Having lived in Tokyo for 7 years, every time I go back I try to do off the beaten path stuff (I’ve had my fair share of Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and all that). This time we visited the Showa Kinen Koen in Tachikawa, walked around fancy Jiyugaoka, got lost in the back streets of Aoyama, all while taking a moment to appreciate the beautiful flowers around the city. Gotta love Tokyo in spring!
Tokyo: Off the Beaten Path Guide
Showa Kinen Park – If you’d like to get away form the bustle of the city and enjoy a day in the nature, the Showa Kinen Park is worth the trip. It takes about 45min by train from Shinjuku. It is a massive park with countless types of trees and flowers where you can easily spend a whole afternoon. The Japanese Garden was the highlight for me.
Jiyugaoka – This has to be one my favourite neighbourhoods to wander around aimlessly. It is a calm and sophisticated area where you can find fancy boutiques and quaint cafes. And it is only ten minutes by train from Shibuya!
Aoyama – Aoyama is the home of high-fashion boutiques and art galleries and so visually enchanting. If you are a coffee lover, you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of stylish cafes to choose from.
If you are in the Kyobashi area, definitely check out Celi Food Factory, it is a tiny shop selling super fresh choux cream puffs, pudding and financiers. The choux cream puff was one of the best I’ve ever tried.
The most unforgettable meal of this trip was Adachi Naoto, a Michelin star restaurant located in Ginza. It is a bit of a splurge, but you’ll be able to enjoy the most beautiful, fresh and delicious food while watching owner chef work his magic in every dish. The service and hospitality here is superb.
If you happen to be in Jiyugaoka during lunch time, I highly recommend Conana. It is cute little restaurant with Scandinavian decor that serves Japanese style pasta. The dish I tried was a re-creation of “chazuke“: pasta topped with pickles, seaweed, plum with hot green tea as a sauce. Sounds strange but believe me, it’s delicious!
After a long walk dodging cars and bicycles around Jiyugaoka, take a break at Kosoan, a traditional tea and dessert house. It is inside a traditional wooden building overlooking a quaint garden. I loved the ritual of taking my shoes off, sitting at a small table on a tatami floor and sipping matcha tea while staring at the beautiful garden. The ultimate zen experience.
Try the most amazing French bakery delicacies at Viron (we tried the one located in Marunouchi). Hands down the best boulangerie in town, in my opinion!
Indulge in a cocktail omakase menu at Gen Yamamoto. Local seasonal Japanese ingredients mixed with rare liquors from around the world in a unique setting.
Tokyu Hands and Loft are my all-time favourite shops. It is impossible to leave empty-handed. If you’re into stationary, DIY or simply Japanese cute stuff, these shops are for you.
Natural Kitchen – A few minutes away from Jiyugaoka station, you can find this variety shop that sells household items, most of them at a surprising price tag of 100yen / $1 USD (and without compromising on quality). It’s the perfect place to stock up on souvenirs for family and friends back home.
Where to stay in Tokyo
Looking for a place to stay in Tokyo? Here’s some good options under $100 USD/night:
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Ginza Sanchome | Great location for its proximity to Ginza and Marunouchi Station. I stayed here before and had a good experience. Rooms are compact but functional. Rates start at $80 USD/night. Read reviews and book here
Central Tokyo Roppongi 41032 | Apartment-type with balcony and kitchenette in the heart of trendy Roppongi district. Can fit up to 6 people so it’s perfect if you’re travelling in a group. Rooms start at $74 USD/night. Read reviews and book here
Browse all Tokyo hotels here
Heading to Asia? Check out these travel guides to help you plan your trip:
- A Local’s Guide to the Best Cafes in Hong Kong
- Top 5 Instagrammable Spots in Tiong Bahru, Singapore
- Tangalle, Sri Lanka as a Digital Nomad Destination
- Chiang Mai Travel Guide (Thailand)
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