Excelsior Cafe is a casual, popular coffee shop offering a range of lattes, drip coffee, and tea, plus breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This Chiyoda spot is fairly big, with plenty of tables and couches, so there’s plenty of room to sit and relax (with outlets and free wifi). Plus, they have a delicious breakfast combo set (French toast + a drink) for only around 400 yen.
Located on the western edge of Shibuya, Daikanyama is a trendy popular neighborhood with maze-like streets filled with unique boutiques, open-air cafes, and more. It's a residential area that's slower-paced and quieter than the neighboring Shibuya, which also means there are fewer tourists and more locals. Spend an afternoon wandering the streets here and find a cafe to sit and people watch.
Nestled among the high-end boutiques of Daikanyama, the Kyu Asakura House is a beautifully preserved wooden mansion showcasing classical Japanese architecture and painstakingly manicured gardens. When you need a shopping break, its moss gardens, bonsai, and eleven gorgeously restored rooms are the perfect place to rejuvenate. It’s just a five-minute walk from Daikanyama Station, and it only costs 100 yen to get in.
Leading the Japanese casual fashion scene since the 1980s, Hollywood Ranch is a flea market crammed into a funky storefront in Daikanyama. Look for men's and ladies T-shirts, denim, and hats, including eco-friendly items made with recycled materials and organic cotton. Despite the tight squeeze, it’s just as much fun to browse here as in a big shop.
Walk from Shibuya down to Daikanyama - a trendy neighborhoody area and stop by Daikanyama T-site and Tsutaya Books.
"This isn't your typical bookstore. There's lots of architectural elements of wood, glass, and angles that make it incredibly photogenic. The store itself is set up so there's 3 buildings with glass hallways that connect them.
The second floor is a cafe and bar and it's hard to describe because we don't really have an equivalent to this in New York. The Library at the Nomad perhaps comes the closest. In the middle of the afternoon at this bookstore, I sat in a big comfy leather sofa and had 3 martinis and espressos." - Chris Jaeckle, Chef + Owner of All'Onda NYC for Journy
Shibuya 109 has been the fashion mecca in Tokyo for the last 30 years and a destination for teens in search of the latest trends. Take a walk-through to check out the crazy Japanese fashions and accessories. If you're here to buy clothes or shoes though, keep in mind that sizing is extremely limited (shoes, for instance, come in just XS, S, M, L sizes - an M is about a 6.5-7 US, L is about a 7.5-8).
Check out this beautiful all wood interior coffee shop from Oslo. Some of the best coffee in Tokyo is served here. This is where the Tokyo hipsters hang out. Try their open-faced sandwiches and their Kalita pour over.
Fuglen is also a great place to check out at night as it's a coffee shop by day, and a bar at night. They serve excellent cocktails as well as a variety of Japanese microbrews.
On Sundays, visiting Harajuku is a must - it's the day of the week when different sub-cultures come here and express themselves through all kinds of interesting dress (Lolita goth punk is a popular theme). Just outside the entrance of Yoyogi Park, there's usually a group of Elvis impersonators hanging around and dancing. Definitely a sight to see.
But, there's also more to it than that:
"Just steps away from Yoyogi station is one eco-conscious musician’s idea of an urban oasis. Part eco-park, part shopping arcade, part lifestyle hub, Yoyogi Village is filled with shops, cafes and restaurants, all operated with thoughtful simplicity. Go there for a break from the frenzy that is Tokyo, to be inspired by the next generation of Japanese creatives, but also to get fed really really well.
When visiting, have a pastry from pour-kur, the tiny on-site bakery, known for its house-made yeast. With your pastry in hand, explore the complex via the elevated wooden walkways." - Betty Liao's Journy
Dedicated to the late 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West, Tokyo's most famous Shinto shrine is wonderfully serene and austere, not colorful or flashy like other Asian places of worship, and is less of a tourist trap than Senso-ji, the big Buddhist temple across town in Asakusa. The 40-foot-high (12-meter) torii gate at the entrance to the 200-acre park is made of 1,500-year-old cypress, and there's a second one like it closer to the shrine itself.
