Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2011

©Patrizia Tilly - Fotolia.com

Like all big cities, Tokyo is bursting with hidden treasures. You could spend a lifetime here and never uncover all of them. That’s why we have asked some of our contributors and friends to share some of their little-known tidbits with you. Think of it as a Christmas gift—and don’t worry about getting us socks in return.


Organic cosmetics

Aoyama-based Antianti is Japan’s first cosmetics maker to be recognized organic by the US Dept. of Agriculture. www.antianti.com/en/index.html

Posh incense

at minimalist store Lisn www2.lisn.co.jp

Masami Yamane, musicJAPANplus www.musicjapanplus.jp


Hidden wonder guide

Made by craft wonder woman Ebony Bizys, Hello Sandwich is a cheat sheet to Tokyo’s wondrous nooks, divided into suburbs. http://meturl.com/sandwich

Gemma Rassmussen


Organic Living

could be your new regime for the New Year. Try Sai Market in Itabashi. Organic shampoo, etc., pesticide-free veggies, a vegan café and more. http://saimarket.com

Alena Eckelmann


Karaage

The best fried chicken in Takadanobaba is at Spicy Flyers, where you can get karaage, snow cones and Corona all under one roof. Triple win. www.spicyflyers.com

Jesse Koester, Ice Block Films, www.iceblockfilms.com


Sweet slice

Rustic and relaxing café Haru and Haru specializes in—mon dieu!—French toast. http://haruandharu.com

Caroline Josephine www.carolinejosephine.com


Punk discs

Known across Japan as a central hub of the domestic punk scene, Mortar Records is located five minutes from Kumagaya station. Great selection, and super-knowledgeable and friendly staff. http://mortar.cart.fc2.com

Dan Orlowitz, music photographer www.thirdlensopen.com/TLO


Yama-NOT-e

Though Tokyo has one of the most comprehensive public transportation systems in the world, my secret is just to walk instead of ride within the Yamanote line. I find it shows you a different rhythm to this place. The stations are like wave crests, and you can feel the surges and rolls in between.

Kyle Hedlund


Bagels

Best hoops o’ bread in town are at Kepo Bagels. The bagelmeister general studied the craft in key NYC bagel kitchens, including the legendary Essa Bagel. Closed for maternity, reopens Jan 5. www.kepobagels.com

John Daschbach


Time travel

is what it feels like to go to Tatemono-en in Musashi-Koganei. Part of the Edo-Tokyo Museum, this open-air architecture museum is apparently a favorite with Hayao Miyazaki. http://tatemonoen.jp/english/index.html

Tatsuyuki Mori


Disaster maniac

Try a force 7 earthquake on for size in a fake kitchen, a smoke room where you have to find the exit, and see a movie about Tokyo in the event of apocalypse, at Disaster Prevention Museum in Ikebukuro. www.tfd.metro.tokyo.jp/hp-ikbskan

Couple capsules

In Kiba there is a rarity—Tokyo Kiba Hotel, which offers capsules for two for about ¥6,000/night. www.tokyokibahotel.co.jp

Guilhem Malfre


Cutlet above

Head out Shimokitazawa south exit and walk down Minami Shotengai for one minute. A tiny restaurant on your left, staffed by an old man who’s been there for eons, will serve you the best tonkatsu in Tokyo.

Zare Ferragi


Catch your own dinner

in a tank with a fishing rod, at Zaou in Shinjuku http://zauo.com

Amanda Taylor http://whoa-im-in-japan.com


Classic café

Experience Lion, a dark converted theater with classical music booming from an excellent sound system. Free entry with a drink—but no talking allowed. On Love Hotel Street in Dogenzaka. http://lion.main.jp

Cherry Cheung


Marmite

The tar-like love-hate substance has been located at Kitchen Garden in Sangenjaya. http://meturl.com/marmite

Rent-a-cat

for free, with ArkBark. It’s actually called fostering and you can help out some abandoned pets via their website. www.arkbark.net

