Tokyo, Japan
Miki, 34
see her Tokyo city guide

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local design art galleries café art/design workshop japanese food

What are the Tokyo spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

All the beautiful shrines and temples that have been around for easily hundreds of years. The drinking alleys of Tokyo where you sit at a tiny bar and share drunk conversations with strangers. Entertainment izakayas with a group of friends (Robot Restaurant, The Lock Up, Yurei Izakaya, Ninja Akasaka, etc.) for those who want to experience the cyber city feel. The Yanesen area if you like the traditional local Japanese feel. Daikanyama, if you want to visit trendy shops and boutiques. Shibuya crossing for those who want to experience the busiest intersection in the world. Stop by Tokyu Hands Shibuya to buy things you never knew you wanted!

Do’s and don’ts in Tokyo: (Ex: Tipping: yes/ no, public transport tips, safety tips etc.):

Train & bus are our main transportation, and trains are precisely on time to the minute. Uber is useless so take a cab if necessary. As long as you stay away from the nightclub districts, it's super safe no matter how late at night. Part of the fun in Tokyo is getting lost and finding random hidden gems :) Lots of places have no websites for their business, and we still live in a cash-based society, so make sure the store accepts credit cards before ordering and try to carry cash. We also have no tipping culture and sometimes tipping can come off rude, don't try it. 24 hour convenience stores will be your best friend with free Wi-Fi.

What do you do and why do you do it?

I'm an artist and art connector. I love anything around contemporary art, and I also naturally love connecting people. I mainly paint by mixing Japanese traditional with Western painting techniques. If I'm not painting, I'm usually busy taking a client around the Tokyo art scene, translating phone bids for art auction houses, or researching new art talent and businesses in Tokyo.

How much do you spend on an average night out on the town?

I'm an early bird, so I like to spend my quality hours during the day and around nature.

Which Tokyo shops do you hit up when you’re itching for something new?

Daikanyama T-site, especially around the art magazine section for new inspiration. I enjoy gallery hopping on my own to see what Japanese artists are coming up with. I also love to just walk around random neighborhoods and find hidden gem spots that I would never find on the internet.

Which neighborhood is it best to experience during the day / night?

Yanesen and Daikanyama are best during the day.

What’s the one place in Tokyo you think is underrated?

As a resident, I think Suginami ward is so underrated. (I kinda hope it stays that way to be honest.) It has a great local residential feel without it being too crazy, with big nature parks and fun artsy areas like Koenji.

Where would you take a date for a romantic night out?

I would start off with a nice restaurant around Azabu Juban, and end it at one of the bars that has an amazing night-time view of Tokyo.

Drunk and hungry - where do you go in Tokyo?

I don't drink anymore. When I used to drink, I would end up in late night ramen shops...

It's freeeeezing out - what should a visitor do?

Visit some of the Art Hub buildings where there are lots of independent galleries, shops, and cafes gathered inside so you can spend a significant time indoors in one location. Tokyo Joypolis is a fun indoor amusement park if you want to be active, and with friends. All of the entertainment izakayas will be such a blast to visit in groups too! Eat lots of delicious hot pots and ramen noodles. If you love hot springs and want the real deal, I'd recommend heading out to Hakone for a Japanese spa day at the natural hot springs.

Where do you take your guest when you want to impress?

My secret spots in Nishi-Azabu.

Your go-to brunch spots:

The concept of brunch is not that strong in Japan. Let me know if you find one!

Your perfect night out in Tokyo includes:

Start with a great gallery opening reception, on to dinner with great food and great company in a relaxed atmosphere, ending on a happy feeling after quality conversations well into the night!

You’re meeting the mayor of Tokyo - what constructive criticism would you give them?

We need a no smoking indoors regulation, especially in restaurants.

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Madashi Kuroha