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101 things to do in Nihonbashi

The traditional centre of Tokyo commerce has been re-energised of late. We bring you the best of the area, from Edo-era cuisine to brand-new shopping meccas

Things to do in Nihonbashi #6: find traditional Japanese paper at Ozu Washi

The traditional centre of Tokyo commerce, Nihonbashi has been undergoing constant development in recent years, culminating with the opening of the Coredo complex in spring 2014. Making sense of these new hot spots and finding the many long-serving shops, excellent restaurants and quirky sights scattered around the area is made easy with 101 things to do in Nihonbashi, which points you in the direction of everything from the coolest souvenir shops to the best sake bars and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Make sure to also consult our guides to Tokyo's best cheap eats and best bars while exploring.

1

Start your journey here...

Although somewhat underwhelming in its current appearance, the bridge that gave its name to the entire district is steeped in history as it was once the starting point for the five main routes that connected the capital with the provinces. Nihonbashi

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2

See ancient art treasures...

So all-powerful is Japan's famous Mitsui family that they have an entire museum dedicated to showcasing their artworks. Where else are you going to store your collection of antiques? Mitsui Memorial Museum

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3

Be the trendiest dinner host...

After repeated use, the glossy surface and elegant colour tone of the lacquerware sold here only gets more beautiful. If you order products online you can get them monogrammed for that personal touch. Zohiko

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4

Live it up at an oyster bar...

The delicious oysters from Hokkaido's Akkeshi taste even better after a couple of shots of sake – choose from the finest liquors Japan has to offer on your way to culinary nirvana. Kakiba Hokkaido-Akkeshi

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5

Shop like a VIP...

This will probably be your first shopping stop since Nihonbashi Station is connected to the complex. If the approximately 50 shops and restaurants don't meet your every need, don't despair – there's another branch just down the road... Coredo Nihonbashi

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7

Fancy yourself a chef...

Kit your kitchen out in every kind of high quality Japanese knife you'll ever need from this cutlery specialist established in 1792. They are always experimenting with new technology and materials, so your knives will be cutting edge. Nihonbashi Kiya

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9

Watch dolls come to life...

Jusaburo Tsujimura is one of Japan's most famous doll-makers and here you can view his life-like, kimono-wearing creations. Also the best place to go for doll-themed postcards. Jusaburo-kan

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10

Splurge on seasonal tastes...

A full 'kaiseki' course, made with only the freshest seasonal ingredients, never comes cheap. The relatively reasonable prices at Hashimoto make it a great option for anyone looking to get immersed in Japanese cuisine. Hashimoto

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11

Fold up your bicycle and go...

If you're in the market for a folding bike, including brands like Brompton, Birdy, Tyrell and Carryme, here's where to get it. For the seriously laidback, they also sell recumbent trikes. Loro

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13

Slurp a bowl of kama-age udon...

No need to catch a shinkansen to get a taste of Osaka-style kama-age udon and specialities as you can get both at this restaurant, which serves as the Tokyo branch of the much-loved restaurant from the Namba district. Kamatakeryu Udon

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14

Revel in nostalgia...

There's a distinctive retro Showa atmosphere at this izakaya that features Japanese music from the '70s and '80s. Table charge is ¥500 and covers all-you-can-eat dagashi (cheap snacks), and the rest is pay as you eat and drink. The Suitengu branch is also just four minutes' walk from here. Ningyocho Dagashi Bar

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15

Eat sushi with your fingers...

Sit at the counter of this old-style sushi shop and get served directly by the friendly chef – no chopsticks required. If you're on a budget, lunch is cheaper than dinner. Kizushi

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17

Lock lips with a coffee soft serve...

They've been making coffee and a unique Mocha Soft Ice™ (yes, they had their soft serve trademarked!) using their own specially roasted beans since 1948. Suffice to say they're tried, trusted and ever-loved. Mikado Coffee

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18

Rev up on rice...

Not only will their giant-sized rice crackers keep you going through the afternoon slump, you can also stop for a minute and watch how they get made as the workshop is just behind the counter. Sokaya

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19

Ride the waterways...

See the city from a different perspective during an hour-long boat tour from Nihonbashi to the Sumida River, which served as a main route for goods transportation during the Edo period. Note that they only offer service in Japanese. Nihonbashi Boarding Deck

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20

Eat gold...

