Tokyo is a city that shouts. In this brilliant, chaotic capital music blares from giant building-sized TV screens and exceptionally stylish swarms crowd the streets.
Harajuku is a haven for fashionable youth, while ladies who lunch laze in Ginza. But those wanting a more relaxed, intimate Tokyo hang out in up-and-coming Naka-meguro and Daikanyama, south of the chaotic Shibuya. These pretty, quieter areas are peppered with interior design shops, small boutiques, and Euro-style cafes. Although Tokyo is ultra modern, there are pockets of beautiful temples among the skyscrapers — many around the giant museums in Ueno park.
The setting of Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, the Park Hyatt Tokyo (3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku; +813-5322-1234) is a star in its own right — even the spa changing rooms have stunning bird’s-eye views of the city. Hotel Seiyo Ginza (1-11-2 Ginza; +813-3535-1111) is a delightfully feminine alternative in the heart of department store land, a luxury hotel that’s all magnolia and marble — with butler service included. Recently refurbished boutique hotel Claska (1-3-18 Chuo-cho, Meguro-ku; +813-3719-8121) is the less central, edgier choice.
You will find every brand in the world in a larger, more overwhelming form in Tokyo. Art, architecture, and pilgrimage combine in the Prada building (5-2-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; +813-6418-0400) in classy Aoyama, the experimental interior of nearby Undercover (5-3-18 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; +813-3407-1232), and the MTV futurism of Bape Exclusive (5-5-8 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; +813-3407-2145). When you’re fed up with fashion, head to the uber branch of design mecca Muji (3-8-3 Marunouchi; +813-5208-8241), where you’ll find an optician, cafe, and bike shop among minimalist stationery and housewares. Finish by investing in rare Japanese art and photography books at Aoyama Book Centre (6-1-20 Roppongi; +813-3479-0479).
It’s impossible to eat badly in Tokyo: The city has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other in the world. Those in the know get a table at the two-star hidden gem Nihonryori Ryugin (7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku; +813-3423-8006) for seasonal kaiseki dining. Alain Ducasse’s superlative Beige (10f, 3-5-3 Chuo-ku; +813-5159-5500) sits atop Chanel’s flagship in Ginza, and edgy scensters go to Bape Cafe (3-27-22 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; +813-5770-656) in Harajuku and smoke heavily over lunch. Izakaya bar Gonpachi (1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku; +813-5771-0170) is perfect for a lively night of sake and grilled dishes and serves until 5 a.m. For drinks, try turquoise cocktails at the New York Grill at the Park Hyatt or hit exclusive Paris-meets-Japan club Le Baron (3-8-40 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; +813-3408-3665), with private Marc Newson-designed karaoke rooms.
Tokyo’s where the streets have no names (yes, really), so print out a map before you go anywhere. Even the locals keep Internet maps on their cell phones.