Tokyo Tourguide: Rina Sawayama

Tokyo Tourguide: Rina Sawayama

Rina Sawayama, 22-year-old pop princess, avid nail artist,
ramen fanatic and your go-to-girl for quirky Tokyo tips.

Born in Niigata, Japan, Rina moved to London at the age of five
and after studying at Cambridge, she became the vocalist of Lazy
Lion Band and signed to Anti-Agency, the new cult model collective.
This year will see Rina setting out on her own with a solo EP, with
a track ‘Tokyo Takeover’ dedicated to her birthplace.

Despite growing up in the UK, Rina’s connection to Japan has
remained strong. She grew up listening to J-Pop – the likes of
Utada, Ayumi Hamasaki, Speed, and MAX – and returns to Tokyo to see
family and “have a really sweaty summer when I need one.” Japan,
she says, has made her more playful. She’s never grown out of
Kawaii, Sanrio stuff or cute stationary and is still 100 per cent a
computer game nerd.

Here Rina gives us a quick-fire guide to Tokyo

First place you go to eat:

As soon as I get off the plane I go anywhere on Ramen
, a narrow lane filled with little ramen shops. The
cheaper the better.

Best sushi in the city:

Sushi Dai in Tsukiji market – you have to go there at 4AM. Or
Midori Sushi.

Best breakfast in Tokyo:

Well it’s technically not breakfast but I’ve frequented a
24-hour restaurant in Shibuya that people go to at 6AM after the
clubs have closed, before the first train. I’ve fallen asleep in a
bowl of ramen there.

Where to go for a girl’s night out:

Its not really girly but I love going to Golden Gai (a small
area in Shinjuku) for a drink. I heard it’s got the most number of
bars per sq km in the whole world, and each of them has its own
character. Most bars only have around seven seats so its really
intimate. You get to chat to the Mama of the bar and get wasted
with the other patrons who are all very interesting characters.

Best cocktail in Tokyo?

Bar Orchardin Ginza – the bartender shows you a basket of fresh
fruit, you pick a couple out and they make a bespoke cocktail on
the spot. It’s the tastiest cocktail I’ve ever had. Also, the bar
on the 52nd floor in Park Hyatt Tokyo is where Lost in Translation was
filmed, so that’s great for the view.

Where do you go for crazy accessories?

GR8 in Harajuku Laforet or Shibuya 109.

Where would you go for shopping on a budget?

Takeshita Dori(a pedestrian street in Harajuku) and
Shimokitazawa(a cool neighbourhood on the western side of Tokyo) is
fairly cheap, but for the real bargains I go to Mode Off(Ueno
station). Its a chain second hand clothing store that has an
inhouse team that cleans and restores the clothes. It’s super clean
so it doesn’t smell all mouldy like your usual vintage store.

What must a tourist never do in Japan?

DON’T SPIT OUT FOOD. Once a guy at a sushi counter got the death
stare from the sushi chef because he ate some sort of slimy fish he
wasn’t used to, and then spat it out. It was super awkward. Oh, and
also don’t say you’re vegetarian or intolerant to anything because
people probably won’t understand what you mean.

Walk or public transport?

Public transport – it’s air conditioned, clean and lovely.

Nighttime or daytime?

Nighttime. Japan is the safest place to go out. Once a bunch of
us decided to take a two-hour drunk nap on a busy pavement in
Shinjuku with our passports, wallets, everything and no one stole
anything or pissed on us. Japanese businessmen sleep like this all
the time, it’s like a really normal thing to do when you’re drunk
over there.

What to wear in Tokyo?

Go as wild as possible – people in Tokyo might stare but they
won’t judge.

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