While we can't tell you that eating gold leaf has any nutritional benefit, it certainly does make everything look exceptional. Even rusks get the gold treatment here, as do handbags, earrings and cosmetics. Hakuza Nihonbashi

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21

Have an elegant shopping experience...

Japan's oldest surviving department store chain, dating back to 1673, boasts multiple floors of luxury shopping plus a rooftop 'Chelsea Garden' featuring seasonal plants and flowers. Note the lion statues guarding the entrance – they were inspired by the lions of Trafalgar Square in London. Mitsukoshi

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22

See young artists' crafts...

The art enthusiasts who run this store and gallery encourage the growth of emerging designers by offering them space to exhibit anything from metalwork to ceramics to textiles. Hinata-note

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24

Bite into a crunchy cracker...

Pick up a pretty pack of traditional rice snacks at this stylish store that offers various flavours including brown sugar, sesame, honey, matcha, soy sauce and more. Nihonbashi Nishikihorin Honten

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25

Get good grooming...

You may never have thought you'd hear yourself say, 'I really need a good pair of tweezers,' but when you see these shiny specimens, you might surprise yourself. Plus you can't argue with craftmanship handed down since 1783. Ubukeya

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Ningyocho
26

Taste true Tokyo sushi...

No conveyor belts here – see the time-honoured skills of Tokyo sushi chefs in action at dinner, or try the reasonably priced 'chirashi' seafood bowl at lunch. Janoichi Sushi

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27

Have Japanese comfort food...

The pancake-like okonomiyaki, cooked right at your table, serves as a great introduction to everyday Japanese eats. The traditional-style floor seating adds to the attraction. Matsunami

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28

Line up for time-honoured oyakodon...

Get a protein kick with this Japanese rice dish made with chicken simmered in dashi soup and sealed with egg. The name 'oyakodon' means 'parent and child donburi', playing on the fact that both chicken and egg are used in the same dish. Tamahide

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29

Feel like a real artist...

Even if you aren't struck by the urge to paint a masterpiece when you set eyes on the colourful powdered pigments available here, you won't be able to resist the wood-block print postcards. Yubendo

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30

Share in a new beginning…

First established in the 9th century, this tiny shrine has had to endure being moved around continuously during the area's redevelopment, but has now found a new, permanent home among the skyscrapers. Fukutoku Shrine

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31

Stock up on sake...

Find the finest sake and shochu liquors from every major region in Japan at the homely Sasaki, trusted by connoisseurs for almost a century now. Sasaki Saketen

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32

Enter old-world Edo...

You could call this gallery unassuming were it not for the larger-than-life image of Kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa by artist Sharaku hanging outside. Browse antiques and unique crafts, each of which has a fascinating story to tell. Ebiya Art

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33

Brave sea urchin for lunch...

The brownish, creamy delicacy is usually served as sushi or in a bowl with rice, but this innovative eatery conjures up dishes like sea urchin pasta for all you courageous gourmands. Riccio Mania Market

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34

Take a sweet shot...

Sip on excellent sake while savouring a selection of tasty snacks at this snug and friendly watering hole, where you can also purchase antique cups and bowls from the bar's early days. Kawaguchi Saketen

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35

Visit the world's first kite museum...

Take the elevator up to this unique museum, housed above a famous restaurant, that displays around 300 elaborately decorated kites, collected from all over Japan and other East Asian countries. Kite Museum

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36

Wrap yourself in a cloud...

Bathroom towels so soft that you'll want to hug them – this shop brings you the most luxurious body-drying equipment out there. All in ridiculously cute colours, too. Iori

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37

Get designer seaweed snacks...

Nori (seaweed) and Hello Kitty are both loved by Japan and, here, they're combined into one with a range of products adorned with the cute cat. Yamamoto Noriten

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38

Indulge in the deep fry...

Treat yourself to century-old yoshoku – a Western-influenced style of cooking that's been tailored to suit Japanese tastes. Gets packed at lunch time. Koharuken

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39

Taste sweets from the 1800s...

They're famed for their unique Kintsuba sweets, which they began selling at the end of the Edo period, and today Eitaro holds a reputation as one of Japan's top confectioneries. Rest wary legs at their tea room and enjoy green tea and sugary bean treats. Eitaro Sohonpo

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40

Find the best fish flakes...