Stop at the cleansing station where you can dip into a communal water tank and purify your hands and mouth before offering up a prayer. You can write wishes on little pieces of paper and tie them onto the prayer wall, or do as the locals do — toss some yen into the offering box (it's near the enormous taiko drum), bow your head twice, clap twice, and bow once more.
This famous fashion and shopping district is a hotbed of youth culture full of affordable and fun fashion shops. Made (extra) famous by Gwen Stefan's "Harajuku Girls," it's here that you'll see all kinds of alternative fashions, particularly Lolita dresses. Be sure to check out Laforet, ground zero for Lolita fashions. There are many shops on Takeshita Dori and Omotesando. As you walk toward Omotesando, the streets become more modern and the shops more high-end.
As you stroll through Harajuku and Omotesando, stop by this shopping complex, which features stunning architecture, a public park, and a hall-of-mirrors-like entrance. You'll find stores ranging from American brands to local Tokyo shops like The Shel'tter Tokyo.
Shinjuku's Golden Gai Alley and Memory Lane are filled with tiny little bars, many frequented by regulars (some are designated Yakuza bars). Here, it's not rare to find bars with signs outside to keep out foreigners. Due to the intimate nature of the bars, and the fact that conversation with the bartender is a key part of the experience, many spots that stipulate that you must speak Japanese to be allowed a seat.
Albatross is one of the best bars that welcomes English speakers. The friendly staff here all speak English and are happy to recommend drinks and engage in conversation. This is also a spot that Anthony Bourdain visited during his night out in Tokyo.
Pro tip: There's also a make-shift rooftop seating area that offers a great view of Shinjuku and you can request to be seated there.
Located in Tokyo's Kabuki-cho red-light district, this is was Anthony Bourdain's first stop on his Parts Unknown Tokyo episode.
Bourdain calls this - "The greatest show on earth!" - and that is exactly what it is. The show, the setting, the decor, the concept, the costumes, are all things that could only exist in Japan. To give you an idea of the extravagance here, the restaurant itself cost over $100M USD to build (funded by the Yakuza).
In this 1 hour spectacle, you'll see flashing lights, taiko drums, techno music, scantily clad girls, neon tanks, and you guessed it, giant robots. This is more a cabaret than a restaurant (you'll get handed a bento box of food when you arrive, but the food is definitely not the reason to come here).
※Please arrive 15 minutes before the show starts. After the main show commences late entry will not be permitted. Here are the cut-off entry times for each show - 3:45pm for 3:20pm show (Main Show starts at 4:00pm) | 5:40pm for 5:15pm show (Main Show starts at 5:55pm) | 7:35pm for 7:10pm show 8Main Show starts at 7:50pm) | 9:30pm for 9:05pm show (Main Show starts at 9:45pm)
One of the quirkiest bars in Tokyo, Shot Bar Zoetrope is a paradise for film buffs and whiskey aficionados alike. Owner Atsushi Horigami shows off his impressive collection of movie soundtracks (which play in the background), plus sci-fi and fantasy-movie memorabilia, as he projects classic films on the back wall. Oh, and he also has one of the best collections of Japanese whisky in the world, including many from cult favorite Ichiro.
"Memory Lane" is a series of tiny bars and eateries crammed between railway tracks in Shinjuku. You'll find over 60 small restaurants and bars here. Most serve yakitori either using gas burners or the traditional coal burner grills. Note that most spots don't have English menus and most owners don't speak English, but you can always point to what you'd like to order. During the winter, you'll find the restaurants serving oden, a soup like broth used to cook a variety of vegetables and fish.
Sit amongst the salarymen and pound back a few...or 10. Omoide yokocho is also known as "Piss Alley" due to the drunkenness that can result from a long night spent here.