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f.k.a. Edo

NEIGHBOURHOODS




"They call this place an 'amusement district'. The giant digital screens fastened to the sides of buildings fall silent as midnight approaches, but loud-speakers on storefronts keep pumping out exaggerated hip-hop baselines. A large game centre crammed with young people; wild electronic sounds; a group of college students spilling out from a bar; teenage girls with brilliant bleached hair, healthy legs thrusting out from micro mini-skirts; dark-suited men racing across diagonal crossings for the last trains to the suburbs."
- Haruki Murakami, After Dark


Obviously everyone has different interests and agenda, and the neighbourhoods all offer unique insights into Japanese life in their different ways - be it the Edo-era Yanaka, hipster Nakameguro, frenetic Shinjuku, eclectic Shimokitazawa or salaryman-laced Shimbashi.  




Shibuya

Home to the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, department stores, bars, clubs and restaurants and interesting places to walk around and take in the sights. Good for day and night hangs.

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyu Food Store (depachika), Hikarie Building (D47 gallery and view), Fujiya Honten (tachinomi bar), Cerulean Tower (bar and view), Sake Stand (sake bar), Potsura Potsura (kappo restaurant), Rakuchin (izakaya), About Life (coffee), Streamer (coffee).

Daikanyama

Little area not far from Shibuya crossing physically but very far in vibe. Lots of organic cafes, upmarket boutiques, winding back streets, affluent aesthetics. It borders with Nakameguro and Ebisu which make a good day out exploring. 

Kyu Asakusa House (beautiful traditional house), Saturdays NYC (coffee and deck chills), Chano-ma (lunch set), Log Road (stroll), Saigoyama Park (view), T-Site (bookstore). 

Nakameguro

Hip youth/ young professional area by Daikanyama. Lots of boutiques, places to eat, well-dressed babies and small dogs. Take a promenade along Meguro River.


Isego Honten (sake shop & bar), The Hangar (sake bar), Niku to Wine (natural wine bar with snacks), Tsutaya (bookstore), Meguro Ginza (stroll), Tsuki (kappo restaurant), Hamaguriya (izakaya), The Breakfast Club (cafe).



Ebisu

Lots and lots of little places to eat and drink. Bustling but not in a Shibuya hustle kind of way. A mix of young and older professionals (more upmarket salaryman vibes) with a hint of neighbouring Nakameguro cool.

Waltz with Wine (wine bar), Nonbei Yokocho (food and drink alleyway), Kimijimaya (sake & wine bar)

Shimokitazawa

“Tokyo’s coolest neighbourhood”. Loads of record stores, vintage stores, places to eat and drink. 

Little Soul Cafe (record bar), Bear Pond Espresso (coffee shop), soup curry.

Harajuku/ Jingumae/ Omotesando/ Yoyogi

The wooden walls of the house — that is, its front and west gable-end — are still protected from the sun by the roof (common to the house proper and the terrace).

Place I went with Tsubasa, wine bar with papa, Terra Australis, Bonobo, Umi no Ie, Okinawa restaurant, Commune 2nd, Narf Bar, homewares stores (near Neuro), Yoyogi Park.




Yanesen (Yanaka, Nezu, Sendagi)

Not many people venture up here but it is worth the trip! Old-world Tokyo with  little sake bars, craft beer joint, galleries, interesting homewares stores. Walk along the streets and buy random grilled seafood things and drink plastic tumblers full of sake poured by old Japanese ladies at milk crate seat bars.

Scai the Bathhouse (gallery), Yanaka ginza (stroll, eat, shop), Yanaka Beer Hall (beers and snacks)

Shimbashi/ Yurakucho/ Ginza/ Nihonbashi

Catering to the Tokyo’s salaryman since the Edo era. Walk along train line at dusk, crammed with tiny bars and rustic hole-in-the-wall restaurants, just around the corner from the much, much flashier ginza.

Ozu Washi (traditioanl washi paper shop), Persona (urban farm), Amazake Yokocho (for traditional sweets & amazake), Hakobune (irori dining)

Azabu/ Roppongi

Upmarket expat and business district. Lots of galleries, wine bars etc. 

Jomon (yakitori), B-Flat (jazz bar), Electric Ginja (bar/ club), salt place, Mori Building (gallery and view), 21 Design Sight, Nezu Museum (gallery and garden), Toraya (wagashi), Gen Yamamoto (cocktails)




Shinjuku

The area that lives up to every neon, dinosaur-peeking-through-skyscraper, maid cafe, game parlour fantasy you may have of Tokyo.

Yakitori in Piss Alley,  Golden Gai (bars), JiP (wine bar serving only Japanese wine)

Ryogoku

Old part of Tokyo, home to the sumo stadium.

Hokusai Museum, Edo Museum, Edo-yu (sento), sumo match, chanko nabe.  
Katsushika

A bit of a hike, but interesting place for a half-day trip. Edo-era buildings, beautiful sukiya tea house, street eats, river walk along Edo-gawa. 

Yamamoto-tei (traditional house)

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日々旅にして旅を栖とす – 芭蕉
Each day is a journey, and the journey itself home – Basho