2160 Minutes In… Tokyo


Tokyo: land of Godzil­la, apex of glob­al tech­nol­o­gy and home to a vibrant food cul­ture that nev­er sleeps. Hawk­er stalls fill side streets night­ly and entire neigh­bor­hoods ded­i­cate them­selves to the world’s cuisines, both high-brow and street smart. Yet for all its cov­er­age and not­ed influ­ences on culi­nary icons like David Chang, there is still an air of mys­tery sur­round­ing Toky­o’s tucked-away ramen shops, sushi stalls and fine din­ing enclaves. So for any copy­ed­i­tor who’s girl­friend recent­ly broke up with him because she “had to move to Tokyo all of a sud­den”, we’ve made it our mis­sion to demys­ti­fy Japan’s largest city, one bite at a time.



4 p.m.

After cash­ing in your grand­moth­er’s life insur­ance pol­i­cy in order to pay for a three-lay­over, two-day flight from Tempe, Ari­zona to Tokyo, it’s time to hit the streets. But first a watch, so you can catch your body’s inter­nal clock up to speed with the new time­zone. Plus you don’t want to acci­den­tal­ly call your ex-girl­friend at the wrong hour and spook her, because she has no idea you’re in the city.

Head to BEST新宿本店 (3−17−12 Shin­juku, Tokyo 160‑0022) in the Kabu­ki­cho neigh­bor­hood for a good deal on a mid­dling watch. Then, since you’re in Toky­o’s Red Light dis­trict, make for Robot Restau­rant, which serves rea­son­able ben­to box­es along with danc­ing ladies and actu­al robots! Or save what lit­tle mon­ey you have and get to Mot­t’s Bar, which offers a cheap selec­tion of hibachi options and a ful­ly stocked sake collection.


8 p.m.

Now that you’ve got­ten up enough liq­uid courage, check your wal­let for that slip of paper that your ex Brandy hasti­ly wrote her Tokyo phone num­ber on before leav­ing your apart­ment the night she broke up with you. Give her a call to let her know you’re in Tokyo, and if the only rea­son she broke up with you was because she had to move away, you’re ready to make the long dis­tance thing work. She’ll be sur­prised and hope­ful­ly a lit­tle charmed, which means its time to turn up the heat.

Meet on Odai­ba, the man­made island in Tokyo Bay that serves as a buzzy (very pub­lic, you assured her) hub of nightlife and food. Spice things up by plead­ing with the maître d at Khaz­ana Indi­an Restau­rant (〒135‑0091 Tokyo, Mina­to, Dai­ba) for a table along the water­front, where the fiery food is sure to make Brandy—or any ex-girlfriend—sweat.


11 p.m.

Pull out mom’s bor­rowed cred­it card for a late-night turn at Age­Ha (2−2−10 Shinki­ba, Koto, Tokyo) in near­by Koto dis­trict. One of Japan’s pre­mière night­clubs, the mul­ti-lev­el space plays home to inter­na­tion­al DJs and the young, puls­ing crowds that fol­low. Plus, it’s a great way to show Brandy that you’re not just a guy who likes to play Forza 7 and eat frozen taquitos. In fact, this Tokyo thing might not be so bad.



8 A.M.

After Brandy uncer­tain­ly allows you to sleep in the foy­er of her build­ing, pound on her door until she wakes up and agrees to go with you to Toky­o’s famed Tsuk­i­ji Fish Mar­ket. She’ll claim that “she’s got some stuff to do after this”, but con­sid­er­ing Tsuk­i­ji is the world’s largest fish mar­ket, it’ll be easy to keep stalling her.

Con­sid­er­ing the loca­tion, one sure to keep her around is with a sushi break­fast. Wend through the mar­ket while look­ing for the worn green door mark­ing Sushi Dai (〒104‑0045 Tokyo, Chuo, Tsuk­i­ji, 5−2−1 ), the mar­ket’s best sushi spot. Don’t wor­ry if she seems a bit squirmy, it’s like­ly just the smell. Fuel up for a long day of recom­mit­ment with your lady.


10:30 a.m.

Hop onto the train and head north to the Kei­seiueno stop. Emerge to street lev­el and make for Ameyoko (〒110‑0005 東京都台東区 上野4), one of the city’s most promi­nent day­time hawk­er stalls. Sell­ing every­thing from leather phone cas­es to cheap blous­es, Ameyoko is the per­fect place to buy Brandy a trin­ket and bring up the pos­si­bil­i­ty that you could maybe see your­self liv­ing in Tokyo too, you know, so that you two could still be together.

Don’t let that silence linger! Rejoice in the sound of slurp­ing noo­dles at near­by Junk Garage (〒100‑0005 Tokyo, Chiy­o­da, Marunouchi, 1−9−1), one of Toky­o’s hippest noo­dle shops. If you think upscale Japan­ese cui­sine might make a bet­ter impres­sion, slip into a table at Tonari (2−7−3 Marunouchi

Chiy­o­da, Tokyo 100‑0005) instead.


3 p.m.

After Brandy com­plains that she needs to check in on the office (those intre­pid Japan­ese nev­er stop work­ing!), fight off your over­pow­er­ing jet lag with the bright lights of Shin­juku, Toky­o’s glitzy, puls­ing depart­ment store hub. There’s no way you’ll be sleep­ing here. Besides, Brandy said she’d be meet you soon, so relax with some sim­ple yak­i­tori bites at Hajimeya (1−26−7, Kabu­ki­cho, Shin­juku-ku, Tokyo 160‑0021).

7:30 p.m.

How do you find one per­son in a city of mil­lions? Start by guess­ing at their email pass­word until you’re able to hack in, then search for clues. Score!

Head to Rop­pon­gi and fuel up with a bur­ri­to from Fri­joles (Rop­pon­gi 6−6−9, Piramide Bldg. 1F.) while wait­ing for your “tech­ni­cal­ly” ex-girl­friend to leave her friends’ apart­ment, which you found in an email. Pro tip: wait until she’s all the way out the door of the apart­ment build­ing before jump­ing out to sur­prise her — that way she won’t be able to acci­den­tal­ly run back upstairs!


8:15 p.m.

After being told, in no uncer­tain terms that Brandy stopped lov­ing you a year and a half ago, and found a way to get trans­ferred to Tokyo by her work just so she’d have a rea­son to leave with­out actu­al­ly telling you the truth, and that she nev­er want­ed you to come to Tokyo and she hates Forza 7 and your mom, it’s time for a drink! Make tracks towards the Gin­za Dis­trict, where beau­ti­ful beach­wood walls and end­less bot­tles of warm sake await at Sasa­hana (1−4−9 Gin­za, Chuo, Tokyo 104‑0061). Go to sleep whenever/wherever/who cares.



6:00 a.m.

It’s time to make your way to Hane­da Air­port for the long, mul­ti-stop jour­ney back home. Read­just by throw­ing your watch in the toi­let because it’s the only sou­venir you have from Tokyo and who wants to remem­ber this trip any­way. From there, slide fur­ther back into your old ways with a steam­ing bowl of low-grade beef at the in-air­port Yoshi­noya (4F, EDO MARKET). It’s just like the shit­ty Yoshi­noya you have at home, and there’s some­thing com­fort­ing in that. ✦