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TOKYO

From Issey Miyake to Muji to Uniqlo, the Japanese aesthetic of minimalism has found its way around the world. Here, Shinichiro Ogata, founder of Simplicity, an interior design and restaurant management firm, shares his picks in the ultimate mecca of design, Tokyo.


Higashi-Yama Tokyo Tucked away up a steep staircase, on a small street in Nakameguro, you’ll find this sleek restaurant. They use fresh seasonal vegetables, fish, and beef specially selected from all over Japan. This is the place to enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine with a contemporary, dynamic approach that’s perfectly matched with wine and sake. 1-21-25 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku, 011-81-3-5720-1300; higashiyama-tokyo.jp

Sasaki A hidden gem in the hustle and bustle of the Roppongi city, this is one of the very best places to enjoy sushi. Carefully selected fresh ingredients, combined with sake and shochu, and there are only eight counter seats. It is a small place with warm hospitality. 7-6-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 011-81-3-3479-2711

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Koishikawa Annex, the University Museum of the University of Tokyo The Koishikawa Botanical Gardens are the oldest in Japan, and the university museum’s annex is located on the grounds of these gardens. I love the Chambers of Curiosities at the Koishikawa Annex, which exhibits mammals and botanical specimens, vintage engineering prototypes, fossils, and minerals. The space is full of beauty and chaos, crammed with pieces of the world you can see and feel. 3-7-1 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku, 011-81-3-5777-8600; um.u-tokyo.ac.jp/exhibition/annex.html

Baishinka This confectioner offers a wide range of elegant wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets for seasonal festivals and celebrations. The old house was designed with a beautiful Japanese garden with splendid plums, which inspired the name (baishinka are the heart of the plum fruit). 3-4-7 Yakumo, Meguro-ku, 011-81-3-5731-1620; baishinka.jp

Kagurazaka Area The world of geisha reached its peak in Kagurazaka during the Taisho period (1912-1926), and this is one of the most famous hanamachi districts of Tokyo. Kagurazaka has also been a favorite among well-known writers since the period. Take a turn off the main street and into a small alleyway and narrow passages, and look in between the black wooden fences. Sometimes you will hear the sounds of shamisen playing.