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#TokyoLife

Where tradition meets modernity

There’s a sense of wonder as you explore Tokyo, a feeling anything is possible. Pockets of history, tradition and custom sit alongside the modern, new and innovative.

There’s nowhere else quite like Tokyo, it can make you smile and leave you in awe, a city where old meets new and each moment is a memory you’ll treasure forever.

Image from Roppongi Hills Sky Deck

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Tokyo Skytree

The neofuturistic Tokyo Skytree stands as the world’s tallest tower and a tribute to the city’s bright future. Ascend the spiral skywalk to reach the highest view point and soak in sprawling views of Tokyo, a vivid web of life below interrupted only by the jagged edges of snow-capped Mt Fuji jutting from the Earth.

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Uobei

A futuristic take on the beloved sushi-train concept, Uobei operates a unique, high-speed brand of sushi delivery. Settle in among the scores of other diners and select your sushi from a menu on a multi-lingual touchscreen pad. Moments later, a platform will whizz toward you, pausing to deliver up to three plates of your choosing.

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Shiro-Hige's Cream Puff Factory

Specialising in kawaii cream puffs crafted in the image of Japanese animated character, Totoro, Shiro-Hige is a must-visit for lovers of all things cute, sweet and delicious. Made on-site, the crisp, golden pastry is lavished with fillings like custard and fresh cream, served dine-in upstairs and takeaway from the bakery below.

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Umezono (Japanese Sweets)

Sink your teeth into 160 years of Japanese history at Umezono. Step through the white curtain, or noren, framing the entry, bearing the original mark of the store since its opening in 1854, and explore a world of traditional Japanese sweets. Be sure to sample Umezono’s specialty, awa zenzai, served with mochi, half-melted and gooey from the steamy, sweet, red bean porridge.

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Haibara (ancient paper making)

Explore Haibara and uncover ancient Japanese paper-making techniques. Introduced to the country in 610AD by Buddhist Monks, the art of washi (traditional hand made paper) is now a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage and an important part of Japanese culture. More than just a piece of paper, washi is the perfection of an art form, each piece symbolising years of training and the mastery of a craft.

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Aoyama Shopping District

Famous for modern, stylish street fashion since the 1970’s, Kiladori or ‘Kila Street,” in Aoyama, is just one spot to spy the latest fashion trends, before they happen. The new-age neighbourhood is a fitting site for the high-end boutiques lining the streets, including the stunning, six-story Prada Building. While it was once the site of the Aoyama clan’s mansion, Aoyama is now the home of fashion.

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Ameyayokocho (Street Market)

Nestled beneath the train tracks leading to Ueno Station, the bustling street market teams with life. Vibrant colours draw the eye, while local vendors vie for business. The narrow streets pack in 500 or so stalls selling fresh produce, clothing, accessories, cosmetics and knick-knacks. Locals and vendors haggle over the price of giant crab and huge, red, octopus tentacles, so large they seem unreal.

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Shibuya Crossing

As the last cars clear the intersection and the pedestrian traffic lights change from red to green, Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing comes alive. A teaming sea of people fill the gaps between the black and white zebra crossing, surging in every direction. Nab a window seat view at a cafe overlooking the intersection, if you can, and scope the scramble from above.

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Urasando Garden

A 60-year-old house converted into a curated space housing eight different stores, Urasando brings Japanese culture out of the history books, infusing it with Tokyo’s lively future. Explore the expertly restored building, sampling hand drip coffee, DIY matcha and Japanese-style bistro food in a modern, minimalist setting.

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Ryokan Sawanoya

Be sure to remove your shoes before stepping onto the soft tatami mat floors of family-run Ryokan Sawanoya, a traditional Japanese inn. Visitors are encouraged to connect with one other, share stories and experience a warm welcome from the owners. Sliding doors separate rooms and common bathing areas, or ofuro, are segregated by gender. At night, guests nestle into customary futons.

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Amezaiku (Traditional Sweets)

On your journey to Yanasen, be sure to stop at nearby Amezaiku, Yoshihara, a tiny store where artisan candy makers create traditional sweets in the shape of animals. Outlawed in the 20th century, the art of Amezaiku now requires an apprenticeship and many years of practice to perfect.

