Popular and off-the-beaten path travel tips to make your visit unique and memorable!
STAY: The Trunk Hotel is a contemporary, eco-focused boutique hotel designed with both international and local travelers in mind. There are 11 single rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, upcycled furniture, and balconies or terraces. Its public spaces include two restaurants, a bar, a chapel, and a convenience store. Moreover, the Shibuya neighborhood is considered the hub of Tokyo’s youth culture, as it is home to many restaurants, gastropubs, arcades, art galleries, and more. The famous Shibuya crossing is also nearby. 150-0001 Shibuya5-31 Jingumae Tel: 03-5766-3202
EAT: Mizutaki Genkai With nine private rooms spread out on three elegantly designed floors, Mizutaki Genkai has to be one of Tokyo’s largest restaurants. If it weren’t already obvious, the specialty here is a traditional dish of boiled chicken served with vegetables. It’s a great, heart warming dish for cold winters. Other notable dishes include the matcha macaroon, chicken sashimi, and oyakodon. Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Sendagaya 5-24-2 Shinjuku Takashimaya Times Square 14F
DRINK: Bar Benfiddich Here, no menus are handed out to guests. Instead, the hosts will only ask for your preferred base spirit. Each drink is thought up on the spot, and will usually be mixed with local herbs and spices. The bar is owned by cocktail genius Hiroyasu Kayama, whose concoctions are renowned both locally and internationally. The bar itself looks like an old European bar with its wood, brick, and rustic elements. Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo〒160-0023
DISCOVER: The Three Dragon Torii Gates Before reaching any Japanese Shinto shrine, you must pass through a torii gate. They are believed to be gateways to sacred areas, hence you can also find them in certain places with no shrines. In Tokyo alone, there are countless torii gates and most of them look similar. However, only three are carved with dragons. It is said that these particular gates are “power spots,” where you can have your wishes granted simply by touching them.
Dragons have always been prominent figures in Japanese folklore. They are treated as powerful and wise guardians who protect people from danger and impart wisdom to the deserving — a notion so enduring that illustrations of them in modern media are reflective of it. In the popular video game Overwatch, for instance, two playable characters have abilities that can call upon dragons to aid them in battle. Moreover, there are several titles on the browser game platform ExpatBets that also feature dragons. Games like Dragon Shrine, Dragon Dance, and Emperor of the Sea use these powerful figures to guide players so that they may have an easier time beating the games. So if you believe in the Japanese tales, perhaps these torii gates will grant you the guidance of these majestic creatures. The three torii gates can be found in: Shinagawa Shrine, Mabasha Inari Shrine, and the Koenji Temple.
EXPERIENCE: For a cultural experience, the must-visited spots in Tokyo are Senso-ji Temple, the Imperial Palace, and the Meiji Shrine. Aside from the aforementioned, Ueno Park is a beautiful place to visit during the cherry blossom season. There are also structural wonders to marvel at like the Tokyo Tower and the Metropolitan Government Building.
FRIENDLY ADVICE: Very few locals will speak English, so it’s worthwhile learning a few important phrases and simple Japanese gestures. On the bright side, most signs in the city have English translations. If you have a map of Tokyo’s intricate subway system, you can get to any district quite easily.
— Kelly Fine