Inspiration: Dreaming, Then Sleeping
Like half the Western world, Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation—along with, in my case, Shoichi Aoki’s street-style book, Fruits—first piqued my interest in modern-day Japan almost a decade ago. Last year, when Tokyo hosted Chanel’s Little Black Jacket festivities, I realized there was no good reason why I still hadn’t been. So I booked a flight and scored an amazing deal for the Chinzanso, a former Four Seasons. The boutique hotel Claska and economical Kimi Ryokan are other good lodging options.
Sightseeing: It’s Showtime
You must visit The Tsukiji Market before it moves to the city’s outskirts in 2015 (and loses some of its charm in the process). Get there by 5 a.m. to watch the world-famous tuna auction (one bluefin recently went for nearly $2 million!), then wander amongst the chaotic stalls selling sea creatures of every ilk. Also overwhelming: the sheer number of museums in Tokyo. My top pick? The Mori Art Museum, which is showing the very comprehensive Aida Makoto: Monument for Nothing until March 31. It’s the first solo museum exhibit for the Japanese multimedia genius.
Shopping: Style À La Carte
Don’t miss the curated, Colette-like Dover Street Market—a New York outlet is slated to open later this year—in Ginza. Find chic housewares at Takashimaya and cool vintage in the Ebisu district at stores such as ReCollect. Bargain seekers should head to the designer resale chain Ragtag; I found a Comme des Garçons cape blazer at cut-rate prices.
Dining: All You Can Eat
Another distinctly Japanese experience: kuidaore, which roughly means “to ruin oneself by extravagance in food.” Inspired by the foodie documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I set out to find Jiro-style experiences…on a $50/day budget. We dined at a 100-year-old soba restaurant (Kanda Yabu Soba), wandered the side streets of Shinjuku for savoury ramen flavoured with dried baby sardines (Nagi), and queued over four hours for the freshest nigiri sushi I’ve ever tasted at Sushi Dai inside the Tsukiji fish market.