Authentic Tokyo, 2008

Amid the glass-and-steel sheen, there are still parts of the city where one can feel Japan’s handmade quality.


Packed till late with designers, writers, and hipsters of other persuasions, this contemporary take on a traditional tearoom—where the drinks are more reliable than the food—sits on the sixth floor of an uninteresting Naka Meguro mini tower. Nakameguro Kangyou Bldg., Sixth Fl., 1-22-4 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku; 81-33/792-9898


On the Meguro river’s north shore, this small shop and restaurant serves handcrafted Japanese sweets, paired most days with Asian tea—or, if you’re in the mood, something harder. The place is a design wonder, a reminder of the cool sleekness that falls flat at the megamalls. 1-13-12 Aobadai, Meguro-ku; 81-35/428-1717;


This small French brasserie located hard along the river in Naka Meguro is the perfect place to kill an afternoon doing nothing but powering cappuccinos and listening to whatever slow, creeping soundtrack is playing. Ribasaidoterasu, First Fl., 1-10-23 Roppongi, Meguro-ku; 81-33/760-8898

Granbell Hotel Shibuya and Ginza Yoshimizu

These hotels provide refuge from the glitter of Tokyo’s concrete palaces. Granbell brings the spirit of the city’s arty (but inconvenient) Claska hotel to Shibuya, a neighborhood in need of some edge ($200–$430; 15–17 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku; 81-35/457-2681; Yoshimizu is an urban ryokan with tatami-matted rooms and two onsen tubs packed into a building whose exterior looks like a forgettable Ginza workhouse ($190–$250; 3-11-3 Ginza Chuo-ku; 81-33/248-4432;