Where Should Our Editor Go in Tokyo?

December 31, 2015

We've been telling you our favorite spots, but now it's your turn to play tour guide. Where should Sam go in Tokyo (and beyond)?

Shinjuku neighborhood in Tokyo. Photo by mrhayata (via Flickr)

Our Partnerships Editor Sam is hitching a plane to Japan the first week of January and will be touring around the central part of the country for a few weeks. She's stopping in the following cities:

  • Tokyo
  • Kanazawa
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Omachi
  • Matsumoto

Sam's hoping to uncover a few things to write about while she's there, so do tell (in the comments): What would be a shame to miss? Where should she eat or drink? Where should she be still? Move fast? Points of interest include:

  • Hidden restaurants
  • Bowling alleys
  • Karaoke
  • Sake sets, with sake in them
  • The best potato chips
  • Bargain dresses
  • Fish only eaten in Japan
  • Stationary
  • Snowy gardens
  • Local favorites
  • Places to play video games
  • Animal cafes


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • JAH
  • ebs
  • Katsu Y
    Katsu Y
  • Susan B.
    Susan B.
  • pokano
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


JAH January 3, 2016
What a clever way to plan your vacation!
ebs January 2, 2016
Umaimonya near Tsukiji. Amazing fresh seafood. Very hidden. Reservations recommended. http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1313/A131301/13014852/dtlrvwlst/
Katsu Y. January 2, 2016
shinatatsu ramen street near Shinagawa station. The black miso ramen is unusual and delicious.
Susan B. January 2, 2016
My husband and I went to Tokyo two years ago and we read "Pretty Good Number One", an ebook available on Amazon, on the plane and were so glad we did! He talks about all kinds of street food that I'm sure we wouldn't have found on our own. The book gave us recommendations of specific restaurants but also discussed different types of food. We found it invaluable. Also, since we were doing mostly street food, we found it to not be very expensive. We were so glad we found that book!
pokano January 2, 2016
Go to Yotsuya Station in Tokyo: our two favorite restaurants there were Kinoka (which we discovered only on our last day--I would love to go there again). 1-17-8 Yotsuya | 1F Ishikawa Bldg., Shinjuku 160-0004, Tokyo Prefecture, a friendly and lovely izakaya (I would kill for the grilled rice ball in broth), or Genya, 1-7 Yotsuya Shinmichi dori, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture, which specializes in yummy grilled food, but you can also get good seafood there. In Kyoto, be sure to have the freshly made omelet on a stick in Nishiki Market (there are 2 different stands). For tofu, we like Kyotofu Fujino in Kyoto Station, for okonomiyaki and other grilled food, Kiraku near the Westin on Sanjo dori, and also on Sanjo Dori (get off at the Higashiyama Station, and turn towards downtown--just a few doors down) Bamboo Izakaya and right next door Kitchen Occobe.
pokano January 2, 2016
The two Tokyo restaurants are not in the station, but I provided the addresses--easy walking distance from the station.
Rachel January 2, 2016

If you are into wagyu beef, you have to try this restaurant.
We ordered the large mix platter, every piece was heaven! A little pricey but we thought it was worth it. Just the thought is making me saliva.
For tonkatsu would be this place in Takashimaya Shibuya. Do go earlier, can be a long wait.
Tsukiji market, go early to avoid crowds.
Calbee chips made fresh would be a nice experience, choose your flavour. At Odaiba, you could see the action going.
For anime, head down to harajuku.