Dried bonito flakes are an integral part of Japanese cooking, used for everything from soup stock to salad toppings. If you're planning to try the latter, there's a special kind of flake you should ask for. Yamatoya

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41

Find the perfect chopsticks...

Looking for chopsticks fit for a shogun? Find them here, along with an endless selection of other expertly crafted specimens that come in all the shapes, sizes and colours you could ever need. Hashicho

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42

Rent a kimono...

If you're attending a wedding or other special occasion and feel like dressing up in traditional garb, hire a kimono here. Rakuya

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43

Stop in for a laidback French meal...

This simple yet sophisticated French place is open on Sundays (rare for restaurants in the area) and prides itself on using only the freshest seasonal ingredients. You'll find it hard to beat the value for money here. Merveille

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44

Queue up... Your tastebuds will thank you...

Make sure you have a couple of hours to spare if you plan to visit this tendon (tempura on rice) spot as you are bound to have to wait to get inside. But the one single dish on the menu is well worth it. Kaneko Hannosuke

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45

Say cheers with craft beer...

The fourth outpost of this insanely popular beer bar, which primarily deals in domestic brews like Baird and Kinshachi, offers pints for ¥780 – a very fair price, considering the location. Craft Beer Market

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46

Buy the best fruit basket...

Besides selling eye-poppingly large and shiny fruit (a very impressive corporate gift, perhaps?), this store sells luxury jams and serves up treats at its adjoining café. Sembikiya Sohonten

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47

Mix golf and Italian...

This multi-functional space offers the finest Italian cuisine, live performances, karaoke and golf simulators, all under one roof. XEX Nihonbashi

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48

Take a piece of Japan home with you...

This tiny store is packed with just the kind of memorabilia you'll want to remember your time in Tokyo. We recommend the company's original jidai-komon products (kimono fabrics with repeat patterns). Nihonbashi Yuma

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49

Let a toothpick predict your future...

Saruya has been producing toothpicks since 1704, a feat of longevity that makes more sense once you've actually used one of their handmade wonders – we recommend the ones wrapped in paper slips bearing fortunes and love songs. Saruya

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50

Combine sweets with slimy seaweed...

Ever thought slimy, simmered seaweed or shellfish would go perfectly with traditional Japanese sweets? Neither did we, but apparently this curious combo has enough fans to merit a dedicated shop. Eirakuya

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51

Sip on French soup...

Ginza restaurant Pérignon's famed consommé can now be tasted without having to pay for an entire dinner course, as this soup-only shop offers the take-out version for pocket change. Gelée D'or

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53

Begin a new novel over hayashi rice...

The original location of this now nationwide chain of bookstores carries a small selection of English books, but the real attraction here is the third-floor café and its hayashi rice, a tomato-based meat sauce dish. Maruzen Café

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54

Squeeze in for some edible art...

There's only room for a handful of customers but the wafting smell of cinnamon will lure you in. They specialise in artisanal Japanese sweets and Koganeimo, which are shaped to look like mini sweet potatoes. Kotobukido

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Ningyocho
55

Go to the spa in the sky...

Enjoy revitalising treatments and a dip in the relaxation pool, all the while taking in the stunning views of the city at this luxury hotel chain's 37th-floor shrine to relaxation. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

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56

Enhance your lifestyle...

Spice up your home with traditional Japanese crafts or contemporary interior goods, and enjoy a wholesome meal at the restaurant. Claska Gallery & Shop 'Do' Nihonbashi/Do Tabelka

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57

Don't expect a 'normal' pancake...

This popular Japanese snack, known as 'taiyaki pancake', is more like a crispy waffle that's filled with sweetened azuki beans and shaped like a fish. Sounds good, no? Yanagiya

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58

Climb the steps to holiness...

Work your way up the small staircase to this tiny but charming temple, hidden between a couple of nondescript buildings just off Ningyocho's main thoroughfare. Oogannon Temple

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59

Pluck a shamisen...

Guitar-players will enjoy trying their hand at the shamisen, a Japanese instrument of ancient origin that plays a major role in Japanese theatre including kabuki. Bachihanabusa

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60

Wolf down pizza in a vintage setting...

