City Guide

Four Hours in Tokyo - 2006

30 Apr 2006 by intern11
No, you don’t have to spend all your free time at a karaoke bar in the Japanese capital. Just follow Martin Webb as he browses in the coolest boutiques, bowls with Hello Kitty and gets a rub down

Browse at BBC

Hipsters hitting Tokyo usually head straight for Harajuku and the HQ of hottest hip hop fashion brand, A Bathing Ape. The label has recently hooked up with multi-platinum-selling music producer Pharrell Williams to create the Billionaire Boys Club (BBC) line, which offers hoodies, jeans, shirts and tees with a retro sci-fi theme. The BBC store is fitted out with a huge 1950s-look space rocket inside a glass cylinder and kitsch space-age murals, and next door is a small shop dedicated to Williams’ footwear brand Ice Cream. 4-28-22 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.  Open 1100 to 2200. (Nearest station: Meijijingumae.)

Walk the lane

For a few hours a day, Brunswick’s Cosmic Bowling in Ikebukuro, northern Tokyo, gets true to its name and goes a little bit cosmic. In an alley covered in luminous Hello Kitty murals, elaborate nightclubstyle lights, a DJ spinning pounding dance music, neon-pink bowling balls and a guy running around in a bowling pin suit make this possibly the most out-there bowling experience in existence. It’s cute, it’s cheesy, it’s totally Tokyo.  1-30-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshimaku. Open daily. (Nearest station: Ikeburo.)

Gorge on gothic

Tokyo boasts a huge number of theme bars and restaurants, but few are quite as spectacular as Christon Cafe, which goes totally over the top with gothic Christian iconography including stainedglass windows, organ music, crucifixes and a vaulted ceiling replete with snarling gargoyles and smiling cherubs. The place is reasonably priced but quite luxurious, with huge armchairs set around small private booths hidden behind crimson latex curtains. The menu focuses on Asian fusion cuisine and features macabre touches like a coffin-shaped menu. B1F, 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, tel 81 3 5728 2225. Open daily.  (Nearest station: Shibuya.)

Buy the brand

10 Corso Comoe Comme des Garcons is a collaboration between Italian fashion store and the Japanese superbrand. It features exclusive merchandise from some of the world’s most sought after labels including Balenciaga, Alaia and Helmut Lang, as well as lines from the CDG stable such as Junya Watanabe and the newly launched Tao. Also dotted around the store’s stark concrete interior are objets d’art for the home, coffee table books, a selection of CDs and fragrances. 5-3-4 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku. Open daily from 1100 to 2200. (Nearest station: Omotesando.)

Get rubbed by a robot

Piu Bello is one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to try out the Avant Santelubain 999 automatic personal washing machine. Robots are taking on an increasing number of domestic chores in Japan, and this technology, intially developed for old people’s homes, has been enhanced and to offer a luxurious and pampering experience. Upon slipping inside the clamshell-like contraption, you can select from a variety of functions, including “Body Shampoo & Shower” and “Sound Therapy” 3F Miyahiro Bldg, 3-5-15 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, tel 81 3 5786 1166. Open daily except Tuesday. (Nearest station Omotesando.)

Pick up a kite

One of the most visually stimulating of Tokyo’s obscure museums is the Kite Museum.  Though small, it’s filled with a stunning collection of vividly coloured kites in traditional Japanese designs. One of these, available at the museum shop, make great souvenirs. 5F Taimeiken Building, 1-12-10 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku. Open Monday to Saturday, 1100 to 1700.  (Nearest station: Nihonbashi.)

Enter a black box

In Harajuku’s Cat Street, the spiritual home of Tokyo’s streetfashion subculture, stands a huge Tadao Ando-designed stealth bomber-style black box. The monolith is home to interior-design retailer’s collaboration with Armani Casa and carries pricey Italian interior-design products. This store is a must-see for anyone interested in contemporary architecture. 6-14-5 Jingumae Shibuya-ku. Open daily, 1200-2200. (Nearest station: Meijijingumae.)

Admire anime

With manga and anime increasingly finding eage consumers overseas, the new Tokyo Anime centre is capitalising on this boom. Opened in March, it houses a gallery featuring exclusive video footage and exhibition-style displays as well as a 3D theater previewing upcoming releases for TV and the big screen. There is also a store selling exclusive merchandise. Information is in English, Mandarin and Korean.   4F Akihabara Cross Field, 4-14-1 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku. Open daily from 1100 to 1900. (Nearest station: Akihabara.).
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