24 Hours in Roppongi Tokyo

roppongi-tokyo-travel-A Day Away.jpg

There is absolutely no way to condense all of Tokyo into one day, no matter how hard you try.  With a population of 37 million people spanning only 13500 square kilometers, there's something new to see around every turn.  So instead of having one guide giving you an overview of the whole place, we thought we'd break down the neighborhoods we know best. 

First up - Tokyo's international business district, Roppongi.

Known for board meetings and trashy tourist clubs, Roppongi usually gets a bad rap.  While it's very tourist friendly (more people here can converse in English than most areas), there's plenty to do around the district to get your feet wet in Japanese culture.  In other words, it's a great place to start.

10AM- Get caffinated

There are tons of places to get your caffeine on in Tokyo, but we suggest starting off with a chain so you can get a literal taste of just how different everything really is here. 

Start your day with the ultra-familiar Starbucks with a much less familiar frappucino.  Starbucks does limited releases at their Japan locations, testing out new flavors in a more open-minded market.  At time of writing, there was a jasmine tea flavor, and last trip an "american pie".        Price: 500-750 Y for fancy coffee

Or, head over to the Mercedes cafe, a spot where a car showroom meets upscale eatery.  800 yen will get you a European-inspired coffee and pastry.         Price: 500 Y for coffee

OR, for a more Japanese twist, try Hoshino Coffee, styled like a chic diner, where you can order everything from breakfast pasta to the Tokyo-famed souffle pancakes topped with anything under the sun.       Price: 500 Y coffee, 1500 Y for full meal

11AM - See some art

The National Art Center is located at the heart of Roppongi, offering many floors of both free standards and paid rotating exhibits.  It is all stunningly curated, and the building itself isn't too bad, either.

If that doesn't float your boat, head over to the Suntory Museum of Art, owned by yes, the beverage company.  Housed in Tokyo Midtown (more on this to come) the museum focuses more on Japanese artifacts than modern art.

Better still, check out some modern art at one of the many galleries dotted around the major streets of Roppongi.  Hosting mostly pop art reminiscent of Warhol with more than canned soup money, it's an interesting walk.

1:30PM - Slurp some ramen

 The burnt miso ramen at Nishiazabu Gogyo

The burnt miso ramen at Nishiazabu Gogyo

Ramen! 

If you're trying to be healthy, try out Afuri.  This place does a chicken and fish based broth, and makes their soup totally customizable, even letting you swap the noodles for the low-cal yam variety.    Price: 800-1000 Y

If you're looking for trendy, head over to Nishiazabu Gogyo and get the burnt miso ramen.  It's a little lighter than your average steamy bowl of carbs, allowing you to go about your day, and, well, it's delish.      Price: 1100-1200 Y

If you want to sit with a group of Japanese fellows serious about getting through their bowl, go to Nogizaka Ramen Maruhiko.  This has been a staple of mine, and while it doesn't have the most beautiful atmosphere, or the most subtly balanced flavors, it's filling, cheap, and very good.   Price: 650-1100 Y

2:30PM - Get some culture

Have a walk around and make a pit stop at a temple.  If you lean Buddhist, check out Myozenji.  If shinto is more your thing, try Nogijinja (I believe this is the translation, it's across the street from Nogizaka station).  The latter is a favorite of mine, offering a mixture of gardens and finely crafted prayer buildings.  It even has a small museum on the premises, though there is no English translation.

 
 View from Myozenji

View from Myozenji

 

4:30PM - Do some shopping

Roppongi offers two stunning malls within a 10 minute walk (Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills).  I know what you're thinking, but these are not the malls of your experience.   These beautiful galleries of commercial offerings include gardens, highly reviewed restaurants, even softly babbling fountains.  Even if your wallet can't justify it, it's worth a walk for the view. 

 
 The gardens behind Tokyo Midtown

The gardens behind Tokyo Midtown

 

7:00PM - Have a cocktail

After a quick freshening up, either at your nearby residence or the fabulous powder rooms at either of the shopping establishments, give yourself a treat at Gen Yamamoto or code name MIXOLOGY.  Using seasonal Japanese ingredients and attention to detail, these drinks are a treat for your eyes and your tastebuds. However, they will set you back more than the usual drink in the city, and watch out for cover charge.  Price: 1300-2000 Y a drink

8:00PM - Try the raw fish

 Sushi set at Ikina Sushidokoro Abe... only 1100 Yen!

Sushi set at Ikina Sushidokoro Abe... only 1100 Yen!

Sushi is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japan.  While it isn't a daily part of most Japanese diets, a great day touring Tokyo must include it.  

For luxurious, beautiful sushi, go to Morimoto XEX.  Run by the iron chef we all know, this resto offers a few different courses as well as a la carte ordering.  The sushi looks more like art than food, but the taste doesn't disappoint, either. If you want to make it a cheaper night, I would suggest a couple pieces of sushi or apps here, then rounding out your night at 7/11 as we did ;)   Price: apps from 500 Y course menus from 120,000 Y

For great quality, traditional sushi head over to Ikina Sushidokoro Abe.  Offering a limited menu based on their best finds of the day, be prepared to point through the case for your patient chef.  This spot is not the most interesting, but certainly some of the tastiest sushi we found on our trip.     Price: sets from 2,800 Y to 10,000 Y.  Try luch for a 1,100 Y set!

For a more casual, but still delicious night, try Uoshin Nogizaka.  This place has a great atmosphere, we usually make some new friends happy to share their sake after a long day!  with both sushi and a full ocean-centric menu, there's always something new to try.  We suggest the Nogizaka special and pan-fried spicy bean sprouts.   Price: 2,500 Y for app, main, and a drink

Kanpai!