Unlike many other pizza shops, the vintage atmosphere here isn't an affectation: Il Tamburello's building is over half a century old. Owner Yoshihisa Otsubo says he chose the location for its European flavour, and it's got personality in spades. Pizzeria Il Tamburello

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61

Gaze at 1,800 art works...

In 1952 Shojiro Ishibashi, founder of Bridgestone Corporation, opened a gallery to house his private art collection. Since then, the museum has continued to grow, acquiring works by the likes of Picasso and Renoir, as well as Western-style paintings by Japanese artists. Bridgestone Museum of Art

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62

Fill up on meat and more meat...

Bite into a juicy croquette for a taste of top-class flavoured beef at this deli and restaurant that will surely make even the most hardened carnivore bark in delight. Ningyocho Imahan Sozai

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63

Taste the unique flavour of dashi...

Begin by slurping up simple but flavourful dashi (soup) concoctions at the quirky bar before raiding the store shelves for all the soup ingredients you could ever need. Nihonbashi Dashi Bar

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64

Get rid of clothing fluff once and for all...

Toss aside the sellotape – once you get your hands on a clothes brush from Edoya you'll never look back. They're made using boar hair, which is apparently perfect for removing lint and other particles from clothing fibres without creating static. Edoya

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65

Meet a conger eel Hello Kitty...

Conger eels can grow up to three metres long in the wild, but you'll only find them cut up and cooked at Tamai, an eatery that also sells eel-themed Hello Kitty figurines. Tamai

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66

Relish a gourmet burger...

Brozers' has become a must-visit on the Tokyo gourmet burger trail. Try the OTT 'Lot Burger' – its patty is super juicy with a 7:3 ratio of Australian minced pork to wagyu marbled beef, and it comes with toppings of bacon, egg, cheese and pineapple. Brozers‘

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Ningyocho
67

Enjoy shopping at luxury boutiques...

Take the 'chauffeur-driven' elevator between eight different floors at this elegant department store that attracts the more mature customer. Pop down to the basement for an amazing food selection. Takashimaya

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69

Browse the 'high street'...

Slightly removed from the high-rise centre of Nihonbashi, this shopping street is dotted with restaurants and interesting knick-knackery. Be sure to investigate side alleys. Amazake Yokocho

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70

Try top-class tempura...

Prepared in sesame oil, the vegetable and seafood fries at this charming golden oldie (founded in 1885) approach the sublime. Tenmo

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71

Nibble on cicchetti with wine pairing...

End your day with a superb glass of Italian wine and Venetian-style tapas, cooked with fresh local fish, at the sister store of Ebisu restaurant Alma. Nice atmosphere and open till late. Il Bacaro Alma

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72

Get gourmet pastry takeaways...

Headed by award-winning pastry chef Shuji Muto and head baker Tetsuya Ohashi, this cake, bread and chocolate shop reopened in March 2014 with a new look and feel. Beautiful packaging is the cherry on top to the wonders on offer. Gourmet Shop by Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

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73

Watch Japanese comedy...

If your Japanese is up to par, catching a traditional rakugo performance makes for some great midday entertainment. Some shows here start from as early as 1pm. Oedo Nihonbashi-tei

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74

Buy stylish souvenirs...

Blending centuries of Japanese craftsmanship with modern design, the tableware and decorative items here will surely prove to be huge hits with your folks back home. Dainippon-ichi

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75

Feel good with organic veggies...

Dig into guilt-free gourmet takeaway meals, served with natural pork, seasonal vegetables and nutritious ingredients. There are also a few seats available if you prefer to eat-in. Dorobushi

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76

See the world in a different light...

Geography enthusiasts will love this store that specialises in globes of all kinds – spinning ones, light-up ones, cute pink ones, old-fashioned ones, modern ones... You get the picture. Globe Shop Tokyo

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77

Feel the healthy kick of fermentation...

Niigata Prefecture's Uonuma is home to some of the finest rice in all of Japan, and also produces pungent but tasty fermented foodstuffs. All these local specialities are available at this dedicated shop. Hakkaisan Sennen Kojiya

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78

Dine with geisha...

You'll probably never have another meal quite like this (think authentic cuisine, painstakingly prepared and immaculately presented), so the ¥25,000 for the dinner course is worth it. There are extra charges for a private room and geisha performance, but like we said – once in a lifetime. Hamadaya

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79

Drape yourself in a silk kimono...

