5 days in Tokyo's coolest neighbourhoods
Tokyo has been on the top of my travel list for a while, so when flights were on sale last year, Tim and I booked a trip for June. 5 days was nowhere near enough time to experience all of Tokyo, so instead we decided to spend most of our trip just hanging out in our neighbourhood Tomigaya, a cool and quiet suburb just minutes away from the crowds in Shibuya. Here’s some of the highlights from our 5 days in Tokyo with focus on some of our favourite places in Tomigaya and Shibuya.
Please also feel free to download my printable Tokyo city guide below.
Fuglen Coffee Roasters, Tomigaya
Tucked in the back streets of Tomigaya, you’ll find this cool Nordic-Japanese coffee bar. Fuglen or “The Bird” as it translates to in English, was originally founded by three Norwegian guys and serves up good nordic style coffee and pastries. The vintage Scandinavian furniture and interior fit-out gives Fuglen a special “Hygge” feeling. Unlike other coffee bars, Fuglen also opens at night where you can taste some great imported beers, well shaken cocktails, and top shelf local whiskey. It’s a popular spot for Shibuya’s creative community and is definitely a must visit.
Little Nap, Tomigaya
Little Nap Coffee Stand is situated across from Yoyogi Park. It’s a charming but very tiny coffee shop (even by Japanese standards), with minimal seating, which seems to be standard at many places in Tokyo. Grab a seat in the window and watch the busy people passing by or get your coffee as a take-away before exploring Yoyogi Park.
Camelback Sandwich & Coffee, Tomigaya
We discovered Camelback – another compact coffee stand – by accident, when asking for directions. The chef, Hayato Naruse was super friendly and gave us a lot of great local tips. At Camelback they make flat whites using locally roasted Streamer Coffee beans and delicious sandwiches. Perfect for a snack on the go.
There’s a lot of good coffee to be found in Tokyo but you need to know where to go. Onibus is currently one of the city’s leading specialty coffee roasters and after tasting their coffee myself, I understand why. We went to their newly opened coffee bar and roastery at Nakameguro, a hip coffee stand with insta-worthy interior.
Menki Yashima, Tomigaya
You can’t go to Tokyo without eating at a traditional noodle bar! This popular Udon restaurant is decorated with an eclectic mix of Japanese pop culture. At lunchtime the restaurant quickly fills up with a crowd of businessmen and young hipsters. You order the food from a vending machine, and the serves are quite big.
Menki Yashima, 1-45-13 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
At Akomeya you can buy all types of different rice and other interesting Japanese food in nicely designed packaging. Akomeya also has a casual eatery located in the back of the shop, where they serve light meals using ingredients from the store, accompanied with a range of sakes and wines. The Interior of the restaurant is bright and minimalistic.
A little pricier, but some of the best seafood we had in town. Äta is a seafood bistro, but there plenty of non-fish dishes on the menu too. We got two comfy seats at the long counter from where we could watch the chefs at work. The seafood looked so delicious and when the chef brought out half a lobster, we couldn’t resist. It was amazing! The staff are very entertaining and made the dinner experience extra fun.
Sushi restaurant, Tomigaya
One of the best meals we had in Tokyo was at this unassuming local restaurant in Tomigaya. The local restaurants make it a little harder to find for non-japanese speakers as they can look very similar to the untrained eye. The staff didn’t speak any English at all, but they serve a standard lunch special for everyone so this wasn’t a problem. We had no idea what to expect, but were very pleased with the meal consisting of sushi, seaweed salad and a miso soup. It was quite simple but so delicious (and very affordable) that we kept coming back several times.
40-1 Kamiyamach, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo-to 150-0047
The Monocle Shop, Tomigaya
For minimalistic stationery and shirts, check out The Monocle shop in Shibuya. While you there, get your hands on a Tokyo guide book, and get inspirations for daywalks and things to do. It was our bible on the go.
When in Tokyo a visit to a Muji stores is a must. Muji got everything you need for a minimalistic living at reasonable prices. Check out some of the interesting food products such as Green Tea Popcorn from the kitchen department.
Saturdays Surf NYC, Daikanyama
At Saturdays Surf in Daikanyama you can shop some cool and laidback men’s clothing or enjoy a coffee on the outdoor terrace in the back of the store. They also sell the seriously good chocolate bars in a nice packaging from Mast Brothers.
T-site/Tsutaya books, Daikanyama
This might be my favourite store in all of Tokyo! T-site is an impressive bookstore mecca with a wide selection of international magazines and books. Attached to the bookstore is also a café, restaurant and convenience store. You can easily spend half a day here.
Bonjour Records, Daikanyama
This boutique record shop is a mecca for all music and magazine lovers. Bonjour Records also stock some great fashion labels including Maison Kitsuné, Holiday Magazine and Mr. Gentleman.
Yoyogi Park/Koen, Shibuya
Put a few hours aside to walk around the beautiful Yoyogi Park in the middle of Shibuya. While you’re there don’t forget to check out the Meiji Shrine Temple. It can be quite crowded but it’s worth going anyway.
Nezu Museum, Minato
We probably wouldn’t have thought of going to Nezu Museum if it wasn’t for the guys at Camelback coffee bar. Hurray for local tips! Nezu Museum is a mix of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art. The exhibitions are well curated but the highlight of the museum has to be the beautiful garden located behind the Teahouse. It’s a true urban oasis in the middle of the bustling city.
We booked our accommodation through Airbnb and stayed in a bright, modern and minimalistic apartment on 9th floor in Shibuya with an incredible view over Yoyogi Park. The owner met us upon arrival and provided us with a Wifi-box so we were able to go on the Internet (and Google Maps – very important!) when we were out and about.
Look out for Jetstar's cheep flighs with their "return for free-sales" from Australia. Our tickets was AU$600 return from Sydney and the trip took around 9 hours.