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An Insider’s Guide to Tokyo

In a monthly column produced for AFR’s Boss Magazine, we highlight the best of a city for biz visitors and sophisticated travellers alike. This month LUXE lovely Jessica Kozuka dishes on her fave Tokyo hot spots.

Most of my days are spent chained to my home office desk (I’m a freelance writer), or prowling the streets of Tokyo looking for the new and notable.

Outdoor eateries such as Cicada that offer sunny spots for a romantic lunch with my laptop are a feature of days on the go. So are caffeine stops at the city’s many fine third-wave java joints: shout out to Turret Coffee!

Weekends, I’ll see what’s on at the Mori Art Museum or the latest blockbuster from the comfy premium recliners at the Toho Cinemas downstairs.

In A Nutshell

The Big Mikan (the nickname for Tokyo, which is also an orange-like fruit) sprawls for kilometres, pulsing with the to and fro of its 13 million residents. But there’s something for everyone. So hitch up your kimono and let’s Edo.

Day Trip

Start with serenity at Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most popular Shinto shrine. Then head for the chaos of Harajuku’s Takashita Dori where the young things hunt for GothLoli dresses and J-pop posters.

Carnivores should hit nearby Ukai-tei Omotesando for wagyu steaks done teppaned in front of you in a 150-year-old renovated home. Veggies can go to tofu temple Tofuya Ukai at the foot of Tokyo Tower.

Nippon-tastic retail therapy abounds in Shibuya. Try Tokyu Hands for household items; Laila Tokio and 7×7 for vintage togs, or Yamada Heiando for lacquerware.

Not a shopper? Head for modern gallery space TOLOT/heuristic and the Kisho Kurakawa-designed National Art Center.

Take your dinner afloat on a traditional yakatabune pleasure boat cruise or go full glam with the omakase sushi and sake course at Sushi Sho.

Now the bars. Two Rooms has views, while Codename: Mixology will mix you a blue cheese martini (yes, really), or head to Golden Gai for a warren of 200-plus tiny niche bars straight out of Blade Runner.

Where the business crowd meets

Client dinners are usually done at high-end kaiseki restaurants with private rooms and ego-flattering levels of service from kimono-clad staff, like Ishikawa or Kacyo, followed by a nijikai, or second party, at a bar like Bar Radio or a karaoke box.

Less stuffy types can opt for cutting-edge cuisine at Yamada Chikara or Higashi-yama.

Sleep, Eat, Play

Palace Hotel
Tranquil elegance with palace views.
1-1-1 Marunouchi.

Aman Tokyo
Jaw-dropping vistas.
1-5-6 Otemachi.

Helmed by ex-Noma wizard Koichi Hashimoto.
2-8-10 Uehara.

Commune 246
Where the cool kids come for street food, pop-up indie shops and arty events.
3-13 Minami-Aoyama.

Happo-en Tea Ceremony
The most serene cuppa of your life in a traditional tearoom, within a perfect garden.
Chashitsu Muan, 1-1-1 Shirokanedai.

This article originally appeared on the Australian Financial Review, June 2, 2016.

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