The old-school neighbourhood of Monzen-Nakacho – known as “Mon-Naka” among locals – has retained its colourful, salt-of-the-earth shitamachi (downtown) atmosphere since the Edo era (1603-1868). Two main draws are the stately Tomioka Hachiman Shrine and the Fukagawa Fududo temple, where you can hear the sounds of drumming and chanting from the temple’s fire ceremony, held five times a day. These days, hipster coffee shops and natural wine boîtes nestle against traditional shops selling pickles, Japanese confections, and old-timey delicacies like tsukudani – bits of seafood long-simmered in soy sauce and sugar. It’s a terrific place to spend a lazy afternoon wandering the cobbled streets and alleyways en route to the Museum of Contemporary Art in neighbouring Kiba. But at night, the neighbourhood comes alive with an array of reasonably priced eating and drinking spots.
With the first iteration of Borderless in Odaiba, the art collective Teamlab created an endlessly Instagrammable, sumptuous and surreal museum dedicated to multi-sensory digital art. Opened in 2018, the facility, which set the world record for the most visited museum dedicated to a single artist, closed its doors in 2022. However, Borderless 2.0 is set to relocate to a permanent location in the soon-to-open Azabudai Hills mixed-use complex in central Tokyo in early 2024. Boderless consists of installations that feature constantly morphing patterns and designs that seem to flow seamlessly from room to room in a maze-like space. Updated versions of some of the museum’s previous works will be on display, as well as several new installations: a room filled with hundreds of multicoloured lights that run along tracks continuously and a series of interactive “light sculptures,” to name a few.
Sleek design, a DJ booth, and craft beer on tap: The newly refurbished Koganeyu functions as a lively standing bar and community events space, but the main reason to visit this 89-year-old establishment is to immerse yourself in Tokyo’s sento (public sauna) culture. A crowdfunded renovation has transformed the space into a contemporary sento with four pools, a sauna, and an outdoor bath. Bathing areas for men and women are separated by a 2.2-metre partial wall, while a mural depicting Mount Fuji stretches across both areas like a scroll. You can purchase tickets from the vending machine at the entrance; a 90-minute bathing session costs about £3 for adults. After emerging from the baths, relax with a glass of craft beer brewed especially for Koganeyu, or try a homemade ginger highball.