Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2011Like 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.
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
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
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
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
Rustic and relaxing café Haru and Haru specializes in—mon dieu!—French toast. http://haruandharu.com
Caroline Josephine www.carolinejosephine.com
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
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.
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
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
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
In Kiba there is a rarity—Tokyo Kiba Hotel, which offers capsules for two for about ¥6,000/night. www.tokyokibahotel.co.jp
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.
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
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
The tar-like love-hate substance has been located at Kitchen Garden in Sangenjaya. http://meturl.com/marmite
for free, with ArkBark. It’s actually called fostering and you can help out some abandoned pets via their website. www.arkbark.net
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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
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
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
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