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Destinations with Rudy Maxa

Ooedo Onsen Monogatari

Photo by Hans Sautter

Visit Ooedo Onsen Monogatari, the only hot springs in Tokyo.

In addition to being Japan’s political, cultural and economic center, Tokyo is one heck of a town, with more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris and perhaps the developed world’s most confusing addresses—street numbers on buildings reflect the order in which they were built. Other than those addresses, orderliness reigns. Trains arrive and depart on time to the minute, taxicab drivers wear white gloves, and if you leave your wallet in a subway car, it will most likely be returned.

Hanging with the Hi-Fi Set
Western bankers work in the Yūrakuchō neighborhood between the Ginza and Hibiya Park. Dine with them under the Yamonote train tracks and maybe pick up some investment advice at Shin Hinomoto, otherwise known as “Andy’s Place,” where the English proprietor, Andy Lunt, brings in the freshest fish from the Tsukiji market each day. It’s a genuine izakaya, an eatery that serves alcohol as well as substantial food at a moderate price. Salarymen crowd the downstairs, so book ahead and ask for a table upstairs with the A-listers.

Best Break from Business
The Odaiba neighborhood, located on a series of man-made islands in Tokyo Bay, features luxury hotels, modern malls and even a replica of the Statue of Liberty. But go there to visit Ooedo Onsen Monogatari, the only onsen, or hot springs, in Tokyo. The theme park-like complex features replicas of buildings from the Edo period as well as two large baths with water pumped from thermal springs 1,400 meters underground. Pick up a complimentary shuttle bus from JR Tokyo Station and drop in for a serious soak and perhaps even a massage. Oh, no tattoos allowed.

Superior Shopping
If you can’t find the electronics item you’re looking for in any of Tokyo’s Bic Camera discount stores, it probably doesn’t exist. Bic is a camera and electronics Valhalla, and the chain promises to refund your money if you find an item priced less elsewhere in Tokyo. Ever wonder where restaurants and cooking stores find their superlifelike food for display? Head to the Kappabashi (Kitchen Town) neighborhood, where you can find stores with shelves upon shelves of plastic sushi, meat or full entrées. (Seriously, they look good enough to eat.) If you want a souvenir, you can get the food in the form of key chains, magnets or cell phone straps. One of the two branches of Maizuru can fix you up.

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