
Shibuya is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Tokyo, known for shopping, the sheer number of izakaya – a Japanese drinking establishment that focuses on drinks, but serves a variety of bar snacks - hidden in every alley, and of course, the famous Shibuya’s Crossing, which gives Shibuya the name of Tokyo’s Time Square.
Shibuya is a shopping paradise. Shibuya 109 and Hikarie are just two of the massive shopping malls located in the area that will have the ladies going crazy over. There are also many little shops lined along the streets where you might just pick up gems if you would spend a little time searching.
You must dine at Uoriki Kaisen Sushi – our favourite sushi shop in Tokyo. It serves top quality sushi and sashimi at extremely reasonable prices. Ichiran Ramen also has a branch in Shibuya. Other places that are not to be missed include Boulangerie Patisserie Viron, Bear Pond Espresso, and Streamer Coffee Company.
S H I N J U K U
Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest railway station. First-timers to Shinjuku may find it slightly overwhelming. It is a vibrant area, and there are so many things to do here.
Major department stores like Isetan, Takashimaya, Lumine, Keio can be found in Shinjuku, The Japanese food halls in the basement of the department stores will blow your mind.
Kabukicho, the infamous red-light district in Tokyo, is packed with love hotels, shops, nightclubs and eateries. Go in a group, and you will find yourself appreciating the experience to explore the neighbourhood once the sun has set.
For more recommendations, read our Tokyo food & travel guides