THE INSIDERS TOKYO DESIGN
WANDER: Upmarket Aoyama’s main thoroughfares are renowned for highend fashion houses, glamorous fit-outs and cutting-edge architecture. But there’s also a certain bliss to be found in the quieter surrounding laneways where a host of smaller boutiques, eateries, bars, galleries and homeware stores offer more reasonable alternatives for the design and lifestyle conscious; gotokyo.org/en.
SHOP: Tucked beneath a decommissioned railway station (Manseibashi between Kanda and Ochanomizu on the Chuo Line) inside a tunnel of polished concrete arches is a thoughtfully presented selection of beautifully crafted Japanese wares and must-have decorative items for house or body. MAAch ecute is a treasure trove; maach-ecute.jp.
EAT: In an unassuming residential laneway opposite a whisper-quiet temple complex is L’Effervescence, which offers a dining experience designed to ensure each guest is treated not only to a wonderfully executed meal but an array of visual delights. An almost womb-dark, intimate foyer opens onto a lightfilled dining room with subtle but mesmerising views of a Zen-inspired garden. Waiters carry trays of meticulously plated food on covetable ceramics up the staircase-cum-catwalk from the kitchen, which doubles as a performance space. The meal finishes with a short tea ceremony executed by staff trained in the art; leffervescence.jp.
DRINK: A peaceful outdoor bar is perched on the rooftop of Amuse Museum, which holds a small collection of traditional and contemporary arts, craft and design. The bar menu is limited but the views directly over the Asakusa district’s vermilion Senso-ji temple complex are magnificent; amusemuseum.com.
STAY: Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, a 164-room boutique member of the Hyatt hotels group, offers multifunctional precincts in a gallery-like space that will appeal to those who love comfort and eclectic style. Public areas, including lifts, are adorned with modern art and textural installations of wood, paper and stone. Guestrooms are visual and ergonomic gems; tokyo.andaz.hyatt.com.
Jane Lawson is an Australian writer who specialises in Japan where she hosts regular cuisine and culture tours for Zenbu Tours. Her latest book is Tokyo Style Guide (Murdoch Books). More: zenbutours.com.