Tucked in the small village of Harajuku, Santoko not only warms your soul, but satisfies a healthy appetite. Ramen is a central part of Japanese food culture and this no-frills family owned and operated space confirms that excellence is in the mastery of the broth. Order the ramen bowl with thin slices of slow roasted pork belly and you won’t have any regrets.
An afternoon at The Barber can feel like regaining a few years of life. From the choice of treatments, to the excellence of service, the prop-styling as you enter the shop, to the sound of jazz, The Barber epitomizes the ideal of retreat. Before you doze off, take note of the surgical precision with which your barber approaches your mane. Go for the full package, which includes a twenty-minute, facial massage and you will leave with a new understanding of bliss. For a more exclusive setting, a private lounge downstairs is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, a vinyl collection and a movie screen just in case you needed extra entertainment.
On a relatively quiet street in Ginza – just down the road from a few, elegant, bespoke suit and kimono shops — sits Brick, a seemingly rare ground-floor watering hole featuring an even rarer exterior detail – an actual storefront sign (this one composed of large, yellow, illuminated, sans serif Roman letters). The dark, wood-paneled whiskey den with equestrian touches dates back to 1952 (old enough for a town that was nearly decimated in the 1940s). There, the cheap (but smooth) Suntory Tory’s blended whisky and the pricey Yamazaki 18 Year are poured, separately of course, over phenomenally large ice blocks into high-ball glasses that bare the bar’s name in red biblical font. The vinyl on the wooden bar stools shows wear and cracks, helping fuel visions of expats and natives comingling there as drinking allies after the war.
Balance is key when in Tokyo and finding it can make all the difference in your visit. The Happoen Garden is the perfect place to reconnect for a moment and check in on an ancient ritual. Stroll through the garden and take in the incredible, manicured Bonsais, and then spend some time in one of the pagodas overlooking the Koi pond. After you’ve caught your breath, make your way to the teahouse. Served in a room with a tatami-mat floor you’ll observe this beautiful ceremonial preparation of Matcha tea and enjoy a light meal.
This seven-floor emporium is a carnival of artistic expression resulting in what could rightfully be called ‘beautiful chaos.’ Fashion brands include Yves Saint Laurent, Thom Browne, Junya Watanabe, Alexander Wang and Rick Owens. But what takes it to the next level of fun is the collection of art and installations that range from the life-sized, elephant sculpture on the 1st floor gallery space to the Cindy Sherman photographs that greet you at each landing. It’s a rare successful example of “fashion meets art.”