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Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
This Scandi café is a dark, wooden refuge serving coffee in the daytime and alcoholic treats by night. Surrounded by vintage Norwegian furniture, or sitting outside on benches watching the world go by just minutes from Yoyogi Park, customers at Fuglen come for the nostalgic atmosphere of 1950s Norway and stay for the perfectly roasted brews, supplied by Fuglen’s own small roastery.
The Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki creates some of Japan’s most well-loved craft beers. At its flagship brewery bar near Akihabara station, beer fans can study the art of brewing in hands-on classes, while 10 taps serve all the Hitachino Nest favourites; from the espresso stout through to its white and ginger ales and lager.
Billed as “the world’s first drip-tea shop”, this unassuming café in Sanenjaya lets customers sit at its counter bar and watch as staff prepare hand-dripped tea in beautiful apparatus. The café claims to showcase the difference between bottled teas – commonly consumed in Japan and purchased from convenience stores and vending machines – and the carefully prepared drip teas. For 1300 yen (about £9) you can try both and pick your team.
Dagashi refers to low-priced street snacks and sweets that have largely disappeared Tokyo and provide something of a nostalgic treat for those in their 20s and 30s. A new wave of dagashi bars have sprung up in Tokyo, with Showa-era style exteriors, all-you-can-eat sweets (for a fixed price or after purchasing a drink), alcohol, memorabilia and occasionally retro games. The main chain, Dagashi Bar, currently has four premises in Ebisu, Ningyocho, Ikebukuro and Shibuya.
Luxuriating with a cocktail and an eye-popping night view is an absolute must before leaving the capital – if for no other reason than to appreciate its magnitude and feel a sense of awe at the vast, twinkling city so far below. The Peak Bar on 41st floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, offers a setting softly lit by Japanese lanterns and enshrouded by a bamboo grove. Even better is the 4,000 yen “happy hour” deal between 5pm and 9pm, when cocktails, wine and canapés just keep on coming.
Exclusively open from 15 June until 15 October each year, Beer Mount is the highest beer garden in Tokyo, situated on the slopes of Mount Takao at an elevation of 500m. After hiking this rare green space in the city, the beer garden offers hikers two hours of all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink deliciousness for around £24 per person, with DIY highball stations, cocktails, wine and beer. Outdoor seating provides flawless views over the city, including the garish but alluring Tokyo SkyTree tower and the bay of Yokohama.
Walls lined with over 1,200 different bottles of whisky from across the globe make up this atmospheric hideout in Aoyama. For first time whisky drinkers there’s a clear standard menu to get started with, while connoisseurs can delight in finding all of their favourites in one spot.
At this serve-yourself sake bar a 3,000 yen (£20) entry fee allows free exploring, pouring and drinking of hundreds of types of sake. Customers are welcome to bring their own food and nibbles, and every hour staff and customers take part in a “kanpai” (cheers) with water, to avoid any brutal hangovers the next day. The brand has outposts all across the city, including Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno and Ikebukuro.
An intimate late-night spot with a speakeasy vibe filled with vintage books and comfortable sofas. Sip on fresh fruit cocktails until the early hours of the morning.
This achingly hip spot feels like you’re partying in someone’s house. It also has a secret club at the back that plays everything from electronic music to rock – check the listings on their website before you go.
Once you find the ornately carved wooden door and get passed the ¥1,000 (£5) seating charge, you will sip on calvados from goblets in a sumptuous setting of red velvet and chandeliers. Be warned: it’s pretty small, with space only for eight…
Mixologist Gen Yamamoto is to cocktails what Heston Blumenthal is to food. A cosy eight-seater sushi counter lookalike, this bar takes drinks very seriously. Not cheap, but this is an award-winning, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Hipster bicycle-makers from Brooklyn run this dimly lit wooden watering hole. Sip mojitos and rub shoulders with bearded cycle enthusiasts, travellers and locals.
Zoetrope is known among connoisseurs for its vast collection of whiskies. But the drinks menu is not the only reason to visit; subtitled films play on a projector here as and award-winning soundtrack reverberates around the bar. Darkened and fitting only about 30 people, Zoetrope has a list of whiskies unrivalled anywhere else in the city and meeting the incredibly knowledgable barman/ owner is the cherry on top.
Housed in a former jeans factory in between the old offices of VICE, a photo studio and a marketing agency, Berry is a clandestine bar where anything goes. Play beer pong with the hottest new start-up employees or simply revel in the randomness of it all.
Almost impossible to find – it’s on the fifth floor of what appears to be an apartment block – this bar is about the size of a living room with eclectic furniture to match. The staff speak very little English and their menus are in Japanese, so ask (or sign) them to give you what they think you would like. All the drinks are based on different retro video-game characters and the bar has a variety of vintage games and figurines. The clientele tend to be both very eccentric and very friendly. It’s probably one of the best novelty bars to visit in Tokyo − if you can find it.
Golden Gai is a tiny fragment of old Tokyo that has miraculously survived the years, although it is somewhat dwarfed by the surrounding high-rise buildings. It consists of six tiny alleyways lined by almost 200 tiny bars. Some are so small that only five or six people can fit in at any one time and most have a seating charge due to their diminutive size.
Albatross is a tiny three-storey bar that seats around 30 people. You want to be sitting at the bar, where there are giant chandeliers and jewellery-wearing animal heads on the walls. Your favourite R&B hits will be played throughout the night and the drinks are fantastic, if a little overpriced.
Set up by a Japanese woman called Nana who was a flamenco singer, the bar has since been passed down to friends, who are very loyal to her and the way in which she ran the business. The staff are extremely friendly and keen to tell you the story behind the graffitied walls and painted ceiling. If you hang around long enough the barman may offer you a taste of his traditional Japanese cucumber (grown on a plot nearby) with his secret dressing as a bar snack.
This is the most influential club on the techno scene in Tokyo. There’s is no entrance fee and all drinks cost about £3. When you’ve had enough of Oath, venture deeper into the building to fellow techno club, Tunnel, in the basement.
Models and bottles, Vanity is Tokyo’s answer to Boom Boom Room in New York. Situated on the 14th floor with a phenomenal 360-degree view of the city, it is a great spot for Tokyo first-timers. DJs spin cheesy crowd-pleasers like Rihanna and Avicii for the boys and girls dressed to the nines. There are also private karaoke rooms for when you get tired of dancing.
A well-respected establishment that has one of the best sound systems in the world, Sound Museum Vision is an enormous club sitting in the heart of Shibuya. It is separated into rooms which have different moods and considers itself a meeting point for motion graphics and music.
If you follow directions to Trump Rooms, you will arrive at a building with a grate over the door where you’ll hear the music. Head around the back of the block and you will find a diverse mix of Japanese and foreigners from the fashion, film and art worlds overflowing from a club made up of four floors, each decorated slightly differently with a variety of musical genres to match.
A tiny old-school institution that makes the perfect cocktails. Low lighting and an interesting mix of characters add an air of mystique.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
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