Travel Guide: Tokyo, Japan

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For as long as I can remember, Tokyo has been my happy place.

My parents’ love story began in Tokyo and some of my fondest childhood memories were made in Tokyo. Today, it’s also my kids’ happiest place on earth!

The one-of-a-kind energy, heart-wrenching beauty and sheer, pulsing aliveness blended with startling peaceful tranquillity makes it a city of joyful contradictions and a destination that holds a special nook in my heart.

… Which was why my very first Beautiful Travel Musing had to be for Tokyo!

Join me today as I share some of my favourite spaces and places in beautiful Tokyo.
 

Where to stay in Tokyo
 

I prefer to stay around Ginza; it’s super convenient and very family and kid-friendly.

Imperial Hotel

A true Tokyo landmark, the Imperial Hotel is an oldie but a goodie. It was originally founded in 1890 at the request of the Imperial Palace and has a rich history steeped in culture and colour. We’re particularly fond of its restaurants … especially the tempura!

Peninsula Hotel

Awarded a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel for the third consecutive year, the Peninsula Hotel is the ultimate marriage of luxury and style. Located opposite the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park, and just steps away from the shopping district of Ginza, we love everything about it. Oh, and did I mention their beer bacon croissants?  

Tokyo Palace Hotel

With to die for panoramic views of the Imperial Palace and a beautiful bar that redefines delicious dining and drinking, this modern masterpiece epitomises Japan’s approach to luxury and hospitality: All class. Pro tip: Ask to be seated outdoors to get the best view!

 

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What to do in tokyo


A collection of my favourite things to do in Tokyo.


Visit the Marunochi/Hibiya area

I recommend having an early light lunch at Rose Bakery, then wandering around all of the beautiful boutiques like Drawer and Tommorland, flower shops, antique shops and museums around Marunouchi Brick Square.

After that, make your way to Ginza. If you are still hungry (I’m hungry all the time!) have lunch at Torigin Yakitori, Ginza. Belly full, it’s time to explore (in)famous Ginza!
 

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What to do around Ginza

 

Check out Ginza Six!

Ginza Six boasts over 241 brands under the one roof! And speaking of the roof, you’d be silly not to pop up for a drink on the rooftop and sip something sweet under the stars. Ginza Six has a beautiful view, especially during the magic sunset time.

Check out Hibiya Park.

Hibiya Park is Japan’s oldest city park (founded in 1903) and offers much to see and do in its 40 acres. My kids love love love going and many a Sunday has been spent picnicking here.

Imperial Palace.

The primary residence of the Emperor of Japan, the Imperial Palace’s public areas are free to explore.

Yamato Teppanyaki.

My favorite beef teppanyaki.

Bills, Ginza.

A beautiful brunch spot.

Seryna.

For my all-time favourite shaba-shabu.

Go to Rangetsu

… for sukiyaki.

Zakuro, Ginza.

Another great place for yummy shaba-shabu and sukiyaki.

Buvette.

A lovely French bistro and one of my favourite breakfast spots.

Parla crepes.

I dream of these crepes for months after we’ve visited!
 

What to do in Nihonbashi area
 

Mandarin Oriental bar.

A beautiful atmosphere complete with stunning views and jazz music.

Italian restaurant at Shangri La Hotel.

I’m particularly fond of their spaghetti carbonara.

Takashimaya Nohinbashi.

The oldest department store in Japan and my mom’s favourite!

Makato Steakhouse.

This is a little hidden gem that my husband and I can’t get enough of. It’s so good I’m practically drooling as I write this. Consider it a must-go!
 

What to do in Shinjuku and Roppongi area
 

Isetan, Shinjuku.

Great one-stop shopping for all the best luxury and local brands. Love the kids’ floor! You can also have lunch at Le Salon Jacques Borie for their amazing steak sandwich and vacherin glace! yum...

Go to Shinjuku Gyoen

… for one of the best sakura sightings.
 

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what to do in omotensando and aoyama

Have lunch at Two Rooms.

Enjoy a great meal and incredible views of Aoyama.

Visit Maisen

… for the best katsu.

Check out Aoyama flower market tea house.

You won’t be able to get over how beautiful the flowers are in this shop. And make sure you have tea inside the greenhouse -it’s so dreamy and pretty.

Nicolai Bergmann.

And if the flower market tea house has inspired you, make sure you sign up for the flower workshop at Nicolai Bergmann.

Don't forget to walk around omotesando area! You can find cute cafes, one of my faves is Toraya Cafe, the best An Bun and tea! and boutiques like Florent!
 

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Where to see the cherry blossoms

Chidorifafuchi Park, Nihonbashi.

For my cherry blossom lovers, this is the best places in the city to see them!

Inokashira Park, Nihonbashi.

Have your own Notebook moment and rent a small boat in Inokashira Park.

Artisan de la Truffe Paris, Minato.

Incredible views of the cherry blossom-lined street in front of the garden terrace. The cherry blossoms also form into a tunnel, which is pretty magical.

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tokyo beauty

Isetan Shinjuku Beauty Apothecary

This is a must if you love natural beauty products! If I have time I like to get a quick head and scalp massage and treatment there. 

Three Cosmetics

One of my favourite cosmetic brands. Check out the cafe and spa in Aoyama. 

Suqqu

One of my secrets for glowing skin, I always stock up on this brand when I’m in Tokyo. My fave product is the sunblock – it’s the best!

I go to the branch at Mitsukoshi Ginza and get the signature face massage. It’s a bit painful but trust me it’s worth it.  My skin glows for days after the massage and I do the massage every night!
 

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things to do with the kids

The Tsukiji Market

This is the Central Wholesale Market selling fresh foods such as fish, vegetables, fruit, meat and flowers. I would recommend doing the Shibuya Walking Food Tour --  learn how to roll sushi and then finish with a tour of the underground food market.

Tokyo Disneyland and Disney SEA

…need I say more!

Ueno Zoo

Japan’s oldest Zoo.

All the beautiful parks around Tokyo 

A few of my favourites are Hibiya Park and Mohri Garden Roppongi

Kidi Land Omotesando

I have been going to this toy shop since I was 2! Amazing that I get to bring baby Neal here.

Daikanyama Area

A must for chic kids clothing. Start with Brunch at the Ivy for the best pancakes – my favourite are the pancakes with the fresh strawberry sauce. Then head to the Bonpoint Flagship store, Bonton – the sister shop with cute home décor and gifts. Caramel stocks gorgeous home bedding for kids.

 

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other things to do in and around tokyo

Honmura An.

Best. Soba. Ever.

New York Jazz Bar at Park Hyatt.

Great atmosphere with classic cocktails.

Kameido Tenjin.

The best place in Tokyo to see the hanging blossoms.

Florilege Restaurant.

Make sure you order the beef carpaccio - it’s to die for!

Fuji Hoshinoya.

Experience nature (sans the discomfort) with luxury glamping that looks out onto Mount Fuji.

Yakatabune.

An original cultural experience that offers a variety of cruises, including a cherry blossom cruise.

Kawazu festival.

The annual cherry blossom festival – not one to be missed!

Haradani-en Kyoto.

Another great place to see the cherry blossoms (because if you’re like me, you won’t be able to get enough of them.)

Urui river.

An incredible way to experience the beauty of Mt. Fuji and the local cherry blossoms.
 

Phew. That should cover most of my recommendations, but if you’re searching for something in particular, why not hop onto Instagram and connect with me there? I’d be happy to exchange travel tips with you!

 

TravelHester Aba