The asterisk (*) denotes mandatory group outings. Anything without it is completely optional.

GUIDED TOUR OF ASAKUSA*

A guided history walk through Asakusa with a Licensed Guide.

Why should we go here?

  • The guide, Masahiko, is an award-winning samurai novelist. (source)

  • Yedo was the former name of Tokyo during the time when the whole nation was ruled by samurai. Asakusa was the cultural epicenter at this time. Masahiko is going to share many interesting stories, that he learned while researching for his book about this era. (source)

  • This tour will highlight Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple completed in 645. It is Tokyo's oldest and one of it’s most significant temples. It was built to honor Kannon, the goddess of mercy. (source)

  • The tour will take us through the many other temples, shrines, street food, back streets, and alleyways pf Asakusa District.

  • We will also explore Kappabashi - a kitchenware/restaurant supply district with a rich history.

 

COFFEE AT TOKYO LITTLE HOUSE

A cafe, gallery, and private hotel located in a 70-year old house in central Tokyo’s Akasaka district.

WHY GO HERE?

  • The cafe has curated exhibits on Tokyo’s history by way of a library of books, old magazines, maps, and other rare documents that reveal the city as it was seen by the residents, occupiers, and visitors of the past (guests may also borrow books during their stay). (source)

  • One of the founders, Kohei Fukazawa, decided to renovate the dwelling and turn it into a boarding house to honor the memory of his late grandparents who cherished living there. The house was built by his grandparents in 1948 and renovated by his wife, Kimiko Sugiura. (source)

  • A developer offered Fukazawa's grandmother several hundred million yen for the plot during the 1980s and early 1990s, but she turned it down, saying the land was too important for her to sell. (source)

 

SEE SHINJUKU NATIONAL GARDEN

A 150-acre park national park and garden in Shinjuku and Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

WHY GO HERE?

  • It’s considered the most beautiful park in Tokyo. (TIME)

  • The perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. (source)

  • In Yasunari Kawabata's The Sound of the Mountain, Shingo declares, "You can stretch out. It's like getting out of Japan - I wouldn't have dreamed that there was a place like this right in the middle of Tokyo." (source)

  • It is the setting of the 2013 anime film The Garden of Words. (source)

  • At this park you can see three different gardens at once - the Japanese Garden, English Garden, and French Garden. (source)

 

LUNCH AT ISETAN SHINJUKU

A Japanese department store with a Depachika (expansive, dazzling food hall).

WHY GO HERE?

  • “The food centers in the department stores are pornographic” - Bourdain on Depachika (source)

  • With so many options for food in Tokyo there is no better—or more surprising—place to start than in one of the city’s massive underground food halls known as depachika.  (source)

  • In one place you can try a wide swath of Japanese cuisine in a single location with typically every major style of Japanese (yakitori, tempura, and sushi in its many variations: nigiri-zushi (bite-size), maki-zushi (rolls), oshi-zushi (pressed), and inari-zushi (rice and fillings like ginger, yuzu, or sesame seeds stuffed into sweet tofu packets) cuisine being represented. (source)

  • Arguably the trendiest and one of the most influential department stores in Japan, renowned for having its window displays created by leading artists. (source)

  • It’s one of the few department stores with a rooftop picnic area. (source)

WHAT SHOULD YOU GET HERE?

  • There are often pop-ups featuring regional food from different prefectures, like Hokkaido and Kyoto. It’s customary to ask the concierge if there are any special events on the floors of the department store above. (Eater)

  • Caviar samples are doled out at Caviar House & Prunier. (Vogue) (Eater)

  • Sake samples and sake-friendly snacks at Omotenashi. Try the sparkling sake, which can be compared with a more tart rendition of prosecco. (Vogue) (Eater)

  • The bright green mugwort (yomogi) bagels from the Japanese bakery Junoesque Bagel are not to be missed. (Vogue)

  • A visit to the Kitchen Stage (an eat-in area with an open kitchen featuring a rotating series of famous Tokyo chefs) is a great way to experience some of Tokyo’s most sought-after cuisine without a reservation. (Vogue) (Eater)

  • The wagashi selection is stunning here, with desserts presented on dramatic pieces of pottery and exquisitely packaged. Mochi balls stuffed with sweet red bean paste are served on large ceramic pieces, while gift sets arrive inside woven bamboo baskets. (Eater)

 

SEE THE SHOW AT ROBOT RESTAURANT*

A themed restaurant/bar featuring a raucous pop-culture show with robotic monsters, dancers & lasers.

WHY GO HERE?

 

DINNER AT OMOIDE YOKOCHO

A Yokocho (old-school alleyway) known for its small bars, yakitori grills, and food stalls.

WHY GO HERE?

  • It’s a great place with a real retro vibe that is perfect for a local food experience. (source)

  • It looks like it was pulled straight out of “Blade Runner.” (source)

  • It's one of Tokyo's most recognizable sights. (source)

WHAT SHOULD YOU GET HERE?

  • The area has been famous for its yakitori (grilled skewered chicken) since the 1950s. (source)

  • A favourite among thrill seekers and food critics, Asadachi (literally Morning Wood) offers some of the most intriguing dishes in Tokyo: frog sashimi, horse penis, pig testicles and grilled salamander are all on the menu at this little hole-in-the-wall. (source)

 

SHINJUKU BAR CRAWL

A collection of mismatched, tumbledown bars lining alleyways in a darkened corner of Shinjuku

WHY GO HERE?

  • It’s on Anthony Bourdain's Top 5 Things To Do in Tokyo list.

  • 90 percent of the buildings surrounding the Shinjuku Station were destroyed during the war. The Golden Gai district is famous for having resisted the post World War II development boom. It’s one of the last places where you can experience the gritty, post-war buzz of Tokyo’s local nightlife. (Favy) (When In Tokyo)

  • One of the rare places to experience the "Showa retro" vibe  (Showa is the period from 1926 to 1989 during which Japan was under the reign of the Showa Emperor Hirohito). "Showa retro" (昭和レトロ) is a mix of traditional and western aesthetics mixed with a certain amount of charming bad taste. (Favy)

WHAT SHOULD YOU GET HERE?

  • A list of recommended bars within Golden Gai

  • Bar-hopping is normal in this part of town, and if you ask the barkeep for recommendations on where to go next, you’ll be pointed in the right direction. Part of the fun of drinking at Golden-Gai is sampling at least a few bars a night. (Nippon)

  • Go for something traditional such as shochu (Japanese spirit), sake, or Japanese whiskey. Don't hesitate to ask for recommendations by saying "osusume kudasai". (Favy)