TOKYO SOMEHOW MANAGES to be in a constant state of renewal while remaining forever ancient. Take the chaotic night scene in Shinjuku, one of the metropolis’ most iconic districts, which, with its old, small houses nestled in the shadows of mirrored high-rises, looks like a scene from “Blade Runner.” The city attracts people with wide-ranging interests, from manga and anime to cuisine and wellness. There is something here for everyone if you know where to look.
I was born in Japan, but for the last 35 years I’ve lived in Paris, working as a producer and acting as a bridge between the two cities for fashion-industry professionals. In recent years I’ve based my life in both places, traveling between them every other month. This has allowed me to welcome guests from abroad and to introduce them to the “real” Tokyo.
When I look at Tokyo as a longtime resident of Paris, I’m always surprised by the city’s depth and variety. At first glance, Tokyo is a wall of modern skyscrapers and huge shopping malls, but when you scratch the surface, it’s so much more. Here are my favorite spots in the city, from bustling izakayas (informal Japanese-style pubs that also serve small dishes and snacks) to hidden galleries, which will hopefully inspire you to linger in this magnificent metropolis.
Where to Eat and Drink
DaigoA vegetarian restaurant with two Michelin stars
NarukiyoA lavish assortment of sashimi and Wagyu steak
TorayaJapanese sweets with a teahouse
Tempura KondoVegetable-centric tempura
Where to Shop
OkuraA classic clothing brand’s flagship store
Kama-AsaChef-approved cooking equipment
Y. & SonsAn established men’s kimono tailor
Porter Classic GinzaClothing and accessories made from one-of-a-kind fabrics
Beams Japan ShinjukuPioneering style since the 1970s
Nihonbashi KiyaCutlery and cookware in a historic setting
Where to Explore
TeamLab PlanetsAn interactive digital museum
Scai the BathhouseA contemporary art museum inside a former bathhouse
HakujitsuA shop specializing in antique ceramics
Where to Stay
The OkuraA hotel where tradition and modernity meet
Shangri-LaA recommendation from Skye Parrott, Departures editor-in-chief
HoshinoyaA recommendation from Elissa Polls, Departures head of production
The Four Seasons OtemachiA recommendation from Maggie Morris, Departures writer
Hiromi Otsuka Writer
Hiromi is a freelance producer based in Paris and Tokyo who works across Europe, North Africa, and Asia. She has deep experience in assignment coordination, from location scouting to on-location casting, and crew and equipment hire. An avid traveller herself, she loves to connect people across borders.