Sick of Tokyo’s Tourist Traps? Visit These Hidden Gems!

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Sick of Tokyo’s Tourist Traps? Visit These Hidden Gems!

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Every traveler knows that they have to visit the Shibuya crossing and eat sushi during their stay in Tokyo; but after visiting all of these places, where do you go next? Here are five less obvious and certainly more unique things to do to make any traveler’s experience in Tokyo as exciting and memorable as possible.

 

1. Shiseido Gallery (Ginza)

Nicole E. (12)
Photographs of Shinzo Fukuhara and Shiseido’s historical buildings are on display in the gallery. Check out this season’s display!

Trade your daily Starbucks visit with a trip to the Shiseido Gallery, a minimalistic art studio which celebrates Japanese contemporary artists. Located in the basement of the Shiseido Parlour building, the Shiseido Gallery is the perfect escape from the busy streets of Ginza.

Upon stepping off the elevator, you are welcomed with a cup of hot coffee and are encouraged to sit and sift through the various booklets explaining the exhibition. This season, the gallery features the work of Shinzo Fukuhara, the founder of Shiseido, and focuses on his theme: “Going beyond and participating in beauty”. The gallery is surrounded by vintage photographs and pastel walls, making it the perfect location to mentally unwind and appreciate the elegance in the gallery’s simplicity.

What we loved: No entrance fee!
What we didn’t love: The gallery was eerily quiet: we wouldn’t recommend going with a group of friends.

 

2. Kit Kat Chocolatory (Ginza)

Ayra K. (12)
A display of all the Kit Kat flavors, including sublime matcha, ruby chocolate and butter, exclusively available on the Chocolatory’s first floor.

If you are a Kit Kat lover, this is the place for you! Ginza’s Kit Kat Chocolatory houses rows of unique flavors of Kit Kats, from Sublime Matcha to Strawberry Maple. The welcoming staff is ready to answer any questions you may have and give personal recommendations.

If you have an extra minute, grab a bite to eat at the Kit Kat Chocolatory Cafe, located on the second floor of the building. The cafe’s menu offers a range of drinks, from espressos to hot chocolate, and a variety of pastries displayed at the cafe’s entrance. This time, we tried the limited-edition “Ruby Chocolate with Raspberry” chocolate drink, which came with a single ruby Kit Kat on the side. Retailing at 1,000 yen, the drink (which came in a mini-sized cup) may seem pricey, but the chocolate is thick and the experience is certainly unique to Japan, making it worth the price.

What we loved: The magnificent Kit Kat pyramid which is on display on the first floor.
What we didn’t love: The store is on a smaller street which is a bit difficult to locate.

 

3. Salsita (Hiroo)

Ayra K. (12)
One of the most popular dishes at Salsita is the vegetarian burrito which comes with five sides, including bean dip with tortilla chips and guacamole.

“The real Mexican taste in Tokyo.” Located right below Hiroo’s Vegan Cafe, this small, underground restaurant gives a full-on sensory experience. From the soundtrack in the background, to the stone walls covered with Mexican artwork, this restaurant is authentic, transporting you far from Tokyo. While the menu is quite limited serving mostly burritos and enchilada dishes, it caters to vegetarians as well as meat lovers, offering what we think are some of the best burritos in the city. The service is quick and the portions are perfect. If you are planning on grabbing a treat after school or whenever you are around the Hiroo area, drop by Salsita- you won’t be disappointed!

What we loved: The lively atmosphere followed by amazing food.
What we didn’t love: Space is limited, and depending on the time of day, it can get pretty crowded.

 

4. Roppongi Hills Observation Deck (Roppongi)

Nicole E. (12)
Tokyo skyline at dusk on the Roppongi Hills Observation Deck with a glimpse of Mt. Fuji in the background. The deck is open every day 11am and 8pm and admissions costs 500 yen for high school students!

Located on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower (one of the many high-rise buildings in Roppongi Hills), the Roppongi Hills observation deck offers perhaps one of the greatest views of Tokyo. The view is especially spectacular the at night; the city, which is simply a scatter of buildings and roads during the day, turns into a light show once the sun sets. Buildings of all sizes emit lights of all colors, contributing to a beautiful, painting-like scenery.

One of the most breathtaking parts of the whole experience is looking down at what looks like a red river running down the center of the city. In actuality, this “river” is simply cars running along a busy, wide road. When the stop lights turn red and the cars come to a stop, a beautiful line of red is produced. On clearer nights, one may even catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. The silhouette of the mountain lingers in the distance, adding a touch of nature to an otherwise heavily urban place.

What we loved: There are no glass windows blocking this beautiful view. Also, it is located in Roppongi, in close proximity to many eating and shopping locations.
What we didn’t love: Lines can get really long.

 

5. Aoyama Flower Market Tea House (Aoyama)

Ayra K. (12)
Try Aoyama Flower Market Tea House’s twist on a traditional parfait, topped with jelly and crushed petals. The Flower Parfait retails at 850 yen.

Nestled away in a small building beside Omotesando, the Aoyama Flower Tea Market is a cozy breakfast and lunch spot hidden behind a vibrant flower market. This cafe is definitely a must-go destination for every plant lover. Seasonal pink roses scent the atmosphere, arches of leaves surround each table, and the sound of waterfalls fill the room in tune with the unique garden theme. Not only is this cafe beautiful, but the food is both delicious as well as aesthetically pleasing. We would definitely recommend trying a unique flavor of tea alongside your lunch. Overall, the Aoyama Flower Tea Market is the perfect place for a lunch date with your friends or family. Pro-tip: don’t forget to grab a plant on your way out!

What we loved: The staff was kind and helpful and the food was delicious.
What we didn’t love: The wait can get long-we’d recommend going around 11am/12pm. The seating is also limited, making it difficult to go with large groups.

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