Tokyo Tips

I love Tokyo. It is one of the few cities we have returned to multiple times, and know that we will visit again. See my Modern Traditional Tokyo article for more information on Akihabara electric town, Sumo, Harajuku, Meiji-jingu, Tsukiji central fish market, Ninja Akasaka, Shibuya crossing, the Hachiko statue and Tokyo Sky Tree. For everything else, read on.

 

Wacky

The Robot Restaurant isn’t a restaurant, but it is amazing. Bikini-clad women battle each other from atop vast robots, or dinosaurs, or robot dinosaurs. It’s loud, bright and exactly as fun as it sounds – throw yourself into it and cheer on the good guys and girls. Despite the name, don’t expect a meal here – it’s strictly beers and a few bar snacks.

Kagaya – Owner Mark distributes wet towels to the table via robot, has customers sing their order to him from from a menu which is scribbled in crayon in a children’s exercise book and disappears into a cupboard to emerge in costume for a short performance based on the country of your choice to accompany each round of drinks. We witnessed Japanese and Brazilian – silly, playful and funny.

Animal Cafes – Tokyo is home to cafes catering to various animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds (often owls), goats and snakes! Having already handled most of these, and keen to avoid the nocturnal taloned birds, we opted for an hour with the hedgehogs at Harry Hedgehog Cafe in Roppongi (6-7-2 I WAHORI Building 2F). It was an enlightening visit which saw Nato get bitten and us both get spiked by a sneezing hedgehog. We fed them hedgehog snacks (live worms) with tweezers and all that eating and sneezing must’ve tired them out, as by the end of our visit they had curled up into little prickly balls and gone to sleep.

 

Eat

Andy’s Shin Hinomoto – A cheerful izakaya which serves delicious seafood fresh from Tsukiji central fish market. Don’t miss the snow crab with shell sliced open for easy access – bliss.

Dotonbori Kanza Shibuya – (2-94 Utakawa cho, Shibuya open 24h) Fun and great food. Use the ticket vending machine out front to order your dishes and drinks. Excellent butter corn ramen or just pop in for gyoza and beer.

Tsuta – (1-14-1 Sugamo, Toshima 170-0002) We ate amazing ramen at this tiny (9 seat) ramen restaurant before it was Michelin starred when it only involved queuing outside for 30 mins or so. There’s now a whole rigmarole to eat there, your whole party needs to queue at 8am to pay 1,000 JPY for one of the 70 daily dining slots – instructions here.

Ninja Akasaka – excellent food served by Ninjas. See Modern Traditional Tokyo article.

As noted above, despite the name the Robot Restaurant doesn’t have great food. Definitely go for the show, but plan to eat elsewhere.

 

Drink

New York Bar at the Park Hyatt, as featured in Lost in Translation ( an iconic movie to watch before your Tokyo trip) has great views of the Tokyo skyline, and – on a clear day – out to Mount Fuji. Visit from 5pm to 8pm (Mon-Sat) 5pm to 7pm (Sun) to avoid the cover charge (2,400 JPY + tax) or pay up and enjoy the jazz that kicks off at this time. Make sure to adhere to the dress code to avoid disappointment.

Toto’s Magic Bar – (NISHIGOBLDG, 6th FLOOR, 5-4-15 GINZA). Magician Toto (a member of the elite Los Angeles Magic Castle) performs at this great little bar in ginza. Grab a drink and enjoy close up magic at your table and one of the three shows a night at 2100, 2300 or 0100.

 

Next trip

There’s always something more to do and see in Tokyo. Still on my list is:

  • Karaoke – Why have I never karaoked in Tokyo!?
  • MariCAR – Dress up as a Super Mario character and ride a go-kart on the streets of Tokyo! (Also Osaka). International driver’s licence is required.
  • Baseball – Catch a game at the Tokyo Dome or Jingu Stadium (late March to October)
  • The Japanese Beatles – See Japanese Beatles tribute band The Parrots, the house band at Abbey Road Live House, a small club in Roppongi. Paul McCartney booked them to play his wife’s birthday party so you know they must be good!
  • Tuna auction at Tsukiji Central Fish market if I can be bothered with the early morning faff.

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