Travel Guide: Tokyo & Osaka
Posted on 15 April 2015
I've been coming to Japan all these years, I thought it was about time to share some of the great spots I've discovered. I love coming here during this time of year, the weather is beautiful and the sakura blooming.
Tokyo was the first city I ever visited and have been in love with it since. I landed last week and after visiting the kapok flagship store, was whisked away to a bustling dinner spot, Ebisu Yokocho. There are small restaurants lining both sides of the alley way with a lively mix of salary men winding down and tourists soaking in the atmosphere.
Meiji Jingu Shrine is a must. As well as visiting the main shrine, make a detour to the lesser known gardens for some quiet contemplation. You can wander around the shops in Omotosando afterwards and go to Yasaiya Mei in Omotosando HIlls for lunch. They use the freshest produce and serve healthy homemade Japanese food. Then head to Higayshiya to satisfy your sweet tooth with traditional Japanese sweets.
Tokyo by night is dynamic and endlessly fascinating. Bar Trench is a stylish speak easy bar with more Absinthe cocktails on the menu than I've ever seen. Their Forever Hazy Nights is divine. One of my best experiences was at NaNa in Golden Gai. The little slice of Andalusia seats only 4-6 people and plays flamenco music all night long.
For a relaxed afternoon, Daikayama is always great for wandering around and endless coffee breaks. It's hip and feels like Abbot Kinney in LA with great people watching, cute cafes and shops. Try Sarugaku Coffee for coffee and visit all the fashion stores along Hachiman Dori.
This is my third year spending my birthday in Kyoto. I still find it so charming and having one of my best friends here to show me the city is amazing. Tradition dictates that we dress in kimono to go sightseeing, I love the ceremony of choosing your outfit and the lengthy process of being dressed by a kimono fitter, and how it makes you feel feminine and demure.
Braving the sideways rain and cold, we finally made it to Fushimi Inari Taisha, one of the shrines I've always wanted to visit. The thousands of vermillion torii gates were stunning and take about two hours to cover.
Dinner was such a treat. Iwasaki is a must try when you're in Kyoto and want to experience traditional omakase menu. The chef and hostesses bring a constant flow and immaculately prepared dishes and sitting the restaurant with just five seats and a bar counter means there is special attention to every detail.
For a Japanese bar experience visit bar K-ya, built from a former Japanese house, all the elegant rooms and internal gardens have been preserved. Make sure you get a seat along the long wooden bar so you can watch the bartender work his magic.
Kappo Mastuoka is another must try.