Sunday, April 08, 2012


Stumbling upon a cherub on the streets of Ginza is very Tokyo. Amid all the cool architecture and sleek design there’s a lot of cute. Or in this instance, whimsy. But back to cute for a minute... pooches never had it so good.

If you can stop for a minute and not be bowled over by the crowds...

...look to the sky.
Around Shinjuku, Ometsando Hills, Shibuya and Ginza, the skyscrapers are things of beauty. Ginza is Tokyo’s 5th Ave, with the luxury brands flaunting their prestige. The Hermes building (below) is entirely made from glass bricks,

and Abercrombie & Fitch, takes eight floors of teensy tiny shorts and crisp shirts, not to mention the scent of aftershave being pumped through the air con to waft over all the beautiful people, to say Tokyo, we've arrived. I've heard it said the scent is meant to be subliminal promotion. Allegedly you, and everyone you encounter till you next reach a shower, will be reminded of the A&F brand. For my money, the staircase makes the statement rather better. 
The department stores elevate merchandising to art.
And the food halls, too. The is Mitsukoshi department store before I was told to put down the camera.

And this is afternoon tea, courtesy of Isetan, one of Tokyo’s grandest department stores.

Sunday afternoon in Harujuku gives new meaning to pulling a crowd...
and the Harujuku girls are still flocking, though this time I saw none as grand as these I came across in 2009 (pardon the time travel, but you can see they are worthy of it).
For an afternoon of kicking back, we decided to go enjoy hanami (flower viewing) at Yoyogi park...

with a few thousand others. The first weekend of the season, and one week off its full glory, hanami is a huge event in the calendar year for the Japanese. Emerging from winter, the first burst of spring weather and the party is in full swing. But it's full bloom and its fleeting passage that everyone is holding their breath for. And no wonder because this, below, is merely the prelude. 

Friday, April 06, 2012


Tokyo deserves more than a 3 day stopover, but if you're only passing through, you can still pack alot in to 72 hours. Easy to navigate, safe, and oh-so-civilised, I find it's not so much lost in translation as found. Its elegant aesthetic, sophisticated design, incredible shopping, to-die-for food and lively arts scene are a compelling mix. First stop, a Book Fair for photography types in Ometsando Hills.

On to dinner at Mugen Shibuyaten, in where else, Shibuya. Pull up a stool, order a beer and watch your food being cooked on a hot grill.
Japanese fare, prepared simply, allowing the produce to shine, standouts include melt-in-the-mouth sashimi, giant scallops, and grilled aparagus.  

Be one of the last to leave. 
Walk it off. 
Find an absinthe bar in Ebisu.
Order the green fairy. 
Let someone else drink it. 

Stumble past an old-style bar, as they were during the 1940s.

And do a spot of window shopping in Ginza on your way home.
Tomorrow, it's all about hanami (flower viewing) as the cherry blossoms start to bloom. Until then...