City Guide: Tokyo
In my unending search to uncover all the top ICO companies globally and fundraise for ourselves and for our clients, we ended up in Asia (the place of all places for everything blockchain and crypto related). Much to our surprise, it ended up being far better than any of us could have imagined. The market there is just booming and we got to meet the who’s who of the blockchain space everywhere we went. During our Asia tour, we ended up traveling to: Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and Hong Kong. It had been about a year since I had been in Asia and every time I go back, my love for the far east grows stronger and stronger.
I decided to break down my trip based on each city that we went to and follow my City Guides structure in terms of where to stay, where to eat, where to drink, where to get self-care, where to shop and where to play. I didn’t bring my usual DSLR camera since it was a work trip, so everything was shot via iPhone. Enjoy!
T O K Y O 東京都
Stay: The Peninsula, Chiyoda. We arrived in Tokyo where we stayed at The Peninsula Hotel located in Chiyoda. Chiyoda is an area within Tokyo known for being the business district. It is home to the Imperial Palace, Hibiya Park, Natural Museum of M1odern Art and the Yasukuni Shrine. It’s not the most glamorous or the most lively part of town, but it’s central and hosts some of the cities best five-star hotels (plus!). The Peninsula is my favorite hotel in Tokyo. Everything is curated from the gigantic fitting room style walk-in closets to the spa music in the bathrooms (complete with your very own bath salts from their legendary spa). It was the perfect place to stay for this trip, since we were able to take several of our investor meetings in the hotel lobby which was quiet enough to host tea and coffee and get down to business with investors. One of the nights we hosted an investor dinner upstairs at The Nest at Peter, which was a private room with one oversized round dining table with some of the best sky-scraping views of Tokyo. We circled back to Tokyo after Seoul and also stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel for our second stay, which is a great hotel for business trips and business travelers. I don’t love the rooms as much since they feel more corporate, but it’s really hard to complain when it’s a five-star hotel as well (make sure to check out their bomb showers if you end up staying).
Eat: The first night after we got off an 11-hour flight from LAX, we booked dinner at an izakaya restaurant called Namikibashi Nakamura in Shibuya. It came recommended to me by a friend of mine that frequents Tokyo and enjoys fine foods and extensive sake collections. We had a multi-course tasting menu which included everything from maki to wagyu beef and stacks on stacks on stacks of ridiculously good sake. Fuzuzushi was another spot that we had dinner at one night, which had possibly the best fish that I have ever had in my life. I’m not a huge fatty tuna fan, but it literally just melted in your mouth. We ordered a la carte and had a ton of different sashimi, nigiri, maki, and tempura. We also went to eat at the Tsukiji fish market one of the afternoons and stopped into Sushi Dai. No explanation is needed since it's legendary on it’s own. Also, if you’re looking for coffee, About Life Coffee Brewers is my favorite coffee shop in Japan.
Drink: I would love to say that we went out for drinks at least one night, but sadly we didn’t. We were so slammed with meetings and dinners that we were totally exhausted by the end of the night and just wanted to wind down with a massage. If we were to go out, some of my favorite spots are Iron Fairies, Bar Gen Yamamoto, Bar Martha, Wodka Tonic, Y&M Bar Kisling, Bar Rage and Bar Track. The complete list can be found in my Tokyo City Guide here. On our loop back to Tokyo, we did have an investor dinner one evening at The New York Grill at the Park Hyatt (where Lost in Translation was filmed) and stopped into the New York Bar for a brief moment to enjoy some jazz and cocktails.
Care: Japan is known for their Shiatsu (指圧) massages. Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork based on the ideas from traditional Chinese medicine. In Hiragana, Shiatsu means “finger pressure” and the massage usually features fingers, thumbs, feet and palms, stretching, and helps with joint manipulation and mobilization. Unlike traditional Chinese massages, Shiatsu massages are done wearing tight clothes (such as yoga pants and a tank top). The good thing about staying at five-star hotels is the fact that you can pretty much get anything you want. For us, this meant midnight massages every other night. The spas were obviously closed during the time that we wanted to get massages, so the concierge helped coordinate masseuses to come to our room at midnight. But if you have time to go to the spa at The Peninsula, it’s pretty legendary, so make sure to check it out. The Shangri-La Hotel has really awesome nail technicians too, so you can get all sorts of nail art like sushi, animals, etc.// Concierge at The Peninsula Tokyo and Concierge at The Shangri-La Hotel.
Shop: Tokyo was the city that we spent the most time in out of all of the cities that we traveled to. Let’s get one thing straight- any fashionable person will travel to Tokyo to acquire and purchase vintage. Full stop. Their vintage and second hand collections rival those of Paris that you would find on rue Saint-Honoré and are usually pieces that are from designer collaborations or limited editions and they all are in great shape still. My favorite shops have multiple outposts around town such as: Chicago, Flamingo, Rag Tag, Vintage Qoo and AMORE. Chicago is the only place you should go if you are looking to pick up vintage Kimono’s. They are soooo dope and super reasonable, but you have to search for them when you are in the shops. Usually there will be an entire room dedicated to Kimono's and some of them are on special sale with a price tag as low as $15. I would say the average price is $40 for a vintage printed one. The best Japanese street brands are: Neighborhood, A Bathing Ape, Visvim, Y-3, and Wacko Maria. I also love Undercover, W Taps, Junya Watanabe, COMME des GARCONS, Uniqlo, and Kenzo. Check out Grind and Sense Magazines, the Dover Street Market store, and the Nanyodo Bookshop in Tokyo for used Japanese architecture books in Jinbocho.
Play: We booked the Robot Show in Shinjuku, which is the best way to welcome newcomers to Japan (it’s a robot performance with a bunch of oversized robots, go-go dancers dressed up as anime characters, and cheesy acts that are well equipped with a slew of song and dance). No trip to Tokyo is complete without also doing a traditional Japanese Tea Party, so we booked Sakurai Tea Experience and had a multi-course tea tasting with snack pairings. Shinya Sakurai took over 12 years to become a tea master and after many years of training, he opened a tea shop in the heart of Minato-ku on the concept of tea being a form of medicine. After experiencing my own tea ceremony at his shop that involved him carefully crating, roasting, and brewing my tea, I couldn’t help but appreciate all the patience and dedication that goes into this tradition even more. Also make sure to take some time to check out Issey Miyake’s new design museum by Tadao Nando.