- SOI, KAPPABASHI DORI
In the middle of Kappabashi, which is the street for wholesale kitchen equipment where restaurants (and also people like me!) buy their pots, pans, Japanese knives and gorgeous white and blue dinnerware, is a little shop that sells a mix of very reasonably priced antique furniture, and delicately designed objects: glasses, vases, teaware.
2. Best Vintage Store, Thrift Shop, or Flea Market
- SUNDAY FLEA MARKET AT YASUKINI SHRINE
This has to be the best kept secret in Tokyo: every Sunday, except when it rains, the shrine gardens turn into one big flea/antique market, where you can find a lot of treasures at great prices. It's close to where I live so I try to go every Sunday!
3. Best Bookstore
- KINOKUNIYA, SHINJUKU
Whenever I'm a bit down (it's not so easy living in a country where you hardly speak the language!), I go to the Kinokuniya bookstore. It has a huge foreign section of magazines and books, including the latest paperbacks! I've started buying Japanese decorating books as well.
4. Favorite Coffee Shop, Café, or Restaurant
- LA BRETAGNE, KAGURAZAKA
For French crepes. This lovely little restaurant is very authentic, and when I go there it's like going home to my parents'! The Canadian waiter is so happy to speak French, he will chat up a storm, but he's not stingy with the caramels he hands out with the check!
5. Best Hardware/Paint Store
- TOKYO HANDS, SHINJUKU
Imagine 7 stories of DIY, stationary and homewares. The place to go for Japanese tape and kitchen gadgets! I've bought many things that I've not been able to use because of their Japanese instructions, like the "make your own potato chips in the microwave" or "make your own silver jewelry"...
6. Best Place to Pick Up Groceries
- KITCHEN COURT, USHIGOME KAGURAZAKA
Japanese fruits are sold by the piece, and often at outrageous prices! 30$ a melon?
7. Best Place to Buy Flowers
- MONCEAU FLEURS, KOISHIKAWA
Japanese people love their flowers, they make them into perfect ikebana creations! I don't have the patience for arrangements but I love flowers. I've found that Monceau Fleurs has the cheapest, and a big choice. I also like tiny the flowershops in Nissin supermarket, and Muji Yurakucho for their original choice of flowers.
8. Best Neighborhood Park
- SHINJUKU GYOEN
Shinjuku Gyoen, especially during hanami (cherry-blossom season), when everyone gathers there for a picnic. Tokyo is known for its futuristic skyscrapers, but it's actually a very traditional city, with beautiful gardens. Each garden has something different to offer, depending on the seasons.
9. Best Spot to Take Visitors
A walk trough Nezu/Yanaka, with its old wooden houses and unpretentious temples. This is another one of Tokyo's best kept secrets! Old shops selling calligraphy ink and origami paper, rows of wooden houses and a temple on each block! Yanaka escaped the fires, bombings of the past, and so a lot of its history is intact. This is the first place I take my visitors!
Photos: Marion Thanks, Marion!
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