Louise Rouse


Healthy gambling

At the shotengai by Musashi-Koyayama station is four-floor pachinko emporium Angel, whose first floor is smoke-free—a rarity in ball-flicking venues. Check out the view from the bike park on the roof. http://meturl.com/angelpachinko

Silver Balls


Swing that, cat

Opposite a soapland in Kichijoji is hammock showroom and café-bar-restaurant Mahika Mano. Relax amid a jungle of swinging ropes in a one-person hammock with a massive cappuccino, cocktail, or dish, and check out their calendar for gigs, parties and DJ nights. http://mahikamano.com

Jewish penicillin

Try the tori-yuzu ramen at Manrikiya on TV Asahi Dori in Roppongi, four minutes after the Grand Hyatt on the left. Light and healthy tasting, the broth is reminiscent of my mother’s chicken soup.

David Labi


Cover up

your (reasonably-sized) tattoos for onsen purposes with flexible adhesive sports tape. You can find rolls of in any drug store, in beige or white and widths up to 75mm.

Wigs

can transform a bad hair day into a confidence-filled adventure, spark up a party outfit, or provide camouflage in a city full of dark heads. My favorites come from Cyperous in Kanda. So affordable you can have a wig wardrobe in a range of styles and colors. They can be washed and styled and are as comfortable as your favorite hat. http://cyperous.com/english

Kristen McQuillin www.mediatinker.com


Pavlovian treats

One minute from Kita-Kamakura station, within the Engaku-ji complex, is the Ryu-in-an temple. Any visitor who climbs the hill and rings the bell at the base of the temple’s teahouse will receive free green tea and snacks.

Spotlit liquor

One minute from Komagome station on the Yamanote is the amazing bar Slow Hand. Small and quaint, the real attraction is the illumination, done by converting used liquor bottles into spotlights. http://meturl.com/slowhand

Benjamin Boas www.mutantfrog.com


Go east

If you wanted to discover hidden vistas of eastern Tokyo, photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki has already done it for you, and will be displaying his work at in Nadiff, Ebisu (listing)

Margarita


Courtesy of Wonder Japan

Pack your trunk

and head to Kagurazaka for the elephant slides in this secret playground http://meturl.com/elepark

Enter the warrior

Enter the body of Tokyo-wan Kannon in Chiba for an Inner Space moment. www.t-kannon.jp/about/index.html

Isamu Sekiguchi, Wonder Japan, www.sansaibooks.co.jp/wanderjapan.html


Wear and walk

Men and women can learn the ancient art of wearing kimono (kitsuke)—plus body care, detox and spa treatments—at Inspire Space Hiroo. All in English, reasonably priced, in a small house close to Hiroo station.
www.ishiroo.com

Fair game

Get region-specific info on your fave platform or game from Gaijin Gamers, a community for foreign gamers in Japan. Download lists of Japanese releases to check language support and negotiate any game superstore. www.gaijingamers.com

Jeff W. Richards


Spanish master

Step into a Gaudí masterpiece at Spain Tei in Kawagoe, Saitama, whose architecture and design evokes the Iberian artist’s work. Enjoy tapas and a wine cellar to enter and choose your bottle. http://spain-ichiba.p-kit.com

Mike DeJong


Tunnel vision

A strange, interesting day out can be had at Yoshimi Hyakuana in Saitama. Meaning “hundred holes,” this warren-like network of tunnels in the hillside was a burial site 1,300 years ago, and an underground munitions factory during WWII. www.town.yoshimi.saitama.jp/guide_hyakuana.html

Karl Doyle, photographer www.karldoyle.com


Ice Latte Revolver

is the thing to order in the chill atmosphere of Streamer Coffee. Between Shibuya and Harajuku, the free Wi-Fi café is owned and run by a World Champion latte artist. www.streamercoffee.com

Lisa Wallin http://ichigoichielove.blogspot.com


Wafu haven

Peaceful Toritsu Daigaku restaurant Higashiyama offers traditional wafu sweets with unique twists—excellent with a killer brew of matcha. Feel your soul sighing the city stress away.

Monday Michiru, musician www.mondaymichiru.com