As the biggest metropolitan area in the world, Tokyo is vast and diverse, each neighbourhood uniquely inspiring in its own way. Here you find contemporary buildings next to shrines dating back to the Edo period. We want to show you our favourite places from both these worlds. Keep your eyes open and pay attention to details, Japan is all about atmosphere and experience.
Surrounded by century old Japanese cedar trees in the Yoyogi park lays the Meiji Shrine, minimal and sober. In order to experience its quiet elegance and symmetry, we suggest to visit as close to the 5 am opening as possible, sit down and see the first rays of sun illuminate the shrines central courtyard.
Hidden away behind a layer of bamboo in the middle of the contemporary shopping district of Aoyama are the Nezu Museum and its garden. The atmospheric exhibition spaces show small but beautifully curated themed collections. One of them devoted to the art of the tea ceremony showing calligraphy, ceramics, lacquerware, wooden and bamboo craft typical to be used for this tradition. Below the main building stretches an elegant Japanese garden that you are welcome to visit. It can also be enjoyed with a bowl of green tea from the museum café where large windows bring you close to nature.
Yanagi Soetsu, philosopher and author of the Mingei folk art movement, also founded the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum in 1936 where visitors can experience his philosophy in an elegant scenography that works in perfect harmony with the curated collection of Japanese and Korean artefacts. The residence of Soetsu himself lays across the street and is a complement to the museum’s main hall. The dark brown-green walls and Japanese cedar floors are viewed in the light filtered by the washi paper in the sliding doors. The aesthetic quality and materials compose a perfect space and invite you to contemplate and reflect.
High above traffic in one of Minato’s many contemporary skyscrapers, Sakurai offers a serene and contemporary take on the traditional tea ceremony. The atmosphere is peaceful and offer you to enjoy your tea together with a seasonal Wagashi confection while also resting your eyes on the elegant space and tea utensils. Come in the evening and you can also see the city at night outside the large windows facing the street.
Located about 2 hours south of Tokyo, Enoura Observatory is a Gesamtkunstwerk and the embodiment of the existential philosophy of the contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. Surrounded by a landscape of remarkable beauty, open on the Sagami Bay, the observatory offers each visitor a strong sensory and spiritual experience.
Most of the constructions at the observatory were guided by the annual movement of the sun, the equinoxes and solstices that punctuate the passage of the seasons since the dawn of time. Sugimoto designed two galleries with an ocean view in order to take full advantage of the solstices. The summer solstice worship gallery is a 100-meter-long glass and stone building, the winter one is a 70 meters metal tunnel overlooking the bay. During each solstice, the sun’s rays penetrate and illuminate the two structures. The glass scene next to the metal tunnel also receives the sun’s rays on the morning of the winter solstice. A cypress frame and pillars carry the glass stage which is designed in the style of the Kake-zukuri like the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto.
Also to visit in Tokyo:
Hèrmes Ginza Building