In art, in fashion, in food, and beyond, Tokyo is famous for pioneering trends that the world eventually catches onto. And yet Tokyo’s history and legacies are proudly ribboned throughout the city, too. It is old and new, then and now (and next); centuries-old temples sit just steps from high-gloss, ultra-luxe skyscrapers, whose shadow hides legendary restaurants that cook with methods developed hundreds of years ago. Here, GQ picks six destinations—from cutting-edge menswear meccas to time-tested watering holes—that show just how special Japan’s capital is at bringing together the past, present, and future.
Ambush is a Tokyo-based jewelry and ready-to-wear label by Yoon Ahn (who’s also Dior’s jewelry lead). Ahn is Seattle-born, but has long called Tokyo home. Her shop offers experimental made-in-Japan designs, often rendered in silver, that capture the eccentricity and the swagger of Tokyo’s trendsetters. Pick up an Ambush piece at the Shibuya flagship, and bring home a wearable reminder of the city’s electricity.
Tokyo has a vast array of museums and galleries that showcase traditional Japanese creativity; Nanzuka in Shibuya represents the future, and holds a brilliant, uncommon point of view. The contemporary art gallery represents both Japan-based and international artists alike. Big names from abroad include Daniel Arsham and Katherine Bernhardt, but you’ll likely be most blown away by Japanese artists on-site like Harumi Yamaguchi, Hiroki Tsukuda, Toshio Saeki, and Hajime Sorayama. Sorayama’s robotic drawings and sculptures, packed with nostalgia and neo-futurism, look like they’re fresh off of a 1980s movie set.
Bar High Five
Nestled in the upscale Ginza neighborhood, Bar High Five, from Hidetsugu Ueno, has become one of Tokyo’s most anachronistically charming hideaways. The walls are dark, the servers are dressed to the nines, and the drinks are strong—but the old-school attention to detail is matched by innovative mixology and a seriously deep bar, with rare bottles from the world over. Cocktails constantly evolve here, and Ueno and Co. will happily work up something delicious based on what you’re looking for. One popular drink worth trying: a perfectly balanced high ball, perhaps with Hibiki, a subtle and delicate whiskey from Japan’s Suntory.
Visvim & Little Cloud Coffee
There are few labels in the world as sought-after, as rarefied, as Visvim. In 2000, designer Hiroki Nakamura founded the label Visvim to pair a kind of Americana-influenced, lived-in timelessness with a Japanese obsession for craftsmanship and fabric. The Shibuya shop puts beautiful denim next to the label’s legendary fringed mocs next to kimonos, and hosts Little Cloud Coffee so browsers can recharge while drooling over the pieces. It’s a modern way of shopping, even if Little Cloud uses a coffee dripper custom-made by a 150-year-old kutani-yaki pottery atelier.
Tucked deep in the Shibuya neighborhood, Narukiyo is an almost impossible-to-find traditional izakaya with a cult following. It’s small, with just a countertop area and a few mini tables. There is no menu at Narukiyo; diners pay a flat fee, and then they’re at the whim of the chef, who has a real sense of humor. (Yep, that’s his face on all the coasters.) His prep style is classic, though the decor is anything but: this tiny establishment features walls coated, floor to ceiling, with Supreme stickers and graffiti. Welcome to sushi by way of streetwear.
In the shopping mecca that is Aoyama, there’s a man named Noriyuki Ueki (nickname: “Ciccio”) who’s become a rising star among Tokyo’s new wave of tailors. With a career that has spanned from Japan to Italy and back again, Ueki imbues his bespoke suits with Neopolitan DNA—shaped to highlight the body, with soft shoulders—for a clientele that’s often younger, new to bespoke, and looking for a suit that stands out. If you’re interested, prepare to book a return ticket for the multiple fittings.
For more insider secrets and on-the-ground tips for the ultimate Tokyo experience, learn more at www.tokyotokyo.jp.
Originally Appeared on GQ