Chikusen has been dealing in dyed kimonos since 1842 – choose between the formal silk Edo komon (think tea ceremony) and the more casual, lightweight yukata (think fireworks and festivals). Chikusen

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80

Eat film-inspired omurice...

Probably the most ordered omurice (rice omelette) at Taimeiken is the tampopo – chicken-fried rice topped with a soft-centred omelette inspired by the 1985 Japanese comedy 'Tampopo'. The movie's pretty good too. Taimeiken

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81

Bring back the 'kerchief...

Japanese tenugui (handkerchiefs) have multiple uses and at Chidoriya you'll be hard-pressed to choose from the variety of patterns. A trendy skull tenugui poking out your suit pocket, perhaps? Chidoriya

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82

Eat like royalty...

Dine in style with lacquerware from Yamada Heiando, official purveyor to the Imperial Household Agency for decades. Their ornately decorated boxes, plates and chopstick rests also make for impressive souvenirs. Yamada Heiando

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83

Scent your home with zen...

Established in 1705, this store continues the legacy of its innovative ancestors, offering a wide variety of unique, hand-blended incense. Today, Shoyeido is considered the highest quality, most natural incense available in the world. Shoyeido Ningyocho

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85

Conquer the 'Ayers Rock' steak...

Revered by the city's carnivore crowd, Okiya's offerings should be experienced by every meat-lover out there. The steaks are fortunately not quite as thick as the rock formation they're named after. Make sure to try monja, Tokyo's soul food, while here. Okiya Takumi

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87

Try sweet potato as a sweet...

Originally from Kochi Prefecture, this popular imo-kenpi (sweet potato) specialty store offers freshly fried treats that are additive-free and made only from the locally produced sweet potatoes and sugar. Nihonbashi Imoya Kinjiro

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88

Find the prettiest Japanese fan...

Decorated with motifs from famous ukiyo-e prints, these fans are essential souvenirs. They're not only for show either – Ibasen's been in business for more than 400 years, so there's no questioning the quality. Ibasen

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90

Experience Japanese culture...

Explore traditions such as tea ceremonies and kimono-wearing at various events held at this space and its tea room, Meguri-an. Opening times vary according to events. Kyoraku-tei

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91

Lunch on seriously spicy curry...

Benihana is two restaurants in one: the teppanyaki section lets you munch on steak cooked right in front of your eyes, while the Sri Lankan curry served upstairs will surely help you break a sweat. Benihana

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92

Revitalise your skin...

Feeling dry? Pamper your skin with Makanai's hand and face creams, made with the finest natural ingredients and sold in stylish white cases. Cosmetics Makanai

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93

Take a bow with the locals...

The surrounding houses and parking lot almost obscure this quiet neighbourhood shrine, but it still attracts a steady stream of locals stopping by for a quick prayer. Takarada Ebisu Shrine

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95

Give your peepers the royal treatment...

Once the official mirror suppliers for the Tokugawa Shogunate, Murata Gankyoho has been specialising in spectacles since 1872 and continues to help the Imperial Household see more clearly. Get your very own bespoke glasses made here. Murata Gankyoho

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96

Feast on fugu...

If prepared incorrectly, fugu (pufferfish) meat is lethally poisonous. There's no need to fear for your life here, as expert chefs take every precaution imaginable to bring you an unforgettable dining experience. Kichisei

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97

Dine with creatives...

This art and food office complex is fast gaining a reputation as the art and culture epicentre of the area. Check their website for upcoming public events or simply gather inspiration at the restaurant on the second floor. Creative Hub

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99

Pack a meat-picnic dinner...

Luxury meat dealer Nakasei attracts crowds with its take-out ground beef patties – how about an upscale hotel room dinner? Nakasei Sakanaya

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100

And shop some more...

Opened in 2010, Coredo Muromachi is slightly smaller than its Nihonbashi sister, but 2014 saw yet more extensions to the brand with the grand opening of Coredo Muromachi 2 and 3. Coredo Muromachi

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101

Stroll down a cherry blossom street...

Trees here were re-planted as recently as 2005, so they are still relatively small, however their positioning between Mitsui Honkan and Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi department store affords a striking city scene. Edo Sakura-dori

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