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Togoshi Ginza Onsen

An important part of Japanese culture and daily life, the unique, thermal water of an onsen is believed to hold important health benefits. Easing stress, encouraging relaxation and aiding recovery, the tradition is born of legend, a young boy bathing his ill father in 807AD accidentally releasing the alkaline waters of a hot spring, curing his father of illness. Modern onsen’s now combine ancient healing methods with modern bathhouse principles.

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Ryogoku Takahashi (Sumo Shops)

Every aspect of a professional sumo wrestler’s life is dictated by tradition and history, requiring great discipline and dedication. The full-contact sport has existed in Japanese history for centuries, initially used as a trial of strength and forming part of Shinto ritual. Now, sumo wrestler’s adorn local shops like Ryogoku Takahashi, selling mugs, umbrellas, textiles and more, adorned with the images of sumo.

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ZAUO (Fishing Restaurant)

Perhaps one of the unique Tokyo experiences tourists look forward to most are the inventive restaurants offering original dining experiences. Step into the boat-shaped dining area of ZAUO, surrounded by a moat of fish of all shapes and sizes. Cast in a line and reel in your meal, which is prepared to your liking and accompanied by a celebratory chant.

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Aoyoma Flower Cafe

Buckets of fresh blooms line the walkways and surfaces of the Aoyama Flower Market, a patchwork of colour and texture. Long, green tendrils spill from the sides of hanging baskets while pretty little posies sit bundled together, waiting to be taken home. Enjoy tea and sweets at the cafe surrounded by a tranquil, perfumed wonderland.

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Fioria Karaoke

One of the most entertaining aspects of modern Japan is the art of karaoke, where neon lights rule and inhibitions are left behind. Tucked away in stylish Roppongi, Fioria is a modern, up-market take on Tokyo’s beloved karaoke. Gather in a fashionable private room and enjoy bites from the seasonal menu while belting out your favourite song, with gusto!

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Kamiya Bar

You’ll find Japan’s oldest western-style bar sporting a low-key fit-out and laid-back atmosphere, serving beer by the litre and it’s famous Denki Bran liquor by the shot. Created by the bar’s founder, “Electric Brandy” is a unique, top-secret concoction of brandy, gin, and wine that has become both legendary and beloved.

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Tokyo Cruise

Gently cruising along the Sumida River, water buses transport passengers past views of Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Gate Bridge. Journey from Asakusa to Odaiba and play nostalgic games in a retro arcade or continue on to Kasai Rinkai Park to wander wide open spaces and ride the ferris wheel.

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Yanaka Area

Explore Yanaka and discover a district that fully embraces an old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo from past decades. Fall in love with its winding alleys, quaint shops nestled among new businesses and immerse yourself in the appeal of a place that’s worn around the edges. Be sure to spend some time with the wondering cats of Yanaka as you relish the slow and steady pace of life in this charming, rustic neighbourhood.

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BerBerJin (Vintage Store)

Though many trendy stores have come and gone, BerBerJin remains a staple in Harajuku’s iconic fashion scene. Home to classic, vintage threads, the store is a well-known name in the fashion community, having graced the pages of many Japanese menswear magazines. Peruse the racks of vintage military jackets and denim pieces, scooping up dead stock and rare items.

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Ginza Café Paulista (Japan’s oldest café today)

Japan’s cafe culture was born in Ginza in 1911, with Cafe Paulista opening its doors, selling cups of coffee made from imported Brazilian beans at around 5 sen (approximately 900 yen) per cup. The interior was so unique for the time it quickly attracted the interest of new customers, securing its spot as a favourite among trendy locals. Now, 106 years later, it’s Tokyo’s oldest cafe, serving up piping hot cups of history.

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Ginza Six Art Installation

Easily one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world, Ginza is home to the opulent Ginza Six, a high-end complex housing fashion-forward brands like Fendi and Dior. Hidden among boutiques, Ginza Six houses a rotating art installation, showcasing a selection of artworks by globally renowned artists. It’s a rare opportunity to glimpse the bold new world of art, surrounded by luxury stores, for free.

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Nakajima no Ochaya (Teahouse)

The elegant Nakajima no Ochaya teahouse has overlooked the Hama-rikyu Gardens since 1707. Now, gently poised above a tidal pond, it’s the ideal spot to rest quietly on red cloth, carefully laid out on the tatami mat floor. Enjoy a cup of bright green matcha and a traditional sweet or two, while savouring the centuries-old custom of Japanese tea ceremonies.

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