flourpeople January 2, 2016
Where geishas eat in Kyoto.
Most memorable meal with a cook and his sous chef. Both do not speak a word of English but somehow the three of you (along with the other local diners) will end up drunk and laughing at the same jokes (I think). A little out of the way but way worth it.
Alexandra L. January 2, 2016
One amazing little hidden restaurant surprised my family the most– Maguro Koya located in Nara, Kyoto. Their main focus is maguro (tuna), and their otoro (fatty tuna belly) on rice is one of the most divine things your lips will touch. This is where to go for the most buttery, fresh sashimi. It's a small, lovely place owned by an old couple for more than 38 years. Cosy, comforting, absolutely delicious!
Megumi O. January 2, 2016
I am an architect in Japan. for the stationary, the best professional shop is Sekaido (www.sekaido.co.jp) in Shinjuku san-chome. They have very wide variety of stationary as well as different art equipments in good price.
I personary do not like the idea of some of the animal cafe and I have never been, however there is a owl cafe (http://s.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1313/A131302/13154720/) in Tsukishima and penguin bar in Ikebukuro (www.penginbar.jp)
Cynthia H. January 2, 2016
I was just in Japan for a few days! In Tokyo (Ginza), there is an incredible stationery store called Itoya. About 7 floors of beautiful displays, including one floor dedicated to paper, another floor dedicated to crafting materials (including more paper), a floor for cards, a floor for pens, etc. Tsukiji Fish Market was definitely fun to visit, though I'm not sure whether the tuna auction will be open to visitors in early January or not. In Kyoto, I had a wonderful - and not too expensive - kaiseki lunch at Roan Kikunoi. As for temples and gardens, Kodaiji and Ginkakuji (more subtle and with an arguably nicer garden than Kinkakuji, the gold-covered pavilion), were my two favorites.
Maegan January 2, 2016
So many great ideas for my next trip to Japan!
I second Hantei, Afuri, and walking around at Nakano. Sakuratei is a great place for okonomiyaki and monjayaki which I never would have found without a local. Luckily, though, there are walking directions on their website: http://www.sakuratei.co.jp/en/
For playing and buying vintage video games (and accessories and weird candies), check out Super Potato in Akihabara.
Also, last summer we went to the Calbee store in Harajuku for delicious fresh-fried chips with crazy toppings like soft serve ice cream and maple-cream cheese drizzle.
Tracy T. January 1, 2016
For someone who can’t read or speak Japanese, the world of sake can be baffling and finding sake you like can be akin to a lottery. In Asakusa, Kurand Sake Market is a no-frills, no-stools, all-you-can-drink bar that makes sake extremely accessible for foreigners. Store manager Aki (Akinori) is available as an English-speaking sake navigator. He helps you discover the types of sake you enjoy and recommends the sake accordingly. Kurand stocks around 100 bottles that have been carefully selected from small sake producers around Japan. Kurand also has an outlet in Ikebukuro. http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/09/04/kurand-sake-market-opens-asakusa-branch-mr-sato-and-yoshio-imbibe-to-their-hearts-content/
Flavia D. January 1, 2016
The restaurants under the Tokyo Station subway line. There's a ramen street. Interesting way of organizing a food court...
EGWolf January 1, 2016
Joumon in Roppongi is so good I can't stand it. They have skewers (yakitori) but we sat inside and ordered bits and bobs off the menu: a chicken dish served lightly seared-still raw inside (we just ate it...chased it with lots of sake...we're still alive), a melty BBQ pork belly that still shows up in my dreams, sesame tofu the consistency of frosting (true!).
Donata January 1, 2016
In Tokyo...
Hantei - for kushiage - basically all kinds of fried skewers
On the outer edge of Tsukiji Market is a fantastic ramen stand - it's worth making room to eat ramen as well as sushi while you're at the market.
Da Isa Pizza - yes, pizza. It's one of the best Neapolitan pizzas you'll have anywhere.
If there is any Sumo wrestling on while you're there, it's definitely worth going to watch!
Shannon January 1, 2016
I have no idea if it still exists (I haven't been since 2005), but there was this amazing hidden little izakaya called Kappa (or maybe Kappa Kappa) in Kyoto. It was in Higashiyama-ku, if I remember correctly. If you can find it, it is well-worth a visit! The food and the people were delightful!
Shannon January 1, 2016
Also in Kyoto, there was a restaurant where the entire meal (we went for lunch) was tofu - innumerable, amazing varieties - highly recommended!
pokano January 2, 2016
Shannon, do you mean Kappa in Gion? Everyone goes there and each plate is the same price? Yes, it's still there. Definitely worth going to. I recommend the clams and the potatoes in particular.
Shannon January 12, 2016
Yes, that's it! I'm so glad to know it's still around - loved it!
Emily O. January 1, 2016
Bunny cafe
Emily O. January 1, 2016
Restaurants http://www.honmuraantokyo.com/
Fiesta No website in the basement at Roppongi 6−2−37
Fugu is well known but you could try live squid or shrimp, cod liver and cod sperm sacs are delicacies and both delicious.
The restaurant Ukai on Takaosan and Happoen are my 2 favorite gardens. Both are spectacular in the snow.
Emily O. January 1, 2016

Hidden restaurants

Bowling alleys
Sake sets, with sake in them
The best potato chips
Bargain dresses
Fish only eaten in Japan
Snowy gardens
Local favorites
Places to play video games
Animal cafes
Tiffany D. January 1, 2016
My friend and I are still talking about this udon a year later. Go! http://en.rocketnews24.com/2012/11/27/curry-udon-topped-with-whipped-cream-its-better-than-you-think/